The Industry has been changed for awhile now. Getting your tender information online is nothing new, at this point. Numerous companies in South Africa, and around the world, are making tender information accessible online and have been doing so for years. The internet and email are tools that has become so common place now, that there are some that don’t know a life without it. Never mind dial-up. Not being able to use your landline at the same time that someone else was using the internet. Anyone? Anyone remember this? The pained squarks, whistles and beeep-par-beee grrrrrshshshshshshs….as your poor modem searched for lord-knows-what signal down a Telkom line.
When I first started at Leads 2 Business, asking if a potential subscriber had an email address and access to the internet was common place. “No. We do not fax you the 200-odd tenders each day“. Having to explain the difference between email and the internet was also sometimes necessary. This question rarely gets asked now. Nearly everyone has an email address and access to the internet, whether through a smartphone or tablet or home/ work ADSL. I think at this point an email address, smartphone and IG account are being issued along with birth certificates. So what does this mean? Freedom to access information. Any information, whenever you want it. Granted, there are certain disclaimers connected to certain areas of the internet. You have access, just like everyone else. Not everything that is available is true or good or even necessary. Just like people. Lol. It’s a huge market place for information, and everyone is wandering around bumping into weird little facts, and interesting stories and catching up with long lost friends from nineteen-voetsak. Social Media, in all its variants, brings people together. For better or worse. People are living their entire lives online, and their Professional lives as well.
News is no longer a newspaper or TV broadcast at seven o’clock monopoly. News is Shared and Posted and Commented on.
Education and Knowledge has received a revamp, as being sent to “look it up” doesn’t mean the bookshelf of Encyclopedias in your living room anymore (Geez, I hated that. It was just Parent-Speak for “I don’t know”). “Googling” is a verb. It’s the go-to to learn and research and stalk. Search Engines have a say on whether you will be found at all. Who looks at page 2 of a search result? Someone who is desperate, that’s who.
Communication moved from snail mail to the telephone to cellphones to email and LiveChat and Instant Messaging. (Although I do enjoy a letter now and again. That isn’t a bill, of course). Anyone flipped through a Yellow Pages recently? Nope. An internet presence is today’s advertising. It allows any potential clients to find you and therefore use you. No successful business hides from their potential clientèle.
People want what they want when they want it. That’s usually now. Time management is a huge consideration today, as “time is money”. Accessing your tender information online (and receiving it by email) saves money and time. Obviously, if you know who to subscribe with (Hint, hint. Nudge, nudge).
The Government has finally caught on. With the launch of the ePortal last year, the National Treasury is hoping to shore up our five principles of Procurement, namely Transparency, Fairness, Equitability, Competitiveness and Cost-Effectiveness. They’ve bragged about the millions, if not billions, that Government will save by utilising the ePortal for all their Procurement needs. Granted, it’s a bit of a blow to the publishing industry as tender adverts are being pulled from newspapers (but currently these haven’t dried up yet). Making tender documents accessible on the ePortal as well, will save huge document printing costs. Sad for you, if you now have to print these documents but I’m sure if you’re staring down a CIDB 9 contract; you’ll muddle through.
The Centralised Supplier Database (CSD) will ensure that a supplier or contractor or professional that wants to work with the Government, only has to register once. Then Government Departments can see and compare prices for their required goods and services. And this hopefully will ensure that every Government Department is paying the same price for bread and pens. Comparisons in the light of day, can have a major impact. But this is still new. It’s still a work in progress, as clicking through 20 to 30 odd pages of tender adverts multiple times a day is not what I would call efficient or user-friendly. I had a conversation with a subscriber of ours, and her relief when I assured her that I would be doing this for her; was quite comical. The ePortal has a ways to go and that will take time.
I like to think that we’ve done the time. And in any endeavour when you’ve sacrificed time, you gain experience. Endless conversations and emails with subscribers, have shaped our website. Understanding our subscribers’ needs and wants, and empowering them to make the L2B website work for them. Ensuring that they have the opportunity to broadcast their services and products to those who would use them. Ensure that they are listed correctly on our Directory, so no “flipping of pages” is required. Putting one more nail in the coffin of the poor fax, and facilitating their sending out countless Request for Quotes to hundreds of potential vendors. Quick and efficient searches, with relevant results. With all the advantages and benefits of being online, the most important is to use them. And regardless of how innovative the internet gets, nothing can replace the people on the other side (whether the phone or keyword or touch screen) ready to assist and support you.
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I started working at Leads 2 Business in February 2005, and have served as Head of Department of Daily Tenders from 2007 until the present. I oversee both the Daily Tenders South Africa and Africa Departments.