Down the Procurement Pub – with Atos, IBM, NHS, Haworth Tomkins, and Ex-Hex

This week I met old friends Neil MacKenzie and Peter Jones from the consulting arm of Atos, to talk about their very thought-provoking report on procurement technology - see out initial coverage of it here, with more to come next week. We were going to go to the excellent Bree Louise, near Euston, but it was so packed we went 50 yards up the road to the Exmouth Arms - an old fashioned, no nonsense pub, with a pretty good beer choice too.


We reported on our Public Spend Matters Europe site here about SAP and how investor sentiment seemed to be turning somewhat on the back of their very generous buy-out of Concur, the travel and expenses management software firm. Now another IT giant seems to be running into a few issues. IBM announced disappointing quarterly results, showing a decline in revenues as well as profits, and also said they were abandoning their target of achieving    $20 a share earnings by 2015.

It's a sign maybe of the delicate economic situation at the moment, with the world hesitating between continued recovery and a slide back into problems. Hence large firms are delaying big software acquisition decisions? If that is the case, then all may come good again for IBM. But if this is indicative of a market shift away from "big IT" in general, then the issues may be more deep-seated. And their "sale" of the chip manufacturing business - well, not really a sale, they are paying  GlobalFoundries $1.5 billion over three years for taking on the unit - did not help either.


Your homework for the weekend - read the new report "NHS - Five Year Forward View" here (NHS 5 yr plan) from the new Chief Executive, Simon Stevens.We'll have our views on it next week, as we get into a busy time for us in terms of writing (and speaking) about the health service.


Steve Tompkins is a founder of architectural firm Haworth Tomkins, who just won the Stirling Prize, the UK's leading prize for new buildings, for their work on the Liverpool Everyman theatre.  And he immediately hit out at procurement practices, speaking to Business design magazine.

"The whole procurement structure in this country is increasingly bureaucratic,” he told BD after scooping the Stirling Prize on Thursday night for the Everyman Theatre in Liverpool.“The number of hurdles you have to pass through to get a commission is daunting and the amount of design work you have to do is daunting, demoralising and very wasteful."

“It’s increasingly hard for young practices to get in at all. I wish that was a debate we could have with the procurement process.”

It's not clear whether he is referring to public or private sector procurement, or both. But we should all remember that procurement is about opportunity identification a well as risk engagement. And if we stifle innovation, creativity and other factors that can bring competitive advantage, we're ultimately screwed as a profession. ____________________________________

Ex Hex is an all-female trio featuring Mary Timony,  previously of several cult indie bands. This is probably her most commercial sound yet, a tuneful, joyous noise with hints of classic female punk such as Blondie and the Go-gos as well as rock bands such as Sleater-Kinney. Their album Rips will feature in our October music review next weekend but for now here is the very excellent Hot and Cold (which is a bit slower than most of the other album tracks).

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