AiThority Interview with Ben Vaught, CEO at DemandStar
Hi Ben, tell us about your journey and how you arrived at DemandStar.
I’ve always been fascinated with bringing ideas to life – through public policy, creating software and hardware that empowers people in new ways, and now connecting government buyers with qualified suppliers. Ideas can inspire in their own right, but only through their application can they make a lasting difference.
What is DemandStar and which industries are you offering your services to?
We connect businesses to hard-to-find government opportunities, and businesses to a large and vibrant community of businesses across America. Through this network governments are able to increase competition by three times for their projects and bring more small, minority-owned, woman-owned and veteran-owned businesses to the table.
COVID-19 has brought to standstill many businesses. What impact has it made to your business?
It’s made us prioritize consistency and execution. All governments we serve are navigating uncertainty, and we need to be as certain and stable as possible for them as they do so.
How are you planning to bounce back – Any suggestions for your industry players, customers and technology providers, in general?
We encourage current and prospective government suppliers to be open to more ways they can provide value to governments across a wider range of contracting opportunities.
The massive change the COVID-19 response has brought to all businesses may lead to some incumbents pulling back from government work, opening up space for new businesses to move in.
Tell us how the online procurement marketplace from DemandStar connects suppliers who manufacture masks, gloves and cleaning supplies with local government agencies that are needing these items and other materials. What is the timeline you promise to keep for the customers?
We connect any government who needs it to our network of medical supply, PPP, and emergency response providers, for free. By posting a bid or quote with DemandStar, a government buyer can take charge of the buying process by proactively soliciting legitimate suppliers through electronic bidding.
The Online Supplier landscape has evolved massively, transitioning from the dotcom era to the modern mobile. Tell us about the next phase of evolution in this industry.
We are seeing B2B marketplaces emerge in every vertical; Business-to-Government is no different. The next phase for government contracting will be a shared supplier network that connects businesses directly to many governments through a common workflow.
We are seeing the importance of contactless delivery, robotic automation and mobile app analytics in E-commerce shipping fulfilment. How does DemandStar leverage these technology platforms?
Government purchasing managers will be asked to do more with less as COVID-19 budget items take priority. The time to automate manual processes, pushed off for years, will now become a necessity.
Introducing AI into a purchasing process involving multiple stakeholders and criteria will be challenging, but these times demand that technology companies figure it out in a way that works for government.
According to you, which industries align with the modern e-commerce market.
Well, easy-to-purchase goods are already there. Things with a bar code, like janitorial supplies and tools. The industries that will need to rapidly adapt to the modern e-commerce market are the purchases without an easily-scannable bar code – things like an elevator, or a building renovation, or services such as maintenance contracts.
What is the future of AI, ML and Robotics in Order Fulfilment and Shopping experiences?
AI and ML can help government buyers leverage data from many trillions of dollars of government spending to help design better solicitations and step up to the negotiating table with an upper hand based on knowledge of past awards. They can also help suppliers craft better responses to bids and RFPs.
Tag a person from the industry whose answers you would liketo see here—
Mariel Reed, CEO and CO-Founder at CoProcure.
Thank you, Ben! That was fun and hope to see you back on AiThority soon.
Ben Vaught is the CEO of DemandStar. Ben founded DemandStar as an independent company to continue growing our network of government buyers and suppliers.
Previously, he was director of government initiatives at Onvia, a public sector business intelligence firm. Ben led multiple innovation and strategy efforts as senior advisor to the Washington state chief information officer and spent six years at Microsoft, where he incubated Microsoft Hololens®. He holds an MBA from the University of Washington Foster School of Business and dual bachelor’s degrees in English and government from Georgetown University.
At DemandStar, our mission is to connect businesses to government opportunities. We empower state and local governments to do their best work for the people they serve, by connecting them to a vibrant community of qualified suppliers through a powerful, easy-to-use marketplace that is free for all government partners. We provide easy access for all businesses to tens of thousands of opportunities within government, with instant notifications and direct buy opportunities posted exclusively through DemandStar. In business since 1998, DemandStar serves over 400 governments across 26 states, and is made up of passionate employees and advisors dedicated to building the leading business-to-government marketplace.