Ketera Connect: Dispatch Two

Innovation Matters

I've only had the opportunity to meet Burton Goldfield twice since he took the helm of Ketera, but in both instances I was struck by two things. The first is his genuine curiosity in exploring and bouncing ideas off those around him. He's like an angler, trying multiple hooks and lures to see what might work, constantly changing the bait and tactics in search of an optimal solution. The second thing is his commitment to innovation. This might seem odd for someone who is clearly more at home in an executive sales role than developing code or leading architectural discussions. But Burton genuinely is interested in pushing the limits of both technology and solution development -- and he's clearly passionate about it.

Burton kicked off Ketera Connect by providing a few figures on Ketera, including sharing some growth numbers and relaying their new mission statement: "Ketera delivers a competitive advantage to its customers by providing visibility and control into corporate spend". I don't know what you think, but two of the statements in the previous sentence might seem in conflict with each other, these being "competitive advantage" and "visibility and control". Why? If looked at from the Spend Management rules of the past, the former suggests changing the rules of the game, while the latter suggest a means to an end. But I believe Burton might be onto something here by tying these two more closely together. Might this be a new Spend Management?

Burton believes it is, calling it ESM 2.0. What's most interesting about his argument for a new Spend Management is that finance is as -- or more -- important in driving success home as procurement. For Burton, this means "addressing budget, expense, cash issues when they happen" and "proactively highlighting audit issues and process inefficiencies" from a finance-driven perspective. And of course tackling SG&A expense matters as well (but we all knew that already). But the key is packaging and positioning this information for finance executives in a real-time manner -- to help them better effect Spend Management by helping the procurement organization.

To bring this potential alive, Burton shared four concepts of solutions and dashboards aimed at finance executives. The first, a finance-driven approach to supply base analytics, would offer financial and compliance analytics on top of spend visibility. In other words, this would be "spend analysis tuned for finance, with drill down" capabilities. The second, a cash management solution, would enable finance executives to get a better handle on A/P (this one, in my view, will put Ketera on a collision course with banks and Ariba, who also plan to tackle the same opportunity). But the third and fourth examples Burton shared are more original, providing a Big Brother finance-driven oversight into procurement. These included finance-driven supply risk management and forward visibility into spend which would "raise alerts when spend commitments violated budgets or when contract leakage occurred".

All in all, fascinating stuff. And I've only shared with you the publicly disclosed finance-driven ideas Burton and Ketera have up their sleeve!

Jason Busch

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