The Cloud Category

The Impending Slow Death of “Empty Apps” in Procurement (Part 1)

The cloud computing inflection point has arrived for business applications. Of course, there have been other inflection points, from mainframes to PCs to clients/servers. But, multi-tenant cloud applications now allow for scalable solutions delivered via flexible deployment models across multiple devices.

So, is this the last major inflection point other than some machine learning capabilities embedded into the products? Will success now simply hinge upon functionality, adoption and customer counts using increasingly commoditized application products? For procurement apps, is it now the battle of cloud-based Source to Pay (S2P) suites?

Answer: Not so much.

Let me explain. Think of business application suites as software versions of a machine-tool. Contract manufacturers can use those tools to sell the manufacturing from those tools as a service, but the tool is still basically the same. For procurement applications, this is a problem. First of all, the massively diverse requirements for various spend categories are simply not well supported in the data models of existing procurement applications. There simply is no single procurement application on the market today that meets the needs of all spending such as direct materials, contingent labor, complex assets and complex services.

Now add in the multi-tier supply chain requirements (see here for more on this) and industry-specific requirements, and it gets even worse. Now consider the fact that even basic master data modeling is inadequate. For example, it is folly to think that a single spend taxonomy hierarchy will meet the needs of modern category management (i.e., categories are highly multidimensional, a topic you can read more about here). So, it becomes clear that we’re still pretty early in the “supply tech” market. (I think procurement needs a cool moniker like “Fin Tech” or “Reg Tech” — what do you think?)

Yet, this is not the main subject of this discussion. The main point that I want to make is that when you buy applications, you are buying empty apps. In other words, you are buying a data model and some application logic, but you’re not really buying a solution that more holistically helps procurement organizations deliver outcomes. You know the old adage: “Technology is just an enabler — it's just a tool!” But in the age of digital and “cognitive,” can’t we expect more?

The answer is yes, but it requires some new approaches and mindsets from both buyers and technology providers. Let me give some examples, and I’ll mention firms such as SAP Ariba, Coupa, Salesforce, Tradeshift, Dell Boomi and Rapid Ratings.

Data Center and Cloud Adoption in Europe: Why, What and How (Part 1)

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post form Kaushik Yathindra, business consultant, procurement analytics, at HSBC.

This article is the first of a series exploring the data center/cloud-based infrastructure market in Europe. The first part focuses on the primary question organizations are still looking to understand why procurement organizations need to move to cloud or invest in data centers, and provides insights on why organizations today are faced with the task of including cloud-based solutions in their IT strategy.

Executive Q&A with Coupa CEO Rob Bernshteyn: ‘Getting a Seat at the Table’

Coupa Inspire 2016

Rob Bernshteyn has been quite busy lately, to say the least. Just last week, Coupa filed for a $75 million IPO just before the Spend Matters analyst team released its deep-dive on the company’s technology capabilities and comparative analysis. As the second “unicorn” of the year — a company that achieves a $1 billion valuation — Coupa’s attempt to go public injected a bit of life into an otherwise ho-hum tech IPO market in 2016. Amidst all of the excitement, we had the chance to pick Rob’s brain and get his thoughts on procurement, leadership and where his company is headed.

Will Google Apps Be the New Way of Life for Companies?

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Jamie Leonard, of GEP.

Over the past few years, we have seen Google become more prominent within the enterprise system space. Essentially, Google Apps for Work has become Microsoft’s largest threat and competitor, especially as companies decide to move toward cloud-based models.

10 Supply Chain Areas Needing Gene Therapy: Supply Network Information Models — The Missing DNA in the Digital Supply Chain (Part 4) [PRO]

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In the previous post in this series, I began outlining 10 supply chain provider areas that could benefit from the infusion of a robust supply network information model. In this final installment in the series, I highlight the remaining provider areas, the convergence in supply chain intelligence and analytics and look at x potential providers that span multiple adjacent services and solutions sectors in business process outsourcing (BPO), management consulting, supply market intelligence, business intelligence, content management and others.

Lessons From KPMG Clients: When Procurement Strategy, Transformation, and Technology Intersect [PRO]

Oracle

Over the past few months, the Spend Matters team has had the chance to speak to a number of KPMG clients who used the consultancy in various capacities in and around procurement strategy, transformation and technology. The lessons learned point to the importance of not only selecting the right consulting partner for multiple initiatives but also, from a solution lens, understanding the levers a firm can pull to get the most from technology vendors during the technology deployment phase of a consulting relationship. This Spend Matters PRO brief offers a case analysis view of KPMG from the client perspective, including what it was like to engage the firm and key lessons learned from having KPMG implement and manage cloud-based procure-to-pay (P2P) deployments. These discussions continue to support our thesis that procurement organizations should never manage their own e-procurement deployments or let their selected technology vendor handle such efforts on their behalf — even if a technology vendor is more than capable of managing a deployment on paper.

Microsoft and LinkedIn Connect with $26.2B Acquisition Deal

In a surprising move, Microsoft announced Monday an all-cash deal to acquire LinkedIn for $26.2 billion, the equivalent of $196 per share. LinkedIn is a significant player in the talent acquisition and recruiting space. Revenue from its Talent Solutions business unit accounted for $558 million, or 65% of total revenues, in Q1 2016, and grew 41% year-over-year.

Defining Cloud Computing and Its Various Layers: Supply Chains in the Cloud (Part 2) [Plus+]

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Why is the cloud important? For procurement applications in the cloud there is an inherent “democracy.” Participants, without regard to role or particular software instance, effectively participate on the same platform. This does not in itself mean that there is a neutralization of benefit for one party or the other, but it does mean that while participating in the exchange of value, there may be a greater opportunity for collaboration or discovery. Moreover, cloud levels the playing field internally (for business users) and externally (for suppliers and trading partners). And it does so without regard for size, IT skills, experience and budget (within reason).

An Oracle Solution Primer (Part 3): A Module-by-Module Look at Oracle Procurement Cloud [PRO]

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The Oracle Cloud — previously known as “Oracle Fusion” — is a line of products that may have initially appeared to be a targeted bet and experiment for Oracle as it explored native SaaS development and deployment models and attempted to combine the strengths of different organic and acquired assets in a common suite. Oracle Cloud, since this initial vision, has matured considerably, both in capability, but more important, in strategic value to Oracle. In the first two installments in this Spend Matters PRO research series, we explored Oracle’s overall procurement portfolio and eBusiness Suite (EBS) procurement capabilities in detail (as well as iProcurement Endeca extensions and how partner Vinimaya integration strengthens the capabilities of iProcurement). In this third installment, we explore the Oracle Procurement Cloud product and offer our perspective on the history of the solution, optimal customers and partner integration (and capabilities) with Vinimaya. We also offer our take on how Oracle Procurement Cloud stacks up to the competition.

A Quick Look at Suite Highlights and Coupa Release 15: Coupa Inspire 2016

Coupa Inspire 2016

Raja Hammoud, Coupa’s vice president of product management, kicked off the second day of Coupa Inspire with a morning keynote centered on the value of a suite approach to procurement technology. The core of her overall message centered on how Coupa is focused on the intersections of modules, or what she termed “suite synergy.” Raja also shared some high-level elements of Coupa Release 15, which is generally available today

Coupa Inspire 2016: The Procurement Cloud Grows Up

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Coupa has been evangelizing the benefits of software-as-a-service (SaaS) and cloud-based procurement technology for going on a decade. The Coupa of today is still the same on many levels (except for the free part). It’s feisty, fast and loves to challenge the competition with a different philosophy — not just an alternative set of products. Although that philosophy has changed dramatically and now centers very much on “spend capture” as a means to drive better savings and procurement outcomes, the same passion from the early years is still evident.

Hacking Cloud Purchases: A Step-by-Step Guide

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Abinaya Govindarajan, of GEP.

Cloud is everywhere. IT organizations are making rapid changes to their systems to move to a SaaS model and are battling the data security versus convenience dilemma. Here are the things that procurement definitely needs to look for when negotiating cloud deals.