The Impending Slow Death of “Empty Apps” in Procurement (Part 2)

In Part 1 of this series, I discussed how “empty” applications (i.e., data models and application logic served up via forms and workflow) that need to be spun up from scratch by each customer, and offer no scale across customers, are not going to be competitive in a few years.

For example, most buying organizations pursuing automated supplier qualification workflows in supplier management end up creating mega qualification forms that represent the sum of the regulatory requirements and internal requirements that are in force rather than the supplier questionnaires getting automatically tailored based on the spend requirements that in turn link to the appropriate questions based on appropriate internal/external policies and regulations.

But this is starting to change. New applications and application suites that offer mass personalized functionality in terms of flexible data models, metadata, machine learning and “composite applications” (that embed relevant microservices) will offer huge advantages over traditional software models that basically treat the applications like machine tools (even though the tools are deployed over the web).

I will give a few more examples of embedded services and then turn your attention to some other approaches that applications providers are pursuing to move away from feature function wars and move towards building a collective intelligence on behalf of their procurement customers. This changes the game to build new capabilities beyond automation and to deliver outcomes beyond savings.

In the last installment, I talked about DaaS (data as a service) and embedding microservices into the applications so that “micro best of breed” app services can be embedded into the core processes of large application suites. In fact, it’s already happening. I mentioned digital signatures for contracts and APIs for supplier risk queries, but there are other opportunities! In this installment, I call out providers like SAP Ariba, Amazon Business, Okta, Tradeshift, Slack, Microsoft and Aquiire, but the lessons are what is important. OK, let’s get on with it with our list of services to augment the empty apps.

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