Like many people, I often get writer's block with the first sentence on a blank page (or screen). This first 'official' blog post from me as an Azul Partners employee may be the biggest block to date. Why? Because I have mentally written and rewritten this entry hundreds of times, as Jason and I have threatened to do this for years (the delay is due mostly to my cowardice). But, like in Zen Calligraphy, there is no best way, so enough meandering. It's best to just start laying it down.
I have known Jason for over a decade. I knew him as an analyst relations manager at FreeMarkets and it was quite clear to me that such wouldn't be his long-term vocation. Back at a FreeMarkets' user event called WorldSource in 2004 (I think), he told me about his idea to start what is now Spend Matters, and I casually wished him luck (as in "heh, good luck with that, buddy!") as we finished our scotches and headed off to bed. He them proceeded to take a risk and relentlessly build a preeminent and disruptive brand in the market and more importantly, created a ton of value for providers and practitioners alike.
Many folks complain that Spend Matters is too provider-focused and something akin to the People Magazine of procurement. First off, do note that People Magazine is still around (as opposed to Purchasing magazine), but so is The Economist. It's the intersection of those two applied to procurement that is a sweet spot.
Also, I must admit that more corporations and their service providers have turned to Spend Matters for procurement market technology trends and vendor insights than most think (myself included, in my previous job). Note: This is the opposite of pseudo-analyst firms who claim their research is based on strong sample sizes of senior level procurement executives. Trust me, it's VERY hard to get CPOs to fill out long surveys, and based on what I know they're planning in 2013, they have more important things on their mind (more on that to come in another blog post). But I digress...
Anyway, although Spend Matters is THE definitive source for information on the "Cool Tools" in the space (no offense to Debbie Wilson), technology/service providers are obviously only one component in helping firms manage their spend/supply performance. There are two other key aspects:
- Other capabilities must work in concert with technology (process, organization, metrics, etc.) collectively in order to transform procurement and the supply base
- Even just within the technology/services capability area (and the providers who help support such capabilities), there is a continued need to help procurement organizations and IT organizations (and their joint internal customers) properly think through the best ways to architect their overall solution approach before making the translation to a market basket of overlapping solution types and individual providers
This is where I come in. In subsequent blog posts, I will talk in more detail about why I joined Spend Matters, what I hope to accomplish, what you can expect from me/us. And there will be other stuff that I can't even imagine yet.
My new e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org and I look forward to connecting with some old friends and making some new ones too. Here's to a great 2013 and beyond!
- Pierre Mitchell