In the way that the semiconductor spawned a seismic shift away from vacuum tubes, artificial intelligence and augmented reality technology promise to transform the way we work, learn, communicate and entertain ourselves. The Technology Industry Group (TIG), a consortium of more than 30 Fortune 500 corporations, is working to ensure that diverse suppliers play a strategic role in the global supply chain that develops the next generation of groundbreaking technology.
TIG represents a diverse industry that includes tech manufacturers, electronic equipment and solution providers, hardware and software product and services companies, and telecom and cable communications companies. It was formed in 2012 through the merger of the Information Systems Technology Group and the Telecommunications Industry Group, which was founded in 1995.
In an industry where rivalries can be vicious, collaborative efforts like TIG are an anomaly.
“High tech is so competitive that industry-wide organizations like ours are rare,” said TIG co-chair Alex Alvarez, a 17-year strategic sourcing and diverse supplier veteran based in Silicon Valley. “Our member organizations have distinct cultures and objectives. However, as a global consortium, supplier diversity is one area where we’ve worked very hard together to bring diverse suppliers into our ecosystem. We all recognize that supporting diverse suppliers is a key way to improve the communities that support us.”
TIG members Apple, AT&T, Comcast NBCUniversal, Dell, Microsoft and Verizon already are playing leading roles in that effort. They are members of the Billion Dollar Roundtable, which comprises corporations spending at least $1 billion annually with diverse suppliers.
Building A New Foundation
During the past few years, TIG has refocused its efforts on promoting diverse businesses into the industry’s supply chain. It has increased its leadership team to 20 from just five. It has moved away from serving only minorityowned businesses to supporting all diverse suppliers, including minority-, women-, veteran-, LGBTQ- and disabled-owned firms. And it has expanded its partnerships to include not only National Minority Supplier Development Council-certified enterprises, but also firms certified by all major agencies, including the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Business Leadership Network and the National Veteran Business Development Council.
“Our foundational work was based on changing the narrative on how inclusion and diversity fit into the industry’s supply chain,” explained Alvarez. “We’ve gone from doing our best to contract with diverse suppliers to driving strategic supply chain partnerships that will help our respective organizations compete.”
A Digital Foot in the Door
PowerPoint decks, PDFs and traditional capabilities statements no longer are as effective in helping vendors get a proverbial foot in the door. Using technology that the tech industry created, TIG’s MarketPlace is helping suppliers gain a marketing edge by going digital.
Launched in September, MarketPlace is a cloud-based, social media-optimized microsite that initially will feature 20 highly interactive, video-driven “smart” brochures profiling suppliers’ capabilities, expertise and services or products. The smart brochures were developed by Brojure, a leading content creator and an official MarketPlace partner.
“There is no other service out there like MarketPlace,” said Nino Campos, TIG co-chair and senior supplier diversity manager at Oracle. “It’s the only one that positions diverse suppliers in front of TIG corporate members and offers members a deeper look into what those suppliers can bring to their organizations.”
Campos, inspired by the TIG-Brojure partnership, established a similar service, independent of TIG, that specifically supports diverse suppliers seeking to work with Oracle and other firms. Through a partnership involving Brojure; REP Interactive, a corporate video production company; and Diversity Professional magazine, it offers suppliers a combined print, online and multimedia package to help them more effectively market their capabilities to the company. To date, every supplier using this approach has won business from Oracle.
Driving the Next Generation of Diverse Suppliers
Professional development for procurement leaders, supplier diversity professionals and diverse suppliers is a major TIG objective.
TIG is the only organization of its kind to partner with the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), the world’s leading professional supply management organization, to develop supplier diversity training programs for ISM members and help TIG members gain ISM professional certification. TIG’s annual DiversityNXT forum expands on those awareness-building efforts by convening tech experts and procurement professionals to promote the industry-wide adoption of supplier diversity best practices.
TIG’s scholarship program is helping diverse suppliers receive the advanced entrepreneurial and business training that will prepare them to meet the future demands of the industry’s supply chain. In 2017, TIG awarded 50 scholarships totaling $25,000 to sponsor suppliers participating in management programs at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, the University of Washington and Stanford University.
Campos pointed out that TIG’s efforts are not about promoting any one member; they’re about promoting diverse businesses for the future. “Our mission is to ’empower’ opportunity by innovating how we enhance— not recreate—the profile of diverse suppliers.”
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