Five Specialist Vendors You Must Talk to in 2013

The original post on Spend Matters PRO is available here: Five Specialist Vendors You Must Talk to in 2013.

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One of the challenges of being a procurement technology consumer is that you're most likely to be contacted by larger providers with significant marketing budgets to invest in aggressive lead generation or existing software providers that you – or your IT organization – are already in bed with. Finding yourself on the receiving end of outreach from these providers can be helpful in getting smart on a given area. But you may only hear part of the story in terms of what's possible with the latest ideas and capabilities.

Later in 2013, we'll publish our first iteration of the Spend Matters Almanac, a one-stop shop reference guide to learn the basics about which providers deliver which solutions in which areas. Throughout the year, we'll also undertake some much deeper dive comparative analyses and vendor recommendations relative to what the market has seen in the following areas: e-sourcing, supplier management, e-Procurement and electronic invoicing.

We hope the Spend Matters Almanac will be helpful for a variety of reasons. But truthfully, these approaches are no substitute for parsing out alternative views on a problem you're already trying to solve – or are just beginning to explore – let alone those where you haven't considered how technology could radically change the status quo. We attempt to highlight smaller providers as well as large, especially if we think our audience can learn from their approaches.

Yet even we're not substitutes for truly engaging with the most innovative providers directly, especially (in many cases) the founders and CEOs who spend eighteen hours a day evangelizing not only their solutions, but their ideas. Given this, the thought occurred to us to provide a listing of five providers that we think every procurement, accounts payable and broader finance organization should talk to in 2013 if only to learn about something new and truly get inspired about what's possible – not just what falls inside an existing solution box.

We promise that if you spend a couple hours with these providers and see a demonstration of their capabilities that you will learn something you can apply directly to your organization. You'll also likely to come away with something you can apply indirectly (i.e., to a tangential area). But perhaps most important, you'll learn "what's possible" by pushing the limits of different procurement technologies that can change the value proposition and capabilities that purchasing, supply management, risk management, accounts payable, and related functional areas can bring to the business.

After talking to these technology vendors, you might want to create a budget for the type of solution they offer. Or perhaps you won't (even though we promise the time invested to learn will be worth it). But if you do, you owe it to yourself to consider alternative solutions. For example, in advanced sourcing (or sourcing optimization, as it's also known) even though we've listed one provider that is amongst the more inspirational in case examples and data, there are numerous others to chose.

On Spend Matters PRO, we explore the reasons why you should talk to these providers in detail and what you'll likely learn from seeing their solutions and philosophies (in both a summary analysis as well as a deep dive research brief for each one). But for today, here's our list of the five:

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Spend Matters PRO delivers procurement and supply chain professionals an information advantage by providing original thought, insightful analyses, and unbiased opinion that doesn't hedge, obfuscate, or pander.

- Jason Busch

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