Thursday, 1 October 2015

The eSourcing eVolution: Part I - The Past

This is part one 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?" 

The Year 2000. The Millennium.

Throughout the year and across the globe, monumental events were taking place such as George Bush becoming president of the US by a slim margin, the Olympic Games being hosted in Australia and in the UK, Big Brother graced our screens for the first time (Yay).

One event (of even greater relevance than Big Brother) which cannot be ignored was the collapse of the dotcom bubble.

Mesmerised by the sweet bliss of dotcom, eCommerce companies such as, and were thriving from investment. Little did they know that their demise was swiftly encroaching and soon they would become mere ghosts of their former triumphs.

Amazon and Ebay were entering their 5th year with seemingly little hope for the future. On 22nd June, the Lehman Brothers Inc. debt analyst Ravi Suria released a scandalous report on Amazon’s predicted loss and the future of the eMarketplace, and the entirety of the World Wide Web at that point in time looked pretty bleak.

The price of technology was just too much to sustain at that point, the price of marketing was far too high and the volume of people using the web was simply not great enough. The business world had got carried away and over-invested in the dotcom concept at a time when demand was simply too low.

So what was happening in the procurement world?  What was eSourcing like?

Until 2000, the emphasis had been on on-premise software solutions. These came with many benefits at the time such as the company having ultimate control over all their systems, potentially sensitive data being stored internally and having a dedicated team of IT staff available for support. However on-premise solutions did come with its own set of problems. One main concern was integrating the various software vendors. One solution to this was that companies merged together or were bought out to form a few major software suites who could provide an all-in-one solution that met every purchasing need a company could possibly desire.  For example, Ariba acquiring Freemarkets (who pioneered managed eAuctions) for $493 million in 2004 (who later sold it to Accenture for $51M, showing how eAuctions became more commoditized).

With the formation of these large conglomerates, the intrinsic values (such as usability and maintenance) of the original software providers were somewhat lost, as the companies were stretched and their focus moved away from the customers’ needs to company growth and management. The phrase “one throat to choke” was coined as users gradually became more infuriated with the amalgamated giants and sought one person to blame for the myriad of problems that occurred. Fortunately, alongside this thunderstorm that was unfurling, the dawn of cloud computing was on the horizon and the sunshine of a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution was the prize at the end of the rainbow.

The Cloud

Cloud computing refers to the ability to host applications (software) online. Surprisingly, the Millennium did not provide the first emergence of cloud technology. As early as the 1950s, cloud computing was present in the form of large-scale mainframe computers, VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) encompassed cloud technology in the 90s, but the most recent is the Millennium version which we use today which has revolutionised technology as we previously knew it by driving on-premise platforms to a slow demise.

There are many benefits of implementing cloud tools such as reduced costs, reduced on-site support, and eradication of long-winded clunky updates with difficult roll-outs. The latter, being the most note-worthy in the B2B environment, has enabled companies to quickly and easily attain best of breed solutions from niche suppliers due to integration issues being drastically reduced. The majority of us use single sign-on as consumers with Gmail, Twitter and Facebook when signing in to third-party applications. Market Dojo itself uses this today to easily toggle between our different tools: Market Dojo, Category Dojo, Innovation Dojo and SIM Dojo.

As the cloud began to re-form, the procurement world started to analyse the ‘one stop shop’ solution and was able look at the new areas and take advantage of integrating best of breed P2P, eSourcing and ERP solutions. So what would Market Dojo have done if it had started in the year 2000 instead of in 2010? Who better to ask than a Market Dojo co-founder…

I asked Alun Rafique, one of the co-founders alongside Nick Drewe and Nicholas Martin, a series of questions around eSourcing in the year 2000 and Market Dojo’s position had they formed the company then.

In summary Alun hypothesised:

Market Dojo as we know it today would not have been possible. Technology at this time was not advanced enough to allow the SaaS model that Market Dojo has adopted to be easily designed, built, hosted and used in a profitable way. Realistically, SaaS only became reliable for these types of application around 2005 and this would have prohibited the accessibility of the tool. Obviously you did have some players who started in SaaS such as Salesforce around the year 2000 but this type of application (CRM) avoided some of the challenges with eProcurement such complex events set up with interaction in real time between many parties and also the type of data that would be securely held would generally be less critical.  Also eMail programs like Hotmail were around before this but again their reach into the B2B IT infrastructure was limited. Companies, with large IT departments and internal layers, were just not set up to take on the paradigm shift and use online eSourcing programs in lieu of on-premise, at least not in the volume that would be needed to make a SaaS company grow.

eSourcing at the time was only adopted by huge companies within the framework of large procurement software packages with EDI links to suppliers. As Market Dojo is very much a best of breed solution, this was not something that was desirable at the time as the technology to integrate these tools was simply not there.

In 2000, eSourcing, as done through these large providers, used a strange mix of electronic and paper-based solutions. While elements such as the tender itself were carried out electronically, the fulfilment to the supplier was carried out via paper. The full advantages of eTendering would therefore not have been fully utilised with this multi-channel approach.

If Market Dojo had started at this time, it would have most likely  been an on-premise solution, there would have been a need to form EDIs with suppliers (specific electronic links) and as it moved forward, it would have had to use email as a means of communication. There would have been large implementation and training costs, limiting the software to large MNCs and creating barriers for smaller companies. Also large consultative part would have been necessary.

It would have been possible to perhaps form Market Dojo in 2005 with SaaS developing at this time and communication with suppliers would have improved in that 5 year period, however the SaaS-based model at this time was extremely expensive and less flexible than it was in 2010 when Market Dojo formed. Web development costs would have been exorbitant due to the complexity of what would be required compared to the skill base and programming options available at the time.

Nick Drewe, fellow co-founder of Market Dojo stated:

“We rely heavily on clever plug-ins and external tech (OAuth, Highcharts, etc.) that may not have been around then, so our product would not have been as slick.

nickk drewe.jpgIn turn this means we wouldn't have been able to address what we wanted to: adoption. Our offering would have been a consultancy service with some neat in-house kit as opposed to a self-service software solution.  We would have been focusing on a different pain, be it lack of resources or experience to run strategic projects or failure to hit cost reduction targets. Our time would be largely spent on educating the market and getting to engage with pioneers in the space.  

This means it isn't really a software model but a consultancy one. Our entire philosophy would be different.

We would have to charge high fees to offer a bespoke service per client, and the software would play second fiddle, as we see with software packages today that were designed in the late nineties.”

It seems like the year 2010 provided pretty good entry to the SaaS eSourcing market for Market Dojo due to the paradigm shift in the market to bring these technologies in house, allowing an affordable model with a focus on ease of adoption and bringing the benefits to the end user.

Had the co-founders sat down in the year 2000 to create Market Dojo, there would have been various options in terms of releasing an on-premise version or a primitive SaaS solution. Although it can be agreed that neither outcome would come anywhere close to what we have in place today.

In the second part of this 3 piece feature, we shall examine the current eSourcing market and what Market Dojo would have been like today if born in 2000, and how different it would look in comparison with the Market Dojo that actually exists today.

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

Monday, 28 September 2015

Odesma and Market Dojo Win New Global Client

At the beginning of the year, we announced our partnership with Odesma. Odesma is a new breed of advisory business who help drive business performance through a combination of experience and application of the best talent and technology in the market.

Market Dojo and Odesma have been working together to bring onboard a new global company. Odesma will work with the new  FTSE 250 client using the Market Dojo platform. 

A highly experienced UK based company, Provalido, who we regularly work with, have been chosen as the preferred savings tracking tool.

Nick Drewe, co-founder at Market Dojo stated:
“We were really pleased to announce the initial partnership with Odesma and this new client is evidence of what a hard-working, innovative company they are. We look forward to securing many more deals alongside them.”

Competition was tough, but the Odesma team with their wealth of knowledge and expertise managed to secure the deal.

Ed Cross, cofounder at Odesma stated:

“This is the first of many deals to come. Market Dojo will play a key role for us in working with this exciting new global client.”

If you‘re interested in hearing more about Odesma, please contact:
Ed Cross, Co-Founder.  
Steve Trainor, Co-Founder
Odesma Ltd  
Tel: 0161 433 7833

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

Friday, 25 September 2015

eWorld 30 - Cake, Quizzes and Competitions

Arriving at QEII in London for eWorld Procurement and Supply Summit, armed with a plethora of marketing materials, we set up our stand by the entrance next to the lovely Baker Wanless ladies and began dishing out flyers for our competition to all those that passed.

Although the footfall didn't seem as large as it did at eWorld in March, we had really engaging conversations with everyone who visited us. It was great to meet you all, thank you for stopping by. If you didn’t get a chance to stop and take a look at our eSourcing solutions, please get in touch for a demo.

IMG_7017.JPGOur #BeTheEsourcingHero campaign went down really well with our giant hero attaining celebrity status as delegates got their pictures taken with the handsome figure!

Per Angusta, another of our partners whom we thoroughly recommend for savings tracking, flew in from France for their first ever eWorld.  With French wine and cheese being given away in a prize draw, they weren’t short of visitors either!

Nick and Alun from the Market Dojo team gave a seminar on ‘Strategies to maximise eAuction success’. If you didn’t manage to stop by the stand to pick up a copy of the infographic, you can register on our platform (for free) and download it here.

At 3pm we announced the winner of our Lowest Unique Bid Competition.  Congratulations to Matt Hird from the University of Lincoln who bagged themselves an iPad Mini and a month’s licence for Market Dojo’s eSourcing software with a winning bid of £0.13.   

Once again a huge thanks to the eWorld team for another wonderful event. Despite the unreachable allure of a free bacon roll, we all had a really great day.  And the cake at the end, celebrating the 30th eWorld event went down a treat!


If you didn’t make eWorld, don’t worry, we’ll be at the CIPS event on 8th October.

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

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Market Dojo: The Past, The Present and The Future.

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


That was the question posed by Jon Hansen of Procurement Insights one fine day in April.

Having only been part of the Market Dojo team (and the world of eProcurement!) for around 10 weeks at that point, analysing the history of an industry I barely knew existed at a time when I was just 10 years old seemed a daunting task. However, as I've been researching and writing, my knowledge and understanding of procurement has developed and I have learnt a lot from the process.

Originally this was going to be one article, but three defined sections have shaped up nicely into a series of posts. 

The three sections of the article will look at 3 different periods of time: 
2000 - "The Past"
2015 - "The Present"
2025 - "The Future".

Millennium Dome.jpg

The first part revolves around what life was like ten years prior to Market Dojo, bringing us to the year 2000. After gaining an understanding of technology, especially eSourcing, (See Nick's blog highlighting important technology of this era) we thought about what would have happened if we had formed then: how would our ideologies and objectives have differed from those of today?

Next we asked ourselves, ‘what about now?’, how would we look today as a bold, brash 15 year old? How would we have grown? In what way would having an extra 10 years of experience shape who we are today?

The last and most important aspect of this series is 'The Future'. What does the future look like for Market Dojo? Looking at what’s ahead and using the value of hindsight in assessing how we would have succeeded or failed 10 years ago, can we carve a path for us for the next 10 years?

Next week, we shall be releasing the three parts of the blog, so keep your eyes peeled…

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

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

All for one, innovation for none

Another public procurement price analysis article has made national headlines this week, found here on BBC News.

The Home Office conducted a study into police procurement trends across 20 common items including batons, uniforms and helmets. 

I haven't read the Home Office study in detail, but these kind of reports can err on the side of rudimentary:

Humberside bought police helmets for more than £43 each while most other forces acquired them for under £30.

This can indicate a savings potential and is undoubtedly a good place to start your evaluation for cost reduction opportunities.

However when you simply compare two purchase prices, rarely, if ever, does the analysis also delve into key contractual differences such as payment terms, rebates, catalogue pricing discounts, minimum order quantities, annual purchase volumes, inclusion of delivery costs, what delivery service levels, product warranties etc.  

Then you have the question on whether the specifications are the same.  Perhaps Humberside has identified a more costly product that leads to a 20% better safety record from head injuries.  Might that not justify the additional cost?

There is a long perceived view that rationalisation and aggregation leads to cost reduction.  For example, in the same article Policing minister Mike Penning was quoted:

"For too long the police have approached the market in a fragmented way, buying equipment in small amounts and to varying specifications.

"It makes no sense for forces to buy separately when money can be saved if they act together."

Bigger procurement is not always better procurement

Interestingly Spend Matters UK recently re-circulated an older post of theirs outling how bigger procurement is not always better procurement.  Please do have a read as it provides excellent insight that we won't duplicate here.

What we've seen is that many of our clients run reverse auctions on aggregated volumes, rather than spot-purchases.  They are very successful in doing so.  That said, even very low value auctions of a few thousand pounds have lead to 30%+ savings, so bigger isn't always better in our view too.

Large spend values attract large suppliers with the notion being procurement teams can exercise their leverage and use economies of scale to secure better pricing.  

Lower spend values attract smaller suppliers and generally there are a lot more of them in the marketplace, which can equate to increased competition and better savings.  

Perhaps the price differences seen with the police, assuming they are not associated with contractual or specification issues, are less to do with failure to aggregate demand and more to do with ineffective negotiations for their own requirements? 

One step forward, two steps back 

One adverse side-effect to bundling up contracts into an aggregated demand is that it diminishes competition.  

Taking say £200m of spend that is today fragmented across many hundreds of suppliers and bundling it into a single contract prohibits SMEs from retaining business.  As a result some may perish whilst others downsize.  The large company that wins the contract swells significantly to cope with the demand whilst other large businesses (if there are any) stay as they are or also downsize from losing their portion of the fragmented spend.  

Fast forward a year and the market only has one real candidate who can cater for the demand - the incumbent.  This becomes a very poor market to negotiate in.

And so the cycle continues whereby it is decided to fragment the contract into smaller packages to increase competition, except this time there isn't as much liquidity.  So we're back where we started except with worse market conditions.

Innovation triumphs over imitation

As we've just noted, consolidated contracts diminish competition.  With less competition, there is less imperative to differentiate.  There will be fewer SMEs in the market and they are typically regarded as the key source of innovation with their agility and drive to increase market share.  Local police authorities will have their hands tied and won't be able to engage with the SMEs and so those remaining will have little incentive to innovate. 

Furthermore, the other suggested strategy in the BBC article was to standardise the products. This again reduces innovation, as the product spec. would be based on what already exists, not would could be.  Once that spec. is agreed, the market is closed out to new ideas.  This contradicts with the relatively recent reforms to the EU Procurement Directives.

So what should we do?  

We should be focusing on driving the market forward and negotiating effectively within that market.  A fragmented market can be your best friend, not your enemy.  Procure on best value, not just best price.  Don't focus on Purchase Price Variance but on lifetime costs.  Improve through innovation.

We could go on but there's a risk we're sounding like a Baz Luhrmann song!  

Hopefully we make ourselves clear but more importantly, what do you think about this suggested police procurement strategy?

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

Thursday, 3 September 2015

‘What's the first thing that comes into your head when you hear the word 'eSourcing?’

It is obvious that eSourcing adoption has increased in larger organisations as they implement software to bring eSourcing in-house or use consultants to conduct eTenders on their behalf.
eSourcing comes with a huge number of benefits  and companies are aware of these.
Recently I started a discussion asking the lovely members of Procurious:
‘What's the first thing that comes into your head when you hear the word 'eSourcing?’ 
They all responded positively with the majority stating ‘efficiency’ as the key factor of eSourcing. Other thoughts that people had around the topic include:
  1. Repeatability
  2. A way to engage suppliers
  3. Collaboration
  4. Centralisation
  5. Innovation
  6. Drives greater savings

All great reasons to start using eSourcing. However, as touched on by one responder:
Why isn’t everyone utilising eSourcing?

Our biggest competitor is not an all bells and whistles ERP system- it is email… still!

What is it about email that keeps procurement professionals tied in? Or is it just a matter of being stuck in their old ways, unable to see the wood for the trees? People are notoriously opposed to change, but it doesn’t mean you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

How can we promote eSourcing to our fellow procurement professionals, who may still be stuck sourcing goods and services without all the benefits of eSourcing mentioned above?

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

Monday, 24 August 2015

Market Dojo and UNIC ONE partner to strengthen our offering to the German Market


We are delighted to announce our partnership with UNIC ONE in Germany.

UNIC ONE brings a wealth of procurement experience in Europe's largest economy.  Marianne Haack who leads the procurement organisation at UNIC ONE, has previously worked for organisations including Novartis and Sun Microsystems.

This will greatly strengthen the portfolio which Market Dojo offers to customers in Germany.

It means that UNIC ONE can also offer to their customers the Market Dojo solutions. This will compliment the consultancy and training service already provided by UNIC ONE.

Nicholas Martin; Co-Founder of Market Dojo said:
“Market Dojo has seen strong demand from the German market this year. We have been working closely with UNIC ONE and our existing German customers. As a result with have made a number of improvements to our product. We are very excited about the potential to build on this success and having a local partner will be a huge benefit.”

Marianne Haack; UNIC ONE said:
“We chose to partner with Market Dojo as we were attracted by their ease of use and simplicity. We believe the combination of our expertise with Market Dojo product will give a great solution for our customers in Germany’.

If you would like to learn more about UNIC ONE, you can get in touch via their website -

Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more at