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

Thirty Dollar Breakfasts and Free Conference Space

by Debbie Wilson  |  October 5, 2011  |  Comments Off

There’s been some debate in the press this week about Washington DC’s $16 muffins at a conference, which ended up actually being $14.29 for a continental breakfast and facilities rental at a DC Hilton.  A Bloomberg article (see http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/revisiting-the-16-muffin-09292011.html?chan=magazine+channel_news+-+politics+%26amp%3b+policy) goes onto to say that continental breakfasts can be even more expensive – more than thirty dollars – in New York City.  Ah time to bash the government again, right? 

Well I for one think we may be grossly oversimplifying with “analyses” like this.  It’s very well known in the hospitality industry that hoteliers play games with how they bucket pricing, and those buckets are configured to present as low as possible a price for the items that are listed in an RFP.  For example,  you take any standard travel booking engine, search for a hotel, and what comes up?  The basic room night.  I’ve lost count personally of how many fabulous $149 dollar rooms I’ve stayed in (cheap room rate for a large city!)  but found $15 bowls of oatmeal, $5 cups of coffee, $12 internet fees and $17 movies.  For fees like that, hotels can almost give away the room free.  But since the travel engines present hotel room prices, not the average per night bill travelers pay —- well you can’t blame them for pricing this way.   The point is that from a TOTAL COST point of view, was it reasonable? 

I don’t know if this is the case with the “Hilton headliner.”  But it does bring up the interesting point in procurement of how important it is to make well-formed bids.  So, in other words, if you are buying internet connections and facility space and coffee and muffins – don’t make a contract award based just on the price of muffins.  I’m not saying our federal government is best in class for buying, but I think before we bash them or anyone else we should at least get the facts right!

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The 2011 Upside Software Customer Conference

by Debbie Wilson  |  September 30, 2011  |  1 Comment

It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to attend the Upside Software customer conference in Denver earlier this month.   A picture is worth a thousand words, and seeing the Upside executive team interact with its clients spoke volumes.  My take-aways: 

  • Upside is clearly an engineering-driven company.   Case studies, detailed product implementation advice and extensive discussion from clients on what features to add next were featured rather than glitzy productions and marketing messaging.  
  • Most of the attendees were hands-on solution program managers.  
  • Tim Cummins of IACCM, the keynote speaker, delivered a powerful session on thinking through the impact of company standard terms and conditions on your relationship with you suppliers.  His speech properly encouraged attendees to make sure that commercial language is not resulting in unintended consequences. 
  • Upside Software clearly has enough business opportunities to pick/choose who they want to deal with.  
  • Most of Upside’s clientele are Fortune 500 companies. 
  • Upside is clearly investing in its already robust solution to improve functionality and usability.

Clients in attendance weren’t universally satisfied with their solution or with Upside’s direction, but overall, the mood of the conference was quite positive and the ambience felt like a design meeting.  It’s no wonder that Upside’s CLM solution is one of the most robust tools in the market.

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No Substitute for Spending Time in the Field . . .

by Debbie Wilson  |  September 19, 2011  |  1 Comment

Last week at the Gartner IT Finance, Procurement and Asset Management conference in Florida was a blast.  I always learn so much when I get the chance to “live” with end users for days on end.   I had two amazing moments in the conference that I just had to share. 

My first favorite moment occurred at breakfast one morning.  I filled my plate and grabbed my coffee, and then sat down at a table of four people that seemed to be very engaged in an animated conversation.   It looked like a great opportunity to just sup and listen.  I was glad I chose that table, because they just happened to be discussing one of my favorite topics – how to measure supplier performance. 

The specific item being discussed was the credibility of vendor managers. All at the table agreed that vendor managers often seem too vendor oriented, defending and promoting their vendors to the point of nauseousness.  Their point was whether to include vendor managers’ input in supplier performance ratings.  One of the fellows at the table piped up, saying that he had solved this problem by getting the vendor managers to put their ratings in writing, in a format that made their ratings and comments visible to the full team.  By requiring the input to be in writing, the fellow said that the vendor managers were much more likely to provide fair and defensible input because they knew others would be looking.  What an awesome idea – I know providing openness and transparency internally at Gartner is a key way that we promote integrity and objectivity.  I saw the clever fellow the next day.  I happily complemented him on his creative approach and learned even more about his philosophy on metrics. 

The second totally interesting moment was when I met the CEO of the company E-Cycle, a Columbus-Ohio based IT hardware recycling vendor.  E-Cycling’s specialty is buying used Blackberries.   What amazed me was when the CEO said that the price tag for used Blackberries back could be $100 or more each.  I had not realized that a Blackberry would fetch that much, especially since most mobile programs I’ve seen offer the blackberry free or for a few hundred dollars.  But according to E-Cycle, these agreements are highly subsidized in terms of the hardware, and devices like an I-Phone might cost, on a stand-alone basis, as much as a PC.  He continued to explain that in other countries, customers have to buy the mobile device at full price, and so many are more than willing to purchase a refurbished device rather than buy an expensive brand new device.  Who would have thunk it?  From experience, I know procurement can often make a lot of money on selling excess materials, so ye in search of new sources of savings, consider this!

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Emptoris Empower – Cool Vendors – and a Boatload of News

by Debbie Wilson  |  April 13, 2011  |  Comments Off

Emptoris Empower Europe 2011    

The Emptoris 2011 European customer conference held last week was a pleasant affair.  The lovely setting by the Mediterranean Sea in Barcelona provided a relaxing backdrop to Emptoris’ favorite crowd – CPOs from the world’s largest companies, each accompanied by two or three top lieutenants.  Altogether, I estimate that 30-40 organizations were represented. 

CEO Pat Quirk opened the formal proceedings with news that Emptoris had achieved a 6th year of record performance in EMEA, closed 50 new deals and completed 400+ upgrades.  The mood of his presentation was cautious optimism, reflecting shared hope that the global economy will continue to improve. 

 The agenda of the two-day conference covered, to a large extend, news and plans that were unveiled at last fall’s Empower conference in Boston.  The main points were the introduction of Business Objects as Emptoris’ reporting and analytic tool, and an overview of echOS, Emptoris’ creative solution to ease upgrades for hosted and even on-premise installations of its applications. Although the possibility of implementing on premises and customizing its sourcing, contract management, spend analysis, services procurement and supply base management solutions is a differentiator for Emptoris, the vendor clearly doesn’t want customers to be bogged down by the common downside of such solutions, which is that they are costly and time-consuming to upgrade.  Emptoris’ products, along with the broader market for procurement solutions, are still evolving far too much for the typical client to be satisfied with what they install today as sufficient for the next five years! 

Emptoris did devote time in the conference to introduce its newest acquisition, telecome expense management provider Rivermine.  Former CEO of Rivermine Mark Logan, who is now COO of Emptoris, was notably excited by the opportunity to pitch to Emptoris’ international client base.  Emptoris also shared its work with the audience on some interesting, new enhancements.  Sadly, I do not have permission to write about these, but definitely there is some intriguing stuff going on there!  

Customer case studies and stories made up the rest of the conference.  Advances in procurement master data management came up several times. Interest in MDM seems to be making a comeback, after a couple of years of doldrums brought on by too-large projects with too-small returns further stifled by difficult economic times.  This time around, supplier and part MDM may have more legs given that solutions are increasingly configured to allow suppliers to update and maintain data themselves.  

The other major themes from the customer case studies were best practices in sourcing, and how to improve the value of the Emptoris suite through integration to heterogeneous enterprise applications.  Content on sell-side CLM was notably lacking, although Emptoris has won several new deals supporting sales contracts in the US over the last year. 

All in all, it seemed like a successful conference with a private club feel and enthusiasm among attendees for the direction Emptoris is taking. 

News

Aravo announced that it has appointed Michael Saracini as its CEO.  Previous CEO and founder Tim Albinson transitions to Chairman of the Board.  Saracini is the second veteran of the HR solutions applications market to be named in a key role at a procurement applications vendor.  The first was Rob Bernshteyn, who was named CEO of Coupa after a stint in marketing at SuccessFactors.   Aravo also announced that it recently signed new SIM deals with Pfizer and USAA.

Swedish vendor eBuilder announced that it is the first vendor to transmit live e-invoices in a program commissioned by the Swedish National Financial Management Authority (SNFMA) under the Pan-European Public Procurement Online (PEPPOL) initiative.   The PEPPOL project is making steady progress forward to facilitate online trade between government and business in the European Union, standardizing on the XML Universal Business Language (UBL) format. 

SciQuest announced that the latest release of its eProcurement solution features a) the ability for group purchasing organizations, states or other sourcing enterprises to open their library of contracts to their general membership for shopping in the SciQuest Marketplace; b) the ability for groups to work collaboratively to source and buy, and c) support for multi-location organizations with the ability to localize for language, currency, regulations, suppliers, documents and reporting. 

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) awarded a $900,000 grant to the government of Jamaica for the development of a whole-government e-procurement system.  Planned functionality includes a supplier registry, online access to procurement regulations and agency plans, e-notification of bid opportunities, download of bid documents, electronic bid evaluation and archived contract award information. 

D&B recently acquired the assets of Supplierforce, an Irish procurement suite vendor that forced into bankruptcy last year.  Supplierforce’s offering spanned supplier information management (SIM), e-tendering and contract management.  Supplierforce customers included the Bank of Ireland, KBC Bank, Musgrave and several Irish public sector agencies.  The solution will complement and overlap D&B’s current supply base management offering, D&B Supplier Risk Manager. 

In response to the Japan earthquake and tsunami, Elemica is offering any buyer or seller located in Japan free access to its QuickLink™ Portal for the next six months.  Inquiries regarding this offer can be made to Brian Selby, SVP Asia, brian.selby@Elemica.com or Ted Higuchi, MD Elemica Japan, takeshi.higuchi@elemica.com.

BravoSolution announced that it has achieved seven consecutive years of profitable growth.  The vendor touts  40,000 procurement professional users from more than 400 clients in over 60 countries, and 2010 revenues of $76.3 million.  Other 2010 accomplishments include a new office in Munich, Germany, and new clients from Mexico including the Mexican Federal Government.  Becton Dickinson, a BravoSolution client, was recently named a Gartner Healthcare Supply Chain Top 25 company.   

Agentrics announced that is has reached a major milestone.  As of March 31, the vendor said it had hosted 100,000 sourcing events and saved clients billions of dollars.  Agentrics was founded over a decade ago by several large, global retail companies  to provide a single, online exchange platform  in support of procurement and supply chain processes.  Current Agentrics customers include ASDA, Carrefour, Auchan, Marks & Spencer, PepsiCo, Casino, Walgreens, Coles and Best Buy.

Heiler software revealed that it signed a two-year, $1 million deal with Macquarie Telecom, an Australian IT services company, to host its Enterprise Product Information Management (PIM) and Enterprise E-Procurement solutions.  The move is expected to help Heiler expand its business in Australia. 

New Research (Subscription Required)

I’m pleased to announce that we have named Coupa, K2 Sourcing and Meperia Gartner Cool Vendors of the year.  Read about why these particular vendors were chosen in this newly published research note.

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A First Hand Moment of Truth – and News From Proactis, Verian and Hubwoo

by Debbie Wilson  |  April 6, 2011  |  Comments Off

One thing I’ve been preaching to the market about over the last year is the problematic nature of trying to use a business model that works well for document exchange for direct materials and catalog-based procure-to-pay to the purchases of services.   The basic issue is this:  it’s reasonable to charge a transaction fee that is based on the value of the purchase (as we see for indirect supplies), or a per-partner fee (as we often see in EDI VAN services) when there are weekly, daily or even more frequent exchanges of purchase orders, confirmations, advance ship notices and invoices.  The fee makes sense because the integration infrastructure (or e-marketplace) vendor is providing a regular service for volumes of documents exchanged. 

The nature of transactions in services however is often completely different.  Here’s a case in point – straight from one of our Gartner account executives, this week!  One of our clients  – a large, very progressive company – has a new program to get all invoices, electronically and direct from suppliers – a best practice, right?   I.e. NO OCR or someone in a low cost country BPO provider typing in invoices and sending a file to accounts payable, but state of the art, direct communication between buyer and seller.  As is traditional in other areas of spend, the business model of the e-marketplace vendor is to levy a charge on the supplier to pay for the service.  So levy they did –   and as a result, Gartner was asked to pay a 1% fee of the value of the transaction – which by the way amounted to several thousand dollars – for the privilege of uploading a single invoice for a year of research subscription services for the client.   A single invoice!

Just last week, a reference for an e-procurement vendor told me his company was having issues maintaining supplier participation in his relatively new procure-to-pay for services solution.  Participation dropped in the past year for them from 80% to 60%, due to the exact same issue, that fees based on the value of the purchase order often aren’t reasonable for this category of spend, because of the low volume of documents exchanged.  Suppliers simply began refusing to go along. 

I often get asked when P2P solutions for services will finally take off.  Clearly, barrier number one is getting a business model that is reasonable and fair to all parties involved in the transaction – including suppliers. 

News

I’m in lovely Barcelona for the 2011 European Emptoris conference.  Stay tuned for observations and comments. 

Verian announced that it has partnered with Cortex Business Solutions to offer e-invoicing capabilities integrated to its P2P solution.  In the press release, an early client for the combined solution commented that the offering will help it deal with their many buys not handled with purchase orders. 

Hubwoo announcedits 2010 results.  Overall revenues were EUR 37.6 million, up 9% from 2009.   2010 services revenue was up 27% from 2009, largely due to the implementation of several significant new SRM customers as well support of on-premise and SAP Sourcing OnDemand deployments.  During the year, Hubwoo signed 28 new technology contracts with buyers and Hubwoo recorded EUR 3.0 million in cash flows from operations. 

Proactis announcedthat BDO, the world’s fifth largest accounting firm, with 110 member firms in 110 countries, will be implementing its procure-to-pay solution.  The PROACTIS cloud-delivered  eProcurement solution will be implemented across 13 regional offices and integrated to BDO’s PeopleSoft ERP. 

Procurement automation is definitely hot in the UK.  It’s amazing how many of the references for our upcoming e-procurement vendor rating report operate in the UK.  According to this new piece, even the city of London is joining in.  The city announced that it has hired Accenture to provide services and technology, including an e-marketplace and buyer portal, to save 30 million pounds over the next five years. 

New Research (Subscription Required)

Taxonomy, Defnitions and the Vendor Landscape for Application Integration Solutions, 2011

This new must-have tome delves deeply into the integration infrastructure market, describing every type of integration solution imaginable, when to use it and where to buy it.   I am a coauthor, covering embedded integration and business process hubs. 

Key Issues in Procurement and Sourcing Technology 2011

This short document outlines our research agenda in procurement and sourcing technology for 2011-2012.

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Finally Friday – The Joy of References

by Debbie Wilson  |  March 18, 2011  |  3 Comments

It’s been an especially wonderful week this week in my work life, because I’ve had the privilege of speaking to a number of reference clients for our upcoming e-procurement rating document.  As a part of our due diligence in rating vendors, we survey and speak with as large a number of user clients as we can stand!   Doing reference work is usually an incredible experience because you get to hear about the diversity of use cases and richness of experience organizations have with a solution type.  

One of this week’s e-procurement reference calls was an oil & gas company using an e-procurement solution to buy pipe, fittings, bolts, nuts, rags and soap.  This organization heavily uses blanket order capabilities in their solution, and they [very creatively] support an in-house, third-party-run storeroom with their e-procurement system.  Some of their challenges include integrating with a separate e-invoicing platform, and managing inventory given that they do things like buy pipe by the foot but store it by the joint.  Another reference couldn’t have been more different.  This European public healthcare agency uses an e-procurement solution to buy everything from IT equipment to hospital supplies.  Their shared service implementation supports multiple business units, and their implementation houses several hundred catalogs.  This health group also uses its e-procurement solution to buy hourly services.  “Just put in clerical assistant as a product in a catalog with his or her hourly rate as the price, and then buy the number of hours worked,” said the reference when I asked him how it works.  While he admits that it may not be elegant, it does get the job done. 

Calls like these remind me not only are e-procurement systems used very differently, but also that there is quite a bit of differentiation in the market today across the solutions.  I can’t wait for next week for more reference calls.  And it’s a good thing . . I have dozens of calls to go . . . . . 

News

Zycus continued making inroads in the American higher education market – as evidenced by its recent deal to provide iSource and iContracts to Liberty University in Virginia.  

Insider Media Limited ran an interesting piece this week on fears within the clothing manufacturing industry that reverse auctions are ruining vendors.  Although the commentary provided by Jeff Banks could just be sour grapes about losing out business to a competitor, the article should be a good reminder for buyers that price is only one factor to consider when making an award.  

Maybe I’m late to the party but I just saw one of the funniest videos I’ve ever seen.  It pokes fun at some questionable procurement practices –  and unfortunately some of this stuff is all too real, which I guess is what makes it funny, no?   See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2a8TRSgzZY

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Thursday Thoughts – News and the Downside of Being the Big Fish in the Little Pond

by Debbie Wilson  |  February 17, 2011  |  1 Comment

The Downside of Being the Biggest Fish in the Pond

I am noticing a marked tendency for very large clients of very small solutions vendors to eventually have a very sticky problem.  The issue comes up when it’s time to renew a multi-year contract, when market prices have fallen significantly since the contract was originally signed.   Seems it’s quite common for the vendor to try to renew the agreement at inflated prices. Is this any way to treat what may be your biggest and best client? 

Think of the problem from the vendor’s perspective.  If the fees you are paying make up a significant percentage of the vendor’s overall revenues, then offering a price reduction means that the vendor must be willing to take a big hit to the top line.  I think many vendors would rather take the chance that the client is happy and won’t test the market before renewing – and thus maintain the higher level of sales.  And if the client does look around, well then the vendor hasn’t lost anything, has it, except maybe a bit of good will. I have seen this happen several times during my tenure at Gartner – probably because, on the whole, prices for procurement applications have been falling.

This phenomenon is a good reminder that even when you have a wonderful relationship with your vendor, if you are a big fish in their small pond, don’t be tempted to skip your homework before resigning on the dotted line.  Alas, a downside to working with small vendors.  The old adage, “You get what you negotiate” is proven once again! 

News

Basware has added a new position to its executive team – Vice President, M&A.  Matti Copeland, a member of Basware’s board from 2008-2010, is assuming the role.   Seems like a logical takeaway is that Basware is looking to acquire . . .

CVM Solutions announced a great 4thquarter.  The supply base and diversity management solutions vendor said it signed on 10 new clients including Terex and Intercontinental Hotels, expanded its relationship with 20 clients such as the Kroger Company and Cigna, and renewed 28 customers including Lockheed Martin and BNSF Railway in the quarter.   

In December, Mitratech, a Los Angeles-based provider of legal operations software, released a new version of its TeamConnect Enterprise collaboration suite.  TeamConnect Enterprise 3.3 is an extensive suite of solutions that includes e-billing, matter management and contract management.  For a great analysis of this release, which includes self-service reporting and export to Excel and .pdf, see this nifty Law Technology News piece.  

Hubwoo announced its results for its year ending December 2010. Hubwoo’s attributed its 9% year-over-year increase in revenue largely to demand for cloud-delivered SAP SRM.   

ePlus announced that it has won another intellectual property patent lawsuit for e-procurement functionality.  This time, the suit is against Lawson.  According to ePlus’ press release, ePlus is seeking a court ruling to stop Lawson from selling or supporting its e-procurement solutions.  ePlus successfully sued Ariba a few years back and we’ve heard other vendors have settled with ePlus over the threat of lawsuit. 

Upside Software rolled out UpsideLive LITE, a low-end version of its enterprise contract lifecycle management solution, for as little as $20 per month per user.  Demonstration videos are available on YouTube.  See the press release for the YouTube URLs. 

Unimarket announced that it achieved 94% revenue growth in 2010, and added 21 new customers to its roster.  The UK-based Unimarket provides e-procurement solutions to the higher education market.  Clients include The University System of New Hampshire, The University of Canterbury, High Point University, Harford Community College, The University of Waikato, Carroll Community College, Goucher College, Massey University, Belmont Abbey College and Gettysburg College.

EchoSign was recently honored by SalesForce.com as its top-ranked AppExchange contract management application for 2010.  With EchoSign, Salesforce users can create customizable drag-and-drop form fields and signature blocks, preview documents before sending for signature and create customizable alerts.

Global consulting firm PwC announcedthat it has listed Proactis, a UK-based e-procurement company, as a “top 100” UK software vendor in its Global Software 100 Leaders 2011 report. 

Verian Technologies announced it will provide purchase-to-pay automation solutions to Norse Energy Corp. ASA, an oil and gas exploration and production with operations in the U.S.   Norse plans to use Verian to improve visibility of cash commitments and budget status at the time of requisition, as well increased visibility and control over inbound invoices.

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Are YOU a Supplier Serving Customers in their E-Procurement Application?

by Debbie Wilson  |  January 27, 2011  |  Comments Off

Attention!  Do you maintain punch-out catalogs for Ariba, SciQuest, Coupa, SAP, others?  Are you logging onto your customers’ Oracle iSupplier Network?  Are you submitting spreadsheets of product data for your customers to upload into their e-procurement system?   If yes, I hope you might consider taking a short survey on your experience working with e-procurement vendors.  Write me – send a comment and I will include you in our research in this market.  If you don’t want your comment published on the blog, simply let me know if the text and I with keep it for the survey only.

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Finally Friday – Trends in Pricing & News Roundup

by Debbie Wilson  |  January 21, 2011  |  Comments Off

Pricing Trends – Up, and Down!

Pulling out of recession is great, no?  More jobs, more business, more shopping . .   well, but not everything is good about an improving economy.  Specifically, it’s not unusual for post-recession times to herald price increases and an uptick in inflation.  After all, during down times, sellers usually cut prices as deeply as possible to keep at least some cash flowing in. Why wouldn’t you raise prices when your customers obviously have better cash flow? 

It’s a little early to tell whether this phenomenon will impact the procurement solutions market – but it looks to me at this moment like it is.  Or at least it is in part.  Specifically, I’m seeing some price increases, albeit modest, for large enterprise deals.  There are however new, low-priced products either in or scheduled to arrive in the market for small and medium-sized (SME) enterprises.  For example, Ariba promotes its “Start” applications for SME for as low as $500 per person per month.  Price points like these will make 2011 the year that procurement solutions more accessible than ever.   Never a dull moment in this market!  

News

Massachusetts senator Scott Brown, the ranking Republican member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee on contracting oversight, is reportedly working on legislation aimed at cutting procurement costs.  According to the Federal Times, the expected bill will likely call for more use of strategic sourcing, and it may direct the Office of Management and Budget to develop a website where agencies can post interagency contract vehicles and government-wide acquisition contracts.  Woohoo, good stuff! 

UpsideSoftware announced the release of Version 7 of its contact management solution.  Key enhancements include improvements in the user interface such as AJAX for multitasking and support for multiparty agreements.  The solution is available now.  

BravoSolution announced that HealthTrustPurchasing Group, LP, (HealthTrust) licensed its spend analysis solution to help members improve their ability to analyze spending.  HealthTrust is a U.S.-based group purchasing organization with more than $17 billion in annual spend under contract.

Perfect Commerce announced the release of PerfectShop, a catalog solution with improved search and supplier upload functionality.  Features include plural stemming, type ahead functionality, a “do you mean” spell checker and web content search.  Users who can’t find what they are looking for through search can use form-based data entry, quick quote, and product suggestion options. 

CombineNet announced its award of six new patents for its sourcing technology.  The patents cover  the method for optimal winner determination in combinatorial auctions;  bidding language for combinatorial auctions and method of use thereof; and a concisely expressed combinatorial auction problem solving method.  I hope these patents do not bring on another round of patent infringement suits. 

Technology Marketing Corporation (TMC) awarded it its 2010 INTERNET TELEPHONY TEM Excellence Award to Avotus, a competitor of Rivermine, the company Emptoris just acquired.  Avotus helps organizations reduce their telecom expenses in part through reverse action services.   

Recommended Reading

I came across this EXCELLENT article on the value of spending analysis today in HealthLeaders media.  Check this out for a short and sweet description of the value spend analysis can add. 

New Research

The procurement solutions industry has been a-flutter with merger & acquisition activity, and we expect to see more deals announced over the coming months as vendors book more business, bring in more cash and then look for something to spend it on.  Here are new research notes on the latest deals (subscription required):

Rivermine Acquistion Expands Emptoris’ Service Spend Capabilities

Acquiring Rivermine will add telecom expense management capabilities to Emptoris’ supply chain and contract management offerings.  Increased procurement revenue could enable Emptoris to advance towards an IPO. 

SciQuest Broadens its Solution Portfolio by Acquiring AECsoft USA

SciQuest, a catalog e-marketplace, e-procurement and e-invoicing vendor for the higher education, public-sector, pharmaceutical and healthcare industries, is broadening its solution portfolio and client base by acquiring supply base management and e-sourcing suite specialist vendor AECsoft USA.

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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. 

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