Jason Busch asks – where’s the innovation in procurement technology?

Jason Busch published a must-read post last Friday on the Spend Matters US website. If you have any interest in procurement technology, I urge you to read it.

He talks about a new SAP product, SAP Supplier InfoNet, which he will be reviewing shortly, but he takes that as a starting point for a diatribe about the lack of real innovation in the world of procurement and supply-chain technology.  How have things got so bad, he says, that the most innovative new technology product he's seen for ages is from SAP, a huge and historically somewhat monolithic company?

When SAP is the most innovative company in the procurement and operations technology sector, I find it representative of a broader and much more serious problem. Start-ups and established best of breed vendors alike have all but abandoned true innovation in this sector.

Is this a sign that technology firms have lost their way? And where are the new entrepreneurs in our field? But is this our fault, he asks.

Perhaps the procurement profession is the real guilty party here, forcing our vendors toward a standardized sameness so we can evaluate them in a tidy request for quotation, enabling as close to an apples-to-apples comparison as it gets in software....  Clearly, at the end of the day, when SAP is the most innovative vendor by a mile..  in bringing an entirely new idea to market (not just a new module or new solution extension), something is terribly wrong.

Jason challenges us - and the market - to show true innovation and risk-taking in new product areas. And he suggests that he (we?) might support this.

But to encourage, surface and highlight innovation, I have an idea -- let's introduce the Spend Matters Procurement Technology Breakthrough Awards. I'm thinking we'll offer awards and vet submissions in the following categories: sourcing, P2P, services procurement and supplier management.

So, do read this - and I'm going to respond later this week.  (This wasn't something we discussed before he published it!)  But it's certainly got me thinking - I'm not sure I fully agree with Jason, so I shall marshall my arguments and get back to you.  But what do you think?

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