Revisiting Predictions

Whoever said that hindsight is 20/20 was definitely onto something. This is why it's always good to toss your hat into the ring with predictions before things actually happen -- even if you end up being wrong. If you take the chance, you might not always be right, but at least you can measure how accurate your ideas were after the fact, not to mention, hopefully, tipping off your audience to an idea or concept before others think about it. Earlier this summer I took out my Spend Management crystal ball and made a handful of prognostications about where I thought the market might go. Upon revisiting these predictions a few months later, it appears that some are beginning to prove out while others may have just been wrong over this short time frame.

Consider my prediction that "inflation (outside of oil) stabilizes". I think we're beginning to see this happen, at least in a number of commodity categories, as demand drops. But I was wrong to not make the call at the time that oil prices would drop as the summer progressed. At this point, I would not be surprised to see oil south of $110 per barrel by the end of August at the rate things are going (though this is heavily dependent on whether or not we have a mild start to the hurricane season).

What about the other predictions? It's too early to call. But here are two more that I've been thinking about quite a bit of late -- specifically in the technology sector: First, I do think that we're going to see one, if not two, best of breed technology providers begin to become serious mindshare competitors to Ariba and Emptoris starting later in 2008 and into 2009. Everyone is currently looking for a number three right now and I think there are multiple vendors who would like the spot -- Hubwoo, BravoSolution, and BasWare just to name a few.

Next, I believe strongly that 2009 will finally be the year that supplier content and supply market intelligence becomes a greater area of investment and interest for many companies. The driver for this growth will be the need to better manage supplier performance and supply risk -- not to mention the need to be better prepared with information to negotiate with suppliers.

In some cases this might mean working more closely with traditional enrichment and information providers. But in others it will mean turning to new sources of content, including those built around shared social networks. There's one provider for this arena out in the Bay area that I wish I could discuss. They’re in stealth mode at the moment and I suspect we'll be hearing more from them soon enough.

What do you think?

- Jason Busch

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