I've gotten a fair number of notes and comments recently from people who I run into that they're excited to see Spend Matters covering the services procurement sector in more detail. Many of these interactions have led to additional discussions, sometimes with the vendors themselves. In a number of these chats -- especially those with the providers -- I've been surprised by how competitive the organizations are against each other. The amount of trash talking that nearly every party is guilty of takes me back to the early years of eSourcing and eProcurement. Perhaps it's healthy on some levels, but as the industry matures, I think we'll see providers compete more on their own merits than slamming those around them. Part of this maturity will come from people like my good friend and former colleague Kevin Brooks getting back into the services procurement game. In Kevin's case, this marks a return to the sector where he spent years as one of the core architects of the Spend Management philosophy and movement.
Kevin, whom I've known for close to a decade, was the co-founder of Spend Matters. In fact, it was Kevin who dreamed up the idea in the first place back when only a small percentage of people barely even knew what a blog was (including me). I was just the guy who could put virtual pen to paper and the rest, as they say, is history. RSS history, to be exact. Even though Kevin and I remained close after he left the sector, his recent paths have taken him outside of procurement into supply chain and other areas. But he recently jumped back into the game head first, taking on the CMO role for IQNavigator, one of the leading services procurement providers.
Last week was Kevin's first week at IQNavigator. In a conversation late on Friday -- and after reading his whirlwind Facebook updates from the week -- I had the chance to ask him about his interest in getting back into the sector and why he took the plunge into services procurement specifically. And here's what he had to say. First, in regards to what made procurement attractive, he suggests, "Business innovation -- whether on the product or operational end of things -- always moves in cycles. It seems to me that many leading companies have outgrown the training wheels of early spend management solutions at the same time that a new generation of procurement leaders is coming into its own. Those new leaders have seen the value delivered by early best-of-breed solutions, and they're getting much smarter about things like spend analysis and benchmarking, not to mention using SaaS and managed service approaches to attack new categories in an historically challenging economic environment. Procurement has always had the potential to drive massive bottom-line impact. Seems to me that they're finally waking up to that fact."
Regarding his move into services procurement, Kevin and I both agree that the segment is poised for some serious growth, especially as the early stages of the rebound begin to take hold. "The fact is that services represent an astonishingly large percentage of Global 2000 spend and contingent labor is one of those bellwether spend categories (buffering the ups and downs of overall labor trends), yet it and other services spend areas have been managed pretty much the same way for years. In this economy there is simply no credible reason why this type of spend should be exempt from efforts to drive out costs and improve the bottom line," he suggests.
What's Kevin's last word on his new gig and employer? Coming from a spin master, take this with a grain of salt, but if Kevin is to be believed, "For a company that leads its space with a solid track record of success and more than $7 billion in spend under management, we're actually not that well known. But that's about to change. IQ Navigator has seen 33 quarters of consecutive revenue growth, and if anything the pace is getting faster -- a rough proxy for the increasing amount of services spend being put under management by some of the largest companies in the world. That's a big deal, with big implications for the labor market, staffing companies, procurement teams, CFOs and many others. We're seeing a new cycle of innovation in the spend management space, and I'm excited to be with a distinctive, unbiased leader that is helping our customers gain control over one of the single biggest untapped categories of spend today."