The Innocents Abroad: A Spend Management Yankee in London (Part I)

Earlier last week, I had a whirlwind trip to the UK. It started with a quick jaunt to Dublin to catch up with SupplierForce, a company I've tracked since its business plan days. SupplierForce is little known outside of Ireland but will soon become a familiar name in the broader UK market. Like Aravo, they provide a supplier information management platform designed to manage supplier data and relationships outside of specific transactions or negotiations. The company and product has come quite a long way since Declan Kearney, the company's founder, sketched out the idea for me during a trip to Chicago a few years ago. But more on SupplierForce in a later post.

After a couple pints of Guinness -- the real stuff, not the watered-down Americanized version -- and a few hours sitting through demos and PowerPoint it was on to London, the main reason for my trip. After catching up the first night with an old college chum who managed to parlay his finance degree from Wharton into a special type of marketing expertise, "place branding" for countries, cities, etc. it was time to start my busiest 32 hours in recent memory. In addition to speaking at IACCM and leading a panel discussion, I dropped by the eWorld event and walked the floor twice, meeting with a number of vendors that I was only loosely familiar with before the trip. Look for more details on some of these providers next week.

Somehow in between all this, I managed to connect with the founders of BravoSolution, IBX and Trade Extensions -- all of whom happened to be in town at the same time. Many of these discussions were extremely informative and have given me quite a bit of fodder to work with in the coming weeks when it comes to discussing some of the nuances of the UK and regional European Spend Management markets. In short, I came away from these meetings with anything but the traditional US-view that the European market is lagging behind the US market in adoption. In fact, I garnered numerous examples from these discussions -- not to mention the case studies at IACCM -- that while the UK and European markets might be behind in some areas, they are actually ahead in others. In particular, what the UK government and related organizations (e.g., BAA) are doing around optimization and supply risk management should certainly cause US public sector procurement leaders’ ears to perk up.

Stay tuned for my full analysis in the coming weeks.

- Jason Busch

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