In the first post in this series, I provided some context on how RollStream is breaking out of the supplier information management (or supplier/enterprise community management, as they describe it) mold and building customer traction by targeting supplier compliance as the burning platform in which to convince potential customers to invest in this emerging area. I believe this is not a minor go-to-market adjustment as many might dismiss it as, but rather a signal to how organizations can build enthusiasm for investment in what is a key and yet almost always overlooked area. In our recent discussion, Nick Parnaby, RollStream’s Founder, suggested that it’s primarily the “B2B IT guys” who are driving the decision process. In other words, the interest nexus is where “IT meets purchasing,” as he describes it.
Perhaps this explains why RollStream realizes decent success through its partnership with legacy EDI vendor GXS, which is positioning RollStream as a means of driving of driving collaboration and community on top of data exchange. Yet RollStream and other competitive solutions like it do more than just provide collaboration and community (to me the “social” side of RollStream’s community and collaboration approach and positioning is really just clever positioning — at its core it is a full-featured supplier information management toolset). They provide a means to ensure, in the case of consumer packaged goods or over the counter pharmaceuticals for example, that the caps or plastic casings that surround an item meant for consumption meets all of the safety requirements necessary to sell in a particular market. There is slight overlap with product information management (PIM) or master data management (MDM) products here, but because RollStream and its competitors are not yet tracking information at the item or part level, the approach is focused on safety, process, CSR and other certifications at the supplier, site or facility level..