Procurement News from the US – Weekly Round-up

This week in technology.

TradeShift Introduces CloudScan -- A Shift in E-Invoicing Philosophy as Much as Technology (Part 1) -- Earlier this week, TradeShift introduced CloudScan, a new cloud-based OCR service that at first might sound like the countless other scanning services available from competing e-invoice providers and network operators. But CloudScan is different in more than one way. Perhaps most important, CloudScan does not just provide a scanning service that captures different document formats delivered electronically (e.g., a picture of an invoice taken from a mobile phone) or a PDF document sent via email. Yes, it does this. And judging from the demonstration we saw and the discussion we had with TradeShift, its level of OCR accuracy seems accurate enough for most purposes (not leading, but sufficient).

Zycus -- Building Up the Solutions Arsenal Behind the Scenes (Part 2) -- We believe that Zycus is taking a tried-and-true conservative approach to building out what is really quite an ambitious set of modules and products in its Spend Management suite. Zycus shared that insofar as "peripheral applications around spend analysis will provide value to customers," it will strongly consider incorporating them into its suite (which is built off of a common data model and data elements across sourcing, supplier management, contract management, etc.) However, Zycus has no plans -- at least none that it shared with Spend Matters -- on taking an ecosystem or network-based approach to creating value through its applications or extended groups of suppliers, partners, etc. For example, we inquired if Zycus had any plans to expose a set of APIs and service interfaces to allow third-parties to build apps on top of its applications in a plug and play app-store manner -- as TradeShift has done in the e-invoicing space -- and they told us it was not in the spend cards. Zycus did suggest a "content ecosystem" might be a possibility, however. (Part 3 here)

Really high traffic on this series...

Social Networking, Supplier Engagement, Contract Management: Do We Need a Big Step Forward? (Part 1) -- Kudos to IACCM's Tim Cummins for surfacing a great topic in a recent post considering the role of Contracts & Social Networking within companies and amongst their suppliers, customers and partners. Here at Spend Matters, we've periodically investigated the topic of social networking and procurement from time-to-time (including the power of social networks to help manage supply risk, including machine-driven approaches that securely link industry data across peer and competitive companies such as SAP Supplier InfoNet). But arguably, the topic is best addressed on a specific functional --and even modular -- level in the case of different processes such as strategic sourcing, shopping, tactical buying, supplier management, and, of course, contract negotiation and ongoing contract management. (Part 2 here)

What do you do about a drug shortage?

When Stock-outs Bring Death -- Why Certain Drugs Remain in Short Supply -- Kudos to Bob Ferrari for continuing to feature in-depth coverage of the life sciences and pharmaceutical supply chain on his site, Supply Chain Matters. Even though Bob addresses a range of supply chain and procurement-related topics, his continued investigation of risk and supply disruptions in the pharmaceutical market provide critical and much-needed coverage of a critical topic to keep in the trade and business headlines. In a recent post, Bob covered how two "additional" suppliers of cancer drugs have been forced to cut back on production oweing to "the unplanned shutdown of contract producer" facilities and in response, how the FDA has authorized the "temporary importation of [a] replacement drug."

It’s not just a ballerina movie with Natalie Portman.

What Will the Lasting Supply Risk Impacts Be From 2011 Black Swan Events? (Part 1) -- In a highly commented-on post on Electronic Buyers News, Dustin Smith tossed out a number of worthy suggestions on what some of the lasting impacts of the 2011 supply chain disasters in Asia (e.g., flooding, earthquake/tsunami) will have on the electronics industry. His suggestions, however, are relevant far beyond just the high-tech manufacturing world. The central argument Smith makes is that forecasting will always be inaccurate and given the combination of global political and economic uncertainty as well as the potential for highly disruptive weather, geological and related events, "now it is time for the industry to look back and reassess market exposures, developing new ways to hedge risk going forward." (Part 2 here)

And finally, my top documentary picks from the True/False film festival last weekend:

Winner: Searching for Sugar Man

Rodriguez was the greatest ’70s U.S. rock icon who never was. His albums were critically well-received, but sales bombed, and he faded away into obscurity among rumors of a gruesome death. However, as fate would have it, a bootleg copy of his record made its way to South Africa, where his music became a phenomenal success. In a country suppressed by apartheid, his antiestablishment message connected with the people.

When his second album finally gets released on CD in South Africa, two fans take it as a sign, deciding to look into the mystery of how Rodriguez died and what happened to all of the profits from his album sales. Since very little information about the singer exists, they meet many obstacles until they uncover a shocking revelation that sets off a wild chain of events that has to be seen to be believed. SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN is a story of hope, inspiration, and the resonating power of music.

A close second place: The Queen of Versailles

With the epic dimensions of a Shakespearean tragedy, The Queen of Versailles follows billionaires Jackie and David’s rags-to-riches story to uncover the innate virtues and flaws of the American dream. We open on the triumphant construction of the biggest house in America, a sprawling, 90,000-square-foot mansion inspired by Versailles. Since a booming time-share business built on the real-estate bubble is financing it, the economic crisis brings progress to a halt and seals the fate of its owners. We witness the impact of this turn of fortune over the next two years in a riveting film fraught with delusion, denial, and self-effacing humor.

- Sheena Moore

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