Category Archives: Commentary

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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Air Canada Rouge — A Pictorial Guide to An Airline That Needs Some Deep Cleaning

- August 25, 2014 10:27 AM | Categories: Commentary, Friday Rant, Travel

Last week, I provided a business and personal travel review about a recent transatlantic trip on Air Canada Rouge — Air Canada’s “discount” airline-within-an-airline. After hearing from a number of people who have also “been rouged” — a new verb which I might define as “thinking that you are flying Air Canada when you are really flying a completely different airline that looks for the oldest, most inexpensive planes to fly and then only partially updates them" — I thought I’d shared some pictures from my recent trip. Enjoy the visual tour.

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Rant: On Corporate Inversion

- August 22, 2014 2:24 PM | Categories: Commentary, Friday Rant, Industry News

AbbVie's $55-billion bid for UK drug maker Shire was approved, providing yet another footnote in the history of corporate inversion on the part of US companies mainly looking to avoid corporate taxes. The combined firm will move to UK, saving upwards of $8 billion in US corporate taxes by some estimates. While such a move certainly rubs policy makers the wrong way, in reality isn't this a perfect case study in the free market economy?

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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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Best of Spend Matters: Incendiary Tidbits

- August 19, 2014 6:15 AM | Categories: Commentary

Unlike “general news” or “technology,” the Incendiary Tidbits tag gives editors some power to decide what is incendiary. As the tag is (self-aware) hyperbole, posts are categorized under it as long as they are incendiary in relation to other Spend Matters posts. Some of these posts aren’t even tidbits; some are in fact rather long. As for the degree of overlap with Friday rants, the relationship should look like a Venn diagram. So which posts made "Best Of"? Read on!

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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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The Politics of Performance Analysis

- August 12, 2014 2:53 PM | Categories: Commentary, Guest Post

Without necessarily our being aware of it, technology is empowering the people like never before. In procurement, this all kicked off with a vengeance when buyers and sellers started peer reviews on auction sites. Now, a growing number of us are engaged in systematic supply chain performance analysis, even if we’ve never heard of such a thing. Companies and personalities and memes are proliferating and growing through electronic approvals and increasingly there is nowhere to hide for poor-performing service providers.

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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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Purchases: Of Teenagers and Teslas

- August 8, 2014 10:42 AM | Categories: Commentary, Innovation

800px-Roadster_2.5_windmills_trimmed My half brother, a smart teenager who is already taller than me and usually emerges victorious when competing on the foosball table, happens to be an aspiring engineer who can also hold his own as a researcher and writer. Like many aspiring engineers in his generation, he reveres Elon Musk as the modern Albert Einstein, Henry Ford, and Thomas Edison all wrapped up in one. As a kid myself (at heart), I can understand this respect and obsession. Musk is up to some truly amazing things. But the way in which kids like him look at a car like Tesla and say “game over” makes me feel older and wiser than I should.

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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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Spend Matters is Expanding to Mexico and the Spanish-Speaking World

- August 5, 2014 6:20 AM | Categories: Commentary, Procurement, Supply Chain

As we all know, the future of procurement is global, and much of the world’s business is still conducted in Spanish. In the Spanish-speaking world, the primary economic growth engine resides in the Americas, not Spain. Mexico in particular is benefiting from closer ties to the manufacturing supply chain in the U.S. and Canada, politically, culturally, and geographically. The surge of re-shoring activity, as an example, continues to benefit Mexico. For this reason, launching a Spanish-language site with an initial focus on the Americas appears to make the most sense – and it’s a bet we’re going to make. And so we're excited to introduce Xavier Olivera, our partner in this endeavor.

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When Receivables and Payables Financing Meets Bean Counting

- August 4, 2014 10:24 AM | Categories: Commentary, Trade Financing

My Trade Financing Matters colleague David Gustin has spent quite a bit of time over the years investing the accounting treatments of various trade financing schemes (from dynamic discounting to approved trade payables financing). Yet what’s most curious about this area is that we shouldn’t accept the current state of various accounting treatments (e.g., rebates vs. non-rebates and balance sheet impact) as gospel. Regulators and the Big 5 alike are still exploring the area in more detail.

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