There's been a lot of activity at Ariba in the past couple of weeks. First, we saw the announcement that Michael Schmitt (AMR subscription required) was leaving. Now, we learn that Dave McCormick is destined for DC (provided he passes his confirmation hearings).
I wish both of them luck, and have no doubt each will be tremendously successfully in their next endeavor. Michael was one of the few marketing leaders who was also extremely experienced in sales and sales management, while Dave made up for a relative lack of business experience (a few years at McKinsey) with intellectual horsepower and savvy that took him to the top in record time. Both will certainly be missed.
Now, I'm a firm believer in change, but I worry that the Ariba needs an injection of passion and evangelic fervor. What do I mean by this? Compare a leader like Bob Calderoni with Larry Ellison. Bob comes off as a straight-shooting, experienced, and highly ethical leader versus Larry, who is as rabble-rousing, competitive -- and some might say deceptive -- as they come.
But Larry is a man on a mission. Love him or hate him, he was the personality behind the cult of Oracle's growth. On a smaller scale, FreeMarkets co-founder, Glen Meakem, reminds me a bit of Larry. Glen's passion and enthusiastic leadership -- even if occasionally with fault -- was contagious. The market saw it. Customers saw it. Without Glen, the sourcing and Spend Management landscape would have evolved differently. Sure, there were some rough spots and flops along the way, but Glen was Glen -- and the overall market was all the better for it.
Would the market evolve differently without Bob? I don't know. While Bob is someone I trust to make solid financial and strategic decisions, he's not a Larry or Glen when it comes to passion and evangelism.
With Michael and Dave moving on to their next gigs, Ariba has a great opportunity to introduce a passionate public face to complement Bob's operational and financial leadership. Who might this be? Craig Federighi is a possibility. Craig, currently CTO of Ariba, is a solid speaker and is passionate about Spend Management technology. There are others as well -- internally and externally -- that Ariba might consider to work more closely with Bob as a Spend Management zealot.
And consider they should. Because without the right evangelist, I worry that Ariba risks having its mindshare marginalized. And with this marginalization, the entire Spend Management ecosystem might come closer to being assimilated by the ERP SRM Borg. And that would be a shame.