Author Archives: Thomas Kase

Prediction: USA 2020 – Will We Have Any Major Corporations Left?

- August 29, 2014 6:30 AM | Categories: Commentary, Friday Rant, Innovation, Outsourcing

Maybe it’s not so much a question of “will we,” but should we have any major corporations left in the United States come the start of the next decade? I’m speaking of corporations headquartered in the country, that is.

more ▸
 

What is a Keelvar – and Why Would You Need One?

- August 28, 2014 2:00 AM | Categories: Analysis, Supplier Management

Define Keelvar. Nope, it is not an Australian animal. Nor a tool used in advanced woodworking. Rather, it is a European company (headquartered in Ireland with an office in London) with a really clever approach to comparing and analyzing supplier responses – qualitative and quantitative.

This firm deserves a look whether you are just sending a survey to a group of suppliers (incumbent, hot prospects, cold calls, or mere phonebook leads) and you need to somehow assess their responses in a way that is better than a chaotic pass-the-spreadsheet around fashion, or if you go deep in analyzing the detailed breakdown of items, shipping lanes etc., while considering award impact on your existing suppliers (might not be wise to change spend and quantity too rapidly), as well as what you can do to drive more participation from local suppliers, reduce capital tied up in goods in transit etc.

Notice that I’ve avoided the O-word: optimization. This can and will scare many off. But it’s really nothing different than what you already do – likely much of it in your head if you’re an experienced buyer, and the category and items are relatively uncomplicated. In this Spend Matters PRO analysis, Thomas Kase, vice president, research, takes a closer look at Keelvar and how procurement organizations can begin to apply more advanced sourcing approaches to basic markets.

more ▸
 

Beware Ariba’s Patent Treasure Chest (Part 6): Dynamic Data Access and Storage

In Part 6 of this Spend Matters Plus series on Ariba's patent portfolio, Thomas Kase (VP of research) looks at a patent that, interestingly enough, a former Procuri colleague of his (David Woods, a talented data base analyst with an insatiable appetite for coffee) has his name on. Note that this particular patent predates Ariba. It came from Procuri and from a different platform and development environment than what Ariba uses. So it’s not indicative of Ariba’s current solution or technical prowess, and David, the creator, has since moved on to other opportunities. The patent has to do with dynamic data access and storage. Read on for the layman's explanation of what the patent covers and its impact.

more ▸
 

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.

more ▸
 

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.

more ▸
 

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).

more ▸
 

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.

more ▸
 

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.

more ▸
 

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?

more ▸
 

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.

more ▸
 

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.

more ▸
 

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.

more ▸