Today’s guest post is by Jill Ivancich, COO of MM4, Xchanging’s procurement technology solution. Xchanging is a business process, procurement and technology services provider. To learn more, visit www.mm4.com or www.xchanging.com.
In a recent Market Overview report by Forrester Research, Vice President and Principal Analyst Andrew Bartels reported that the ePurchasing software market will see 10% growth in 2014. Additionally, Forrester and Bartels predict double-digit growth for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)-based eProcurement solutions, under which eSourcing falls. This is a promising outlook for a market that saw global revenue growth of just 5.9% in 2012, according to research reports.
Big Demand, Right Now
The report compelled me to consider what’s fueling the demand now for eSourcing. Factors like its ability to provide risk reduction, transparency and expedited savings have been big drivers for growth based on my recent experience and customer feedback, along with the intelligence it provides. The continued need to drive savings is causing companies to review their entire sourcing process and bring the best in class tools to help execute. We’ve seen eSourcing become a trusted tool for the everyday buyer — one that combines components like company intelligence, market insights, and user and supplier support. These assets ensure that clients have the intelligence needed to drive real results quickly.
The bigger picture is this: the world of procurement has reached a peak in complexity. Exchange rates have never been more volatile, sourcing destinations are experiencing huge shifts as production and services move away from China and India to new and frontier markets, environmental disasters are massively impacting supply, and trading conditions and regulations are constantly changing. In response, some of the biggest companies in the world are turning to cloud-native, next-gen eSourcing solutions to empower procurement teams to know not just how to source, but also what to source, when to source and from whom to source.
What’s Needed for Increased Adoption
The Hackett Group reports that organizations that leverage the most out of technology see 27% overall better performance within their procurement operations. And that’s exactly where more procurement teams will be investing in the coming years. But right now, we’re seeing interest levels in eSourcing peaking, not necessarily adoption. There’s still progress to be made before we reach critical mass, and that will require addressing the specific pain-points of CPOs and procurement teams, and the ability to transform business as usual with an impactful suite of diverse tools that are intuitive and easy to implement.
For eSourcing adoption to continue on its current growth trajectory, addressing the issue of support and knowledge is imperative. Supplier risk will be critical, especially as new, low-cost markets to source from are being considered more heavily. Integration of third-party information sources, so customer’s workflow and intelligence levels are optimized, will also be key.
To address the challenge of market volatility, cost modeling modules will become more important as part of eSourcing solutions. Identifying key metrics that influence the company, such as exchange rates from current or potential trade regions and commodity prices for key inputs, will be increasingly critical. Focusing on trends and forecasts rather than spot data, which often has little or no direct value in eSourcing, can help to address this challenge.
In terms of competition within the market, looking ahead, acquisitions will lead. However, the acquired won’t necessarily be gobbled up. The technology companies with the right infrastructure in place can still thrive, and my business, MM4, is one example.
New technology and service innovation has drastically expanded the applicability of eSourcing, and it will continue to do so for several years to come. As leveraging technology effectively remains a goal for procurement teams, eSourcing will arm CPOs with the intelligence needed to drive real cost reduction, make smarter buying decisions and have deeper visibility into realized savings. Solutions that support the entire sourcing lifecycle will continue to grow in demand, become more refined and play an increasingly large role in driving sourcing success for businesses of all sizes.