In the past six months, we've lost what I consider to be the two mainstays of the media and analyst coverage of the procurement and supply chain sector -- Purchasing Magazine and AMR Research. To be exact, we haven't exactly lost AMR yet -- it's now part of Gartner. But we all know what that will mean once the analyst dust eventually settles. As I examine this evolution from practitioner, vendor and consulting perspectives, the attrition of both organizations will have a large impact on how we receive current information and news on the sector, including everything from commodity price trends to selecting the right eProcurement technology. Going back a decade or so, it was almost a given to rely upon these two sources for a substantial portion of the market intelligence we consumed on a weekly or monthly basis. Now, flash forward ten years: today, our information gathering strategies couldn't be more different.
The amount of potential insight and news available to us in our current environment has never been greater. Thanks to the proliferation of blogs and other sources of information (e.g., vendor newsletters, conference company newsletters, etc.) there are far more words written about the procurement and supply chain sector than ever before. But are they more valuable and as useful as what Purchasing and AMR Research used to stand for and publish on a regular basis? I'm not so sure. Yet I do know that this monumental evolution of how we get information and intelligence is still in the process of unfolding. Here are five observations on how I see it going:
- We increasingly rely on third-parties (e.g., Spend Matters, Google news, etc.) to act as aggregators, telling us what stories we should be reading. Still, many of us have a difficult time keeping up with the many new sources of information available to us.
- We are getting used to a more in-your-face style of reporting, rather than the type of journalism and analyst research where opinions are more carefully coached (still, certainly working their way below the surface).
- We're beginning to look outside traditional trade sources of reporting into the mainstream news as well as narrowly targeted sites (e.g., MetalMiner) for insight into specialty areas. Generalist trade reporting on areas such as metals, plastics and electronics is slowly fading in favor of expert-driven reporting and analysis.
- Consultants, bloggers and independent analysts have stepped in to fill a void around software selection and advice, especially for non-IT resources investigating their options. Analyst opinions still count -- but they're counted as only one of multiple opinions by those actually doing the buying.
- We are placing greater trust in individuals and expert commentators than larger corporate reporting or research brands -- even those that have been around for decades. Still, it's possible for the individual inside larger firms or research houses (e.g., Mickey North Rizza, Pierre Mitchell, etc.) to develop and maintain just as strong a brand as they could independently. By the same token, it's also far easier for such experts to strike out on their own as well and maintain their audience.
What do you think? How has the fall of the select few sources of information impacted the rise of many sources? Also, how does this in turn affect how we then search, consume and digest information?
- Jason Busch