A False Oracle

Even though I'm a somewhat emotional person, it takes a lot to get me really riled up over something for more than a few minutes. But when I dug into Oracle's new whitepaper "Avoid Spend Analysis Paralysis" I kept getting angrier and angrier the more I flipped through it. The gist of the paper is that companies should not engage in global spend analysis projects and programs because it "would require a multimillion dollar investment in hardware, software licenses, custom development, and professional services from multiple, domain-specific service providers for data homogenization." Rather than embark on this type of project, Oracle argues incorrectly that because "much of what an organization buys is on a sport basis" and since "no purchasing organization will have the labor capacity to implement new, worldwide supplier agreements in one fell swoop" that it is "impractical and undesirable to consolidate all purchasing data".

It suffices to say that the entire piece is the work of someone who clearly knows enough about procurement to build an entirely false argument that could easily mislead unsuspecting readers. Indeed, this whitepaper is the work of the spend devil, a false Oracle if you will. In fact, it should be called a blackpaper.

While I don't want to get overly critical about products on this blog, this blackpaper is begging for a response lest I burn forever in procurement hell with the author of this thing for staying silent. In my view, only a vendor with fundamental flaws in its spend analytics capability would create such a whitepaper to mislead the market and cover-up their shortcomings. In which case it would make sense that Oracle would write this, given that their procurement analytics capability can only really work in a standardized Oracle environment unless you spend a fortune customizing it. That is, if you're running a global environment with multiple instances of Oracle -- and versions -- let alone a homogeneous back-end environment, then Oracle's spend visibility capabilities are not for you, unless you'd rather see Accenture's stock go up next year -- at your expense. In fact, if you've gone with Oracle for Spend Management analytics, then you're selling yourself short, most likely leaving millions on the table -- or under the table, since you won't know how much you're even playing with.

I could go on, but I won't. Getting into specifics is more helpful, rather than naming just blatant logic flaws and idiocies of the paper and the shortcomings of Oracle's own solution. In my view, for a vendor, it's one thing to spin a subject to play to your strengths. But it's another thing to entirely mislead customers and prospects based on your own lack of capability. As an example, for Oracle to completely discount the non-sourcing advantages of building enterprise visibility is misleading and unethical. Consider that in the paper, Oracle does not discuss the benefits of building complete visibility to look at such areas as balance of trade between organizations, contract compliance and PPV -- to create sustainable savings and even revenue enhancement opportunities over the long haul.

Maybe I'm being too harsh on Oracle. The entire notion of implementing spend visibility capabilities just to cherry pick selected categories on a one-time and regional basis -- as the whitepaper suggests -- might be a great strategy. That is, if you're stuck in the mid-nineties and just getting started with strategic sourcing. Perhaps I should have titled this post "an adolescent Oracle" instead!

What do you think? Am I being too harsh on Oracle? Perhaps it's best to let Spend Matters readers -- who tipped me off to this piece -- have the last word.

Jason Busch

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