One of my businesses does a small amount of work for military organisations
(no we don't make bombs in case you were wondering).
We received a letter this morning advising us of their decision to
utilise datym.com, a new central repository service for contact and address
information. The way it works is that datym.com (I didn't say snake-oil
merchants but I did think it) holds a central register of details for both the
military organisation and its suppliers, the idea being that if one party's
details change, they advise Datym who then advises all the other registered
Datym secures the data so that parties have to give their consent for other
parties to see their data.
Now I'm not a conspiracist but it wouldn't surprise me to find out that
Datym's business model revolves around giving a free-service to the primary party
(in this case the military organisation), taking a few people within that
organisation out for some nice diners, and plying them with drink while
encouraging them to coerce their suppliers into using the system. Why do I say
this? Because Datym charges the third party organisations an annual fee for the
privilege of using the system.
If we look at the way it works in practice;
- Supplier has a change of address
- Supplier logs onto their Datym account and makes the change
- Datym updates their database
- Datym send an email to primary organisation
- Primary organisation updates their database
It's the ultimate walled garden – it builds a silo around information and ties it to the software vendor's own solution.
It seems that Datym have found an excellent way to intermediate the current
situation while offering no solution to any of the problems existing in the
incumbent solution. Where change of detail processes fall down s when either the
supplier or the customers omit to change their information – nothing in the Datym offering that I can see reduces this risk.
Now of course the real way to make this process more efficient is to take the
contact information into the clouds. Both organisations would seem to be
candidates for using CRM or ERP system which already store contact information –
the power of Cloud Computing of course being in the ecosystems that can be built
around applications and their users. Within applications it would be easy for
us, as a supplier, to link ourselves to the military organisation, as a result
our changes just appear in their information flow.
Now I'm forced to agree that for a large organisation with a huge number of
suppliers – a service like Datym could be useful. There is one major, and in my
view deal-breaking, proviso to that. For it to really work a business would need
to know that all third parties used the service – otherwise someone would still
need to manually go through and pick up the businesses not using the system and
send them update advisories. Like many services whose main proposition comes
from the promise of facilitating connectedness – that facilitation only works
when all the players are on board.
For us – we filed the Datym offer in the most appropriate place – the