A while back I wrote about Vertical Supplier Information Management, but I did not do the topic justice.  The term “vertical SIM” is insufficient to describe what the best of these providers offer– not just industry-relevant information collection–but actual credentialling and standardization.

Successful vertical credentiallers either proactively convince buyers to agree on a set of standards, or create their own standards and get big enough, fast enough to become a defacto standard for the industry before buyers and suppliers know what hit them!  This standardization creates real value for both parties. A horizontal SIM business is often just a series of portals for buyers, but a vertical SIM provider can be a true many-to-one-to-many network.

There are a surprising number of sizeable pure-play companies in this space that remain private. But in this market environment, I would not be surprised to see some go public and/or merge.  Examples include:

  • ISNetworld which began in safety credentialling in capital-intensive industries.  This is my favorite company of this genre and is a simply beautiful business.  Inc. magazine reports that ISN’s revenue in 2013 was $82.4 million up from just $36.9 million in 2009.
  • ISNetworld has spawned a zillion wannabes.  I’m only going to list one of them in deference to ISNetworld.  The largest competitor seems to be PICS Auditing which OneSource lists as having $20 million in revenue.  PICS took on a $35 million  minority VC investment in January, so there is some substantial perceived value there already.
  • Achilles Group, Ltd. has been doing supplier credentialling in a series of industries beginning with oil and gas in the Nordics and utilities in the UK.  They have very little US revenue but reported about $83 million in revenue in 2012.
  • Vendormate provides credentialling and other services in healthcare (hospitals). Healthcare Informatics lists their 2013 revenue as $25 million up from $17 million in 2011.

I’m sure there are other large companies in this space that I am forgetting or overlooking. (If you know one, please comment.)  And there are many more that are smaller.  Also, most commerce-oriented Industry Cloud providers offer credentialling as one of their lesser services.  None of these providers listed above, however, engage in commerce transactions.  The combination of facilitating commerce and facilitating credentialling is one that few platforms have successfully pulled off either in the consumer space or the enterprise space.  Perhaps this will happen through acquisition.


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