Daily Archives: September 21, 2007

My Thoughts on the Ariba – Procuri – Emptoris Circus

This post has been updated in My Thoughts on the Ariba – Procuri – Emptoris Circus: Extended Edition . The reader is strongly urged to check out that post instead.

Ariba‘s buying Procuri! The gorilla-marketing vultures of Emptoris are trying to capitalize on it! It’s so unexciting and uninnovative that I’d rather have Keith Jackson‘s job and stop-watch how long the evaporation and ultra-violet breakdown processes actually take when a thin sheet of latex changes from a liquid to solid state.

But since I’m probably not going to get any peace until I offer my thoughts on the matter, here are summaries of the conversations that I think took place in the Ariba Executive suite before the first offer, the Procuri Boardroom when the offer was seriously being considered, and the Emptoris marketing cage when word leaked that a tentative agreement was reached.

Scene 1: The Ariba Executive Suite. Yakko, Wakko, and Dot are sitting solemn and anxious around a big table late last year.

Yakko: Our stock price is dropping!
Wakko: Our profits in danger of stopping!
Dot:   And our boss is very unhappy with us.
Yakko: We need a new idea.
Wakko: But we’ve already tried IKEA!
Dot:    And that kid who used to ride the spiffy short bus!
Yakko: If we don’t do something fast …
Wakko: We might run out of gas …
Dot:    Or at least champagne shooters!
Yakko: We need to make innovation!
Wakko: We need to take back the sourcing nation!
Dot:   We need to go to … Hooters!
Yakko:  Yes, those are lovely owls!
Wakko:  Lets give them our towels!
Dot:    And then order in Chinese.
Yakko:  I’m a bit grumbly …
Wakko:  And I’m a bit humbly …
Dot:    And I like to swing in the breeze!
Yakko:  Maybe we should get some fresh air!
Wakko:  The air is stale around my chair!
Dot:    And our food is at the door!
Yakko:  I’ll pay for it!
Wakko:  Pay … that’s it … we need to pay for it!
Dot:    What do we have to pay for?
Yakko:  Something .. we’re here for something …
Wakko:  That’s right … something …
Dot:    Yes … we need … to raise … profits!
Yakko:  But we have no ideas …
Wakko:  And we can’t sell IKEA …
Dot:    And the big guy’s taking fits …
Yakko:  So why don’t we just buy some!
Wakko:  Yes, it will be so much fun!
Dot:    And we might even get some cash out of it too!
Yakko:  But we have lots of software …
Wakko:  Yes! It’s right over there …
Dot:    And we’ve even got a network to woo!
Yakko:  But we don’t have every single buyer!
Wakko:  It could be because our prices are higher!
Dot:    Or because our competition has more SaaS!
Yakko:  So let’s just buy ’em!
Wakko:  Then we’ll have show’d ’em!
Dot:    With a good swift boot to the *ss!
Yakko:  We’ll get all the revenues!
Wakko:  In all the glorious green hues!
Dot:    And maybe even the mid-market too!
Yakko:  So, who do we buy?
Wakko:  Who’s on-demand with the biggest slice of pie?
Dot:    Covered in anchovie stew!
Yakko:  I know! Procuri!
Wakko:  They’re always in a hurry!
Dot:    To take deals from us!
Yakko:  Then we’ll have the buyers!
Wakko:  And our revenues will be higher!
Dot:    And our boss will finally give us the short bus!

Scene 2: The Procuri Boardroom … a few months ago. The Goodfeathers have just entered.

Squit: As far back as I can remember …
Pesto: Do you think you amuse me with your rambling? Do You!
Bobby: You talkin’ to me? YOU TALKIN’ TO ME?
Squit: I’m not talkin’ to you!
Pesto: Dat’s it!
   Thwok! (Pesto conks Squit.)
Pesto: Now why are we here?
Bobby: We have to make a decision.
Squit: Are we gonna off someone? Are we? Are we?
Pesto: I hope so! I want to cap some ‘caps!
Bobby: No … we’re not capping anyone. We’re here to talk about a deal.
Squit: Why?
Pesto: I still want to pop off a few!
Bobby: Guys! Guys! We’re not in that business anymore! Remember! Those days are behind us! Way behind us! Over a decade ago. Well before Procuri.
Squit: I know, I know. But I’m bored.
Pesto: And I’m anxious!
Bobby: Yes … so let’s get down to business.
Squit: What are we here for today?
Pesto: The usual briefings?
Bobby: No, someone made us an offer.
Squit: An offer?
Pesto: An offer?
Bobby: Yes, an offer … for Procuri.
Squit: How much?
Pesto: How soon?
Bobby: A fairly large amount … in the near future.
Squit: What’s the multiple?
Pesto: Is it what we’d hoped for?
Bobby: Not what we’d hope for … but not bad either. I think we should consider it. We’ve been in this particular game a long time … and I think it’s time that we move on.

Scene 3: The Emptoris Marketing Cage … late Wednesday night.

Pinky: Gee, Brain. Ariba’s buying Procuri! Narf! What do we do? Zort?
Brain: The same thing we do every night, try to take over the (sourcing) world!
Pinky: Zoink! But how are we going to do that, Brain? Ariba just hit a home run? Right? Blip!
Brain: FUD!
Pinky: Fud? FUD? Yeah! What’s FUD?
Brain: Fear! Uncertainty! Doubt! We’re going to convince them that Chicken Little was right! That the sky is falling!
Pinky: The sky’s falling? THE SKY’S FALLING!!! HELP!
Brain: Yes, that’s the general idea!
Pinky: We have to take cover! Narf! COVER! Zort!
Pinky! That smarts! WhatchaDothat for, Brain?! Zoink!
Brain: You idiot! The sky’s not falling. We’re just going to convince the dimwitted masses that the sky is falling.
Pinky: So they’ll buy metal umbrellas? I’ve always wanted a shiny metallic umbrella, Brain! Can I have one? Please? Oh Please? Please?
Pinky: Oww! Owowowowow!
Brain: No dipstick! We want them to think that the rug is being pulled out from under them!
Pinky: … but that sounds scary, Brain!
Brain: Yes! And that’s the point! We want them to think that their applications, support, and service are going to disappear over night! They’ll be terrified … and looking for a better answer.
Pinky: An answer? I’d like one of those!
Brain: Yes … and we’ll be that answer! We’ll bombard the media! The only other name they’ll see is ours! We’ll pack it with reassuring messages that only we have an integrated solution! That only we are pure! That only we can support them without a hitch for as long as they need us! And …
Pinky: And …
Brain: That only we’ll give them credit for investments they’ve made in our competitors … that only we will give them up to a year free!
Pinky: I like Free!
Brain: Yes … everyone likes free … but it won’t be … It Won’t Be …
Pinky: So we’ll be – what do you call it … bending the truth again — just like our “one” product is really Zeborg, Intigma, ValueEdge, MindFlow, Dicarta …
  Thwap! Clonk!
Brain: I told you to never speak of that again!
Pinky: Sorry!
Brain: But it will work! It will work! The sheep will panic and run to us! We’ll let them in and count their dollars one million by one million by one million!
Pinky: And then we’ll rule the (sourcing) world? Narf!
Brain: Yes Pinky, then we’ll rule the (sourcing) world!

“The ‘truthiness’ is, anyone can read the news to you. I promise to feel the news … at you.”
  Stephen Colbert, The Colbert Report

P.S. The satirical play above is the only post I’m going to make on this subject. If you’re interested in having this relatively uninteresting and uninnovative piece of news analyzed seven ways from Sunday, please look elsewhere. This blog is about sourcing innovation, not merger, acquisition, and marketing frenzy. At the end of the day it’s what the solution can do for you, and not who owns it that’s important. Have a good weekend.

Crouching IBM, Hidden Accenture

Every now and again I search for Sourcing Innovation on Google, expecting to find this blog and companion website, a few Spend Matters posts, Nine Sigma, a service for innovation seekers looking to hook up with innovative solution providers using open innovation, and maybe the Wikipedia definition for innovation. But I recently ran the search, and what did I find in the top 5? IBM with their Innovation Sourcing white paper and Accenture with their Innovation Sourcing Strategy Matters research report. And, especially in the former case, what nerve!

According to IBM, innovation sourcing is the term used to collectively describe the assets, processes, and techniques used in outsourcing contracts to drive innovation. I have to disagree. As far as I’m concerned, innovation sourcing is innovated sourcing and innovated sourcing is any sourcing endeavor you do that applies innovation – be it outsourcing, insourcing, category sourcing, or personnel sourcing. And the innovation doesn’t have to to be restricted to processes and techniques – it could be the technology you employ, the location of alternate materials, or even finding a way to bypass sourcing altogether. Now I know I should be flattered that they used my blog as their inspiration for suggesting a way to take outsourcing to the next level, but they could at least get it right!

In Accenture’s paper, penned by the Institute for Strategic Change back in 2003, they noted that although many companies are increasing their reliance on external sourcing for innovation, most of them lack an innovation sourcing strategy that would not only help them decide what combination of internal and external sources they should consider but how to leverage those resources throughout the innovation chain. This is important because a good innovation sourcing strategy can open up new doors, delivery quality results faster, cut the cost of innovation, facilitate priority calls, and even stimulate internal innovation while the lack of such a strategy carries risks and costs.

According to Accenture, a good innovation sourcing strategy, which should be holistically driven, addresses five questions:

  • What is the organization’s innovation strategy, including desirable domains and end products for innovation?
  • What are the key sourcing principles?
  • What are the firm’s innovation sourcing channels and what needs do they address?
  • How are the interfaces across channels identified and managed?
  • What international organization mechanisms need to be established to leverage external sourcing effectively?

Not bad … but what about Why?? And, more importantly, Why?? First of all, you can’t develop an effective innovation sourcing strategy unless you know why you should have such a strategy, and how it could help you source better. And secondly, you need to know why you want a strategy. Because a strategy takes commitment, and that takes drive.

Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, Mz. Dawson is Sassy … and so am I!