The Consumerisation of Corporate Systems – New Paper Ready for Download Now

Do you remember those magical days of “green screens” on your computer, and of those lovely P2P systems that required a week long training course before you could create a requisition for a stapler?

If you are under 40 the answer is almost certainly “no” - and you should be thankful! These days, we have certain expectations around the systems, software, platforms and apps that we use. We expect simplicity, user-friendliness and intuitive interfaces.

I realised just how much things had changed around 4 years ago, when my 22-year-old daughter told me she was doing some sound editing for a radio programme. She had no previous experience of this, so I asked if she had been on a course to learn the techniques, or had some training from a colleague. She gave me “the look” (which all parents get to know as their kids grow up and realise how stupid we are) and said, “no, I just downloaded the software last night and now I’m doing it”.

Her expectation was that any tool, even for something that sounded pretty complex, should be intuitive enough that you could pick it up quickly, experiment a bit and get to grips with it without external assistance. That is even more the case when it comes to our expectations around consumer technology and commerce, with Amazon, eBay and others leading the way for feature-rich but simple to use products.

Yet in our corporate business lives, it has taken some time for the principles of consumer technology to percolate into our procurement processes and technology. So in our new briefing paper, sponsored by Basware (global leaders in providing networked purchase-to-pay solutions, eInvoicing and innovative financing services), we have looked at how B2B commerce is gradually learning from the consumer world, and where this trend is likely to go next. The paper is titled: The Consumerisation of Corporate Systems – Can business procurement technology learn from the consumer world? And it is available now to download, free on registration - here is a short extract.


The Consumerisation of Corporate Systems -- Can Business Procurement Technology Learn from the Consumer World?

Introduction (extract)

Through the noughties, led by firms such as Amazon and eBay, the business-to-consumer (B2C) world focused on making the whole buying experience easier, faster and more pleasant. But the B2B world of business buying did not really keep up with the retail developments and the changing expectations of employees. It is only in the past few years that B2B software has started to benchmark itself against those leading consumer online shopping experiences to stay relevant.

We call this process the "consumerisation" of business procurement and spending. It is clear that this is a long-term trend, and indeed the gap between the two approaches will inevitably narrow with software advances and as business buyers simply expect the same sort of experience that they enjoy in their world of consumer buying.

That has been emphasised by the view of the "millennial generation” entering the workforce in recent years. For these people, born between 1980 and 2000, the concept of a user manual, or a training course for a new piece of software is just untenable. To them, particularly the younger end of that group, it would be like suggesting they use a fixed-line phone when their mobile is to hand!

This is all relevant to the end user or budget holder in corporate organisations who need to acquire goods and services to do their jobs. And as procurement professionals and functions will often be responsible for putting in place both the contracts that are accessed and the technology that supports that, this is obviously of interest to procurement too.

What does this trend mean for procurement organisations - regardless of how centralised or decentralised your team is? Simply that the move to consumerisation of business software and transactional processes is unstoppable, and procurement professionals need to be ahead of the game if they are to satisfy their internal stakeholders and reap the potential benefits of this approach …

Download the whole paper here 


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First Voice

  1. Nic Martin:

    Great read.

    The paper makes a number of really interesting points. Being able to control the process is really important, and I think that the visibility of purchasing decisions does affect how they are made.

    A consumer may spend their own money on a product, which turns out to be a mistake. Other than the financial loss, they do not have to worry that they will be judged for this. In the business sector, the decision may well have an impact on a large number of their colleagues… This can lead to buying processes which numerous stakeholders, with different priorities for the purchase.

    Consumerisation (and ease of use) can offer the possibility of trying a new product before making a large investment in training, etc. I believe this can be a good alternative or addition to the traditional RFI process.

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