An exhausting cup of coffee with Luke Spikes (Spikes Cavell)

I have been hearing about Spikes Cavell for 2 or 3 years now, mainly around public sector procurement.  My initial sense was that they were consultants; but then their name kept popping up in the context of Spend Analysis, particularly in the wider public sector context (local authorities primarily).

It hadn't really occurred to me that there was a Mr Spikes (after all, I don't think there is a Mr BravoSolution or Mr Emptoris) until a mutual friend suggested I should meet Luke Spikes for a coffee the other day. Luke is one of the founders and owners of the business, and we had a very stimulating hour in Starbucks, which left me feeling exhilarated but a little dazed.  He throws out ideas like a Catherine Wheel, and his brain clearly works at twice the pace of mine; I imagine he must be incredibly stimulating if rather exhausting to work with!

I mean that as a compliment; he has a deep understanding of public procurement issues, not just around the data area, and Spikes Cavell is without a doubt an interesting company.  They are taking  a leading role in the 'trasparency' agenda around Government; for example, many local authorities are looking to them to help in their publishing of spend data, including Windsor and Maidenhead, who are being held up as the paragons  of spend transparency virtue by the Tories.  See here for 'Spotlight on Spend', a very clear analysis published by W & M with the help of  Spikes Cavell.

Spikes are also increasingly helping organisations take actions once the spend analysis work has been done; another example of the blurring between software / solution providers, consultants and outsourcers that we are seeing in the market (and we've commented on before).

I was also interested that they have a strategic partner tie -up with the National Institute for Governmental Purchasing in the US, providing the 'Observatory' tool for NIGP members.  I have very fond memories of the NIGP conference in Nashville when I was CIPS President back in 2003; over 1000 attendees in a very large conference room was a slightly intimidating speaking gig!   Luke is off to this year's event in San Antonio shortly, and I'm sure he'll have a great time.  He promised to buy anyone who mentioned reading this piece a beer by the way ....(only joking).

Obviously there are a number of strong players in this market as well as Spikes; and actually the healthy growth the whole sector is showing is indicative of the realisation that, if you are going to sort out your procurement, you do need decent data as the starting point.  It is of course a necessary but not sufficient condition; you do also need to know what to do with it once you have got it!

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