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Procurement Services

Digital Service Providers: Do They Require Your Attention and Why? (Part 2) [Plus +]

crowdsourcing

In Part 1 of this series, we described and unpacked the topic of digital platform-based service providers, which represent a modest but growing spend category far outside of the scope of contingent workforce and services (CW/S) procurement programs. While they are not on procurement’s radar, Spend Matters believes these providers will increasingly become a significant part of organizations’ services consumption and spend over the next 10 years.

In Part 2, we review what is arguably the most successful sub-segment of these digital service providers, as well as revisit the question of whether they require your attention and why.

Next-Generation Digital Service Providers: The Who, What and Why for Services Procurement [Plus +]

An increasing number of digital, platform-based service providers are appearing today, and while they now represent a small category far outside the scope of most contingent workforce and services (CW/S) procurement programs, the spend they account for is growing.

Back around 2010, traditional BPO providers sought to introduce clients to digitally turbo-charged offerings. Though similar in concept, the providers appearing today represent a whole new generation of platform-based service providers, many of which were startups or didn’t exist in 2010. They did not arise with the scale and legacy of the BPO providers, nor did they occupy the category of major service providers of which procurement was aware and already oversaw.

Far from a passing fad, these next-generation digital service providers will become an increasingly significant segment of services consumption and spend over the next 10 years. We base our projections on solid, long-term trends evidenced in both the consumer and business sectors.

This Spend Matters Plus article defines this new generation of digital service providers and poses the entirely open question of whether they require the attention of procurement organizations tasked with managing services spend at this time. This question may be especially pertinent, given the significant similarities of digital service providers and traditional ones.

From blur to Maistro: Can Services Procurement Get a Life? [PRO]

healthcare

We recently had a briefing and demo by U.K.-based Maistro, which describes itself as “an AI powered platform and dynamic B2B Marketplace that optimizes the way companies buy business services.” Formerly blur Group, the company became Maistro following a significant restructuring that took place over the second half of 2017. Spend Matters has followed the company since 2013, but our coverage tapered off over the last two years as the company's condition worsened. However, since Maistro has been operating under new leadership for almost a year now, it may be time to turn the page and start a new chapter in our coverage.

With a new tagline, “Accelerated Procurement,” Maistro goes-to-market as a procurement-oriented “managed services” solution with an integrated online marketplace that consists exclusively of vetted service supplier businesses (not freelancers). While Maistro does participate in the workforce/services game, its combined characteristics differentiate it from other online freelancer/services marketplaces, such as Upwork, Freelancer, Fiverr and others.

Nonetheless, the work/services platform space is emergent and consists of hundreds of providers, with many well-financed and still searching for the path that will lead to scale adoption by large enterprises. Consequently, it is difficult to predict which providers may find the cure or end up in a platform graveyard, if or when there is a market shakeout. One thing, however, can be said about Maistro: Despite having many near-death experiences over the last four years, it appears to be rallying — albeit with an uncertain prognosis.

Why the Staffing and Contingent Marketplace is Failing Procurement [Plus +]

In our prior analysis of the services procurement market, we looked at the evidence showing how the staffing marketplace is failing procurement organizations. Today, we turn our attention to the “why” and the factors holding organizations back from gaining more value from their services procurement spend. This value includes greater savings, of course, but also reduced risk, increased compliance, improved talent management and recovered time to focus on innovation, continuous improvement and business outcomes.

We are not purporting any grand conspiracy of sorts here. Rather, the fundamental challenge with services procurement and the staffing industry centers on a supplier-led industry dynamic that has been able to break free from the bounds of how procurement manages all other spend areas, directing the buy-side rather than having to adjust its own sell-side driven business to maturing procurement expectations and requirements.

In this Spend Matters Plus analysis, a refresh of our 2014 series, we consider the “why” of the problem and go beyond the standard “fox watching the henhouse” issues with the traditional MSP/staffing market. Finally, to conclude this series, we will offer a prescription for changing the market from the inside out with procurement-led initiatives.

The Contingent Workforce and Services Insider’s Hot List: June 2018 [Plus +]

Welcome to the fifth edition of Spend Matters’ monthly feature, “The Contingent Workforce and Services Insider’s Hot List,” available to PLUS and PRO subscribers.

In the CW/S space, new developments are observable every month. These can include:

  1. New innovative, technology solutions (sometimes hybrid technology and services)
  2. New entrants (some self-styled as disruptive) that have typically been the originators of No. 1
  3. Established supply chain players responding to Nos. 1 and 2, some more effectively than others
On a month-to-month basis, these kinds of developments ebb and flow, but there are always at least a few interesting developments (e.g., a new technology solution provider; a supply chain player or an enterprise trying something new; an alliance with, investment in or acquisition of a still young and innovative provider). If we were to go back 10 years, we would find an entirely different world where truly innovative, technology-driven developments were rare. But today the CW/S space is continuously percolating with new concepts, applications of technology, supply chain participants responses and other developments that go largely unnoticed.

Let’s have a closer look at some of what we picked up on our radar this past month.

The Evidence: How the Staffing and Contingent Market is Failing Procurement [Plus +]

There’s an incumbent ecosystem in the services procurement universe that has made a business out of delivering the bare minimum to keep customers satisfied and maintain the status quo. No, we’re not referring to the “tools” providers but rather the sad fact is that within the more capable vendor management system (VMS) tool sets today, much of the more advanced capability in these solutions goes untapped or is only partially used.

Who is to blame? It’s easy to shoot the messenger (i.e., staffing firms and the incumbent MSPs). But the blame rests with numerous other parties, as well, including consultancies, outsourcing firms, staffing researchers and, perhaps most serious of all, procurement itself.

In this two-part Spend Matters Plus analysis, a refresh of our original 2014 series, we highlight the contributing factors to how and why the staffing and contingent market is failing procurement, concluding with a prescription to start addressing the challenge. In Part 1, we present the evidence of how the staffing and contingent market is failing procurement.

Corcentric Acquires Source One: Transaction Analysis (Part 2) — Customer Recommendations, Selection Checklist and Procurement Consulting Market Update [PRO]

Procurement consulting sector insiders might look at Corcentric’s acquisition of Source One as a rounding error representing what is most likely materially less than the revenue — both in terms of revenue contribution and valuation — that a single large client can bring to a Big Five strategy or operations firms over the course of a calendar year.

There’s likely some truth to this statement. But to dismiss the transaction along these lines would be to ignore the acquisition of one of the few remaining non-system integration procurement consultancies in North America of any scale. And perhaps more important, it would also require turning one’s back on a number of macro trends that are fundamentally shifting the dynamics of the procurement consulting, managed services and business process outsourcing sectors.

These trends matter for both for not only those interested in playing a part in sector consolidation (sellers and buyers) but also customers. This two-part Spend Matters PRO research brief provides insight into the transaction. Part 1 provided an overview of the acquisition and background on Source One. In Part 2, we explore Corcentric and Source One customer recommendations, provide a selection checklist for potential Source One customers to evaluate if the firm is the right "fit" and offer our analysis of what the transaction means for the broader procurement consulting and solutions market.

A User’s Guide to the Gig Economy for Procurement Practitioners [Plus +]

The gig economy has been talked about so endlessly that the term has become nearly meaningless. Yet contingent workforce and services procurement practitioners know there is something going on beyond the buzzwords, something that is beginning to matter to the work they do. It is difficult, however, for many practitioners to distinguish what is essential and of importance in the context of their procurement goals. To aid in that effort, this Spend Matters Plus brief explores how practitioners can make the gig economy work for them.

The Contingent Workforce and Services Insider’s Hotlist: May 2018 [Plus +]

Welcome to the fourth edition of Spend Matters’ monthly feature, “The Contingent Workforce and Services Insider’s Hot List,” available to Plus and PRO subscribers.

Today, based on our own observations and our discussions with supply chain participants, change in the CW/S space (both its scope and pace) appears unprecedented; moreover, it may also be accelerating. The staffing industry of 10 years ago was mature, stable, highly concentrated and hardly innovative. But between then and now, much has been happening.

Change, up and down the supply chain, is being driven not only by enterprises beginning to require more effective solutions in the current environment but even more so by other external forces (e.g., new technology/solutions, workforce demographics and so on). While it is important to consider these external factors/sources, it is also important to watch how the core/traditional supply chain is responding to them. There is little, if any, disruption occurring, but there are many signs of assimilation, adaptation and, in some cases, innovation. For more on this, see our discussion, under the heading “Wildfire? Or Slow Burn?," in last month’s Hotlist.

Given the above, the past month did not disappoint, with developments in both the core/traditional category and the external/innovation category. We’ll start with developments in the first category and then proceed to those in the second.

Is Corporate America Now Embracing the Future of Work? It’s Complicated [PRO]

In this heady and confusing time of freelancers, digital platforms and the gig economy, there are different perspectives on the extent to which large enterprises are — or will increasingly be — sourcing and engaging independent workers, using new technology solutions, digital platforms and new internal processes to do so. In this PRO brief, we look at the state of affairs in 2018 by evaluating this question: When will enterprises, thus far reserved, recognize the tactical and strategic importance of leveraging the independent workforce and start deliberately taking steps to make the independent workforce a part of their total workforce strategies?

The answer is complicated, and predictions are impossible. But trying to answer the question offers procurement and HR practitioners insights, from which they can draw their own conclusions and form their own managerial perspectives.

Services Procurement History: The Rise of the Staffing Industry Model [Plus +]

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By just about anyone’s numbers, the staffing industry still maintains dominant market share when it comes to placing temporary or contingent labor at companies (and often government agencies and departments). In this multi-part Spend Matters Plus analysis we take a look at the growth of the temporary labor market and how staffing firms emerged as a dominant model — and the context with which they accelerated their growth in recent decades. Finally, we introduces the ideas behind why Spend Matters believes staffing firms will begin to increasingly share overall contingent market share with freelancer models, talent marketplaces, alumni and shared interest pools, independent contractors/consultants and related models in the coming decades and what this means for procurement organizations increasingly tasked with managing services spend.

Holding Managed Services Providers (MSPs) Accountable to a BPO-Based Standard (Part 3) [Plus +]

Consider that during the initial years of a services procurement outsourcing initiative involving legal spend, that pursuing e-billing programs that enable rate management and better invoice tracking along with formal rate management programs and related benchmarking, rate/value alignment and volume discounting is most likely to deliver optimal near-term results. Yet in most cases, in the out-years of a multiple-year legal spend management program, it makes sense to move to such areas as law firm selection, alternative fee arrangements, resource optimization and document discovery as the next areas to tackle.