The Industry News Category

The Week in Direct Materials: Oil Prices, China, Steel, and NAFTA

oil oversupply OPEC

Energy and transportation prices bumped up, Chinese aluminum smelters are taking advantage of the subsidization game, and the U.S. steel industry is not all too happy about any of that – but one if its trade organizations still supports NAFTA. Find out why in this week's direct materials update from MetalMiner.

Wipro Acquires Appirio for $500M to Reach for the Cloud, Leverage Power of the Crowd


The acquisition — Wipro’s second largest — is not a consolidation play in a maturing industry, rather it is a way for Wipro to extend from its own mature core business into the fast-growing cloud technology transformation segment. It will also take ownership of what is probably the largest software development/analytics crowdsourcing challenge platforms, Topcoder (which was acquired by Appirio in 2013). Clearly, the acquisition of Appirio is a step into the future for Wipro. Why?

Upwork Skills Index: What Do the Fastest-Growing Freelancer Skills Mean to a Procurement Analyst?


Upwork, a leading online freelancer marketplace and enterprise freelancer management solution business, released its second quarterly Skills Index report this week. The first report, Q2 Skills Index, was published in July. Each report identifies the 20 fastest-growing skills among U.S.-based Upwork freelancers in given quarters year-over-year. We run down the latest Top 20 here, also unleashing our "inner statistician" by suggesting how to best hone the report findings — and why procurement should care.

Randstad Sourceright, TalentWave Partner to Link Total Talent Solutions and IC Compliance Capabilities


Sourceright, Randstad’s global workforce solutions division, and TalentWave, a major independent workforce engagement solutions provider, recently announced a partnership aimed at the growing source of independent talent. What does this mean for the two companies, and for contingent workforce management and services procurement pros?

What WorkRails’ Latest Funding Round Means for Procurement Practitioners


WorkRails, founded in late 2015, announced that it has raised $2.3M in a seed round led by Boldstart Ventures and including Lerer Hippeau Ventures, BoxGroup, and Lattice Ventures. The Long Island-based company, co-founded by Work Market and OnForce co-founder Jeff Leventhal, brings a unique play to the growing and rapidly evolving digital work intermediation platform space. While that realm tends to be thought of in terms of categories like freelancer marketplaces, crowdsourcing, and FMS, it is actually highly heterogeneous and continuously spawning innovative models. So how does WorkRails work, and what does it mean for you?

HR Tech 2016 Post-Mortem: Was the Elephant in the Room?

tiero/Adobe Stock

Last week, at the start of HR Tech, I posted this article, The Elephant in the Room at HR Tech: Contingent Workforce, where I raised the question of whether technology for accessing and managing non-employee /contingent workforce would be present at HR Tech. In the article, I noted that the growth and importance of this external workforce seemed indisputable and, therefore, highly relevant to HR professionals. To make the point, I likened this workforce — and the growing number of technology solutions that businesses use to access and manage it — to the elephant in the room. I also vowed to put on my safari hat and hunt the big game among the exhibitors, speakers, and attendees. Unfortunately, I ended up going home empty-handed (except for some plush toy tigers). Despite trekking around the conference, remaining alert to anything hiding in the shadows, talking to the natives, and absorbing the wisdom of the village elders, I did not even get a clear shot at the big game, but I did find some tracks that indicated the presence of a huge animal that was probably there but unseen.

Stock Portfolio for September – And It’s Goodnight from Me, and It’s Goodnight from Him* [Plus+]


* As for that headline, Google it if you aren’t British and over 40. It's time for news about our portfolio of stocks from publicly quoted companies who are all or partly focused on procurement solutions and services. We have 20 firms represented in our portfolio, from huge to small, and we report on overall portfolio performance every month, picking out a few firms to focus on more closely. September was — well, how can we put this gently — a somewhat boring month, at least if you look at the headline stock prices at both individual company level and overall for the portfolio. BUT if we look more carefully, we can find some points of interest, including two high-profile CEO departures. So what did the behind-the-scenes goings-on look like?

Coupa IPO Pops on Opening: What Do We Think?

Coupa (NASDAQ: COUP), which priced last night at the higher end of its revised range ($18), nearly doubled this morning, after it started trading. As of publishing of this post, it has dropped slightly — up 85%+ since the market open — but it is still above $30 per share. The current stock price gives Coupa a valuation within striking distance of $2B, which would equate to above 10x revenue on a forward basis or over 15x on a trailing basis. Moreover, the stock price jump likely makes most if not all of the investors “whole” given preferences and other stipulations typical of later-stage funding rounds — although the nuances here can be complicated. More importantly, here’s my quick take on the implications for the sector of the IPO and the valuation (opinions are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of my colleagues at Azul Partners or Spend Matters).

Upwork’s “Freelancing in America 2016” Report Indicates Upward Trend


Today Upwork released its third annual “Freelancing in America” survey results, co-sponsored with Freelancers Union and conducted by research firm Edelman Berland. The survey utilized the same methodology in 2014, 2015, and 2016, thus allowing for some trend information. The survey, which has been the basis of a range of different findings on freelancing and freelancers, indicates that that there has been a (possibly accelerating) trend in the number of people who have done some type of paid freelancing over a prior 12-month period as of July 2014, 2015, and 2016. In our coverage here, we will focus less on attitudinal findings (which can be reviewed in detail in the report) and more on the freelancer population and participation statistics. Here are some of the key findings.

Your Booth-By-Booth Guide to HR Tech: Non-Employee, Contingent Workforce, Gig Economy Solution Providers and Bears: Visit Them All!


Yesterday, I did a kind of tongue-in-cheek post, entitled “The Elephant in the Room at HR Tech: Contingent Workforce,” pointing out the near-total absence of non-employee, contingent workforce, gig economy solutions at HR Tech.  However, in the outside world, there are actually numerous solutions (like VMS, online freelancer marketplaces, FMS, et. al.) designed to address this growing and increasingly important workforce.  Though still only an emerging topic in HR circles, we know that HR professionals really are intensely interested in the future of work (now at our doorstep) and in how their organizations will engage contingent labor and talent, given increasing talent gaps and shifts in how the workforce wants or needs to “go to work.” With that in mind, I wanted to point out several solution providers that will be at HR Tech — all having very significant connections to the non-employee, contingent workforce, gig economy.  I’ll also provide some links to some of our pertinent articles for more information.

The Elephant in the Room at HR Tech: Contingent Workforce


I’ll be attending the HR Tech conference in Chicago this week (Oct. 4–7) for the first time since 2013. HR Tech has been for many years the No. 1 conference in the world addressing technology for managing human resources. When I last attended, I found it puzzling that a growing and large part of a company’s workforce (then on average about 20%) did not seem to be getting much attention. There was not even a handful of exhibitors among hundreds, and it appeared that few, if any, of the several thousand attendees (predominantly human resources professionals) were concerned by this absence.