Daily Archives: January 8, 2008

the doctor Takes His Turn With the (Supply Management) Magic 8-Ball – Part I

Everywhere you look, someone is summarizing the best of 2007 or making their predictions about the forthcoming year on a technology-by-technology or vendor-by-vendor basis. However, since the nature of futurism is that it’s virtually impossible to get the micro-level details correct, I’ll instead ask the Magic 8-Ball what’s in store for a bakers dozen of vendors in the year ahead. I’ll also indicate whether or not I agree, but point out that these will just be the doctor‘s best guesses – not statements of fact.

Question: Will Aravo finally hit its groove with its new Sustainability Program Management Platform?
 8-ball : Signs point to yes
Question: What about their new blog – 2Sustain?
 8-ball : Outlook Not So Good

Aravo has a good supplier information management solution and a good sustainability management solution with its ability to manage massive amounts of data on a web-based platform where all data can be maintained through a centralized interface that allows each relevant party to maintain its own data. They certainly deserve to take off, either on their own or through a strategic merger or acquisition, but its hard to say when, or how, that will happen. As for the blog, due to the lack of regular posting, I don’t think it will be a big hit – but it will be a good tool to get the message out about what Aravo is trying to accomplish to potential customers.

Question: Is this the year Ariba gets innovative?
 8-ball : Very doubtful
Question: Will they successfully integrate the best of Procuri?
 8-ball : Better not tell you now
Question: Will they at least support Procuri through 2009?
 8-ball : Don’t count on it

So, does the 8-ball have it right? Maybe. As far as the doctor is concerned, Ariba hasn’t been truly innovative in a long time, and even though Procuri had innovation in them, it’s a reality that most acquisitions usually result in the loss of a substantial amount of the innovative talent in the company being acquired, even if the acquiring company tries to keep them. Furthermore, even if they do support Procuri for longer than everyone is expecting, it’s probably safe to say that the integration of the best features of one platform into the other will take longer than predicted, since that is the industry norm. But regardless of what happens, you can be sure they’ll be putting out press releases at least every other week and getting lots of media attention.

Question: Is this the year that people finally understand the difference between static reporting on data warehouses and true spend analysis?
 8-ball : Concentrate and ask again
Question: If it is, will BIQ finally break into the limelight?
 8-ball : Yes – definitely
Question: If it isn’t, will BIQ still continue steady growth?
 8-ball : You may rely on it
Question: Will BIQ continue to innovate in spend analysis?
 8-ball : It is certain
Question: Will BIQ finally get the media / analyst attention it deserves?
 8-ball : Outlook not so good.

I hate to say it, but I think the 8-ball is on one heck of a roll. BIQ is likely to keep innovating, likely to be one of the few companies that actually understands what spend analysis is, and one of the few companies that actually offers a real spend analysis solution. However, it’s also likely that, thanks to the confusing B.S. being spread by most of the vendors in the space, that this will not be the year where the average buyer realizes what the difference is between static reporting on data warehouses and true spend analysis (despite my efforts). It’s also likely that the media and so-called analysts will continue to ignore BIQ in favor of the larger vendors with the larger marketing budgets. However, once someone sees their solution, I predict that, at least in the indirect space, they’ll win more deals than they lose and continue to grow.

Question: Now that Co-exprise has started promoting its new solution, are buyers going to accept it?
 8-ball : Most likely
Question: Will the next release contain all of the key requirements of spend analysis for direct sourcing?
 8-ball : Signs point to yes

I’ve reviewed the Co-exprise platform twice – and I’m impressed with what they’ve been able to do in a relatively short time. They don’t show any signs of slowing down on the development front, so it’s more likely than not that they’ll continue to innovate and achieve the goals they’ve laid out. Also, due to the lack of integrated PLM and sourcing solutions in the direct sourcing space, I think many buyers are starving for options (since the only other option for some of these companies is Siemens PLM – which was the UGS / e-Breviate solution), and that a fair number will accept it – or at least give it a shot.

Question: Is this the year that Emptoris gets innovative?
 8-ball : Concentrate and ask again
Question: Is this the year that Emptoris makes another acquisition?
 8-ball : Reply hazy, try again
Question: Is Emptoris going to go public this year?
 8-ball : Signs point to yes
Question: Any chance that they’ll succeed in luring away droves of Ariba / Procuri customers and possibly become the number one player in the next year or two?
 8-ball : Cannot predict now

Well that’s a pretty non-commital 8-ball – but it’s probably right. With Emptoris, you just never know.

Supply Management in the Decade Ahead VI: Developing Category Strategies

In this post, we continue our coverage of Succeeding in a Dynamic World: Supply Management in the Decade Ahead, a detailed report based on research jointly undertaken by the ISM, A.T. Kearney and CAPS Research in an effort to update the 1998 CAPS Study on The Future of Purchasing and Supply: A Five and Ten Year Forecast. The heart of this report was seven critical supply strategies for succeeding in a dynamic world. This post, and the six posts that follow, will focus in on each of these strategies in detail, starting with the development of category strategies.

Category strategies are designed to maximize value by leveraging resources and capabilities. In the future, changes in business models, industry structures, technologies, customer demands, environmental regulations, and a host of other factors will change not only how value is defined but how external resources and third parties help you deliver it. We’ve already seen the transformation from “best price on assured supply” in the early 90′s to total cost of ownership in the early 00′s.

However, as the doctor has been predicting for quite some time, we’re starting to see the push towards total value, which will increase as time goes on. For example, as noted in the report, companies are now looking at options to outsource business processes and activities that are not core strengths, creating new categories, and for suppliers with capabilities that can add new types of value. For example, engineering companies are no longer looking for the lowest cost suppliers, but suppliers with NPD (new product design / development) capabilities and suppliers who can improve the the design of existing products. In the future, leading companies will seek to gain access to, and leverage of, each other’s value chains as a way to enter into new markets.

Category strategies – which will address how companies speed NPD, how they implement the best value for a category worldwide, and how they stimulate the creation of new products and services with the support of suppliers – will focus on the total alignment of customers and suppliers to meet competitive objectives across the end-to-end supply chain. For example, a robust category strategy could include multiple and concurrent initiatives, including low cost country sourcing, design specification change, and switching suppliers to increase product innovation and supplier development.

The report also noted that the time horizon for category strategies will extend beyond the typical time frame of three years (or so), to six or even ten years. Moving production from mature to developing countries, developing performance and capabilities knowledge about best-in-class suppliers, developing supplier relationships and establishing on-the-ground supply-market and government regulation knowledge all takes years to accomplish. Furthermore, given the short life-cycle of many of today’s consumer products, while you’re sourcing today’s product, you need to be actively engaging with your supply partners that are going to help you design tomorrow’s product and prepare it for production, while also engaging innovation experts to help you brainstorm the product that will replace tomorrow’s product.

The report also polled professionals on which strategies will be the most important in the days ahead. The top six strategies identified were:

  • Aggregation and Management of Total Expenditures for Key Categories Across the Enterprise
  • Spend Analysis in Products and Services
  • Drive Decisions with Total Costs
  • Develop and Manage Supply Strategies using a Formal Process
  • Price Benchmarks
  • Improve Price Forecasts

The report also found that the category strategy portfolio will have to increase significantly, and that the tools used to evaluate strategy alternatives and risks/rewards will have to multiply as well. The report highlighted the following strategies and tools as important extensions to your current strategy portfolio.

  • Supplier Integration into NPD and Order Fulfillment
  • Risk Mitigation and Contingency Planning
  • Total Value Measurement and Learning
  • Change Management
  • Category Strategy Documentation

The chapter concluded with some generic strategy enablers that will help you regardless of the strategy you employ:

  • Executive Engagement
  • Cross-Location and Cross-Functional Teaming
  • High-Quality Spend Analysis
  • Category Research, Fact Finding and Analytics

Finally, I’d like to point out that the report has a very good table on page 47 that compares the differences in strategy development and strategy enablers between the decade ahead and the decade past. The table alone is worth downloading the report for.