A consortium of US corporate giants, including IBM, Bank of America and Citi, have banded together to launch a Web site designed to make it easier for smaller firms to bid for their business.
The three, along with AT&T, Pfizer and UPS, have agreed to standardise and simplify the application process required to bid for the $150 billion in contracts the participants award every year.
The group says small companies currently have to overcome significant hurdles to applying for contracts with big business, which often requires significant investments of time, money and expertise.
IBM has put up a grant of over $10 million to build and maintain the free public Web site, called Supplier Connection, where participants can fill in a single, streamlined electronic application form for business with the big six. Other large firms are expected to join at a later date.
The site, slated to go live in the first quarter, will also help small suppliers learn from, collaborate with, and sell to each other, says IBM.
Ron Tate, SVP, supply chain management, Bank of America, says: "Supplier Connection couldn't have come at a better time. Given our recent pledge to spend $10 billion with small, medium and diverse businesses over the next five years, this tool will be key to our ability to identify those small businesses best positioned to do business with Bank of America."