On Tuesday, July 10, 2012 the FCC’s Office of Communications Business Opportunities (“OCBO”) hosted its inaugural Supplier Diversity Conference and Workshop. The conference provided small, minority, and women-owned businesses access to information about the business opportunities available in the government and private sectors, and how to compete for those opportunities.
The Conference consisted of two separate panels. The first panel featured procurement officers from the Department of Defense, the Department of Transportation, the Minority Business Development Agency, and the Federal Communications Commission. Each representative spoke about areas where business is growing and gave in-depth examples of costly mistakes companies can make while bidding on a Government contract. One officer detailed how a company held a contract with their organization for more than five years. The contract ran its course and in the company’s new bid it did not talk about the services it offered, only that it held the contract previously. Subsequently, the company lost the business.
The private sector panel included supply chain executives from AT&T, Microsoft, Verizon, Sprint, and Comcast. The representatives encouraged conference participants to focus on a select number of services they can offer when placing their bids. The concensus among the private panel representatives was that companies purchasing products or services from potential suppliers must be wary of suppliers who signal that their companies are experts in a large number of areas because often times those companies are not particularly good at any area.
Participants from the workshop were then paired with panel participants in breakout sessions lasting 25 minutes. In the private meetings, companies and the potential suppliers were able to discuss details of what the companies had to offer and what services the suppliers could provide. In total, there were 54 individual conferences and approximately 30 significant contacts between the companies representatives and the supplier representatives throughout the conference. There have been many additional quality contacts between companies and supplier representatives since the conferences has ended. We believe these contacts will foster an environment that will allow business relationship to flourish in the future.
Workshop participants were extremely pleased with the practical, hands on advice the executives provided. Overall feedback from participants about the conference has been positive and we are looking forward to improving the conference next year.