New Research: Cutting Through Vendor Noise – Applications vs. Networks vs. Platforms

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The purchase-to-pay world (inclusive of eProcurement, electronic invoicing, supplier networks, business platforms and EDI – phew …) can be more confusing than guessing who will die next (and how) on the forthcoming episodes of Game of Thrones. Of course, in the P2P world as well, those who make the wrong decisions for their companies also stand to “get offed.” Yet there’s hope when it comes to making sense of it all! In the latest Spend Matters research brief, Cutting Through Vendor Noise – Applications vs. Networks vs. Platforms, we attempt to – what else? – cut through all the vendor noise.

This paper contains select excerpts from the series 'Extending Procurement Information Architecture to Provider Ecosystems', originally published on Spend Matters PRO for our subscription members. Ironically, the provider underwriting temporary free access to this otherwise subscription content, Tradeshift, is one of the providers doing its part to create a lot of fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) around legacy P2P and network models – as they should, as an upstart in the sector.

As we observe in the paper, it is critical to understand how applications (e.g., SAP SRM, Ariba Buyer, Coupa), networks (Ariba Supplier Network, OB10, Hubwoo, etc.) and platforms (e.g., Tradeshift, Nipendo, Intenda) can map to an overall procurement information architecture. On Spend Matters, we’ve discussed the importance of thoughtfully designing various architecture elements such as MDM, analytics, workflow, portal infrastructure, etc. to reframe overall information capabilities beyond the traditional provider-led “module-menu” approach.

Simply put, the idea is to loosely couple these capabilities so that they can be iteratively improved (and switched out as needed), while they squeeze more value out of the fragmented information topologies that litter the enterprise landscape. The coupling of these capabilities can – and should – create situations where the sum of a set of assets greatly exceeds their individual contribution elements.

But such a procurement and accounts payable technology strategy represents a big change around how companies build their systems and connectivity links.

Sounds different? Darn straight it is. This model represents a significant departure from how most companies have bought and managed applications and software capabilities in the past within procurement, where they were largely limited to defining the area where concrete would be poured and then jackhammering the area when changes were necessary (aside from providing a few fixed drains and pipes into the foundation/building structure).

Building Blocks and Modularity

This new direction is enabled through a variety of capabilities deployed through a combination of:

  • Private, public, and hybrid cloud (hosted, often multi-tenant) based applications
  • Increasingly flexible interfaces to internal systems of record
  • Internally developed and third-party provided services
  • Information service providers that run the gamut from application to content to connectivity/
integration to professional services

The challenge for procurement is to work with IT and third parties to deliberately and thoughtfully design a world-class procurement services capability that aligns the multitude of conflicting objectives across these various stakeholders.

Access to these Spend Matters PRO excerpts and report won’t be available for long. Download Cutting Through Vendor Noise – Applications vs. Networks vs. Platforms (free, registration required).

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