B2B Payments

Is Social Networking The Answer For Purchasers?

Connecting with one another through social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter is fairly commonplace for individual consumers. But what benefit can “likes” bring to the procurement industry? According to a recent survey, procurement-specific social networking sites are the future, and purchasers are excited to make digital connections.

LinkedIn is often thought of as the social networking hub for professionals. However, is it the best option for every sector? While that question is up for debate, other social networking options for certain professionals will likely soon be available.

According to a recent Supply Management poll, nearly four out of five of purchasers would use a social networking site that was targeted at procurement professionals.

LeasePlan UK head of procurement and supplier management Neil Dixon told the news source that he would be in favor of a procurement-specific site.

“I would use it, providing I felt there was real benefit from doing so,” Dixon said. “Procurement people have historically not all been the best networkers so anything that helps improve this can only be a good thing.”

Those in favor of the option are in luck. Just last month, two social networking sites that are aimed at procurement professionals were launched. CorporateBrainz and Procurious both claim to be unique in their own way.

Procurious founding chairman Tania Seary explained to Supply Management that the days of merely being a purchasing function are gone. Procurement professionals are multi-skilled and are adept at sourcing, negotiations, and supplier management. However, Seary added that the external perceptions of transactional purchasing have been tough to shift.

“We know that procurement professionals are more global and mobile than ever before but they’re still quite disconnected as a community,” Seary said. “Given that the current generation of professionals are already frequent users of online communities like LinkedIn and Facebook, we launched Procurious as a hub to network, learn and develop their careers.”

According to the CorporateBrainz website, it is “the only online specialist community for procurement professionals from every industry sector.” Additionally, this particular social networking site offers a procurement and supply management forum, where professionals can meet online and exchange ideas or views, as well as answer questions posed by businesses and organizations.

“Additionally, a unique marketplace has been created allowing companies and employers without dedicated procurement and supplier management resources to tap into these skills on a project-by-project basis,” read the CorporateBrainz website.

Technology Is The Future

Even so, not all purchasers are sold on the idea of the new social networking sites.

Integreon client procurement consultant Tony Morris explained to Supply Management that he would be willing “to use a good [social networking site].” However, the two that recently launched do not fall into that category, Morris said.

Technology is the future for procurement professionals, though, and that very topic was discussed at a recent round table held by e-procurement provider Wax Digital. The overlying consensus was that procurement is focusing on strategic projects rather than transactional tasks with the help of technology. However, there are still challenges to overcome.

According to Wax Digital Director David Ball, with procurement becoming a more critical part of the “corporate jigsaw,” it’s a very exciting time for the industry.

“I think it will be a different space going forward,” Ball said, as reported by journalist Gurjit Degun. “It will be a much leaner and more strategic space. There will be fewer transactional vacancies but the upside of that is that those professionals should embrace technology and the changing face of procurement.”

NG Bailey Group Procurement Director Ryan Jones also spoke at the roundtable, and said that procurement is generally a very traditional industry. Because of that, it’s important for professionals in the sector to have an open mind when it comes to embracing new technology.

At this point, social networking is hardly “new technology,” but it is indeed newer to those in the procurement field. Is it the final answer? Probably not, but it’s seemingly an important step forward and the majority of procurement players are excited to see what te results will be.

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