Category Archives: Technology

Supply Analytics Will Become Routine, Predictive: Accenture


You won’t get any debate from us that supply analytics must form a key basis of future procurement technology investment. But whether supply analytics, as Accenture defines it in its recent report, Procurement’s Next Frontier – The Future Will Give Rise to an Organization of One, becomes as routine as the authors argue is open to debate. A lot will have to happen to make this vision a reality. What Accenture describes is complicated and daring. It’s also going to prove, perhaps, the most challenging tech vision suggested in the paper to realize.

Online Legal Marketplace UpCounsel Raises $10 Million – WIPs Continue Their Rise


The online legal marketplace UpCounsel announced Tuesday it topped off its earlier seed rounds, totaling $4 million, with a Series A round of $10 million. This news comes just on the heels of our recent article on an online consulting marketplace, Expert360, raising additional investment. These events seem to suggest continuing interest on the part of investors and confidence in the future of online work platforms, despite the now intense controversy about the legal classification of platform-engaged workers as either independent contractors or employees.

Spend Matters Analysis: Accenture’s “Virtual Company Mall”

Accenture analysis

In Accenture’s most recent study on procurement, Procurement’s Next Frontier – The Future Will Give Rise to an Organization of One, the authors suggest the “virtual company mall” will provide the wrapper for the core of a firm’s shopping and tactical buying experience – i.e., how frontline users – and perhaps even procurement – shop for and purchase goods and services. It’s a clever thought to suggest that a single toolset – or more likely a single interface for users – will form the basis of a shopping system. It’s also clever to call it a mall, since within a mall, much like the future buying system the authors describe, there can be different branches or anchor stores as well as all of the individual merchants in smaller spaces that sell their wares. Yet for this analogy to work, a lot of elements need to come together.

E-Invoicing Discovery Questions: Where to Begin

Question Mark in Money

Putting in place an electronic invoicing program requires more than putting in place an e-invoicing system. Business drivers, supplier development programs, internal responsibilities, as-is/expected processes and process change and a range of other internal and external factors outside e-invoicing technology itself all should factor in the discovery process to create a set of requirements and needs specifications. In the Spend Matters paper Understanding How E-Invoicing Fits, I explore a list of questions that procurement and accounts payable (A/P) organizations should answer as a first step. Organizations interested in these types of questions will find the research brief, available temporarily for free download, quite valuable both in defining an optimal program and also in explaining to peers how e-invoicing fits with procurement, A/P, treasury, supply chain and related technologies and programs.

Accenture and the Future of Procurement Technology: The Virtual Company Mall

Virtual company mall

In Accenture’s daring report, Procurement’s Next Frontier – The Future Will Give Rise to an Organization of One, the authors spend a bit of time exploring the future of procurement technology. In fact, they suggest 5 areas that are likely to augment or replace today’s current tech investments. One of these technology areas Accenture describes as “the virtual company mall.” In Accenture’s words, the virtual mall will comprise a cloud-based set of pre-approved private and public “shops” from which internal customers can select goods and services, supported with business logic that guides their purchasing based on policies, preferred suppliers and contracts. But what will it take to for this virtual supplier mall to become a reality?

Does ‘Open Book’ Help or Hurt the Public Procurement Contract Process?

Open book

Let me start off with a disclaimer: Yes, this article focuses on the public sector in the UK. But, if you are outside the UK and not in the public sector, do not despair! I promise this does have relevance to you and will, hopefully, still be interesting, regardless of whatever branch of procurement you work in. One thing the UK has definitely done right is tried a lot of different procurement ideas and has probably been an early adopter in many areas. That includes bringing private sector expertise into public procurement, collaborative buying initiatives, use of category management processes, outsourcing complex services delivered to the citizen or adoption of some aspects of e-procurement. Currently, one of the hot topics for UK public procurement is whether public sector contracts should habitually make more use of “open book” contractual provisions. We discuss what “open book” means, if it is necessary and the pros and cons of it.

FMS and Beyond – Filling in the ‘White Space’ of Sourcing and Engaging the Independent Workforce (Part 1)

Elegant business partners holding blank papers on green background

Freelancer management system (FMS) is a vendor-driven term and concept that has achieved buzzword status in staffing and contingent workforce management circles within just a year of its inception. It is a real and important technology solution development, one that has focused attention on an important expanding gap between talent-hungry enterprises and a fast growing, business-critical segment of the modern global workforce. While FMS is one catalyst of this focus and a way of beginning to bridge this gap – a procurement “white space,” if you will – it is also a part of a much larger set of developments, encompassing a range of incumbent and new services and solutions players as well as new technology infrastructures that will unfold and take shape in the coming years. In Part 1 of this Spend Matters PRO series, I will cover how a procurement white space has appeared between enterprises and an important growing labor population: the independent workforce. I will also provide an understanding of what this independent workforce is and why it is important.

Shining the Spotlight on Procurement Risks – Which Solution Providers Can Help?

Risk Maze Shows Dangerous Unstable Or Risky

It’s another Flashback Friday here on Spend Matters. You don’t want to risk missing out on another one of our most popular Ask the Expert webinars of all time: Providers Who Actually Get to the Root of Risk & Compliance. As Thomas Kase, vice president of research, warns in this webinar from our archives, risk is lurking ahead for every procurement organization regarding finances, performance and compliance. You need to manage this risk to avoid the consequences. How do you do this effectively? And, which solution providers offer the best tools to help procurement organizations tackle risk? (Hint: Check out the webinar!)

Airbnb Revamps Business Travel Program


From a luxury penthouse in Tokyo to a modern loft in Amsterdam – bike included – the number of places for business travelers to stay during corporate trips continues to grow. And, Airbnb is making it easier for corporate travelers to avoid stuffy hotel rooms and opt for alternative spaces like these while traveling for work. This week, the hospitality company announced the global expansion of its Business Travel program, adding a number of tools to the suite to increase visibility into employees' travel plans and spending. Since Airbnb’s Business Travel program launched in July 2014, it has seen 700% growth and now has more than 250 companies as customers, including big names like Google and Facebook. Currently about 10% of all rentals on Airbnb are used by business customers. Other data show business travelers enjoy Airbnb rentals more than hotel rooms and tend to stay longer in the rentals compared with hotels. Read on to find out what we think makes Airbnb so attractive to business travelers.

Coupa Buys TripScanner – Extending Open Procurement Model To Travel


On July 20, the iconoclastic solutions provider Coupa announced it is acquiring TripScanner for an undisclosed amount. Like Coupa, TripScanner is built on an open network principle, except it is focused on business travel. Owing to its small size, TripScanner has not had any prior coverage on Spend Matters. But from what I have read about the company, its business concept appears similar to that of the travel portion of industry-leading travel and expense management provider Concur. Now part of SAP’s cloud portfolio, Concur’s approach lets travelers – in a user-friendly fashion – address their travel needs first and sort out policy consequences afterward. It’s a “spend-visibility-above-all” approach that aligns well with Coupa’s procure-to-pay (P2P) philosophy. Read on to find out how else TripScanner will bring value the Coupa's suite.

The Difference Between Online Freelancer Marketplaces and Freelancer Management Systems

hands holding jigsaw

As a recent McKinsey report convincingly documented, the world has entered a digital age in which work arrangements are becoming increasingly intermediated by information and communications technology. Long gone are the days of newspaper ads and faxing resumes. Even job boards, which allowed forlorn hirers and workers to find one another through digitized resumes and keyword searches, are starting to seem like columbaria. Today hundreds of online platforms support 100% technology-enabled, end-to-end work arrangements – effectively source-to-pay solutions. These new technology-enabled ways of arranging work have created enormous new opportunities, McKinsey suggests. But they also bring new problems. I have noted over the past several months pervasive confusion in the usage of 2 terms that really mean 2 different things: online freelancer marketplace (OFM) and freelancer management system (FMS). The differences are important, so I’d like to set the record straight.

Contract Lifecycle Management 101: Part 5 – The Core CM Solution

businessman hand pushing on a touch screen interface

Today we continue our multi-part Plus series on contract lifecycle management (CLM), an uninspired acronym that sometimes encapsulates, sometimes complements, the source-to-settle (S2S) or source-to-Pay (S2P) process, which when properly implemented can generate quite attractive results. So far, we have introduced CLM in depth, defined the “CLM wheel” and reviewed the solution space to try and understand which solutions were typically required to support the full CLM process from an end-to-end procurement perspective, as no current solution supports the full buy-side process, in our view. We also followed this solution space review with a detailed review of the core solutions that were historically used to implement a full end-to-end solution, when strategically sourcing a high-value category. Now that we understand where traditional procurement solutions have been used with respect to full CLM and a number of the capabilities a true CLM platform is required to possess, we can discuss the core must-have level 1 requirements. In this post, we point out these must-have capabilities that every contract management platform needs to bring at least some value to your organization and where they fit on the CLM wheel.