Tuesday, 27 October 2015

How Top eSourcing Professionals Develop Lots

To help you get the most savings from your eAuctions, one of our partners, Dave Henshall, has written an article providing all the information you need to create an effective lotting strategy.

Lotting is the activity of grouping items efficiently and effectively to maximise participation in reverse auctions. How you structure your lots can have a huge effect on the overall savings achieved due to how easy/hard it is to bid in an event.

The article provides a wide breadth of information covering:

1. An Introduction to lots and lotting
2. Why Lotting is Important
3. How to Develop Your Lotting Strategy
4. Lotting strategy Summary

You can find this article in full on Purchasing Practice here.

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more at www.marketdojo.com

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

The eSourcing eVolution Part III - The Future

This is the final part (read part 2 here) of a three piece blog providing an in-depth analysis of the evolution of eSourcing around the question: 

"What would Market Dojo be like today if it had started 10 years earlier?" 

In this section, we’re going to use what we’ve learned about the past to think about the vision of the future. Through analysing what we’ve learnt so far, a touch of market knowledge from the directors at Market Dojo, and a dash of foresight as to what we think the future holds for eSourcing, we should be able to adapt to any changes in the market/technology.

So how do we prepare ourselves? How do we mitigate the risk of becoming “just another” large provider? There are many interesting aspects we need to look at in regards to this and a number of potential concerns we need to be aware of.

Alun Rafique and Nick Drewe, co-founders of Market Dojo shared some thoughts on areas to watch out for in the future:

Mobile Technology

There have been recent changes in how Google perceives websites for ease of use with mobile devices. With respect to this and the future of design, we need to make sure we are responsive, searchable and usable across the mobile technology of the future.

Google (power of the web/search)
This is the biggest unknown and potentially the biggest competitor (at the moment, our biggest competitor is still email).  Will this develop enough and become intelligent enough to make eSourcing applications obsolete?

To mitigate this risk, we must do as any other successful modern SaaS provider and focus on the last ‘S’, not to mention being dynamic in our R+D.

We must ensure that our support is second to none on areas where strategy is crucially important. We predict that long gone will be the days of short-sighted support functions.  Instead the main differentiator in industry will be support personnel who focus on resolution of queries instead of simply noting them.  Training/help desk/light consultancy is where the battle may be fought.  Although this does not mean there is a need for consultancy alongside our offering.

The ability to integrate between solutions is already possible, but in the future it is set to become even more simple. We must look at ways to make it even easier to integrate with any product through standard connectors so that best of breed becomes as attractive as an ERP solution.

Silicon Valley investments
There seems to be a current trend at the moment within procurement software for Venture Capitalists to throw money into investing in particular areas such as P2P and eInvoicing.

To help us stay ahead of this, we must keep focussing on our USPs by continuing to provide an easy to adopt, completely transparent pay-as-you-host pricing model. That is how we will aim to combat this type of competition along with our friendly one-to-one service.

Amazon/Google/Apple B2B platform

eSourcing and P2P are fundamentally different. One is strategic. One is operational. It is unlikely that these eMarketplaces are going to be in direct competition with our focus on eSourcing.

However, diversification is very important. And we have our own eMarketplace concepts (focussing on sourcing rather than fulfilment) which should help protect us in the future. Watch this space…

Eradicating the user interface

Moving from slick user interface to 'no user interface', as per this Coupa article.  A rather controversial idea, but we can see some logic that instead of having to log into a tool every day, instead it fits around your life so you can interact with it outside the tool, e.g. suppliers responding to events via email with auto-doc upload/download, auto-messaging, auto-comparison of bids, etc.

True commoditization

As technology develops and the knowledge of eSourcing expands, the number of people using eSourcing will increase.  We will hopefully begin to see true commoditization of the process and tools, so it really does just come down to price in the lower end of the spectrum.  Eventually, it won’t just be large and medium sized enterprises utilising eSourcing, the smaller SMEs will be aware of and embracing it too.

Centralised eSourcing teams move in conjunction with local self-serve teams who even use the tools to get quotes on low value tenders of a few hundred pounds.

(See our video on the four stages of technological growth taken from a TED lecture.)

Not game changers, but here are some other areas to be aware of:

Voice Activation
Keeping up to date with developments eg. Google voice, Siri, etc. and how this may possibly impact us.
Geo-locational sourcing
So you can find better suppliers locally and search locally.
Integrated market information
Such as global new stories and how they affect your sourcing events.
More focus on AI
The software could take actions when it 'thinks' it is needed. e.g. delay an auction due to lack of liquidity, or suggest a better lot structure based on the bids received.
More automation
So the software will actually create and publish events without you needing to do anything.
Newer, more flexible technologies
As technology continues to grow and develop, we need to ensure we keep up to date with the latest news and trends  and ensure that our product move in line with this.
Commoditized combinatorial, expressive and transformational eAuctions
Making this usable to the majority.
Interactive content
In relation to how we market ourselves, we must ensure our content stays in line with technological changes and becomes more interactive.
Developing Countries
Competition from these countries is vastly improving and we must not overlook them. We can counteract this by keeping our development dynamic and increasing our brand marketing strategies. We must also market to these countries and think about ways to collaborate with as well as repel competition.
Public Sector Procurement
A big shake-up in the public sector software market to disrupt the legacy tools with their complex workflows and procedures to be a slick tool that people enjoy using.
IT will no longer play a part in the selection of SaaS tools
No more 100-page RFIs asking what software stack SaaS software is using and what the data hierarchy looks like.

Security barriers
Utilising new technology to address these and make eSourcing even more accessible.

How will people find us in the future, compared to how they find us now?
How will the power of search change in the future?
At the minute, the focus is on Content Marketing, but what next?

Exciting times lie ahead of us at Market Dojo.

In hindsight, with what we have learnt from looking at the past and analysing the potential future of an older Market Dojo, we must continue to pro-actively develop, adapt to and overcome any fluctuations in the ever-evolving technological environment, whilst remaining true to our brand values.

The latter is very important. By embracing new technologies to enable more seamless integration with other providers, we should be able to remain true to our original ideologies of putting the customer at the forefront of everything we do, whilst making our product as easy to adopt as possible and bringing eSourcing to the forefront of every business.

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more at www.marketdojo.com

Monday, 12 October 2015

The eSourcing eVolution Part II - The Present

This is part two (read part one here) of a three piece blog providing an in-depth analysis of the evolution of eSourcing around the question: 
"What would Market Dojo be like today if it had started 10 years earlier?" 

Following on from the previous post 10 Years Older, “The Past”, we examine what we would look like in this day and age as a bold 15 year old, as opposed to the playful 5 year old that Market Dojo is today.

Market Dojo today provides a cloud-based eSourcing solution. Having been created by procurement professionals with a wealth of experience in consultancy, the tool really addresses the issues of usability that were seen with competitors. The Market Dojo co-founders were able to draw upon their experience of running managed auctions to create an application that was really easy to use not only for the hosts of the online negotiation events, but for the suppliers participating too.

But what if Market Dojo was not the Market Dojo we know and love today? What if Market Dojo had started 10 years earlier? How would having this extra 10 years of market experience define it today?

In the previous article we established that the eSourcing market in 2000 in comparison with that of 2010 (when MD formed) was a completely different kettle of fish! i.e. eSourcing in the year 2000 was in its infancy. Complex SaaS applications did not really appear until 2005 and therefore, Market Dojo as it stands would most likely not exist in the Millennium.  If it had formed, we would have started with web-based single-installed version of Market Dojo, but the delivery model of it would have been very primitive in comparison to today’s. We would have had to use a multitude of different means of communication and our growth over the 15 years until today would have shaped us into something else entirely.

The table below shows a comparison of what we would look like today being 5 years old and today being 15 years old.  As you can see the differences are quite substantial.

Market Dojo today as a...
5 year old
15 year old
SaaS but sold as if it is on-premise, i.e. multi-instance with support fees, implementation fees, long-term contracts, contingent fees etc.
Best of breed/niche provider
Swallowed up by a bigger company
Focus on self-service
Huge consultancy arm within Market Dojo
Working with a number of partners, resellers and consultants
Conflict of working with partners/consultants since that competes with our own staff.
Virtual offices to support clients & our employees across the globe.
Local offices required to sell and support the product.
Long term contracts to claw back high cost of sales & support
Single fee called 'licence cost'
Licence cost, support cost, implementation cost, training cost, managed services cost, hosting cost
Keep the philosophy and focus on customer self-service, as this is the future.
Protect interests of keeping it complex to ensure survival of the business model, or totally revamp/sabotage the business model to move with the times.
Instant upgrades and maintenance
Periodic client roll-out and separate fees
Version control = Market Dojo, that's it. 100% same from one client to the next.
Market Dojo v10.1 then v10.2 then v10.3 then v11.001 then.....
Agile development team in 2 week sprints
Complex waterfall development routine with releases every 6-12 months
Very low overheads and high degree of R&D
Low R&D and high overheads.
Keep enhancing the software and develop new tools to make them even easier to adopt and use.
Keep enhancing the service provision to protect the staff or let staff go to focus on the software.
Colourful, playful, attractive software that's enjoyable to use
Grey, grey, grey with lots of tick-boxes and drop-downs.
Compatible with many browsers plus tablets and smartphones
You must use Internet Explorer 6, 7 or 8 please.
Benefits for the end user and enhanced dashboards for management
Thrust of application about managerial reports with little thought for end user usability.

Today we offer a cloud-based solution with a focus on adoption and self-service. As a niche provider, we are able to focus on providing a best-of-breed solution, allowing us to form links with a number of partners, resellers and consultants. Customers are able to use us ‘on demand’ and we have a pay-as-you-host’ option. Our monthly/ annual fee is all inclusive, covering all our services from the software licence itself to implementation and support costs.
With our overheads being low, we are able to invest more in Research and Development so we can keep enhancing the software in line with our current philosophy and focus on customer self-service and ease of adoption. This is where the future lies and with our current framework we are in the perfect position to move with the times and stay ahead.

Market Dojo as a fifteen year old would be a completely different creature.

We would either operate as an on-premise model or with a very simplistic SaaS structure that still encompassed elements of on-premise such as support and implementation fees, long-term contracts etc. We would most likely have been swallowed up by a large provider and have a huge consultancy arm with a myriad of offices across the globe to support local implementation..
There would be a need to protect the complexity of the model. Failing that, we would have to invest heavily in completely reshaping the structure of the product to be more ‘online’ and similar to what we have today.  These could easily create large divisions within the company as you see with some companies today in splitting development resource between On Premise and SaaS teams.

The Market Dojo of today would be what a 15 year old Market Dojo would ultimately inspire to be: a new and improved version of itself. The initial concerns when developing Market Dojo in 2000 would have caused many complications for us today, and we would be unrecognisable in comparison with today’s model.

The potential ten years of market experience may have been detrimental to us today with regards to the opportunities that we were presented with when starting out in 2010. (Thank goodness for good timing! (?))

However, there are obvious disadvantages in starting when we did, namely that we need to enter a market where there are already some big players with an established customer base of large multi-nationals.  Although as we focus on adoption with a different price point, there is a whole new layer of medium-sized companies open to us.  This is a very similar strategy to how Google entered the application space by focusing on business applications for the small and medium sized companies where Microsoft failed to capitalise. And, as mentioned already, the larger companies are also able to look at Best of Breed.  With the separate artistic nature of eSourcing, this sometimes can work very well alongside the larger ERP applications.

The next part of this series will investigate what the future of Market Dojo will hold. How can we use the benefit of looking back at the drivers of the technological movements of the past and apply these to potential future changes.

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more at www.marketdojo.com

Friday, 9 October 2015

CIPS 2015 - Procurement, Biscuits and Emotional Inteligence

The Market Dojo team arrived at the Grange Tower hotel for the annual CIPS conference just in time for registration and the keynote speech from Dr John Glen of the Cranfield School of Management. We setup next to the main lift, stairway and mostly importantly the lunch area. Once the stand was setup, it looked very cool with our #BeEsourcingHero accompanying us.
The delegates were kept busy with the very interesting programme of events that CIPS had lined up such as the one from JCA Global entitled ‘The Hard Case for Soft Skills’ and covered  what it means to be  emotional intelligent within the workplace.
Being a proactive company we maximised every opportunity we could to strike up some very interesting conversations with our neighboring stand Supply Management such as  ‘Is a Twix a biscuit or a chocolate bar?’ (More on this to follow…)
We ran our competition for a month’s licence of our eSourcing software as a prize. The lucky winner was the delightful Kay Lee from Northamptonshire Police. We look forward to seeing her achieve some huge savings with our intuitive eSourcing platform!
The conference ended with some welcome drinks, kindly sponsored by RS Components.

It was great to make some great new contacts and we appreciate the time everyone spent chatting to us.  If you didn’t get a chance to visit our stand at the conference feel free to request a web demo ASAP or have a browse over our website or blog to learn more about what we do and how we can help you.

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more at www.marketdojo.com