I am admittedly a closet 1970s progressive rock (oxymoronic I know) devotee, and as I prepare for Tuesday’s webinar that I’m doing with KPMG on Cloud Procurement (registration here), the lyrics from the song “Jacob’s Ladder” from the great Canadian power trio Rush sprung to mind:
The clouds prepare for battle, in the dark and brooding silence.
Bruised and sullen storm clouds, have the light of day obscured.
Looming low and ominous, in twilight premature
Thunderheads are rumbling in a distant overture...
So far, the cloud-making machine at many providers is still in full force. Don’t get me wrong, cloud computing is the future, but the cute and high-ROI little fluffy clouds of small SaaS modules so favored by procurement groups (who understandably needed something that their IT departments couldn’t deliver alone via traditional on-premise ERP applications) are slowly turning dark and opaque in terms of integration and data harmonization. Meanwhile, the thunderheads mentioned in the above lyrics allude to many of the challenges beyond data fragmentation:
- Data security is obviously one that could fill up hours of discussion alone.
- Compliance to regulatory regimes and internal policies is another biggie.
- The inability for many IT departments to effectively (as measured by supply outcomes and business outcomes) migrate to the cloud
But perhaps the biggest issue is the impact that service-based architecture is having on the broad spectrum of business services providers and application/information services providers alike. There is a major land grab and a re-tooling that is happening by the mega vendors across the entire XaaS stack – and it isn’t pretty – especially for procurement. It’s hard to build virtual extended supply chains that are both flexible and secure and a competitive weapon with one-size-fits-all providers who have their own ideas about what cloud success means (especially related to business networks) and how they plan to define your future for you and your suppliers.
But, buyers like choice and innovation – especially as they seek to assemble their internal procurement services on fairly limited budgets. And for the procurement and IT leaders who don’t want to follow the herd (or be led to the slaughter), they need to work with innovative providers who are on the vanguard of developing new procurement service platforms (business process services and/or IT-related services).
Although there aren’t really yet any true procurement application PaaS vendors who are leading the market, practitioners can take steps to apply the platform concept so that they can make smart proactive choices in choosing from a broad and dizzying array of third-party services in the marketplace. Constructing such hybrid service delivery models and hybrid cloud computing environments takes some work, and you’ll need some guidance. So, I brought along KPMG, a firm that knows a little something about advising companies regarding IT, Risk, Procurement, Cloud Computing, and Procurement Business Services (including BPO and all forms of business process as a service).
While we might not offer Jacob’s Ladder to webcast attendees, we will however try to shine some lights on the topic and make Cloud Procurement a little less scary.
And with that, I’ll leave you with the rest of the lyrics from the Rush song…
All at once, the clouds are parted.
Light streams down in bright unbroken beams...
Follow men's eyes as they look to the skies.
The shifting shafts of shining weave the fabric of their dreams...
So dream on, you builder of supply base innovation, but it’s time to start thinking about how you’ll make your dreams happen without believing the fantasy that others might be selling (and without your implementation plan turning into a nightmare). I hope to see you at the webinar!