Monday, 29 February 2016

Are Procurement Professionals Stuck in the Stone Age? - Part I


Market Dojo and Odesma partner to combine their intuitive eSourcing software and expertise in offering business advisory services to offer clients a winning procurement solution. Together, Ed (one of Odesma’s co-founders) and Anya (of Market Dojo) ponder the neanderthalic ways of B2B software…




The peculiar thing about business technology is that generally it is not very easy to use. I might exclude here email, but the rest of it seems to need a training course and some sort of super user or a training provider or even worse a consulting firm to come and show you how or work it for you. Whereas the most used technology that we interact with outside of work generally does not require any support. The irony here is that business technology came first, and the use of technology first appeared in the office, long before we all had tech at home or on our person. Yet, it remains unintuitive, expensive, and as a result does not get utilised fully or at all by a lot of people at work.


Compare this to B2C technology, how hard is it to work ? Ebay for instance or Facebook or Candy Crush. The simple answer is they are intuitive, straightforward and certainly do not need any training or consulting support to get the benefit of them. In fact even Generation X (us older types) can work them on any number of portable or fixed lumps of technology. And a lot of them are free to the user.



So what’s gone wrong? For this let me replay an anecdote (Ed speaking here) from 1999, when I worked for PwC I presented to a local CIPS event in Staffordshire on e-commerce, this topic was perceived as very much the new kid on the block and a whole host of new tech start ups were receiving incredible valuations. At this session I laid out the view of the future described by the firm, ignorant to the nay sayers. In fact there were quite a few in the audience, most notably those with a few more years under their belts than me. One or two challenged my hypothesis on the topic. I later left PwC to set up a Private Equity backed branch of a US e-Sourcing firm Sharemax. A year or two later the dot.com bubble had burst and I was back in Consultancy, and the nay sayers were proven right.
So, what was or still is the problem. From an historic perspective the leading market insight companies and so forth focused heavily on functionality, as did many buyers of solutions. And ignored the user experience, the maturity or demographic of the population expected to use the technology. Many people in senior or middle management positions did not grow up with computing technology and when making selection decisions focused on elements outside of ease of use, and considered technology against an historic understanding; one where tech is always hard to use. They therefore condoned supplier behavior where training and consulting support were deemed acceptable costs of enablement. And this thinking has not much changed given the demographics of leadership. Of course, the existing providers have not been driven to step up because the customer has not demanded it of them. Whilst in the B2C arena the demographic, is younger, the expectation is of instant gratification, solutions have to be compelling, easy to use and free or very low cost. Though with Generation Y coming through in business I expect this is about to change.

The question is why big B2B software solution providers have not changed and emulated B2C? I would postulate the following reasons:


  1. Customer demand or acceptance.
  2. Drive for consulting revenues by providers.
  3. Decision makers equate complicated to valuable.
  4. Industry  Research organisations are in the pocket of those who pay and report as such.
  5. Existing suppliers balance sheets stifle innovation or change due to the impact on profit of asset write downs.
  6. Big business inherently do not trust small innovative start ups / CIOs don’t get fired for selecting the old guard.
  7. B2C companies are not interested in selling to the B2B customer base.

Expanding these points out:


1. Customer demand or acceptance

Interestingly there does not appear to be a huge clamour amongst B2B customers to secure simpler easier systems. Take SAP or Oracle for example, they continue to dominate their sector, SAP acquired Ariba for $4.3bn and continue to thrive making little effort to simplify and re-invent with ease of use at the heart of their solutions. Whereas in the B2C arena customers there is no choice for the providers, millions of users voices are being heard and all leading solutions from Amazon to AirBnB are simple and easy to use. Perhaps the imperative to change amongst B2B players is just not being voiced by action.

2. Drive for consulting revenues by providers

The prevailing model for providers is to maximise (after all they answer to shareholders) revenue and they have predominantly built models that support this goal. They do this by securing licence annuity and augment this with implementation, training, consultancy and delivery services. Take a leading and long established eSourcing provider, for example, they provide a complicated and unintuitive but effective solution for e-Sourcing which they support with a very large consultancy practise (600 professional staff delivering revenues of greater than €70m) Though figures are not available we might hypothesise that at least 50% of the revenues are consulting and support related. Clearly it is not in any legacy B2B providers interests to simplify the user interface due to the resulting loss of support revenues.

3. Decision makers equate complicated to valuable

Is it human nature in business to expect business solutions to be inherently complicated? Look at Jive, a sort of Facebook for business, whereas FB is really easy to navigate and personally manage intuitively, Jive is not. Given FB came first, and Jive built a similar tool albeit for a closed company environment, is that those that select it measured its value in terms of its complexity?

4. Industry Research organisations are in the pocket of those who pay and report as such.

A rather contentious point perhaps, but when looking at Gartner’s report on the e-Sourcing market a few years ago they had only just added a 7th criteria to their analysis; Ease of Use. They had historically focused on functional components i.e. spend analysis, contract management etc. (4 of 7 criteria) alongside technology platform and business services. Additionally the analysis of providers only lent itself to generally the bigger or more established players. The 2013 report included less than 30 suppliers, with the leaders in their opinion being the likes of IBM, Bravo, Ariba, GEP, SAP. Very few emerging and new players are included, this may be due to time constraints, but clearly is at the detriment of newer and easier to utilise solutions.

5. Existing suppliers balance sheets stifle innovation or change due to the impact on profit of asset write downs

It is a fact of business that the balance sheet plays a large part in driving companies behaviour, especially if they have many millions of $/£ intangible asset value. SAP had Intangible Assets of €25.6bn on revenues of €17.6bn in 2014. A write down in an asset results in an equal write down in profits. Institutional shareholders typically take fright (and flight) at write-downs. Therefore re-inventing the hegemony of existing solutions requires a potentially significant investment and potentially a write down in previous investments - this is not something the neither executive nor board will countenance. Is it therefore a surprise that existing solutions lack innovation in the user interface which may well require re-programming in a newer language?

6. Big business inherently do not trust small innovative start ups / CIOs don’t get fired for selecting the old guard

When was the last time the CIO of a large corporate suggested taking a risk? Corporate behaviour is typically risk adverse, it is much safer to select a proven provider such as IBM or SAP, than take an opportunity to shake the tree? This therefore precludes newer start up technologies that will be deliver often much more cost effective, easier to use solutions. Coupa are making real inroads here, but few others are.

7. B2C companies are not interested in selling to the B2B customer base.

The question is will this change, we postulate it is slowly shifting, with B2C principles slowly coming into the B2B World. In our follow up we will discuss this shift in some detail.

The question is why don’t Amazon or Tesco for that matter move into the B2B space, they provide a huge range of products that businesses use. Yet they generally haven’t, other than grudgingly – it is not part of their strategy.Though we understand this is changing at Amazon! They believe their market is the consumer not business, possibly because they are much simpler to deal with, pay immediately and do not add massive administrative, process and management burdens i.e. contracts, risk questionnaires etc., which corporates do add as a matter of process.
But will this change? We postulate it is slowly shifting, with B2C principles slowly coming into the B2B World. In our follow up we will discuss this shift in some detail.



THE AUTHORS




Ed is co-founder of Odesma, a new breed of business advisory firm, one that is uniquely on demand providing virtual procurement through the Procurement PeopleCloudTM. He is a results orientated executive level business leader with 25 years global professional services, consulting and functional experience in procurement, supply chain and change management. Previously with Xchanging plc, Ed had Executive leadership responsibility for running the global procurement and HR outsourcing businesses. He has also held senior level consulting and functional roles with QPGroup, ShareMax Inc. and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Ed can be contacted at edward.cross@odesma.co.uk or at:
Odesma Limited, Woodrow, Off Snape Hall Road, Whitmore
Staffordshire ST5 5HS
Tel: +44 (0)161 433 7833
www.odesma.co.uk


Having joined the team in early 2015, Anya manages marketing and market analysis at Market Dojo. Market Dojo is the only e-Sourcing software provider to offer an easy to use, professional solution with completely transparent pricing. From creating content and managing social platforms, to attending networking events and building client relationships, Anya is the first point of call for any questions you may have about Market Dojo. 

If you’re interested in hearing more, get in touch:
Anya McKenna
anya.mckenna@marketdojo.com
+44(0)117 318 2537
+44(0)792 337 6307
www.marketdojo.com



Reproduction of this publication in any form without prior written permission is forbidden.

Monday, 22 February 2016

5 Reasons Why You'd be a Fool to Miss eWorld!

The eWorld Procurement and Supply summit is one of our personal favourites in the events calendar. 

At Market Dojo, we’ve been showcasing our on-demand eSourcing tools there for the last 5 years now and we think you’d be crazy not to go. Here are our top 5 reasons why procurement professionals should join us there…


1. Informative sessions

The day begins with a bacon roll, breaks for a tasty lunch and ends with a drinks reception (sold already, right?)
Mouth-watering bacon rolls just like this...
Sandwiched between all the delicious cuisine are informative seminars and workshops hosted by guest speakers and sponsors. The organisers go to every effort to ensure that delegates aren’t hit with sales pitches and the majority of seminars provide great detail on specific topics. Speakers of note include Tania Seary from Procurious (such an influential lady in the procurement space!) and the opening keynote from Martine Wright, 7/7 Survivor and Paralympian (another inspiring female!).


2. Ideal Location

Maybe this isn't exactly where eWorld is held.

The Westminster area of London is the heart of The City. Surrounded by iconic features such as Big Ben and the London Eye, what better place to host the leading eProcurement technology event?

And, as Market Dojo is headquartered in the idyllic Gloucestershire countryside, the novelty of taking the tube is always enjoyed!


3. FREE! So, why not!

The cost for delegates attending eWorld.

You work in Procurement, spending your days collaborating with suppliers, trying to get the very best product/service for the lowest price. Trained in effective, efficient negotiation, you’ll be delighted to hear that eWorld is in fact FREE for delegates to attend. No haggling on this one, just signup and show up. Of course it does cost you your time, but the ROI is definitely there. You’ll leave feeling inspired with a whole range of extra tools in your procurement toolkit! 


4. Atmosphere

eWorld has a very friendly atmosphere.

From a sponsor’s point of view, there’s a real camaraderie between the neighbouring stands. We normally get the joys of chatting with the lovely team at State of Flux and the guys at Spend 360.

It’s also great to catch up with all the familiar delegate faces that return each year to stay up to date with eProcurement technology. 


5. ...Market Dojo will be there!

You need Market Dojo!

We definitely won’t be missing eWorld this year and we’d love to see you all there. Showcasing our tools focussing on eSourcing, category planning, innovation and, our latest development, our supplier onBoarding tool. Read more about that here.

We’ll be offering live demos on the day to anyone who would like to bring eSourcing in-house and find out how our easy to use, on-demand solution could help them. 

For more information on this event, feel free to get in touch with one of us at Market Dojo, or simply register for eWorld on the 2nd March 2016 at the QEII Building, London.

Look forward to seeing you there. Make sure you pop by and say hello!

Anya McKenna
anya.mckenna@marketdojo.com
+44(0)117 318 2537
+44(0)792 337 6307
www.marketdojo.com




Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

Friday, 19 February 2016

How NOT to do Graphic Design

In preparation for this year’s events and tradeshows (the first being eWorld on 2nd March. Delegates can register here), the Market Dojo team got involved in a spot of design to create a new roll  up banner, showcasing all four of our products.


This project has really given us a newfound respect for graphic designers and the trials and tribulations that come with creating graphics. So we thought we would share some of the nuances of design with any beginners out there who wish to try their hand at designing marketing paraphernalia.

Two major challenges came about.

The first- not having a sufficient tool to do the job and relying on ‘paint.net’ to build the image.

And secondly- failing to initially stick to the required print specifications.

Paint.net is a wonderful tool if you want to quickly knock up an image for a blog article or put an image together with a specific size requirement. Eg. a LinkedIn post header image should be 700 x 400 pixels.

With some extra features that Microsoft Paint lacks, such as the ability to work in layers and the magic wand tool, it is quite efficient for basic design.

However it certainly lacks some of the bells and whistles required to make a high-resolution graphic suitable for a 2000mm x 800mm banner!
Whilst you can create layers, you cannot group them as you can with Adobe Photoshop, posing many challenges.

When creating a graphic for print, the minimum size needed is 300dpi. DO NOT OVERLOOK THIS or your image will look as though it was intended for Minecraft. (Trust me- experience talking here!)

Sticking to the specific size required is also a must as scaling up from  smaller size could be fatal! If you do make the mistake of building an image that is 1000x smaller than it needs to be, this is what will happen when you attempt to rectify it….

Issues aside, we managed to put together a wonderful banner, giving an overview of our products with some of our clients featured also. Thank you Banner Express for all the help and speedy delivery of our order.

Have you had any similar tales  of marketing mishaps? Or maybe an issue of a misunderstood specification with regards to a tender as a procurement professional?

Anya McKenna
www.marketdojo.com
+44(0)117 318 2537
+44(0)792 337 6307



Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

Monday, 15 February 2016

Onboard with SIM Dojo - Part II

Following on from 'Onboard with SIM Dojo - Part I' introducing the latest product in the Dojo suite, we'd like to show you some of the features of Market Dojo's new onboarding tool. If you like what you see, you can always get in touch for a demo.

Key features

Creating your onboarding event

  • Fast event creation via our self service model
  • Easily design multiple questionnaires on different categories using dynamic questions.  Questions can be set with both scoring and weighting.
  • Assign multiple scorers or departments to review and score different sections in the questionnaires
  • Decide who has edit/view access to the event through the user hierarchy
  • White label your portal and domain with your company brand
  • Invite suppliers via their email addresses and choose which questionnaires they should answer

Managing your live onboarding event

  • Ergonomic dashboard to report on the onboarding progress
  • The team’s relevant actions are highlighted on the ‘Action’ tab
  • Questionnaires can be scored and managed by the most appropriate people/departments
  • Automatic notifications can be sent out when documents or questionnaires are about to or have expired
  • Suppliers can be asked to resubmit questionnaires or even be sent new ones
  • Notes can be attached to suppliers and there is an integrated message board
  • A decision tab lets you approve suppliers into supply categories of your choosing
  • The supplier database can be filtered to track various metrics
  • Full history is maintained for audit purposes and easier self management

Supplier onboarding process

  • Suppliers receive invitations and alerts via email
  • Simple registration through a portal avoiding support bottlenecks
  • Intuitive navigation through the event encouraging adoption
  • All communication tracked through the message board


Screenshots of SIM Dojo in action


You can have a great dashboard where you can track the supplier progress through the system and look at overall stats.


This participant summary is where you can keep track of where your suppliers are in the process.  You can also filter depending on various criteria.


The multi-scoring feature allows you to set which person, or group of people are to score various questions.  This means that you can have multiple scorers within a questionnaire and within a question.


Here is a supplier view of the questionnaires.

The decision dashboard is where you can see what the supplier has scored, whether you want to resubmit or send further questionnaires and also approve the supplier into one or many groups.
You have a supplier database that can be interrogated to find out stats on key suppliers which is also integrated with our eSourcing solution.
Contact us today for a demonstration and to learn how it could work for your organisation.

www.marketdojo.com
+44(0)117 318 2537
info@marketdojo.com



Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Onboard with SIM Dojo - Part I






   

“Following a comprehensive review of the systems available, we decided to move forward with Market Dojo based on their philosophy and development approach surrounding their existing product base. Market Dojo are very innovative and flexible and have provided us with an excellent level of support; We are excited to be working with Market Dojo on this new on-boarding product”


- Tony Ritchings, Procurement Director, PHS



Market Dojo already helps businesses centralise their supplier sourcing activities and negotiate efficiently via e-Auctions with their flagship eSourcing product. 

Last year, we embarked on a project to develop a Supplier Information Management (SIM) tool starting with supplier onboarding. This is the backbone of effective supplier management. Companies are often unable to take advantage of critical supplier actions, such as expired insurance policies, because the information is not readily available. By using a SIM tool, companies can avoid challenges that happen as a result of poor supplier governance by storing relevant supplier information in one place and creating approved supplier lists.

The SIM application was developed in partnership with our customer PHS.  After conducting a thorough market analysis they were unable to find an affordable, flexible and easy to use tool.  After seeing our existing product range and understanding our philosophy, they decided to partner with Market Dojo to develop an onboarding tool which would integrate with our existing product set to create a seamless flow of supplier information. 



The implementation is made as simple as possible. The main time constraints being process rather than system related.  If you already have onboarding questionnaires and you know which stakeholders are involved in supplier assessment then the system can be set up in under a day for immediate go live. 

You can then batch invite suppliers whilst defining which questionnaires they will answer and who is responsible internally.  The progress of the team and suppliers can be easily tracked and finally the suppliers can be approved or rejected into groups.  The approved suppliers can be managed whilst automatically tracking expiry dates of documents and questionnaires.

The real beauty of the system is the flexibility and self service model.  You ultimately reduce the internal workload and this in turn makes adoption easier for the suppliers.  Questionnaires can be broken down into manageable elements so the suppliers who maintain your coffee machines for example don’t need to answer the questionnaire for working at heights.  Also it means that time is not wasted internally by the departments scoring questionnaires for suppliers for which they have no bearing.



Pricing:

We have set an introductory pricing for the first year which we will promise to hold for any clients who joins us in these exciting times.

An annual licence costs £5,000 for unlimited users and the first 500 suppliers.  It includes all training and support and we promise to get you started promptly.  Thereafter it is £1,000 for 500 suppliers.  There are no hidden costs and all features such as white-labelling, multi-scoring and versioning are included.

Why choose us:

Our system has been designed with the end users in mind while maintaining a professional and efficient process.  We focus on user adoption.  We have seen many organisations invest in complex and cumbersome solutions that have a huge wealth of functionality (at a cost), but without enough consideration for the end user experience.  In turn this has can lead to users resisting the uptake of the tool and subsequently sub-optimal performance.

More importantly, such software requires uptake by the supply chain, without which on-boarding has little benefit.  If organisations are not able to convince suppliers that the tool will make their lives easier, this will ultimately lead to less competition and significant time and energy (and ultimately money) diverted to motivate users to adopt the tool.

Hence as a company, we have been approached by many organizations who use such complex tools and are looking for something quicker and easier, yet that can still cater for 95% of the functionality, that will be adopted by all users without complications.  We provide all this at an affordable price with excellent support.


Read Part II of the blog to see some of SIM Dojo in action and check out the key benefits.
If you'd prefer to see a live web demo, please get in touch: 
+(44)0117 318 2537.


Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!