Making connections

Marketplace expands to include digital transformation resources

Posted on Apr 30, 2019 :: Standing Feature
Posted by , Insight on Technology Staff Writer

Digital transformation is driving change in businesses and organizations across the region, but for many leaders, knowing where to go or what to do is a challenge.

Enter the Digital Transformation Marketplace, a new part of the successful Supply Chain Marketplace. Developed by New North Inc. and now used across Wisconsin, the online marketplace connects suppliers with businesses that can use their services.

The Digital Transformation Marketplace is a tool designed to not only give businesses the information they need, but also to help them learn more about digital disruption, says Oliver Buechse, executive director of Advancing AI Wisconsin, which worked with New North to develop the marketplace.

“The marketplace is part of AAIW’s approach to ensure Wisconsin is not left behind in the wave of technological changes of the great transformation,” he says. “If we do our job well, companies and leaders will realize that they need to prepare and likely will need help. We are not in the consulting business, so the marketplace is a way of pointing them to Wisconsin resources.”

The digital marketplace works like the rest of the Supply Chain Marketplace. Companies can create a profile explaining their offerings and specialties. If a business owner needs someone to help identify new formats for working and collaborating, for example, she can run a search to see who may meet the need.

“We really wanted to connect those who are in need with those that provide those services,” says Connie Loden, senior project manager with New North Inc.

A New North Business Intelligence Committee survey of business owners underscored the need for regional business leaders to learn more about digital transformation, AI and other technologies. Loden says the survey found that 40 percent of respondents said they were highly concerned about disruption, and of that group, only 30 percent were doing something about it, such as using innovation and technology to bridge talent gaps and improve business operations.

“We had a roundtable after discussing the survey results. When we asked about what the New North could do … the key takeaway was they wanted more information and help in finding a solution,” she says. “Many people are unsure of where to go and what to look for. They didn’t know what they didn’t know. There’s a strong indicator that we needed a tool like this.”

The marketplace is easy to use for businesses on both sides — those looking for help and those that can provide it, Loden says. Businesses in need can either post a request for proposal and have suppliers respond to that or they can look at profiles to see what business might fit their needs. The RFP tool comes with an auto-notification system that informs companies with profiles on the marketplace that someone is seeking their services.

“There are different levels of understanding within the digital space. Some know they should be exploring solutions in that arena, but don’t know the specific knowledge themselves,” she says. “Others are at that next level and may already be using an application but want to do more. The marketplace can address all of those needs.”

Compared to the rest of the Supply Chain Marketplace, the digital transformation directory has unique, more specific categories of services listed. It includes categories under digital transformation, such as basic orientation and education on talent and workforce implications and technology commercialization, as well as deep technology expertise, including AI machine learning/deep learning and robotic process automation. Loden says there’s also a series of industry-specific categories, such as the digital transformation of agriculture and how local communities can adapt and use digital transformation to their advantage.

“There’s a lot out there for businesses to choose from because this is a brand-new area for so many of them, and what they are looking for is so industry-specific,” she says. “Since we reach across Wisconsin, the platform will bring in providers from all over the state. Businesses, whether they are here in the New North, in western Wisconsin or southern Wisconsin, can benefit from using it.”

Buechse says the marketplace is an open forum anyone can use.

“It is not screened and does not represent any kind of endorsement of the vendors, so the due diligence and selection process still applies, but at least we can provide a smooth transition to the next stage,” he says.

To raise awareness about the digital marketplace and to attract providers, AAIW is sharing information with its members and contacts to encourage them to create a profile. Loden also shared information about the new directory through the Supply Chain Marketplace newsletter to help it gain traction.

“While the other directories may be specific to an industry, digital technology cuts across all industries — water, food and beverage, fabrication and more. All of them have digital technology needs,” Loden says.

And for businesses already on the marketplace, they can easily add their information on the digital marketplace by clicking another box.

“The Digital Transformation Marketplace is a great tool for businesses to find the specific suppliers they are looking for,” Loden says.


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