As a result of the M&A frenzy that continued throughout 2018 and recent investments by P&E firms taking majority stakes in a few suite players, every vendor is now all about the “platform” because apparently the “platform” is the ultimate software solution for every Procurement organization.
While it’s true that some vendors are bringing platforms to market with immense value, a platform, in and of itself, has no value. To put it into simple terms, a platform is what you build on … and the best way to think about it is like a construction platform. Without it, you can’t build anything significant … but it doesn’t do you any good, and that’s why the construction company generally takes it away when they are done. The only difference is that a software platform is, in reality, a mix of a foundation (that you build your office building on) and a platform (that is used to finish the walls, etc. on the higher floors).
The reason a platform is important is that, without it, there is no foundation for integrating new modules, integrating third party best-of-breed solutions, or integrating third party data feeds that bring facts and intelligence needed by the organization to make good Sourcing and Procurement decisions.
There’s a reason we asked why is it all about the platform when it should be all about the power last year in the midst of the M&A frenzy. A platform, on its own, does nothing, saves you nothing, but still costs big licensing fees.
Before you jump on the “platform”, make sure it has the “power” that is worth the price-tag. If it’s 100K, there better be 100K of functionality out of the box.
Plus, if it’s a real platform, it should have sufficient do-it-yourself connectivity because, as we have noted many times, no platform excels in everything that is needed to support the S2P cycle and you will have to bolt-on some best of breed solutions and integrate third party data feeds.
Always remember, despite the table pounding and cost-cutting demands, your job is to generate value. There’s only so much cost that can be cut in any category, and once it’s cut, that’s it. So you need something that can identify more value (in value-add services, differentiated/sustainable components the organization can charge a premium for, better reliability, etc.). That takes more than just a “platform”.