ISM/SAP Sapphire — Packed Days, Lots of Goodies to Come (Dispatch 1)

I can't explain how busy I've been for the past few days to those who have not shuttled back and forth between two conferences at the same time (8 miles apart, mind you). I've also been triple-booked more than once in a day and had to prepare and present two presentations and facilitate a panel discussion -- plus catch up with dozens of old friends and colleagues, many who could disclose some dangerous things about me from my bachelor years if I were to not buy a hushing round. Yesterday I think I broke a personal record in taxi spend -- $150+. And I was even able to bum a few rides for free. But all the back and forth has been worth it -- I've learned a great number of things at both events, all of which I plan to share in the coming days on Spend Matters. Here are some of the highlights and goodies, in no particular order:

  • SAP Supplier InfoNet -- SAP Supplier InfoNet (abbreviation "SIN", how unfortunate...) is a new solution cleared for commercial launch just last week, yet has been running in beta/pilot mode within the A&D sector in recent quarters. Aggregating operational supplier metrics and sharing them amongst an opt-in community of interest while also integrating external information feeds and content, Supplier InfoNet combines a BI-like dashboard and analysis environment with live multi-company, multi-tier benchmarks and insight in a package that's truly unique. The security permissions, especially to view multi-tier information, are incredibly well planned (and informed by social media norms). We spent two hours in a demonstration of the product with the key folks behind it. It's like nothing else I've personally seen in the market other than the original Open Ratings product (whose vision it extends significantly further, at least from an operational data perspective). Look for our detailed analysis of Supplier InfoNet in the coming weeks. Kudos to SAP for being truly innovative and bringing a product to market that could change how we think about distributed supplier intelligence and risk management based on what's buried in our own systems -- and our peer's systems as well.
  • Niche supplier management vendors (e.g., managing the credentials of construction/contractors) -- At ISM, we spoke a number of niche supplier management vendors (e.g., those that manage credentials for the construction industry). It's amazing how this market is blossoming, and how a handful of smaller, often industry-specific players with vendor-paid models are rising up alongside more mainstream providers. A bunch I had never heard of until this year's show.
  • Supplier risk management -- the risk management track at ISM saw a great reception. Fingers crossed that they renew our track for next year, but given the response, attendance and executive interest in supply chain risk management, it would be hard to imagine they won't. I presented as part of a panel discussion yesterday, and will be speaking later today in the market for tools/technology in the area.
  • Procurement at SAP/Sapphire -- A neutral (i.e., non-procurement) member of the SAP team told me that the procurement solution demonstration and presentation area of the main floor at Sapphire ("Line of Business" for those who attended) was the best attended compared with others. And she told me this unprompted. In a bunch of micro forums/presentations that planned for 6-12 people to show up, 50+ did.
  • SAP SRM enhancements -- SAP has made a number of enhancements to SRM 7.0 with enhancement pack 1. Some of these address earlier implementation challenges customers realized (e.g., broken wheels on shopping carts) while others are more functionally specific and build upon needed areas of enhancement versus general fixes. We'll dig into SRM in a forthcoming post updating our research on the product line. Stay tuned for all the gory P2P details.
  • Sourcing enhancements -- SAP Sourcing Wave 8.0, which is in deployment (yet not the platform that most Sourcing customers are currently on), brings a number of enhancements including increased mobile support, digital signatures/signing and enhanced analytics and data visualization at the core. We'll dig into this release next week in significant detail.
  • VMS folks out in force -- at ISM I encountered several VMS providers who appeared to have a greater show of force at the event than years past. Not everyone was there, but seeing PeopleClick Authoria, IQNavigator, Beeline and ZeroChaos, for example, supports my belief that the vendor community is making a greater effort to educate a general procurement audience.
  • Discussion with SAP's own CIO -- In a discussion with SAP's CIO, I learned that procurement is actually one of his top priorities. Still, SAP's own vendor management process leaves quite a bit to be desired, as one Enterprise Irregular suggested based on his own experience.

Stay tuned as we cover these topics and more to come out of Sapphire and ISM in detail! Thomas Kase, our newest member of the team, will also be reporting what he learned as well.

Jason Busch

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