P2P and Procurement Applications: The Cloud Ain’t So Simple

Earlier this month, Procurement Leaders published a blog post titled: Has The Cloud-Based Solutions Market Turned A Corner In 2014? Citing the case of a relationship between Accenture and SAP/Ariba to deliver “a new cloud-based solution … designed to transform the delivery of procurement and finance and accounting (F&A) business services to its customers,” PL then raises the question of whether “the hype around the cloud signaled a wider shift in the market.”

For companies, solutions providers, and software companies, the question of cloud isn’t binary. In other words, it’s not a matter of “to host or not to host, that is the question.” It’s a complex issue. There is a range of vendors (including SAP/Ariba) selling solutions that can be configured in a hybrid manner in which data is stored and delivered through different applications in a virtualized manner. And the various bits and bytes that end up hitting a users or supplier’s screen can come from any server. Moreover, it is possible to tie installed software applications (e.g., an e-invoicing or accounts payable automation capability from OpenText or Basware) into a cloud network from just about any provider.

Any company debating whether cloud is right for them for transactional procurement systems including eProcurement and e-invoicing should not jump to conclusions. They should start first with developing a procurement information architecture (see related research briefs at the end of this post) that addresses topics such as data stewardship/security, data ownership, and rights (e.g., does a cloud provider have any rights to use or share my data or my supplier’s data in the aggregate with others?). And even if cloud is the right strategy, there are further questions on a global front. Many European companies don't want their data hosted or going through US servers.

We encourage our subscribers to contact us to discuss and address these types of questions. The cloud is not simple and can’t be reduced to an “either/or” type of thinking – nor can one trust a single provider or solution aggregator such as Accenture to have the one solution model that fits the needs of everyone without significant “last mile” tailoring and configuration. Please, whatever you do, don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.

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