If you looked at the Q109 numbers from most companies in the technology, services and content sector, you'd be hard-pressed to see signs of healthy growth. Even in the Spend Management world, the story is not perfect -- it's not bad, but not perfect (thought compared with general IT and professional services spending, our sector is holding its own and for good reason -- the hard dollar savings that investments can bring). But there is one giant bright spot in the numbers from early this year. And that's the market for supplier content and intelligence. I have it on good authority that nearly all the top vendors in the space had very strong double-digit growth numbers in Q109. One vendor in particular, Austin Tetra (now part of Experian), had what someone described as an absolutely "bang-up" quarter. Judging from what I'm hearing in the market, it also sounds like other providers in the sector had similarly strong showings.
What are the drivers of this growth? In my view, organizations are finally realizing the value of third party content -- for general spend data enrichment, to clean up supplier masters, to enable supplier diversity programs and to drive supply risk management, among other initiatives. The era of supply markets content and supplier intelligence is here to stay. It's a nuance that Ariba understands 100% in their new spend visibility offering (which I'll be covering further on Monday). And it's one that I suspect that SAP and Oracle will start to wise up to as well. As I like to say in my Spend Management stump-speech, we're going to see a new era of technology investment focused as much on managing processes and information that take place outside of our four walls as within. The booming market for supplier content is proof that companies are beginning to shift investment away from just traditional applications and into new areas that will truly enable companies to save more, enhance compliance initiatives, drive specific agendas (e.g., supplier diversity) and gain greater visibility and proactive insight into potential risks.