CombineNet Continues its Leadership Transformation (Part 2)

In today's post, we continue our interview with CombineNet's recently hired new CTO Steve Brooke. See Part 1 here.

Spend Matters: Do you plan to further simplify the existing ASAP solution - or create a CombineNet Lite self-service version for the SaaS masses?

Steve: We will continue to focus on usability and feature expansion to drive wider adoption of the ASAP solution. Our ASAP solution is deployed in a self-service mode for all of our customers, and our expert services is there to assist with product training and best practices. Given the progress of the product today and customer adoption behavior, a "lite" version is not currently in the plan. But of course, we will continue to assess customer and market feedback along those lines.

Spend Matters: How do you view your challenges coming from a self-service software sales culture, going into an organization that is now moving to that type of culture from what was historically one of consultative expert-focused professional services fueled by a product?

Steve: I would say that we aren't just moving to that self-service software culture, but that we have embraced it and moved there, and are seeing results. CombineNet today is managing all aspects of its business around a self-service, SaaS-based, product-led delivery model, including sales. We've gained strong traction with this strategy, so I see it today as a familiar culture, one that we'll continue to build on. We do still have excellent product services at CombineNet, so that as we on-board our customers, they are best positioned for success and strong ROI. The team here has been at work to inform the market of these changes to our business, which is always a challenge as you shift strategy, but I think some great progress has been made there.

Spend Matters: What is CombineNet's biggest challenge technically? How do you plan to overcome it?

Steve: Our biggest opportunity, and challenge, is to more readily integrate with our customer's other enterprise systems. Because we are a best of breed provider, we must provide a path for our customers to leverage our solution in concert with their other enterprise solutions. We already have initiatives underway that will provide robust integration capabilities to our customers. You should see more about this in the near future.

Spend Matters: Where do you see CombineNet and their solutions 3 years from now?

Steve: I see two related paths of evolution for CombineNet. One is that we will expand our core solution set to enable us to apply our optimization technology in other areas of procurement, supply chain, and enterprise decision-making. The second is that we will pursue the expansion of our product offerings into other sourcing related requirements and related applications. A more complete offering of CombineNet solutions that allow us to put more of our customer's spend under management is the path I see.

Spend Matters: What is the biggest untapped area outside of basic e-sourcing, advanced sourcing/optimization, etc.? Knowing what you know, if you were to build a completely new solution in a related but different area, what would it be and why?

Steve: I have always been enthralled with the potential of applying optimization technology to solve other business problems. I even formulated a concept several years ago that would provide suppliers with optimization technology to help them with their bidding decisions. While this may not be something that CombineNet pursues, it demonstrates my belief that you build from your core technology. My belief is that technology should be applied to solve business problems and that the same technology, appropriately applied can solve a variety of business problems as long as it is implemented correctly. This was the rationale behind the horizontal approach I took at Procuri.

Jason Busch

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