Free Your Mind: Supplier Content Management

Last week, I had the chance to sample a couple of microbrews with Vinimaya's Gary Hare. For those who know Gary, it goes without saying that this is an individual who has spent much of the past fifteen years living and breathing many aspects of Spend Management technology -- from the early days of reverse auctions at GE to proprietary trading and content networks (TPN Register) to arguably, at least in his opinion, what might become a standard of next generation supplier content management and catalog enablement at Vinimaya. Listening to Gary's past working with some of the early founders of this sector at GE including Glen Meakem, Richard Waugh, Orville Bailey and Bill Blair is almost as fascinating as discussing his latest venture.

And what a unique concept Gary's organization brings to the P2P table. Even though I've written about Vinimaya in the past, I remain struck with how utterly simple the premise is. To wit, why take on the management or oversight of each individual supplier catalog -- or give up the ability to compare prices, features and other attributes of like products -- by going the traditional enablement route? Why not take a virtual approach that relies on a dynamic ability to query supplier-hosted catalogs (or a simple, published website) at the point of inquiry or requisition? This second approach is, of course, the premise behind Vinimaya.

Over the past couple of months, I've randomly (i.e., not vendor initiated) found the opportunity to chat with a couple of Vinimaya users (and consultants who've worked with the product), all of whom have suggested that the system not only works -- it's been an important component for getting them to a level of supplier content enablement that allows them to achieve the type of eProcurement returns they need. Now, not everyone says its perfect. Like all advanced technology, it can have its quirks (both in set-up and actual performance, given that it relies by nature on third-party hosted and managed content).

Overall, my verdict is that it's a forward looking and elegent approach to solving a key problem that exists in the procurement world. While models like this could change the eProcurement content management paradigm entirely, it requires freeing your mind from a legacy catalog and content management mindset. But in today's environment, where cost savings is everything, I think we'd all admit that anything is possible.

- Jason Busch

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