Had a great time today speaking at the ProcureCon conference in Phoenix today, and spent a good deal of time talking to a number of the different solutions providers in the vendor area. I was amazed at the speed and convenience of the technical solutions emerging in the procurement area, based on the discussions I had with the individuals present.
For example, a discussion with Anu Gardiner at Docusign opened up my eyes to the technology involved in signing contracts. Anu discussed how when she signed contracts for her house she bought in 2003, it involved 80 signatures. When she sold the house last year, it was done all electronically – and even changes could be done via email. Anu formerly worked in procurement at Kaiser Permanente, and also pointed out how increasingly young physicians want to do everything on iPads (including accessing patient records) – and this will be a problem as patient confidentiality regulations can inhibit the ability of physicians to be electronically productive.
Chris Hahn from Coupa did a demo for me, showing me the ease with which Coupa software allows Accounts Payable and Sourcing groups to access all of their data online. The software was founded in 2006, and is based on the Amazon model of being able to quickly access data…because of how new the platform was, it is better able to drive solutions that are truly mobile and accessible to sourcing and contract managers from their iPhones. The solution also drives individuals to better align early payment, by ensuring the AP capability is able to convert payments within the time in the contract to take advantage of early payment dynamic discounts.
I also met Mike Erickson, who recently started up a networking group called the “American Council of Sourcing and Procurement Executives”. They have a linked in group which would be a good one to join…
Several companies are working on data readiness issues that are driving new technologies. the challenges involve ensuring data is entered correctly and also can be used to drive insight through better spend analytics, contract accessibility, and supplier scorecards. Providers in this space are all moving to mobile SAAS solutions that enable greater accessibility, including Perfect Commerce and Xeeva. Others are focused more on managing temporary work programs, such as Pontoon. I also met with a firm that specializes in negotiating third party contracts with transportation providers, AFMS.
Lots of really interesting presentations as well. The current session is talking about the difference in hiring Generation X (1961-1981) vs. Millennials (1982-today)….one issue is around Gen Xers focusing on ethics and stability, and wanting flextime and telecommuting, and allowing them to question rules and authority. Millennials on the other hand are heavily tied to social media, and often have a redefined family structure, with high debt….but many have also gone through a period of recessionary economics, and are more tied to being highly multi-task oriented….Lots to think about here!