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Getting Past the Existential Connectivity Funk: Stop Waiting for the Supplier Network Revolution

In Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, two chaps philosophize, debate and engage in quite a lot of self-pitying while aimlessly waiting around for a figure they call Godot (who never in fact arrives). The entire play, depending on one’s perspective, is an exercise in either rhetoric or existential thinking. But regardless of your vantage point, it’s pretty clear that the protagonists accomplish just about nothing by the end. Inaction – and the status quo – end up ruling the day.

Waiting for Godot actually presents a number of useful lessons for the universe of supplier networks. For one, the great majority of organizations deploying supplier networks in any capacity to this date have realized a tiny proportion of their potential value, despite extensive planning, investment and, well, waiting. Just as Vladimir and Estragon were sucked into a world of apathetic ambition, current supplier networks (nearly all of which have focused 99% of their efforts on solving singular challenges rather than transforming buyer/supplier connectivity and relationships) initially aspired to greatness, but ended up amounting to little more than a supplement or replacement for EDI.

With apologies to Mr. Beckett, whom clearly has many followers in the existing supplier network marketplace, our premise today is that a revolution is afoot in the supplier network world and that a new breed of networks – or enhanced versions of existing offerings – have the fundamental ability to do great things. The supplier network promise of tomorrow will be transformative for buying organizations. Spend Matters believes it is only a matter of time until open networks (with no or minimal entry barriers or forced transactional requirements) for suppliers begin to combine supplier management and other capabilities in a many-to-many fashion.

These approaches will unite a number of capabilities to create new value propositions for buying organizations, from integrated supplier management and search to global transactional connectivity and standards for transactions and information exchange. To eliminate duplication of effort, some will provide a single location for non-procurement (and procurement) stakeholders to manage up-to-date supplier information for special initiatives like CSR, diversity, risk, etc. At the same time, others will offer plug and play connectivity for P2P and transactional systems of record, regardless of the overall heterogeneity of an organization’s systems environment or other existing supplier network connects.

Download this Spend Matters Perspective today for an early look at what tomorrow’s supplier networks will look like. And get past the existential connectivity funk holding back the better known supplier networks today.