So here’s our obligatory mention and our obligatory Christmas post in the supply chain spirit. (It’s farm-to-table, right?)
And the reasons are the same as they have always been. (And the doctor just wishes they’d stop speaking at the events he has to go to.)
- They Have No Knowledge as they come from different backgrounds which offer them no education or experience in Supply Management.
Just because you can get high, have psychedelic visions, white them down, and spin a good yarn doesn’t mean you can be a futurist. A poet, sure, but not a futurist …
- They Have No Vision beyond what the rear view mirror (or the hydrocarbon gas from the bituminous limestone) offers them.
When Meatloaf said “it was long ago and far away and it was so much better than it is today“, he was referring to newly discovered young love, not business processes identified 30 years ago …
- They See Too Many Organizations Stuck in the Past and a few organizations (in the Hackett top 8%) ahead of the pack and they think they can peddle these best practices as future vision.
This is not 1914 (which was 12 years before the first transatlantic telephone call) where good ideas take years to spread (and the first person to bring a new idea or technology from a different continent can make millions on someone else’s work) and a career can be built on one single improvement — this is 2019 where it only takes a few seconds for a story to be spread around the world. But I guess if you can’t look beyond the rear-view mirror …
So, why are so many organizations still stuck in the past (and fueling the flame that powers these fantasy futurists spinning the same yarns they spun five years ago and driving the doctor mad)? There’s a few reasons, and they include:
- Lack of Education
Many Supply Managers were simply thrust into the role, with no training or background for the role. And despite the fact that they have some competence or experience in other areas, they are so ill-equipped and ill-prepared for the role that they might as well have been dropped in The Lost World.
- Lack of Resources
Most Supply Managers are overworked (and underpaid, but who isn’t these days) and resource-constrained, with no time for training and no budget even if they had the time (or would sacrifice their few remaining free hours to get better and more efficient so that maybe someday they can take a whole weekend off).
- Lack of Clarity
With no formal education, no training, and no resources to make sense of the barrage of BS being thrown at them by futurists and analysts alike, how can they differentiate between current and past processes and technologies and what they need to embark on a path that will ready them for what comes next?
And the third reason is the most crucial. Until they get some clarity, Supply Managers are going to continue to be taken in by modern con-men (who include 2nd rate analysts, consultants, and salesmen of outdated technology) selling them silicon snake oil when they just need modern sourcing and procurement tools that fit their workflow and daily needs.
That’s why SI is here – and why the doctor co-invented (and single-handedly developed the sourcing, supplier management, and analytics) Solution Maps which grade a platform on functional capability only — not subjective vision, market size, arbitrary inclusion parameters, and other factors that are easily embellished or hidden behind a smoke screen.
So if you want a vendor who can help you, chose one based on solid capability. And if you want an analyst that can help you, choose one that bases recommendations on real data. Then you will make progress.
Ten years ago the doctor penned a post here on SI which noted that one of the regular features here on Sourcing Innovation (and now over on Spend Matters too for those that opt for the full physical) are vendor solution reviews, which occur only after the doctor has seen the product. This vendor coverage provides solution providers with a great opportunity to reach a broad, global, audience and are generally quite well received. But there are still vendors, some who have been around since 2009 or longer, that still don’t get their checkup, even when reminded by the doctor or the administrative team at Spend Matters.
Occasionally the doctor tries to figure out the most likely reasons why, but at the end of the day the five reasons put forth in 2009 still bubble to top:
- The product doesn’t exist.
- The product doesn’t work.
- The product works completely differently than the marketing spin around it.
- A discussion of the product’s capabilities “gives too much away” to competitors.
- the doctor is distrusted for some reason.
And the doctor‘s responses are the same as they were a decade ago.
As far as 3,4,5 are concerned, no legitimate vendor in our space is selling snake oil or moonshine. All the products work, and accomplish some significant fraction of their mission. So that can’t be it.
With regard to 2, companies should understand that their competitors know them well, perhaps better than they know themselves. Nothing that the doctor might say is going to give away any secrets.
Finally, with regard to 1, the doctor has never slammed a company with a product that accomplished its designated task reasonably well, especially when the company is open about its strengths and weaknesses. The Sourcing Innovation and Spend Matters Pro vendor post archives prove this, far better than any claim we could make here.
Moreover, if a prospective target can’t find any external reviews on you, how are they going to find you? And even if you find them, why should they trust such a closed, secretive, organization? Think about that.
All the doctor can say is that if there’s nothing [relatively recent – last 2 or 3 years at most] out there about you, then you should reach out and get on a review calendar today (especially since the few senior analysts who are left are now booking months in advance due to increased demand now that our space has produced a few unicorns).
the doctor thoroughly enjoyed the theme of last week’s Synertrade Digital Procurement Summit, which was the “Mars Age of Procurement”. Not just because it was forward thinking, but because a vendor finally proved to SI that at least some of their staff have truly been following the doctor‘s writings for years (including the writings here on SI).
Long time readers will recall that back in 2013 SI asked Why Aren’t We on Mars Yet? because General Dynamics promised us a manned mission to mars in 1975 back in 1963 and almost 40 years had passed since the promise and a mission to mars still looked to be decades out. And it wasn’t just interest in the space race that prompted this — it was knowing that this would force us to look ahead to the next generation of Supply Management challenges (and start thinking about truly next generation solutions to address them).
Simply put, it’s one thing to source everything needed to build and equip a shuttle for an International Space Station (ISS) mission, another to build and equip a craft for a mission that could easily span half a decade, and another challenge yet to manage the reverse transport of recyclable products and any raw materials we may be able to mine from Mars. So, as you can imagine, seeing a conference embrace a theme around the “Mars Age of Procurement”, even if only metaphorical, is very satisfying as it means the vendor knows that supply management challenges are always going to increase in complexity as our goals and needs evolve, that a company needs to take a long term vision in order to adapt and succeed, and that they understood the hidden metaphor the doctor put forward all those years ago.
Especially since times have changed in the six years since the article was penned. Now that the space race has become the chosen pet project of the tech billionaires, we are being told that we could see a mission to Mars by as early as 2038, which, while over sixty years late according to the General Dynamics timeline, is less than two decades in the future and gives us hope that we may yet again try to explore beyond the planet.
And this is another reason SI is very satisfied with the conference theme! The mere fact that an IT company, which has already survived for two decades as a stand-alone player with a single code base that has never grown by acquisition, wishes to be around as a stand-alone company in twenty years is truly admirable. We are in an industry where most companies want to see how fast they can get acquired or merged with another company at an investment multiple that makes the investors and founders rich; an industry that has already become the new “hot” landscape for Private Equity (PE) firms looking to roll-up, take public, or flip as many companies as they can in the Source-to-Pay (S2P) space now that it has three stand-alone Unicorns (valued at over 1 Billion); and an industry that creates solutions required by every single mid-size or larger company in the world. (All successful growing companies buy and sell — that’s just how business works.) When you consider all that, the fact that Synertrade is one of the few platforms that has deep support for direct (materials) and optimization, it’s leadership rankings from multiple analyst firms (including Spend Matter’s Source-to-Pay Solution Maps), and the fact that Synertrade, especially over the past few years, has grown to be a dominant player in the Source-to-Pay space (especially in Europe) that has been increasing it’s customer base by over 15% year-over-year and it’s revenue by about 30% year-over-year for the last four years, this is very notable.
And yes, the event was very well done. For more insight into the event, SI is directing you to the doctor’s pieces over on Spend Matters which talk about some of the key insights brought forward.