Spend Matters is embarking on a research project to explore the future of supplier networks. We're not taking a survey-based approach – although it may follow at some stage – but instead are most keen to get a number of qualitative inputs from vendors, practitioners, and consultants about the way networks are currently being used (and not being used). It still amazes us when we hear about implementations for indirect eProcurement tools where providers recommend essentially hard-wiring suppliers rather than tapping into a network driven approach for on-boarding and document exchange. Granted, direct materials can be a different story entirely – and there are business cases for EDI-type connections – but this may change in the future as different types of business networks converge.
This is one of the areas we are considering right now in our research. But it's just one of many. Here's a list of the areas we're probing on, and we're open to exploring others as well:
- Convergence of indirect procurement and direct procurement networks and EDI (when, how, where, why and who); our hypothesis is that GXS and IBM have potential plays out of the gate here whereas a combined SAP and Ariba (potentially with other tuck-in assets) could be quite interesting as well
- Adding supplier management to the role of networks (including but potentially not limited to basic on-boarding and AP-centric registration/data maintenance). It's our hypothesis that existing networks will increasingly adopt this capability. Aravo and other supplier management vendors may partner with others on the more transactional side
- Exploring the "Big 3," "Big 4," and "top challenger list" indirect supplier networks including current offerings, strategy, volume, etc. These would include Ariba, Basware, OB10 and Hubwoo. We might also add others including Perfect, Coupa, TradeShift, etc. Of course there are many more. Drop a line if you think we should add another provider to our "tops" or "challenger" lists
- Cost models today and tomorrow, including whether or not the emphasis will shift from basic on-boarding, annual and/or transaction-based supplier-based fees (or buyer fees) to fees based on value-added services (discounting, supplier marketing, etc.)
- Building a business case for network usage today and in the future (including adoption, funding, etc.)
Drop a line (jbusch (at) azulpartners (dot) com or tkase (at) azulpartners (dot) com) or post a comment if you would like to add to the list or help us refine the exploration. And stay tuned as we turn Spend Matters into supplier network central this fall.