One of the major announcement sets at the recently held joint SAPPHIRE NOW and SAP TechEd event in Madrid, Spain, November 13-16, 2012, was about SAP’s plans to infuse SAP innovations into the world’s most powerful business network, Ariba Network. Through the recent combination of SAP and Ariba, close to 1 million companies are now connected to the Ariba Network—more than any other trading network. The introduction of SAP innovations in social, mobile, and cloud and the in-memory technology of the SAP HANA platform should logically drive global business-to-business (B2B) collaboration and achieve even higher levels of efficiency in sales, procurement, invoice, and payment processes as well as insights through the business network.
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.
I recently published a TEC article about my attendance of Emptoris’ Empower 2011 user conference this past fall. What follows now is my deep-dive interview with Terrence Curley, Senior Vice President (SVP) of Product Strategy and Development at Emptoris, with the idea of developing some of the main messages from the conference.
My recent post Why don’t Potential Benefits of Spend Analysis Come by Easily? described typical challenges of comprehensive spend management solutions. On one hand, there are difficulties associated with massive spend data acquisition and subsequent classification and enrichment, and on the other hand, with presentation and analysis when done using rigid business intelligence (BI) tools over predefined database schemas. I analyzed some examples of automated spend analysis process improvements via expert systems and search engines, but they might also come with different shortcomings.
I concluded my post with hints of some solutions that leverage dynamic on-demand databases and easy-to-use Google-like analytic tools (dashboards) to overcome many of the challenges that previous generation spend analysis and data classification solutions fail to address.
For years (if not decades) now, but especially during tough economic times, companies have been trying to better analyze their enterprise spend over their comprehensive pools of sourcing categories (and individual items and commodities within these categories) and suppliers.
The idea here is to find room for improvement and savings by pinpointing strategic centralized (consolidated) procurement opportunities for a better negotiating power, discovering better (and worse) performing contracts and their individual terms and clauses, by eliminating costly maverick spending, and by dealing only with the best and most reliable suppliers. For more information, see my previous blog series entitled “Are Spend Management (or SRM) apps Suited for the Mid-market?” and TEC’s article entitled “Thou Shalt Manage (and Cherish) Thy (Best) Suppliers.”
While many companies have experienced significant benefits and improvements by deploying spend analysis solutions from specialists such as Ariba, BravoSolution, Emptoris, Oracle, Proactis, SAP, SAS, and Zycus, those benefits do not come by easily or cheaply. Namely, every comprehensive spend analysis implementation is, in fact, an implementation of a sophisticated business intelligence (BI) solution.
Part 1 of this blog series introduced PROACTIS, a UK- and US-based specialist vendor of spend control and e-procurement solutions with accredited partners worldwide. I had the chance to meet the company during my attendance of UNIT4’s UK user event in early 2010, where PROACTIS was an exhibiting partner.
The article then expanded on the company’s history, its procure-to-pay product offering, customers, and partners. Part 2 will analyze recent events, starting with the latest product developments.
In this day and age of news flying fast over the Internet and tweets reaching every nook and cranny of the world, it still took physical attendance at an overseas event for me to learn about a lesser-known successful software vendor. Namely, during my attendance of UNIT4’s user event in the UK in early 2010, I encountered PROACTIS as UNIT4’s exhibiting partner for spend management and e-procurement solutions.
PROACTIS Group, a wholly owned subsidiary of PROACTIS Holdings Plc, was founded in 1996 under the name Get Real Systems Ltd. The company’s first product release was called the Dream Suite and was launched in 1997. The next product’s generation was named PROACTIS 2 and launched in the late 1990s as a PowerBuilder-based client-server software suite.
Part 1 of this blog series talked about my impressions following an upbeat and constructive business update meeting at Emptoris’ headquarters. Under its new investors’ wing, with a new customer-focused CEO, and with the former Click Commerce’s contract and service management (CSM) business as a new major capability, Emptoris has charted a new course recently.
Good news is scarce these days across the board, and I am always keen on reporting on rare bullish enterprise applications businesses, especially if the company is in my neck of woods. Recently, I had an upbeat and constructive business update meeting in person at Emptoris’ headquarters.
The Burlington, Massachusetts, US-based company was founded in 1999 as a strategic sourcing software company, pioneering the use of optimization in strategic sourcing of both direct and indirect materials.
Last week, I attended a supply chain management (SCM) user conference in Florida.
The main objective of the user conference was to help users learn and share experiences to eliminate business pains faced either due to lack of technology or business processes. MS Excel, was proudly mentioned in many of the conversations I had with supply chain professionals. It felt like SCM professionals were married to Excel, and their supply chain and operational activities cannot function without it. Read the rest of this entry »
Part 1 of this blog series depicted the differences and some subtle similarities between the well-established enterprise applications giant SAP and up-and-coming vendor Endeca Technologies. The post ended with the new fundamentals for the future of enterprise applications that were outlined at the Endeca Discover 2009 conference.
Part 2 of this blog series explored how SAP is adapting to the new fundamentals outlined in Part 1, especially with respect to the notion of BT or “business technology,” which denotes a pervasive technology in use by casual users and end users alike, increasingly managed outside the direct control of IT departments. I also explained the architecture of the recently unveiled SAP BusinessObjects Explorer product.
Part 3 continues with SAP BusinessObjects Explorer’s traits and areas for improvement, especially in terms of the user experience. Read the rest of this entry »
Part 1 of this blog series introduced some common supply chain challenges and resulting spend management opportunities for companies of all sizes. The article then went into the philosophical and functional differences (if any) between the “spend management” and “supplier relationship management (SRM)” monikers.
Further discussion was about what exact functional parts of this software category small and medium enterprises (SMEs) might need. To that end, Part 2 focused on typical Sourcing and Procurement capabilities that cover most of the spend control needs for mid-sized enterprises.
My previous blog entry about procurement commandments in a down economy also made me think about whether there are different priorities for the chief procurement officer (CPO) during prosperous economic times. Or, how different are (or should be) the CPO’s strategies in good versus bad times?
Well, the CPO’s fundamental objectives do not change: procure the physical goods and services needed by the company at the best possible mix of price and performance (non-price features). The focus can shift at times from operational streamlining to new product introduction (NPI) to supplier rationalization.
In lean times, however, there will be pressure to do even more with less, postpone large expenditures, and get additional concessions from suppliers (e.g., better shipping rates, rebates, discounts, or better payment terms, etc.). Amid all of this, the CPOs must provide high-quality service guidelines to their employees to encourage the proper use of systems and policies, and to reduce maverick purchasing practices. Read the rest of this entry »