At Emptoris Empower, I had the chance briefly to catch up with Bill McBeath of ChainLink Research. ChainLink was previously acquired and then spun-out from Marsh (click here for past related posts here and here on the firm and the history of this relationship). In any event, Bill told me that the firm, now once again independent, is back to its usual research stuff, providing high caliber reporting and analysis in the supply chain area. In fact, I'm sure it's not lost on the Ann Grackin, who embarked on the ChainLink initiative while still at AMR years ago, that her firm is not the last remaining independent supply chain-focused research shop, carrying out analysis in the spirit of her former employer.
In any event, it's good to see Ann and her cohorts back up to their usual stuff. A recent brief (which is available in article format for free) examining forces driving the convergence of physical and financial supply chains does a great job providing a condensed look at the plethora of innovations and activity in the area, including looking at "what it means for people in supply chain, finance, treasury, and banking functions" and and "various types of trade finance throughout the purchase-to-pay cycle, including Receivables financing, VMI financing, In-transit financing, and Pre-shipment financing."
I personally believe that there is a significant opportunity for third-party firms to step into the independent void left when Gartner acquired AMR. Even though Gartner has succeeding in keeping a number of top analysts like Mickey North Rizza, I have my doubts about whether they'll be able to attract the same type of DNA that the old firm did. Fortunately, with the re-emergence of ChainLink and potentially new research houses like what Andrew Bartolini has started with Ardent Partners and CPO Rising, it's clear that independents are willing to step in and fill an important void.