Spend Matters would like to welcome back longtime contributor Paul Noel, VP Procurement Solutions at Ivalua.
Maybe it's just me, but is Social Networking really going to work for Procurement folks? Sure, there's the recruiting potential of LinkedIn and various discussion groups trading plain vanilla advice on various topics. But isn't there a strong urge to hold your cards close to the chest when it comes to sharing what you know?
Take an ideal case like the following: you and your buddy are sourcing professionals, you work for two companies who don't compete at all. You both source the same kind of stuff from the same geographies. But you have a killer supplier of widgets and you suspect that if your buddy engaged with them too, you'd both be drawing on the same capacity for great products, pricing and service from that supplier. So do you share?
Less ideal, but nevertheless relevant is the propensity I've seen for old-school procurement folks to keep their suppliers/methods/relationships to themselves even within their company. Call it job security or part of their art, the willingness to share is hard to come by (as evidenced by any attempt to implement software based changes).
In contrast, the sales side of the company may feel more open (as long as it isn't competitive) to sharing. They don't see potential customers' capacity to spend as limited (god bless 'em) nor are they as proprietary with their processes (since it all comes down to relationship building anyway).
So, am I being cynical? Is there hope for Social Networking in procurement?