Lies, Damn Lies, and Emptoris …

Observant readers of SpendMatters, which just may be the only other blog you have to read daily*, will have noticed Jason’s Emptoris: Going Under the Numbers which contained one of my favorite lines of the year (sorry SpendFool, you’ll just have to work harder on flashing that wit): Lies, Damn Lies, and Emptoris …. In his post, Jason was commenting on the shallow depth of their recent financial announcements and that we don’t really know how well they are doing since “good” statistics can be swayed to say anything you want, but that’s not why the line stuck with me. It stuck with me because after recent conversations with other industry observers, including those who usually know what’s going on, it’s clear that no one outside of Emptoris (or at least no one that hasn’t been sworn to a level of secrecy that most governments would envy) really knows what Emptoris has, what they are doing, or where they are going. I believe that we knew more about East Berlin when the wall was up, Russia when they were hiding behind the Iron Curtain, or China when the red curtains were drawn then we know about the software and service offerings of Emptoris.

You might remember my Emptoris Update post back in January that was about as informative as a hastily written press release after a long night of binge drinking and debauchery where the writer was working against a 6:00 am deadline at 5:55 am. What I didn’t tell you is that most dentists have an easier time pulling teeth then I had extracting even those few tidbits of information, and I only got those because they were going into a press release.

I know some companies are secretive … but when you consider how much time they spend on press releases, that they hold user events, and that they even take the time to brief bloggers, you’d think we’d know a lot more … especially since they claim to be #2 and on track to displace Ariba as the largest solution provider in the space. But the reality is that their press releases are mostly fluff, their user events are generally closed to current users only (with us inquisitive bloggers banned), and the briefings they give are not much more informative than their brochures and press releases … even though the PowerPoints are quite nice. (That’s right … PowerPoints!) I’m left wondering just how much is release-ready product versus how much is still in development.

It all comes down to the fact that if they are so great … then why aren’t they shouting it from the rooftops? Why aren’t they doing the Procuri Extreme Tour and showing their product to every Larry, Darryl, & Darryl that will take the time to check it out? After all, if they’re as good as they claim, and that far above everyone else … then you shouldn’t be afraid of IP theft. Because by the time your competition figures out how to duplicate what you have, your innovative team would have you two releases down the road and still years ahead of the competition.

At this point, you’re probably saying the doctor has gone mad! Especially since he’s just announced site sponsorships are forthcoming. Well, my response to this is I doubt they’d sponsor Sourcing Innovation anyway. They did not sponsor Spend Matters, I know they had the chance, and considering their goal appears to be to go head-to-head with Ariba and win, you’d think they’d want every last potential customer to not only know about them, but think of them every time Ariba is mentioned. (Especially considering they also want to make sure they don’t lose the middle market to Procuri, a competitor that claims to be winning more deals then Emptoris when they go head to head. And Spend Matters was the one place they could have their logo side-by-side with Ariba and Procuri.) All I can say is that I’m not crazy. Just tired of the poor reception.

* I’m not saying Spend Matters is the only other blog you should read – as I also strongly endorse e-Sourcing Forum and Supply Excellence, and Procurment Central (at least when Dave has the time to publish), especially when David doesn’t have to resort to the nth+1 post on e-RFX (can you believe that there are still people not as enlightened as we are who still don’t get the basics of eSourcing?) and Tim talks about something other than the latest fiasco in the Detroit automotive sector (we get it … the Geico caveman is smarter, and until such a time as the Detroit industry giants bring in a management team with at least the intelligence of the Geico caveman in supply and spend management, nothing’s going to change) … but if you had to pick just two blogs to read daily, and consolidate the rest in your RSS feed reader for later, Spend Matters would be my other choice.