Author Archives: Thomas Kase

On Diversity Success — Why Bring HR into the Equation?

- August 22, 2014 6:33 AM | Categories: Diversity, Friday Rant

Racial and gender bias in HR is pure poison, regardless of whether it is used to hold people down or to lift them up. Similarly to what I recommend in my article for supplier diversity, it is better for companies to instead focus their efforts on supporting local/urban STEM schools, scholarships, labs, and other facilities– i.e. build for the future, don’t engage in shortsighted and counterproductive tinkering with HR policies.

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Beware Ariba’s Patent Treasure Chest (Part 5): Analysis of a Recently Awarded Patent

Has Ariba built a solid brick wall of IP gold or is it all just so much legal papier-mâché to scare us off? Huff and puff – will it hold? If so, will it be used to drive other solution providers into the wall? Back in May 2012, when the acquisition took place, we didn’t think SAP bought Ariba for their technology. Well, we still don’t think so, and we went on record stating that it was really for their network approach – it obviously can’t hurt if you can find a model to propel yourself to SaaS multiplier heights.

In Part 5 of this multi-part Spend Matters Plus series on Ariba’s patent portfolio, Thomas Kase (VP of research) will look at one of Ariba’s most recent patents, one that was awarded just two weeks ago. This patent covers a way to use structured content from another site (i.e. a supplier of something) in another solution (e.g. e-procurement solution – something with a supplier network perhaps) to avoid stale content.

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Beware Ariba’s Patent Treasure Chest (Part 4): Supplier Approval and Activation in a Network

One of the primary motivations behind SAP buying Ariba was its network approach model. It was theoretically a business model that could deliver scale benefits to participants (and Ariba shareholders) beyond standard software or SaaS applications. There were numerous archetypes for the Ariba Supplier Network. Spend Matters analysis suggests Ariba was a fast follower, copying Commerce One (which had its own stash of patents that was eventually acquired by Perfect Commerce and Novell) and others in building out such a model. Yet Ariba quickly scaled its own IP and approaches in the area of supplier enablement and connectivity. In Part 4 of this Spend Matters Plus series on Ariba’s patent portfolio, VP of Research Thomas Kase considers Ariba’s patent for supplier approval and activation in a supplier network (essentially a one-to-many supplier network approach).

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FCPA – Will the Supreme Court Make the Waters Less Muddy?

- August 15, 2014 1:38 PM | Categories: Industry News, Public Sector

Specifically, will we get a clear definition of what a "foreign official" is? Also, what an "instrumentality" might be? Why is this important? Well, consider that right now, under current statutory constructions (to paraphrase the example used in the FCPA Professor's article), a janitor working for a partially state-owned (or otherwise financially supported) enterprise could qualify as a “foreign official.” That should scare you.

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An Interview with Corporate Ink’s Amy Bermar, Part 2: How to Approach a PR Agency Search

This is the second in a two-part series on how to shop for a PR firm. Thomas Kase talked to Amy Bermar, president of Corporate Ink, a PR firm focused on supply chain clients, who shared some insider knowledge from her experience on all sides of the agency pitch -- selecting, winning, and losing. Read on for her tips on how to conduct a successful agency search.

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Riskmethods: The Cool Risk Management Solution Provider You Probably Haven’t Heard Of

Today's Spend Matters PRO research brief covers the cool company that you probably haven’t even heard of, Riskmethods, which delivers risk management that is dynamic, in near real-time, and even forward-looking. It even has a fun user interface. Their solution loads all your suppliers and their locations, shipping lanes, etc., as well as your own company’s locations (as many and as much detail as you see relevant) whether offices, manufacturing, or distribution sites. At the end of the exercise you have your world map with a lot of dots and connecting lines like the one above. The types of tracked factors are pulled in from various publicly available and/or premium content sources and populates your personalized supply chain world view.

Today (August 14) we have invited Riskmethods to a webinar where we will discuss what can be done to understand supply chain exposure to pandemics (the current Ebola issue is obviously front of mind), as well as other risks that are more of a personal nature (crime, violence, geo-disasters like tsunamis) – please join us! What can you do about this issue and similar events that might disrupt your supply chain and/or put your employees and suppliers at risk?

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Ebola and the Potential Supply Chain Impact – What is Prudent for Procurement?

Ebola is a disease that presents as a hemorrhagic fever. These are not exactly comforting words, as those afflicted bleed profusely (from the inside) and up to 90 percent of those afflicted die, depending on the breakout and treatment. Scary, for sure. But Ebola is not just a virulent killer of people – it is also, potentially, a killer of supply chains.

Let’s move on to procurement issues and see what can be done. First of all, as a starting point there are actually many similarities between Ebola to geopolitical supply chain issues (e.g. extreme kidnapping risks in many areas of Mexico, Venezuela, Afghanistan, Somalia, and other places). But an illness migrates more easily than crime does, and with an incubation period as long as 21 days travellers returning from hot areas have a lot of time to have physical contact with others. Since it is impossible to track all individuals, it seems most prudent to add this to the list of factors (political, natural disasters, geological events, legal, financial, bankruptcies, corruption, crime, violence) that are part of better risk management solutions. In this Spend Matters PRO research brief, VP of Research Thomas Kase looks at how this can be done with an approach based on the solution available from Riskmethods, a Munich-based company.

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An Interview with Corporate Ink’s Amy Bermar, Part 1: What to Know Before Hiring a PR Firm

- August 12, 2014 2:30 AM | Categories: Commentary, Services Procurement & Contingent Labor

Many public relations firms get fired after two or three years – hardly an ideal track record. With procurement more involved than ever, it’s time to look beneath the covers and boost the odds – not just the budget – in your favor. Thomas Kase interviews Corporate Ink's Amy Bermar, who has been on all sides of the agency pitch – selecting, winning, and losing. In Part 1 of this two-part interview, Amy talks about what companies should know before hiring a PR agency.

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SciQuest – That “S” is Now For Sourcing (In More Ways Than One)

- August 8, 2014 2:27 AM | Categories: Industry News, Solution Providers, Sourcing

If anyone had come to us five years ago and suggested that SciQuest, at that time a highly specialized eProcurement provider to the higher education, life sciences/pharma, and public sector markets, was going to pivot around and focus on becoming a top integrated source-to-pay suite with best-in-class capabilities in the sourcing area, we would have laughed. But in recent years, SciQuest has done more than other suite vendors, those that are just paying lip service to sourcing. Not only did it acquire CombineNet for its advanced sourcing and optimization capability in logistics and beyond, it has organically developed a sourcing product that is tightly coupled with the rest of its suite including supplier management and P2P. In our continuing coverage of SciQuest’s 14.2 release, Spend Matters founder and managing director Jason Busch and VP of research Thomas Kase look at the latest from SciQuest in the sourcing area.

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Beware Ariba’s Patent Treasure Chest: Spot Market and Importable Template

In Spend Matters’ view, Ariba has amassed what appears to be the largest IP portfolio in the procurement technology sector. It is important for competitors and customers to fully understand the diversity and depth of all the process and related patents that Ariba has filed and been granted. In previous installments of this series, we considered a range of patents (see Part 1 and Part 2) that Ariba has also been granted. Today’s Spend Matters Plus research brief by Thomas Kase, VP of research, explores the following Ariba patents: system and method for creating a spot market (spot market procurement – aka tactical sourcing – automated bids and awards); and importable templates (Excel and XML land grab).

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SciQuest – Well Along in the Journey from Frankenquest to Integrated Suite

- August 5, 2014 1:33 PM | Categories: Solution Providers, Sourcing

At the end of July, Spend Matters had a briefing with SciQuest to explore the latest enhancements that the source-to-pay provider has made in expanding and integrating its various suite components. In recent years, SciQuest has been somewhat of a challenging vendor to put into a box. It has had truly outstanding individual modular capability in certain areas (e.g., supplier lifecycle management, contract management, spend analytics, advanced sourcing and optimization) gained through acquisitions serving a wide variety of industries as well as a diverse set of home-grown assets centered on purchase-to-pay with a traditional focus in higher education, life sciences and public sector. Dissecting the quarterly earnings results over the past year, we see that much of the growth in the business has come from these specialized product areas, often on a stand-alone basis.

Yet looking ahead and based on its latest 14.2 release, SciQuest has put down the framework to tie these areas more closely together through significant investment in supplier management, closer modular integration across the suite, and a broader sourcing value proposition linked with other solution areas.

In this two-part Spend Matters PRO research series, Founder and Managing Director Jason Busch and VP of Research Thomas Kase look at how these latest enhancements are shaping an emerging value proposition that could provide a differentiated end-to-end suite competitor in the market to Ariba, SAP, Oracle, and Coupa. Our analysis today begins with a look at supplier management areas that SciQuest has put significant investment into, re-platforming the core IP gained from the AECsoft USA acquisition years ago.

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Will the Cost of Energy Increase? On Statistics from the US Energy Information Administration

- July 31, 2014 10:27 AM | Categories: Commodities, Cost Management, Industry News

Of all the things procurement buys, nothing is more critical to business operations than energy – both price and availability. The US Energy Information Administration (USEIA) has just published their most recent numbers for the nation’s electricity generation, capacities, and prices. The administration defines net summer capacity thus: "the maximum output, commonly expressed in megawatts (MW), that generating equipment can supply to system load, as demonstrated by a multi-hour test, at the time of summer peak demand (period of June 1 through September 30.) This output reflects a reduction in capacity due to electricity use for station service or auxiliaries.”

However, the USEIA provides no summer/winter comparisons in their numbers, nor do they provide a comparison between existing and projected capacities with consideration given to both new and retiring plants. So are we gaining or losing power generation ground? Since the USEIA also does not provide us with a report on the realistic future power generation capacity, Thomas Kase (VP of research, Spend Matters) ran the numbers himself. This Spend Matters PRO research brief is accompanied by two downloadable detailed spreadsheets.

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