These days, one cannot swing a dead cat, as the saying goes, without having contact with the “gig economy.” The media are all aflutter — or shall we say, atwitter — about the “gig economy” or “on-demand economy,” both of which usually mean people doing low-skill, low-wage jobs on a contingent basis. The labor economics terms include “precarious jobs” and “casualization of labor.” Now, I’m not judging the “gig economy,” but have we lost our bearings? Has our attention been misdirected away from something much more critical?
Friday Rant Content
In recent months I have noted a disturbing phenomenon: the increasing number of delivery people bringing packages of all sizes to different addresses along my home street. Online retail purchasing of just about anything and delivery of those purchases to residences has created an unprecedented influx of delivery vehicles, all containing a range of different items wrapped in a large amount of (not environmentally friendly) packing materials. Shouldn’t we consider the consequences of our new consumer culture, especially what entails, downstream, in the “last mile”?
Good customer service goes a long way and I commend businesses that realize this, even if it takes a couple of tries to get it right. Such was the case for Visionworks, which recently righted a major wrong I wrote about back in June. When the scratch coating on glasses I purchased in spring 2014 began to flake off for the second time in 1 year, I learned the problem was a well-known supplier defect. At first my local store refused to replace my lenses because my warranty had expired. But after I took to Spend Matters to address the issue, Visionworks began to take a different tone.
My Apple MacBook Pro with Retina display (aka MBPr) is losing its charge – otherwise it's largely been a champ so far since Jason and I each bought one the very first day they came out in 2012. There have been some bugs along the way (e.g. WiFi and Bluetooth don't always like each other, and some unexpected crashes), but overall it has been a good relationship. As is expected with all battery-powered devices (remember that prospective electric car buyers!), eventually the charge doesn't last. Early on, I got a solid 8 hours out of my MacBook battery, maybe even 10 hours or more sometimes, especially on dark planes with the screen dimmed down. Now, however, 3 hours or so, and it’s shutting down.
What Does The CFO Think Of Procurement? Why Aren’t We Asking About Finance’s Impact on Procurement?!
There’ve been numerous studies that have asked finance executives to rate procurement effectiveness, with a focus on the credibility of the procurement-cited savings and whether the results are dropping to the bottom line (I even led such a study over 5 years ago). Not surprisingly, there are clearly some capability gaps here. But, is this really the right question to be asking finance folks? First of all, you have to consider why these gaps occur at all. We take a look at this issue in this post and also will be conducting a study in partnership with ISM on the topic.
We’ve been in touch with a lot of folks going through procurement technology selections. And, the good news is there’s lots of activity – more than ever, actually. More procurement teams than ever, too, are investing the time – often with other stakeholders such as AP and IT – to gain intelligence on the market and their various options rather than jumping to conclusions in selection processes. But on the negative side, one trend we’re seeing is executive sponsors outside of procurement making a play to work Ariba (and other SAP cloud solutions – Fieldglass, Concur, etc.) into a process that circumvents a traditional sourcing process applied to technology.
I admit to not being the most technologically-literate person. But despite the limited technology knowledge I have chosen to acquire, I do know one thing: when you buy a brand new laptop, it’s supposed to work. It is supposed to operate without incident for a period of time that is longer than 30 days. It should not require a 3-hour call on a Friday afternoon with technical support personnel. For our company's new Lenovo laptop, however, this is exactly what it took to remove malware that somehow infiltrated the Windows operating system.
With so many sourcing tool providers there's no reason to be sending Excel spreadsheets back and forth via email. Choosing a provider can improve your company's structure, and quickly. Practices can be implemented in a matter of days. So really, how do you not have a tool yet?
SAP/Ariba's acquisition of Fieldglass has provided plenty of fodder for the Spend Matters crew for the last couple of weeks, but in today's rant we take on a somewhat inquiring perspective. What does the future of networked services procurement hold? Extending the application capability of the Fieldglass VMS to a network-based model targeting new types of value could change the procurement discussion entirely.
For vinyl nuts like me, there’s practically no greater fun than to pass a yard sale with cases of old vinyl records on display, often priced at a dollar or less. It’s equally thrilling to walk into a used record store and find a new batch of used jazz and classical recordings. Sadly, this cherished pastime’s days are numbered. The millions upon millions of used records in the current market mostly belong to older folks who are downsizing, having been purchased new in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. So if you love older Rock, Folk, Country, Jazz and/or Classical, now is the time to build out your collection at the lowest cost in history.
Calling CIPS, calling ISM, calling potential for-profit training companies: procurement needs something like this, which the NYT called out in Dealbook today. What is this you ask? It’s “specialized boot camps” for recent graduates where “fees that sometimes exceed $1,000 a day” to enable “would-be masters of the universe [to] perfect Excel modeling techniques and financial analysis.” The need for such intensive tutoring is clear – even for those who supposedly studied these techniques in school.
EDI, or electronic data interchange, is exactly what it is: the acronym speaks for itself. Pundits like us and solution providers use the phrase supplier network (or business network, if you must). But procurement, A/P and manufacturing organizations do not, unless they’ve been brainwashed by vendors, consultants, or analysts – at least generally speaking. Many haven’t a clue what a supplier network is, nor do they care. Why bother with the disconnect?