The Problem with SIM…and its Promise (Part 1)

Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears. I come to praise SIM… and to bury it.

There has been a great interest in Supplier Information Management (SIM) from my clients over the last 12-18 months, and it definitely is hot space - but it’s also a bothered one. One challenge here is that companies get confused by the varying terminologies that vendors use regarding SxM (SIM, SLM, SQM, SPM, SRM, etc.) and also, that they themselves have varying terminologies that they understand internally.

But, the biggest problem lies with SIM itself. SIM is a popular and growing segment of the applications market. But, a market is only a buyer spending money with the supplier. And while there is indeed a strong “market” for buyers looking for SIM capabilities, the prospect of a strong standalone SIM market is unclear. If SIM is really just about Master Data Management (MDM) of the vendor master file, then this “system of record” requirement plays best to the ERP vendors.

So, to see what might become of the SIM market, I went to the great Google God to see what happened in the CRM market – the predecessor to procurement applications – for this ‘information management’ area. If you type in “Customer Relationship Management” (with quotes), you get about 12M hits, and if you do the same with “Supplier Relationship Management,” you get less than 1M. So, CRM is indeed a much larger predecessor and bellwether. But, if you do the same with "Customer Information Management” and “Supplier Information Management,” you get 129K hits for CIM and 370K hits for SIM.

You can read this different ways, but for us, this does not bode well for the SIM market at a macro level, and is likely one of the reasons why SIM providers broadened their solutions to focus on the broader business processes which manage that supplier information during supplier discovery, supplier onboarding, supplier performance management, etc. But this broadening is where things go off the rails for practitioners and providers alike.

Later this morning, we’ll discuss how to frame SIM more broadly and try to reduce some of the confusion that exists in this area.

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