Last year, I had the chance to drop by the old FreeMarkets offices in Pittsburgh to visit a few members of the Accenture team (who had worked for Ariba, and previously, at FreeMarkets). Accenture ended up doing an incredibly successful arbitrage on the Ariba business that used to be known as “Full Source” at FreeMarkets before they acquired it. This business unit delivered, hosted, and managed sourcing events with full-spectrum category expertise and support behind the scenes.
Purchased for less than annual revenue by Accenture (from Ariba), the business has done extraordinarily well with its new owner. Rough number ranges were shared at the FreeMarkets alumni event this week, and they were very impressive. It appears the broader Accenture organization has also learned quite a bit from the underlying processes and capability of the legacy FreeMarkets organization based on comments made at the event. As with Ariba/SAP procurement, one could say this really ended up being a reverse takeover of the Accenture procurement BPO business unit – at least from an operational delivery perspective (and potentially also from a sales one).
Many members of the original FreeMarkets market making team remain at Accenture to this date. The strategic sourcing process, operational models, and category expertise are still in full effect today – even if they’re now supported by the type of massive global infrastructure and commercial support that we could have only dreamed about at FreeMarkets. In short, Accenture is where the true services and solution (not software) legacy of FreeMarkets lives on, a history that is testament to the early tinkering efforts of a small group of folks who pioneered the concept of competitive bidding events tied to market making efforts (with deep category support) which was ultimately institutionalized by Kent Parker and his team of operational experts.