Ariba's Global Services Organization -- also known as Kent Parker's Fiefdom -- has to be one of the best kept secrets in all of sourcing today (BTW: If you detect any bias in this post, I will admit that I spent 5 years at FreeMarkets and still have a great degree of respect for the services organization we were able to build). Without question, FreeMarkets -- and now Ariba -- have one of the most exceptional collections of category experts on staff in the global market. Now, my mind spins when I think about the software products they could have built so far from this collective expertise -- versus what they have built to date -- although the potential still remains. But in the meantime, we can all learn from the category and global knowledge that GSO brings to the table. That's why I'm absolutely going to attend Ariba's SupplyWatch Roadshow when it stops in Chicago this spring.
According to Ariba's propaganda on the event, "The Roadshow series provides access to Ariba's category specialists, market knowledge and commodity expertise [note: superlatives removed] ... The tour kicks off March 13 in Dallas, and will continue throughout the year with events in Atlanta, Chicago, Boston, London, Amsterdam and other locations around the globe ... A unique series of briefing style sessions, Ariba SupplyWatch Roadshow events will be led by Ariba category specialists who will share market insights, commodity specific strategies and best practices that companies can leverage to advance their spend management strategies and accelerate the pace with which they deliver results." Finally, Ariba is showcasing their most valuable non-software asset -- and one that they have never really known how to market effectively until now.