More from Colin Maund on why Supplier Information Management matters

Here’s part 2 of the interview Jason Busch and I conducted with Colin Maund last week. He was one of the driving forces behind Achilles, the highly successful supplier information firm, stood down last year, and has now founded Hellios, a new supplier information management (SIM) firm .

Aravo are well known as a leading SIM software firm in the US, but less so in Europe. How’s the Hellios partnership with them  going to work?

As a start up, I didn’t see the point of Hellios building our own software – from a time or money point of view. Particularly when there are firms like Aravo with world-class technology already available. And we are working well together. Aravo is devoted to the quality of their software, and Hellios is focused on the value of solving procurement problems... I think it can be very mutually beneficial. We will make use of their technology and database of suppliers – over 2 million of them – and we can provide solutions and services to customers that add value to the data.  But the key is providing unremittingly high quality data to purchasers. I am particularly interested in maintaining the focus on areas of real interest to procurement practitioners - I think that this part of the equation is easily overlooked.

So what specifically can Hellios bring to Aravo?

Well, they are primarily a software firm, so I think Hellios can provide a  range of managed services that help clients get the most out of the data. It‘s important to have information about suppliers’ accreditation, history, capability and so on – and even more critical to ensure that the information is correct and up to date - and keeping it that way can't be achieved solely by software. In addition, providing the knowledge and experience around how to use that data to improve your own procurement and business performance is the real added value I think we can deliver.

And you’re UK based – how do you see Hellios in terms of geographic coverage?

I’d like to be very international – that’s the aim. Aravo are US based and although they have some EMEA customers, and indeed global clients using their solutions in multiple languages, they don’t have any international sales or support facilities. So Hellios can help Aravo strengthen their position outside the US. Conversely, Hellios can leverage Aravo’s deep US presence to provide our services into that large market.

Have you got any particular sectors or clients in mind?

We do, and obviously they will be those that have big challenges around supplier management, for risk or regulatory reasons for example. But we’re staying flexible which I think is critical for new businesses. I’m not a great believer in complicated business plans when you’re just starting – you have to move fast and be opportunistic, as well as having some sense of overall strategy.

So is Hellios just you at the moment?

I'm very pleased that I have some of the best investors I could hope for who bring more than just money to the new business. And Hellios is leveraging Aravo’s experienced sales and product support organization to accelerate our growth while I am actively growing the Hellios team. It is early days –but things are moving extremely quickly and we are ready to successfully deploy and support new customers!

We wrote about Ariba supplier fees the other day. That whole issue of suppliers being “forced” to pay in order to do business with buyers has been a subject of some controversy with SIM firms including Achilles in the past. Whether or not that’s part of the Hellios model, I’m just interested in what you think of that issue?

I think supplier funded models are fine – as long as there is a clear value proposition for the suppliers. They must get more out of it than the cost to them. If that isn’t true, then there are ethical issues and there’s every chance it won’t be successful anyway. That's one of the reasons I remain passionate about building communities where costs are reduced for all participants.

Thanks Colin – we look forward to monitoring the progress of Hellios with interest!

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