Seeking Spherical Supply Solutions? Succeed in the EU! Part I

Alliteration aside, the reality is that if you are looking for a modern sourcing or procurement solution, not only should you not exclude the EU, if you truly want to go global, and install global, you should probably focus in on the EU solution providers before making any decision. Here’s why.

They’re already multi-lingual!

There are twenty-seven (27) member states in the EU, speaking close to two dozen languages. To do business across the EU, you need to support close to a dozen languages, and most European sourcing and procurement providers do, and have supported multiple languages since their first release. In contrast, most North American providers built up their suite supporting only one language, English, and added other languages as an after-thought. This means that only the bigger names can support multiple languages, and your selection of global providers in the US is limited.

Plus, multi-lingual is more than just translating the UI. It’s having people who speak the language – natively – to support the product and local references in the appropriate countries. If you ask ten random EU providers for a reference in Poland or Malaysia, nine will probably be able to name three off of the top of their head. In contrast, ask ten random NA providers for a reference in Poland or Malaysia, and you are likely to get a blank stare from nine of them.

They understand the importance of locality.

And the bigger providers are global. The first thing they tend to do when they want to enter a new market is open a local office. In contrast, an average North American firm will try to serve the new locale from an existing office first, and a US one if possible, with only the help of one or two local employees to assist them.

Secondly, they understand that since most transactions involve money and legal contracts, that it’s very important to localize not only the language, but the terminology in order to come off as being a professional solution put forward by a professional company. For example, in Europe it’s “article” instead of part and “position” instead of bid.

Thirdly, localization of the supplier enablement process is very important as it is often a critical factor to supplier adoption. Each locale has it’s own business and technical challenges. For example, in addition to language and terminology on the business front, an understanding of local culture is often critical to convince an uncertain or wary supplier to get onboard. An organization that is already established in the region typically has a much better understanding of culture than one that is not. Secondly, even though there are often multiple connectivity options at an organization’s disposal, some options are not applicable to some regions. Example: punch-outs in Asia.

These are just two of the reasons. Turn in tomorrow for Part II.