How companies will buy during the recession

Svm_e_vent_at_doral005 In these economic times, it's best to stay close to the people in companies that buy things -- the sourcing and vendor management (SVM) professionals. At Forrester's sourcing Forum in Florida this week I hosted a dinner for ten vendor management executives and four vendor reps.

This group was fascinating. They are experts in purchasing, evaluating vendors, arranging sourcing agreements, pricing, and negotiation -- the front lines of their company's operational and capital expenditures. The role is still in its infancy -- some are still tough purchasing agents while others have graduated to a more complex model of "diplomacy" -- seeing all of the interests around the table and working to arrive at a solution that helps everyone succeed.

Over dinner the executives worked on a simple question: "What are sourcing and vendor management best practices in a recession?" So if you've ever wondered how the screws will be tightened, here's a peek under the tent:

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What does Intel's slip mean?

Intellogo In my last post, "Why this tech recession will be different,"  I observed that this slowdown will not be as severe for technology as was the 2001-2003 period.

But now comes Intel's announcement that it expects revenue for the fourth quarter to be down 10% from its original forecast. What does this mean? I have a few thoughts:

1) Intel is not the bellwether that it once was. Personal computers and servers, the primary destination for Intel's processors, are not nearly as large a percentage of tech spending as they were back in 2001.

2) Layoffs in the economy have already begun. Fewer employees, fewer PCs needed.

3) Large companies are accelerating virtualization projects. Virtualization is a fancy word for running more applications on fewer servers. It is greener (less power), simpler (fewer servers to break), and cheaper. Good for companies looking to lower capital expenditure and operating expenses in a recession, but bad for Intel.

Forrester has been predicting that the two tech segments that would be hit hardest in the recession are computing hardware (PCs and servers) and communications gear. But services and software (Intel plays in neither) would fare better. Exit polling would appear to indicate this result.