Filling a Research Void: Spend Matters Compass (Part 1)

I can't tell you how often someone corners me and tells me how much they enjoy reading Spend Matters, but wished that sometimes we'd dig a bit deeper into the subjects we cover. This feedback comes most frequently after I give a presentation, or spend a day with a client exploring a subject in grave detail. The typical comment in these situations is, "Wow, why don't we see more of this type of in-depth stuff on the blog?" I often read between the lines in these cases, and chuckle when someone has this flash of insight that I'm not just a superficial, scattered nutcase who jumps from subject to subject. (Well, not always.) In fact, they usually realize at this point that there's often significant substance behind the higher level ("People-magazine-esque," as one person described it) spend musings on this site. Then comes the obvious question: why not share as much detail and analysis online as you do offline?

There are two ways to answer this question. The easy answer is that I designed Spend Matters to whet the appetite on a range of subjects tied to the rather ethereal subject of spending. The other is that I prefer this format to the incredibly dreary material that passes for the kind of research I've spent the better part of my career having to sort through (and still do). Candidly, writing Spend Matters the blog is more fun than any analyst research I've done at the various stages of my career. I've described Spend Matters as a type of modern day Spectator designed around procurement and supply chain rather than just social and historical musings. For those unfamiliar with The Spectator, it was a remarkable literary invention for its time. A pamphlet authored by Joseph Addison and Richard Steele, in the words of History Magazine, "The Spectator had an effect on English society and literature quite out of proportion to its brief run of less than two years … Each issue consisted of one long essay … [which] turned out to be the right format to appeal to the taste of a relatively new affluent class."

The pamphlet "set out not only to entertain and inform, but also to edify and instruct morally and aesthetically. Addison and Steele's stated goal was to 'enliven Morality with Wit, and to temper Wit with Morality.'" In short, The Spectator gave a newfound middle-class readership in the early 18th century enough insight on wide ranging topics for polite cocktail conversation while providing some degree of opinion at the same time. Milton it was not! So you see, perhaps we could classify The Spectator as the first blog. By reading it, you would be "in the know," and as you became more in the know, you'd probably crave even greater detail and analysis. Which now, leveraging the Spend Matters site, is exactly what we plan to provide. If we get this right, you'll get everything you need in one place for both procurement water-cooler and boss conversation as well as the details you'll need to make better decisions.

Starting Monday, February 1, we will be launching the Spend Matters Compass series, our first foray into a research calendar-driven program. Spend Matters Compass will provide an objective and highly readable look (complete with downloadable reports) at the business issues driving the need for particular technologies and solutions. Published over a quarterly period, each series (we're planning on a total of nine or ten this year) will feature three-to-four downloadable (.pdf) whitepapers or "briefs" relating to a common theme and topic of particular interest to procurement, supply chain, and technology executives. In addition, each series will include a one-page summary Compass dashboard, featuring visual and graphical elements that highlight key takeaways and elements for executives.

We will promote each Compass publication on the main page of Spend Matters in a new section designed specifically for the Compass series. This promotional window, below the current "Comments" section, will feature the theme title for each series. This new window will directly link you to a landing page/micro-site for each Compass series, where you'll be able to register and provide contact details before downloading each Compass brief or dashboard. The research will be free to readers, providing access to a level of insight that, if available, would cost thousands of dollars elsewhere under a traditional analyst model. In exchange, readers agree to have their information shared with Compass series sponsors, just as if they had signed up for a webinar, podcast, or related program elsewhere. Each Compass series will be limited to five sponsors, none of which will have any unfair advantage in influencing the content. What sponsors will have is the unique opportunity to comment and respond to the content as the series approaches completion. They will do this in a special format both on Spend Matters and via their own sites (if they choose), and they'll also gain unique exposure by being a part of it.

The theme of the initial series, launching on Monday, is "The Services Spending Revolution: Gaining Visibility, Control, and Savings." We're hoping that this series will provide the most comprehensive procurement-focused research into services procurement in the market today -- fee-based or otherwise. The first topic we'll explore will be "Selecting Services Procurement Technology – Options, Approaches, and Philosophy." After this, we'll explore the following three topics as part of this series (look for new content additions throughout February and March):

  • The Managed Services Connection -- The Evolving Roll of MSPs in the Contingent Spending Ecosystem
  • Services Spend: Beyond Contingent Labor -- The Roll of Broader Services Categories in an Overall Services Spend Management Program
  • Making Procurement a Services Spend Ally -- Tips and Tactics for Winning Over Business

In early March we'll launch a second series on the theme of "Spend Visibility and Beyond -- Analytics' Broader Role in Procurement and Supply Chain." The third series, launching in April, will feature individual topics revolving around "Getting the Most from ERP Procurement and Spend Management Applications."

For providers interested in sponsorship, limited sponsorship is available for the first series, although time is running out to get involved before the initial content goes live. Recent sponsors of other Spend Matters content have had an excellent return on their investment, from a demand-creation perspective (we're happy to share anecdotes and examples offline if you're interested). For more details on the Compass opportunity as well as to learn about the demand-creation results that Spend Matters has achieved for others, please contact William Busch, Spend Matters VP of Sales, who can share more details, including other benefits of sponsorship. Bill's email is: wbusch (at) spendmatters (dot) com.

Stay tuned for more information on Spend Matters Compass in the coming days. In the meantime, as the Compass series launches, we look forward to the open and honest feedback of the Spend Matters community. We are confident that this new venture will satisfy those readers looking for the next level of analysis and detail from the site.

Jason Busch

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