At Zycus Horizon, Forrester’s Duncan Jones suggested a few key trends in his argument for the benefits of integrated suites. Useful building blocks for making an integrated procurement technology suite selection argument, these trends include the capability of suites to provide a “global and granular view of suppliers and categories,” as well as how suites can help avoid rework and enable “streamlined processes.” Further, he notes, the better suites provide a “consistent user experience” and can “incorporate specialist products where necessary.”
One of the key value proposition components of integrated suites is their ability to drive the type of usability experience that the corporate workforce has come to expect in consumer buying situations. To showcase this, Duncan highlighted the ability to do a semantic or guided search using a taxonomic structure to help a frontline user of an eProcurement system find what they’re looking for.
This process uses comparison capabilities, filtering flexibility (across multiple fields and tags), customized or “tailored processes,” peer/user reviews of products, and screen personalization. These types of capabilities, he suggested, are upping the ante for P2P tools.
However, there’s a rub in the trend to consumerization. Duncan explained that “CPOs don’t want their users to have access to all B2C features.” For example, we don’t want punch-out websites or integrated P2P catalogs to upsell our users with more expensive products than the ones we’re looking for, provide cross-sell opportunities for related products, “drive impulse buying,” or enable us to cruise an “extensive catalogue” that may guide us to things we might want but don’t need – even if we have budget remaining to purchase them.
In other words, with consumer-centric UIs, procurement must take certain elements of the best of the B2C web and build walls around others elements. I’ll toss out a metaphor in this regard. Perhaps what China has done with “The Great Firewall” is similar to the sort of filtering process a good CPO must go through in “walling off” the undesirable elements that drive a supplier’s margins.