Sourcing And Vendor Management Professionals’ Rising Scope Of Responsibilities

As part of my ongoing research into the product development services market, I took a step back to consider how sourcing and vendor management (SVM) professionals have seen their responsibilities increase as new sets of stakeholders start to rely and utilize their expertise and experience.

The first wave really started in 2007 as business buyers started to self-provision both devices and software, representing a key shift from centralized to decentralized IT. And this brought with it a whole new set of stakeholders into the view of SVM professionals.The rising scope of SVM's responsibilities

But it wasn’t long before other stakeholders started to emerge. In 2009, we started to see human resources (HR) and finance appear on the horizon. In HR, this was being driven by trends such as the rise in telecommuting. For example, SVM professionals were increasingly required to work with HR and IT to develop a formal telecommuting policy, as an increasing number of employees worked away from the office.

In the past year we have started to hear from clients about increasing interaction with marketing professionals. In many organizations, marketing works autonomously from IT and SVM but often has large contracts, for example with digital marketing agencies. And so we have gradually seen proactive sourcing professionals reaching out to marketing to gain visibility and bring a greater level of robustness and process expertise into these relationships.

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A New Job Description: Sourcing And Product Development

In my recently published report (SVM's New Stakeholder: Product Development) I argued that product development will become a crucial new stakeholder for sourcing and vendor management (SVM) professionals in the next few years. And we're already seeing some interesting indications that this is starting to happen. For example, I recently came across this job description: Manager, Product Development & Sourcing.

Look at some of the elements of the job description for this sourcing professional:

  • Manages the development process.
  • Partners with the design team.
  • Improves processes and increases efficiencies by partnering with design, merchant, color, and technical design teams.
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Upsell Versus Downbuy – Purchasing Meets Sales At IBM’s Smarter Commerce Event

Last week I was a guest at IBM’s Smarter Commerce event, mainly to see what it has been doing with Emptoris, which it acquired seven months ago. You may recall that I blogged certain misgivings when IBM announced the takeover (IBM's Acquisition Of Emptoris Further Reduces IT Sourcing Professionals' Options), and, though I still have concerns, I’m very encouraged by what I saw at the event:

·         Firstly, there was still a good focus on sourcing and procurement in the Empower event-within-an-event. IBM has preserved Empower’s best quality (and that of Ariba Live and Zycus Horizon, btw), which is that there is always lots of trends and best practices content, and not too much product plugging. Most of the event was aimed at marketing, selling, and servicing, but there was plenty for sourcing attendees too. For example, there were keynotes from the CPOs of AB InBev, Conoco Philips, and IBM itself about their priorities and how they are addressing them.

·         IBM leaders, including Craig Hayman, General Manager Industry Solutions, gave a clear and credible vision of Smarter Commerce. Hayman portrayed his Buy, Market, Sell, and Service quadrants as discrete offerings sharing common principles and technology, rather than an engineered stack that only works properly if you buy it all — best-of-breed complements to ERP, not a rival suite.

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Microsoft — Innovator Or Aggregator?

Vanity Fair ran a terrific article in its recent August issue, entitled "Microsoft’s Lost Decade." The gist of the article is that since 2000, Microsoft, under the guidance of CEO Steve Ballmer, has fallen flat and failed in most new arenas it’s tried to enter: e-books, music, search, social networking, etc. It also highlights that in recent years, Microsoft has been much more of a follower than an innovator. So it should be no surprise then that at our recent Forrester Research sourcing and vendor management Forums, I found that the one vendor that inspired most discussion, disagreements, and polarized opinion amongst the attendees was Microsoft.

Why? The theme of our Forums was "innovation," and this question repeatedly arose: Is Microsoft ready to take back a position as a leading innovator? It certainly dominates the market, and its huge revenues always cause mutterings of discontent (or is it jealousy?) from others in the market, but when it comes down to innovation — and to paraphrase Monty Python — just what has Microsoft ever given us?

Let me give you a straw poll of comments overheard at our recent Forums:

·         Various operating systems for the fledgling PC market had been around before IBM handed the golden goose to Microsoft to deliver an operating system for its entry into the PC market place.

·         On the desktop, Lotus 123 was the first good spreadsheet and WordPerfect was the first good word processing program. Both were crushed when MS Office came along offering what many at the time thought were inferior products in Excel and Word, but which enjoyed the benefits of being bundled into one integrated suite.

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IT Services Markets In Asia: Preparing For New Growth Opportunities

Last Friday, we hosted our first roundtable in Singapore focusing on the IT services industry in Asia. The goal of these quarterly events is to create a community of services leaders who can network and exchange ideas on the growth opportunities and challenges in the region.

Senior leaders from 14 large services vendors gathered this morning to discuss how a perfect storm of technologies (including cloud, social, big data, and mobility) is transforming the way clients engage with service providers in Asia. Forrester analysts John McCarthy, Frederic Giron, and Dane Anderson brainstormed with business leaders from services vendors including Atos, BT, HCL, HP, and IBM around the four factors that are reshaping the IT services industry (see Figure 1):

  • The restructuring of the Asian economy. The economic uncertainty has now spread to emerging markets, and economic growth is expected to slow down significantly in India and China this year. Forrester has revised its IT services spending forecasts downward by two to four percentage points in these countries for 2012 and 2013. Participants corroborated this downgrade and mentioned they were seeing the process of making decisions on large transformation projects getting longer, especially in the manufacturing industry.
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