Author Archives: Thomas Kase

Rant: Keeping My Nose in the Air

- September 12, 2014 3:31 PM | Categories: Friday Rant

Normally, my primary concern is that the plane will leave on time. For instance, one day in June this year, I experienced TWO big bird mechanical failures in a row (!) flying out of Atlanta, barely made it in time to Singapore via a weird European detour thanks to heroic efforts by Fernando, an extraordinarily capable member of Delta’s ground crew. Thanks Fernando!

A secondary concern is wondering whether I will be able to stow my carry-on luggage.

Thirdly, and a far more minor issue would be, who will sit in the middle seat?

Earlier this week, however, a fourth concern reared its ugly head – or nose – and I can't see a way to mitigate against this.

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Influencing Change: Addressing Bad Procurement Behavior

- September 10, 2014 10:39 AM | Categories: Learning / Research, Procurement, Procurement Strategy & Planning

file3671269347953 The bigger the organization, the more political the decision-making process is – a maxim all too familiar to most of us. Sourcing, by definition, will step on numerous toes as it navigates the shark infested organizational waters toward better total cost and value outcomes. Internal silos and fiefdoms will have to be cracked open in order to create the best results.

Along the way, as we have all seen, many worthwhile initiatives fail for the lack of adoption sword – the unimplemented savings – as the industry euphemism goes for the negotiated savings that the sourcing team created, but the business users passive-aggressively ignored. Even worse, relationships, both internal and external, take a turn for the worse as toes are crushed under a well intended, but perhaps awkwardly placed, sourcing boot. Some stakeholders run for the mattresses and start sniping you. Others approach the procurement challenge as a no-knock, no-survivors SWAT team effort, doing more harm than good; equally destructive of long-term trust with stakeholders and suppliers.

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Exploring Oracle E-Business Suite Advanced Procurement: Adoption Trends and Roadmap (Part 1)

Oracle OpenWorld 2014 is taking place in San Francisco from Sept. 28 to Oct.2. It typically represents one of the best chances of the year for analysts to peer behind the covers of Oracle’s products and informally talk to both customers and Oracle employees at length. It lets us reach outside of our existing research/advisory client base. Earlier this summer, Spend Matters had a collective update from each of the product groups representing the different Oracle brands most focused on the procurement sector – PeopleSoft, Oracle E-Business Suite, and Oracle Procurement Cloud. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing some of the highlights of what we learned.

You will also receive our initial analysis, subject to additional commentary following Oracle OpenWorld. This initial Spend Matters PRO brief, written by Jason Busch, managing director and founder, Pierre Mitchell, managing director and chief research officer, and Thomas Kase, vice president of research, explores the latest happenings with Oracle E-Business Suite Advanced Procurement including Purchasing, Endeca Extensions, Sourcing, iSupplier Portal, Supplier Hub, Supplier Lifecycle Management, Procurement Contracts , Mobile and related product areas. We’ll also touch on the new Oracle Project Procurement application.

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Local Sourcing: Exploring Enablers of Supply Chain and Procurement Localization

- September 8, 2014 2:25 AM | Categories: Sourcing, Supplier Management, Supply Chain

Earlier this month, Spend Matters published a story highlighting Auto News’ coverage of supply chain and procurement localization at Magna International. On the surface, supply chain localization seems simple – work with local suppliers in the areas where you do business globally. Supply chain localization is far from easy – in fact, its requirements and practices are often incongruous with some procurement and supply chain trends leading to greater centralization of efforts and management.

Moreover, without the right structure and design – not to mention technology – the supplier localization efforts can overwhelm individuals (e.g., category managers) tasked with global oversight of specific sourcing and related supplier management efforts.

So what enablers can procurement and supply chain organizations turn to as they move toward localization given this context? There's a bunch. Read the full post to find out what they are.

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Playing with Numbers: Why Cheerful BLS Unemployment Reports are Misleading

- September 5, 2014 2:59 PM | Categories: Friday Rant

For those who have been around the economy awhile, the current 6.1-percent unemployment looks nothing like the 6.1-percent unemployment we had in the summers of 1994 and 2003. Here is why: the BLS has constantly redefined away the problem of persistent unemployment, simply removing the annoyingly unemployed from the statistics and focusing on tracking merely changes in the employed versus the recently unemployed. That’s like saying “Well, that supplier has failed so long that we’ll just not count their broken parts in our QA stats.” That doesn’t change the fact that there’s a lot of failure out there.

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Why SAP Should — Or Should Not — Buy Concur

- September 3, 2014 4:50 PM | Categories: Commentary, M&A, Solution Providers, Travel

Earlier today Thomas Kase (VP of research) shared some quick comments on the rumors that SAP is thinking about buying Concur. This Spend Matters PRO article is the in-depth analysis. "Say it ain't so" is what first came to mind, not that Concur is either shoeless or cheats. There are of course positive aspects to the acquisition as well. Thomas expands on the pros and cons of such a deal, as part of his advice to Concur's shareholders and customers.

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The $6 Billion Question: Is SAP Buying Concur?

- September 3, 2014 3:58 PM | Categories: Commentary, Industry News

According to media reports, Concur is being courted by acquirers like SAP. Does it make sense for SAP to buy Concur? What is the strategic fit between the two companies? Hint: we are skeptical, and we can see better homes for Concur (ahem, exits for Concur’s management) than joining SAP.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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