Debbie Wilson

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

Deborah R Wilson
Research Vice President
8 years at Gartner
15 years IT industry

Deborah Wilson, a Gartner research vice president, covers procurement strategies and applications. Her areas of interest include procure-to-pay, e-marketplaces, e-sourcing, spend analysis, services procurement and supply risk assessment. Read Full Bio

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Marvelous Monday – Social Networking, News, and Lots of New Research

by Debbie Wilson  |  January 10, 2011  |  5 Comments

Social Networking Comes to Procurement?

I’ve been asked several times over the past year by internal colleagues and various vendors whether I see demand for “Facebook” type social networking functionality in procurement applications.  My response is usually something along the lines of, “You’ve got to be kidding!” even though I love Facebook and I use it all the time to keep up with personal relationships.

So why the poo-hooing you ask?  Having spent 13 years in the field in procurement, I can tell you that “my kind” are often curmudgeonly, unsocial people.  Consider the job of the procurement professional and you’ll understand why.   You typically have a lot of buying power, and as a result, you get throngs of people continually trying to flatter you, get your time, and be your “friend.”  It’s well established fact a salesperson who remembers your children’s names and asks you how your weekend went is more likely to win an order from you that one that just gets down to business.  We are human after all.  But after a few years of continuous “friendly gestures” from those throngs of salespeople, many procurement folks get jaded.  And should I mention the fact that I haven’t had a SINGLE end user client ask for this type of capability?     

That is, until last week. I couldn’t believe my ears!  The client asked for social networking functionality, although the orientation was internal, not with suppliers.  They were seeking something to facilitate interactions among distributed, global groups, and the idea of teammate pictures, interests and contact data was attractive. 

And actually, I found a reason myself to think about social networking.  I’ve been upgrading my vendor interaction record-keeping and I have noticed that gathering data such as titles, background and even pictures . . oh did I really say pictures?  Yes I did . . .and having this data handy when I get on the phone with that vendor is really cool because I can actually visualize the person I am speaking with!  Or at least I get a view of what the person looked like ten years ago ha ha ha. 

But all kidding aside, these are exactly the types of triggers I’ve been waiting for to consider thoughts of social networking in procurement with more than a sigh.  Facebook, here we come! 

News Roundup

1Choice Solutions, a North American reseller for Dolphin contract management software, announced an extensive list of new features designed specifically for the US Federal FAR and DFAR contracting process support.  New features include contract request forms and contract amendment management. 

Vinimaya released a new product to help clients optimized e-catalog search.  Vinimaya SmartRank Analytics provides data on failed searches and allows procurement to prioritize search results. 

Ariba announced that the Dana Farber Institute, a leading cancer research and treatment center, will utilize the SaaS-delivered Ariba® Contract Management solution to drive compliance with its contracting process and gain greater visibility into and control over its spend.   Ariba also announced that it will offer its contract management solution on the Salesforce.com Force platform.  The press release emphasizes a sell-side use case for the solution.  Limited product availability is scheduled for the first half of 2011. 

Rent-A-Center, Inc., operator of 3,000 North American, company-owned outlets renting major consumer electronics, appliances, computers, and furniture, announced that it had contracted with Coupa for e-procurement and Emptoris for contract management for an integrated spend management solution.  This creative combination supports functionality such as invoice match to contract.  

Selectica announced that Zebra Technologies, a specialty digital printing and automatic identification solutions operating in more than 100 countries around the world, will be implementing its contract management solution for reseller, independent contractor and NDA agreements.  According to the press release, Zebra will initially implement Selectica “in the cloud” – I see this as another sign of increasing acceptance of on-demand applications. 

Another country announced the adoption of electronic bidding.  This time it is Mongolia, and its project is supported by the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. 

Hiperos, a supply base management vendor we recently profiled, announced that Summit Partners has made an investment in its business.  Summit Partners is a growth equity investor with notable software vendor investments such as Hyperion Software, GoldenGate Software, McAfee, and Postini. 

iMANY released version 7.5 of its ContractSphere® 7.5 Platform.  This release includes enhancements in iMANY® Contract Manager, including streamlined authoring, management and storage of enterprise contract documents with improved Microsoft Word fidelity and a contract creation wizard. 

There were two important acquisitions in the industry:  Emptoris announced the acquisition of Rivermine, a telecom spend management vendor; and SciQuest announced its purchase of strategic sourcing, SIM and diversity vendor AECsoft USA.  Gartner research notes with analysis and advice is in the works for both of these deals.  

Ecteon announced that Point Park University in Pittsburgh, Pa. chose the Contraxx Enterprise solution to manage purchasing agreements and property agreements. The software is slated to help increase efficiencies and reduce legal risks by ensuring a central contract repository.

Spend management solution provider Zycus announced that it is opening new offices in Paris, Ohio, Chicago and San Jose.  In the press release, the vendor also reported that it is doubling the size of its global sales and marketing teams. 

New Research (subscription required) 

Best Practices for Choosing, Implementing and Using E-Sourcing Solutions

Are you wondering what criteria to evaluate solutions against, how to improve e-sourcing solution adoption or whether one sourcing solution can support all sourcing types? If yes, this is the note for you!

Ariba Enters into an Agreement to Acquire Quadrem

This note presents our analysis and recommendations on this significant procurement solutions industry acquisition. 

Vendor Rating: SAP

This research note rates SAP capabilities from applications and analytics to ecosystem.  Mickey North Rizza and I wrote the section on procurement application functionality.

5 Comments »

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5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Mike Kanze   January 10, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    Debbie,

    Happy 2011!

    The use of a social networking tool like Facebook for internal interaction is not a new or farfetched idea. Several organizations have implemented similar tools, ranging from using Facebook itself to applications with similar (and usually more limited) functionality. The University of Phoenix where I teach grad and undergrad business classes recently launched a homegrown social networking application (actually a glorified chat room) to improve opportunities for faculty:faculty, faculty:student, and student:student contact.

    I agree with you that extending something like this outside the organization is not such a hot idea for supply management professionals, for both the reasons you cite and for legal reasons (think Robinson-Patman Act, Sherman Anti-Trust Act, etc.). However, I can see utility in well-managed social networking tools that cross organizational boundaries, for project work or other temporary needs.

    Cheers!

    Mike Kanze

    Robert M. (Mike) Kanze, MBA
    CPSM, C.P.M., A.P.P.
    President
    Cornerstone Services, Inc.

    Consultants to organization leaders in supply management, administrative change, and management accounting.

  • 2 Debbie Wilson   January 10, 2011 at 10:50 pm

    Nice to hear from you as always Mike! Your U of P program sounds cool. Does it include a picutre and profile?

  • 3 Tim Phillips   January 11, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    Debbie:

    Clients of ours are having phenomenal success with Facebook. Whether retailers looking to move the FANS closer to their ecommerce or technical B2B publications that use Facebook for think tanks and value their print materials digitally online for reference and referrals, it’s been a great success.

    We have customers who are seeing more ecommerce traffic via Facebook Apps then through the online catalog itself or their websites. The “cheese” is moving and many people are finding that moving closer to their clients result in better business relationships.

    Love to continue the discussion,

    Tim Phillips
    Director of Sales
    Dirxion LLC

  • 4 Mark McCarthy   January 13, 2011 at 8:48 am

    Hi Debbie,
    Are you aware of Ariba Exchange? It’s exactly as you describe, a kind of Facebook for procurement people.
    http://exchange.ariba.com

  • 5 Mike Kanze   January 19, 2011 at 2:55 am

    Debbie,

    >Your U of P program sounds cool. Does it include a picutre and profile?

    The University of Phoenix (UPX) faculty chatroom facility has provision for both a photo and an avatar, as well as a fairly complete profile. The profile is skewed toward info pertinent to a university setting (courses taught, degrees held, scholarly articles published, etc.) as well as contact info and more general, Facebook-like stuff.

    I haven’t used the chatroom yet. It’s all I can do to even monitor my Facebook wall, much less keep my profile there up to date. (I gave up on my Twitter account pretty quickly.) Many UPX faculty have the same problem – we’re too busy with the rest of our lives to entangle ourselves in yet another social networking medium, especially one connected to what is for most of us only part-time employment. We have plenty of interaction with each other through other means, and (in my case) with our students face-to-face in the classroom.

    Cheers!

    Mike

    Robert M. (Mike) Kanze, MBA
    CPSM, C.P.M., A.P.P.
    President
    Cornerstone Services, Inc.

    Consultants to organization leaders in supply management, administrative change, and management accounting.