For a while, I've felt like it's been out of vogue in Spend Management circles to emphasize the role of competition in sourcing negotiations. Optimization, target / should costing, and developing low cost country supplier relationships have stolen much more of the discussion limelight (despite the widest spread use of reverse auctions and competitive negotiation tools in practice that I've ever observed). But I'm hearing rumblings from all sides that competition is returning as a discussion topic. For this reason, my ears perked up last week when I was talking to Sean Devine over at Emptoris, and our chat moved in this direction. Sean and I agreed that an increasing number of folks are again talking about the role of competition and the optimal way of structuring markets to ensure the best possible results. Sean also told me that he was leading an upcoming webcast on the subject based on a series of presentations that he's given at recent industry conferences.