Cooperative Ecosystems: Finding Suppliers That Give A Damn

supplier ecosystems

When Barry Kull was going through the recruitment process at Novo Nordisk, his son was diagnosed with diabetes. Walking into his meeting, Kull was apprehensive about mentioning his son’s diagnosis, but when the conversation went such, Kull brought up it up. He was glad he did. “When I mentioned my son’s diagnosis, the CFO’s body language and energy absolutely changed. He leaned into the conversation and was genuinely curious about my son. He told me how Novo Nordisk addresses challenges that adolescent type 1’s encounter.” Kull realized that the executives at Novo Nordisk care. He is now proud to represent a company that, throughout the organization, empathizes with its customers.

Finding Suppliers That Care

Kull doesn’t expect suppliers to care as much as Novo Nordisk, but he expects them to understand why they care so much. He expects the suppliers to lead, to anticipate and to push their thinking. Kull believes that all procurement professionals should have supply partners that are good people with strong ethics.

The Cooperative Ecosystem

A cooperative ecosystem is a combination of different partners and suppliers that bring their own set of values to the table. The partners and suppliers work together to solve a specific problem or to create an opportunity.

In the context of launching a new pharmaceutical brand, the following is Kull’s (paraphrased) list of potential partners and suppliers that might be part of a brand-viable ecosystem:

  • Media partner: Leverages media, such as TV, print or digital, across dozens of clients to assure that the pricing and quality are optimized.
  • Analytics: A company that has the intellectual capital, such as a set of algorithms, which is utilized to help companies such as Novo Nordisk understand how their investment in media has affected their sales.
  • Advertising campaign: When a company is launching a new brand, they’re going to need new, creative campaigns to help communicate the brand value and differentiate opposite competitors.
  • Medical communications firm: Novo Nordisk utilizes a medical communications agency to help them to better communicate therapeutic value to physicians.
  • Other ecosystem partners: A new brand will use a whole host of other suppliers across print, logistics, meeting companies and others.

The Evolving Ecosystem

Kull understands the importance of getting it right. “Bringing a new therapy to market takes years and a massive effort to plan the development, launch and distribution seamlessly," he says. "Think about it, even if your organization is fortunate enough to develop a meaningful therapy that adds value to the patients, you then need to move the product from factory to distributor. So more and more, because of evolving technology, such as AI, robotics and big data methodologies, and because of integration, manufacturers need to get information quickly, and it must be accurate. The ecosystem needs to be rock solid. It truly needs to be a cooperative. Cooperation starts with selecting the right supplier who is aligned to your values.”

He believes that it is the procurement professional’s responsibility to vet potential partners. They need to know if they are effective, but also, whether they are good people with strong ethics. Do they understand the mission? Are they going to be long-term partners? Ecosystems evolve and morph. Are potential partners going to be flexible and understanding when things change?

Sandy Kane, President of Real Sourcing Network, and Barry Kull will be discussing cooperative supplier ecosystems at the Eastern Regional SIGnature Event at The Harvard Club of New York City on Thursday, September 12, 2019. Visit our website to see the full agenda. 

Sarah Scudder, President, Real Sourcing Network

Sarah Scudder is President of Real Sourcing Network (RSN), a print e-sourcing tool software company. Sarah Scudder has grit.  Sarah Scudder has spunk. Sarah Scudder is a go-getter who has gone out and got. Proof? Sarah is the youngest executive to ever serve on the board for the Print Services and Distribution Association (PSDA). Sarah is the CEO and founder of the Young Innovators Group. Sarah leads the annual Young Innovators National Conference. Sarah writes a monthly column on print and marketing services procurement for the Sourcing Industry Group (SIG) and Print+Promo. Awards? Sarah is a winner of North Bay Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 award. Sarah won the Print+Promo’s Trailblazer Under 40 award. Sarah won the Print Services & Distribution Association (PSDA)’s Member of the Year award. But none of the above matters.  What matters is that Sarah Scudder treats everyone with respect, and it is her desire to make the world a better place. She is well on her way.