Microsoft and Beyond — Will a Handful of Supplier Management Deals Accelerate Market Momentum?

I rarely cover vendor press releases with new customer wins, but I found this announcement that Microsoft recently selected Hiperos for supplier information management (or supply base management, as Gartner and others are calling it) quite interesting. According to the news, Microsoft will use Hiperos for the "initial supplier registration and assessment of risk to active measurement of performance, monitoring of compliance, and maintenance of supplier information." What's curious about this deal is that Microsoft already uses other procurement and related sourcing technologies and, in addition, leverages a third party to provide additional flex/contingent sourcing capabilities within its own organization. In other words, even though Microsoft was behind the eight ball in driving procurement results for many years -- if you're minting cash in software and related markets, you sometimes turn your back to the bottom line -- it's rapidly catching up to others.

I believe the recent deal with Hiperos is further proof that a large number of organizations out there are willing to pull the trigger on supplier management software investments in the coming 12 months. To date, it's been our observation that few organizations have been willing to choose integration supplier information management programs that span such areas as supplier on-boarding, supplier diversity, risk management and performance management (for further analysis on the subject as well as a basic list of what to look for in key supplier management areas, you can download our recent Compass Series paper, Leveraging Supplier Management Platforms for Multiple Goals: Risk Reduction, Supplier Diversity and CSR free of charge). Rather, companies of the likes of Microsoft have had multiple teams focused on siloed initiatives with supplier diversity as the primary historic recipient of the most attention in this area.

Going forward, the duplication of efforts in leveraging multiple platforms seems silly, and sub-optimal, to say the least. There is no reason that companies should not turn to a Hiperos, Aravo, CVM Solutions, Ivalua, AECSoft, Xcitec, Achilles, D&B or other vendors with strong supplier management capabilities for a single area. Like Microsoft, let's hope more and more large organizations considered integrated approaches to supplier management, giving this foundational and critical enabling area the attention it deserves along side eProcurement, invoice automation, spend analysis, sourcing, contract management and related initiatives. If, as Hiperos suggests, Microsoft ends up using their platform to "register suppliers, streamline AP processing, monitor data privacy risk, evaluate performance, track diversity status," among other areas, their case should serve as a useful model for others to follow.

Jason Busch

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