A next step for the hub
2018 was one of the hottest summers in The Netherlands. It wasn’t just the weather; we were and still are on fire with developing a new product: the Custom Search is on its way! It’s going to transform Outsourcing Hub into a full-fledged hub that can match demand and supply in almost any domain rather than just in the domain of IT outsourcing.
Blog by Henk Pater, Founder of iSourcing Hub. This blog was previously published via our OutsourcingHub website. As of May 2020 Per mei 2020 all our activities have been merged via iSourcinghub.nl
In short: our new Custom Search allows clients and advisors to search within a virtually unlimited number of themes or areas of interest, to check relevant players and to approach these players to ask them specific questions. We are moving beyond the traditional (out)sourcing services. Think of application development, security, BPO, IoT, A.I., Office365, etc. We call these themes or areas of interest domains.
Customizable questions can be formulated by users, and it’s possible to select questions from a Public Library that contains smart questions earlier provided by other users. Moreover, while previously only IT suppliers connected to the platform could be matched, it now becomes possible to invite other suppliers – this can also be done anonymously, which is one of the great benefits of using the Hub. As users add new players as well as smart questions, the system quickly grows and can easily keep up with market developments.
From Outsourcing to all Sourcing
For almost two years at Outsourcing Hub we searched for a solution to make the system (and underlying match criteria) more flexible. In the current system, the user more or less is ‘limited’ to the available questions/criteria and the connected IT providers. In the area of IT Outsourcing we could manage by adding new criteria or to connect new providers as requested by the client.
But these were manual actions and for other IT areas or projects this approach simply wasn’t very practical; for e.g. the application development area or an IoT project you may want to use other questions and other criteria, probably also other vendors. With the new Custom Search this is easily done. It allows users to zoom in on dozens of new domains.
Extreme flexibility with Open Contribution as side-effect
In fact: with the Custom Search we can handle any question or search and any domain! The solution we found was to not extend our current model, but to find a way to turn searches into smart, reusable questions and match criteria, as well as to easily invite new IT players to join.
In a way, the system becomes an open contribution platform that is beneficial to all user groups. It’s a form of sharing, but instead of sharing a product or service, in this case it’s more sharing of knowledge. Knowledge about how to find and select (suppliers of) certain products and services, how to ask smart questions, as well as knowledge in the form of new (niche) IT vendors being added to the hub.
The right questions and answers without big detours
In many domains today, we see many RFI-like questions being asked, sent and answered over and over again, or – worse – the questions themselves are constantly being ‘reinvented’. This would not be necessary if we share these questions and reuse them via a library that the community contributes to – and we have one: we call it the Public Library.
The advantage for the party performing a search (the IT manager, vendor manager, procurement officer, etc. and/or the involved external advisor) is that it’s easy to select and ask the right questions to the relevant suppliers from an existing library of questions. The advantage for the supplier is that answers can be saved or pre-filled so that next time they can be reused.
This leaves more time left to work on really important (contextual) stuff that obviously cannot be captured in a system upfront. And increases the chances of connecting with several parties that you wouldn’t otherwise. One of those could be be the perfect match.
For IT suppliers there are additional advantages. Not only can they be matched quickly, but the system also makes sure that the matches they get are a good fit and that the questions asked really are relevant. Because this can be achieved without heavy (online) marketing budgets, it’s also suitable for smaller (niche) players who might just have the fantastic proposition a client is looking for.
Launch of the Custom Search
A large piece of the Custom Search functionality is ready and will be released soon. The first Custom Searches will start end of September and early October. Naturally not all of the domains are a 100% covered in terms of smart questions and relevant players, but the great thing about it is that domains can easily be ‘filled’. We will ask (current) vendors and advisors if they are active on domains. These parties can then also help create a first set of smart questions.
Advisors or vendors that are genuine experts in a certain domain can join as Knowledge Partners. They will help fill and manage the Public Library with smart questions and they can contribute to the marketing message (web pages) to attract new customers. You can view an example of such a landing page.
Exciting developments for the Hub! Current advisors and IT providers / vendors will be given access to these new areas of the system. We will also extend the list with domains and invite relevant parties to join. Next to the over 120 IT suppliers already connected via Outsourcing Hub, we have dozens of other (smaller/niche) players who are interested to join. By allowing them to join, we create a more extensive and varied supply side, which in turn will attract more clients and more searches, including searches for the IT Outsourcing domain that we initially started with.