Peter Smith of Spend Matters UK/Europe attended the recent ProcureCon marketing event in London and found it to be a success in terms of number of delegates, sponsors, and quality of the sessions and subsequent debates. In this article for Spend Matters Plus, Peter discusses the state of marketing services procurement and breaks down the areas where speakers were in agreement and the less clear-cut issues. Not a Plus subscriber yet? Contact us to inquire about a free 30-day trial.more ▸
Earlier this morning, I participated on an analyst panel during Beeline’s customer conference in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, along with Christopher Dwyer (Ardent Partners), Diana Gabriel (Staffing Industry Analysts), Christine Ross (an analyst extraordinaire and 15-year Forrester veteran who is now having fun on her own), and Ben Walker (Brightfield Strategies). Front and center in questions from Beeline and the audience was industry consolidation and the elephant in the room: SAP’s acquisition of Fieldglass.more ▸
At Beeline’s customer conference yesterday, Bob March, the company’s CIO, presented a short but captivating talk on getting into the minds of CIOs. This is a topic of critical importance for procurement. As user interfaces evolve, as mobile goes mainstream, and as best-of-breed application usage proliferates (including apps that users can download directly), the role of IT is changing dramatically inside companies. And procurement has an opportunity to partner with IT rather than just select and use SaaS applications that skirt outside its purview.more ▸
During his opening keynote at the Beeline customer event today, Doug Leeby, Beeline’s President and CEO, shared a number of thoughts on where Beeline is headed as well as his views on the future of services procurement technology. A central part of his argument on the future of the VMS was how it will deliver a total talent matching/management system beyond simply acting as a platform of the management of contingent labor. In short, Doug said, “We want to have a singular focus on our end game which is about talent.” But it’s also imperative to remember services procurement “is a people business and always will be.”more ▸
Doug Leeby, Beeline’s President and CEO, kicked off Beeline’s 2014 Customer Conference this morning by sharing a few facts about the event and his organization, as well as a broader vision for competing and serving customers in a consolidating landscape. This year, Doug noted 36 companies are represented in the audience. Beeline’s MSP and staffing partner ecosystem is out in full force as well – KellyOCG, Tapfin, Pontoon, Randstad, Sourceright, Vendorpass, Allegis, Volt and parent company Adecco are all in attendance.more ▸
At a recent ProcureCon Marketing event in London, many agencies and buyers opined that “agencies need to make a fair return” from their work with clients. Speakers suggested that collaborative, strategic relationships were unlikely to be developed and sustained if the buyer is continually attacking the agency's margin. One impressive speaker said, "There’s nothing wrong with an agency making profit margins of 10 or 15 percent, just as a major FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) client with strong brands would look to make." This leads up to the sixty-four million dollar question - what exactly is “fair”? Peter Smith, Executive Editor of Spend Matters UK/Europe, discusses the subjectivity of the definition of fairness and how it plays into supplier management.more ▸
At yesterday’s SAP Sapphire conference, SAP announced a seemingly fascinating partnership with eBay. Ariba users will be able not only to search the supplier directory and hosted catalog content within Ariba Spot Buy on the Ariba/SAP Network, but will also be able to search for items on eBay’s marketplace and then add those items to an SAP shopping cart – very similar to punching out to any other type of website. It’s not clear if the eBay site is really acting like a mega supplier and syndicating catalog content into the Ariba marketplace (and the interface is made to look very eBay-like), or if it is a double punchout of sorts. So, what’s really happening here with this announcement? What is the value to Ariba/SAP, to eBay, and to the practitioner? Here’s my take on the nominal value of this deal to the players.more ▸
I watched yesterday’s live keynote by SAP CEO Bill McDermott and found it both entertaining and curious at the same time. I’ve never seen Bill live and he is like an East Coast version of Larry Ellison. He is obviously a charismatic leader, and it’ll be interesting to see if he can also be a consensus leader to unite the various cultures within SAP. You can still watch the whole keynote, but I thought I would give you an abridged version of the quotable quotes and some quick observations. But the main message? SAP emphasized their focus on simplicity and plans to "beat complexity."more ▸
Las Vegas, where ISM's annual conference last week was held, has become a bifurcated hotel city of ultra luxury and ultra stank and dirt (it’s always been filthy outside, but in the case of lodging, the middling places are getting dirtier and dirtier). However, it’s not terribly expensive to opt out of the places that have not seen a capital expenditure too recently, especially if you plan ahead. The Spend Matters team stayed for less than the cost of a typical Marriott in pre-paid rooms (thank you, Expedia) at the Wynn Encore, a hotel that is just about as over the top as any top-line Asian hotel chain (Peninsula, Mandarin Oriental, etc.). It was a true treat for less than $200 per night.more ▸
At ISM last week, the Spend Matters team had the chance to catch up with a number of people from ThomasNet. ThomasNet is not short of ideas (or users), but they don’t get the same attention as many of their global supplier directory and search peers (e.g., Alibaba). This is a shame because the organization is up to some really fascinating things and has even gone so far as to extend their ecosystem to interoperate with others (such as mapping their supplier and category taxonomy to sourcing and technology providers in the sector).more ▸
Well, I’m down $40 (stupid roulette tables), but I am much richer in knowledge and experience having both attended and survived my very first procurement speaking gig at this year’s ISM conference. I was asked to be a part of the Emerging Practitioners track, speaking in a session called “From Wikis to Whitepapers: Brand Yourself By Leveraging Social Media and Other Resources.” I was honored to share the stage with Kim Cullen, Director of Marketing at Bidnet, and Helen Eckmann, a faculty member at Brandman University. I thought I’d give a quick overview of what we covered.more ▸
Concur – the company best known for its travel and expense reporting solution – is moving along with its annual user conference this week. The approximate 4,000 headcount organization has a fairly substantial number of employees in India – which explains why revenues aren’t already at the $1-billion mark, a number they expect to see in 2016. The company is growing extremely aggressively, both through acquisitions and hiring. Since last year’s Fusion event they have acquired GDSX and TRX – which explains how Concur has managed to add around 1,500 employees in one year’s time. That is rapid growth!
The mantra at this event was “Transparent, Connected, Effortless” – words echoed consistently by the many product management, marketing, and business development executives that I met. It’s not just something in the water in the Seattle area that has created this uniform pitch; the entire solution delivery is built on transparency (e.g. spend, budget, travel plan changes, expenses, credit card alerts, policy infractions, and so on), and connectivity across a partner network (a long list of partners ranging from financial service institutions to travel management firms to rental cars, hotel chains, and other suppliers) and all of it at your fingertips, in other words effortlessly available.
The effortlessness deserves a special comment. Concur has truly delivered a great user experience in their solutions. It is clear from the solution features, options, workflow, and general proactivity that they really know their use case. (Note to self: must persuade Jason Busch to switch our T&E reporting to Concur). Those who have read some of my other solution evaluations know that I can be relentlessly demanding or, as Jason calls me, a curmudgeon. That said, I have nothing but praise for Concur in the design department – is it weird to say that it actually looks fun to do expense reporting with their ExpenseIt tool?
A Spend Matters Plus subscription is required to read the rest of this article. Analyst Thomas Kase goes on to cover the details of the solution and Concur’s plans and potential for future growth. To inquire about a free trial to Spend Matters Plus, please contact Sheena Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org).more ▸