Early in 2013, WNS Holdings Ltd, a provider of global business process outsourcing (BPO) services, announced its strategic partnership with Kinaxis, the provider of RapidResponse, an enterprise cloud service for supply chain management (SCM) and sales and operations planning (S&OP). RapidResponse is a single product that delivers the underlying planning, simulation, and collaboration capabilities essential to making long-term and short-term demand and supply balancing decisions across the enterprise. RapidResponse’s SCM applications—S&OP, Master Planning & Scheduling (MPS), Capacity and Constraint Management, Inventory and Supply Management, Engineering Change Management, Demand Management, and Order Promise Management—can be deployed using a common data model and user interface (UI).
Part 1 of this blog series analyzed the positive impressions from my attendance of the AribaLIVE 2012 user event. Still, while it might appear that Ariba is firing on all cylinders, as is typically the case, Ariba is not all things to all people and no company is without issues. Thus this post will discuss some challenges and related rooms for improvement.
A recent blog post talked about my attendance of the AribaLIVE 2012 user event and outlined the main premise of the event: Ariba has become a public cloud commerce network provider first and foremost, while also offering additional related spend management software as required. The vendor is striving to become a business-to-business (B2B) commerce version of Amazon.com and eBay to enable painless transactions by providing a behind-the-scene universal business translator. For more details, see the keynote presentation by Ariba’s president Kevin Costello.
This is what cloud commerce is all about: leveraging the power of a network to make business commerce as easy as personal commerce. And this is the direction that Ariba will continue to take. The vendor has gone all out to expand the Ariba Network (and the cloud-based solutions delivered within it) and extend its position as the world’s largest and most global business network. And these moves are apparently paying off.
After a hiatus of several years, the stars and planets were again aligned for me to be able to attend the AribaLIVE conference in early April 2012. And boy, what a difference several years can make! The last time I attended, in the mid-2000s, Ariba was behind its worst times of the early 2000s and the dotcom ”boom and crash.” For those that are not sure what I am talking about, in the early 2000s, Ariba had quite over-invested in its resource-heavy and inflexible client-server supplier exchanges and was bleeding cash.
The turnaround started when the company decided to focus on spend management software and know-how (sourcing, contract management, spend analysis, invoice automation, etc.), rather than on merely providing the “plumbing” for procurement transactions between trading partners. While the financial performance and posture of Ariba were noticeably improved by the mid-2000s, the company was still criticized by some market observers as being too conservative and focusing on traditional solutions.
My recent series about the merger of JDA Software and i2 Technologies raised the issue whether any independent software vendor (ISV) can at the same time be a successful professional service provider (even without considering a possible conflict with its service provider partners). Coincidentally or not, in early October Ariba sent a message to the market that its focus going forward will be on becoming a trading partner network provider with its on-demand software at the core to facilitate trading transactions.
What happened? Accenture acquired the sourcing services and business process outsourcing (BPO) business from Ariba for a reported US$51 million price tag (after scrutinizing Ariba’s Form 8K filing with the US SEC, it appears that the actual net purchase price was in the neighborhood of US$40 million). This transaction involved approximately 160 people operating in about 20 countries with notable category expertise, sourcing process expertise, and strategic sourcing execution expertise.
It would not be far off the mark to say that social media, user-generated content (UGC), and online collaboration all hit the mainstream in 2009, at least in the realm of business-to-consumers (B2C) commerce. According to Forrester, 63 percent of online retailers will make social e-commerce a top priority in 2010, with The Limited brands leading the way.
As consumers and individuals, most of us have been effectively using Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Flickr, YouTube, and LinkedIn for various personal and professional purposes. The Web 2.0 tools and technologies have certainly leveled the playing field, similar to what the advent of the Internet and e-commerce did in the late 1990s (i.e., by further enlarging the so-called “global village”).
Consumers are increasingly turning to each other to harness the “wisdom of the crowd” to empower themselves with useful info and facts to keep sellers honest. “Consumers are so good at detecting when people are lying to us; we know very easily when people are telling the truth and when they’re not,” says Chris Brogan, co-author of the “Trust Agents” book.
Part 1 of this blog series established that by offloading non-essential and non-value-adding routine tasks to third-party business process outsourcing (BPO) specialists, many human resource (HR) and payroll managers are now able to focus more on strategic and more important tasks of managing talent and human capital of the company. The discussion then went into the possible liberation of chief financial officers (CFOs) and controllers from their daily grind mindless chores. Read the rest of this entry »
While setting down the thoughts for my recent “SaaSy discussion” blog series To SaaS or Not: Is that a Question?, something else related to software as a service (SaaS) and on-demand applications crossed my mind. Namely, it is a fact that SaaS and business process outsourcing (BPO) providers have largely liberated human resource (HR) and payroll managers from the drudgery of performing menial and tactical administrative tasks time and again?
With these non-differentiating and non-value-adding routine tasks being offloaded to third-party specialists, HR managers can now work smarter and focus more on the strategic and more important tasks of managing the talent and human capital of the company. How about the liberation of chief financial officers (CFOs) and controllers from their daily grind of mindless chores? Read the rest of this entry »