Help Wanted: Spend Management Champion

If you're a frequent reader of Spend Matters, the news has probably sunk in that our sector is without an individual champion to represent it. For years, Tim Minahan, along with Pierre Mitchell at AMR, and to a lesser degree, David Hope-Ross at Gartner, championed the Spend Management movement as individual market experts and leaders. But with Tim's migration over to the vendor side, it’s unlikely he'll be able to serve as a neutral voice guiding and leading the market, as he did in past roles. Just as Pierre dropped out of the spotlight when he went to Hackett, I would expect Tim to focus more time internally than externally in his new role.

Now with Tim and Pierre both out of the industry analyst role, I have a big question mark about who -- if anyone -- in the industry analyst community will replace them. AMR Research is certainly serious about covering the sector, but both Mickey North Rizza and Mark Hillman are relatively new to it from an analyst perspective. And it will take years for both of them to build their name and credibility in the broader market. Lora Cecere at AMR has some individual brand cache already, but is covering too many areas to become an expert Spend Management champion. Christa Degnan, formerly of Aberdeen, is just coming up to speed in her new role at AMR, and it remains to be seen if she will generate a broad reputation outside of niche Spend Management areas.

So what about Aberdeen and the other firms? As Jamie Bedard pointed out in my discussion with him last week, Aberdeen has a number of analysts focused on the sector. But none, in my opinion, have developed anything near the individual reputation of a Tim. And for me, it's the individual contributors who build a firm's reputation in a specific sector like Spend Management, not the collective agenda of a broader set of analysts. But like AMR, at least Aberdeen is putting group firepower behind their coverage. We'll see what sticks.

Outside of Aberdeen and AMR, the picture declines considerably. For example, given Gartner's inability to hire and keep a single analyst dedicated to the sector in the past 18 months, I believe we can count them out of the serious Spend Management influence game (except for Andy Kyte’s entertaining 30,000 foot keynotes at industry events). And given Andrew Bartels' wide coverage area at Forrester (including a number of areas outside of Spend Management), it is unlikely he will become the next stand-alone influential Spend Management champion.

So in other words, the market is open, and it's not clear who the next leading Spend Management industry advocate will be. Heck, maybe it won't even be an industry analyst who steps up to the table. Might a new blogger with impeccable credentials developing applications in the sector step up the plate and swing for the fences? Only time will tell. But it should be fun to watch! The Spend Matters peanut gallery will be handicapping the favorites and running books should anyone want to place some modest bets ...

Jason Busch

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