Today’s Zycus Webinar on eSourcing 2.0 is here! was interesting, yet it did not tell the whole story

Posted on December 3, 2009

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Like most professionals in my field I receive endless invitations to attend conferences, webinars and store openings.  As a result one has to be selective in terms of which invites they will accept otherwise, and like the frequency of corporate golf tournaments during the dot.com boom – I actually reached the point of being able to break 90 – I could literally spend every day of every week of every month . . . well you get my drift.

But through this voluminous wave of exciting breakthroughs and must attend seminars, occasionally one will grab your attention.  While Zycus is a sponsor of this blog I can assure you that it wasn’t this aspect of our relationship that caused me to take notice of their most recent Webinar.

As many of you who have been following this blog from its early days already know, my background in researching the utilization of advanced algorithms within the framework of an agent-based model started in 1998.  Funded by the Government of Canada’s Scientific Research and Experimental Development Program (SR&ED), I developed and patented what I referred to as the strand commonality theory.  Ironically, my theory has actually been reviewed in terms of its application in other environments such as identifying trends relative to the effectiveness of government policy.  (Note: so as not to go on a tangent within this post, here is the link to an April 2008 article that will provide the conceptual overview of the theory and its impact on the purchasing process.)

Suffice to say this background in the research that will lay the foundation for the Web 4.0 business platform, caused me to take particular note of the eSourcing 2.0 is here! Zycus webinar title.  To be quite frank, I was even a little excited.

For obvious reasons, the most innovative companies who understand and have utilized algorithms within their application architecture are not prone to incorporate this fact into their reference or promotional materials.  At least not historically.

This is the challenge that most true innovators face in that with the making of new inroads and breakthroughs comes the unenviable task of creating what I call points of reference that enables the broader market to understand the value of the solution within the context of current day knowledge and experience.

In essence, the challenge is not with the technological breakthrough itself, but the market’s ability to grasp its significance and ultimate impact beyond the realms of what is historically known, a problem by the way that is not limited to the “end user” or client.

In my August 11th, 2009 post titled “Spend Analysis versus Spend Intelligence: More Than a Semantical Difference” I referenced a post by an individual some consider to be one of the top bloggers in the industry as an example of how the reliance on what is known versus what is possible can lead to a kind of visionary myopia.  Here is the excerpt from that article, which was part of a series leading up to a guest panel discussion on the subject of spend analysis versus spend intelligence:

I believe the phrase “spend intelligence” to be misleading. To me, it sounds like a new take or sub-segment of business intelligence software applications which offer analytics and dashboard capabilities and sit on top of existing systems of record. The problem is that spend visibility and analytics is much more complex, requiring data cleansing, rationalization, classification and other efforts which go far beyond what is needed to gain insight into basic HR, financials, IT and other internal information, which fall cleanly in to the BI camp.

The above statement is from a July 11th, 2006 blog post (no, not Procurement Insights) that reflects one of the main reasons why 85 percent of all e-procurement/supply chain initiatives fail to achieve the expected results.  Specifically, the reference to “spend visibility and analytics” as being “much more complex, requiring data cleansing, rationalization, classification and other efforts.”

Now in all fairness, this dismissive view of spend intelligence is representative of the limitations associated with traditional equation-based ERP applications in which the cycle to extract, let alone analyze meaningful data was onerous.  In other words, unless you understood the basic differences between an equation-based versus an agent-based approach to solution development you would quite logically make the same assumption.  You would be wrong, but you would be justified based upon your focus on IT or ERP-centric applications, and the limited framework within which they operated.

It is within the context of the above excerpt that the eSourcing 2.0 webinar fell short in terms of providing the complete picture.  Specifically, that Zycus has leveraged certain elements of Web 4.0-type algorithms to create an intuitive “intelligence dashboard” that enables both the easy collection and timely application of spend data to effect immediate and meaningful pro-active results where it is needed the most . . . at the real-time, operational level where decisions are made.

While the presentation provided a few interesting facts such as the amount of “Revenue, By Industry, Needed to Generate $10M Profit,” as well as the “Top Pressures” CFOs face – by the way, I still find it interesting that cost reductions, mitigating supply risks and improving processes are deemed to be a CFO versus CPO responsibility – generally speaking the Aberdeen portion of the session was generalized in terms of the lens through which it was viewing the subject matter.  In short, you could have easily inserted any vendor’s name relative to the first part of the presentation, which is why the insights of traditional analysts are losing steam in a virtual world that demands distinction versus generalized statistical ruminations.

Even the venue through which the webinar was presented seemed outdated with the tinny sound and ersatz real-time functional interaction through the submission of on-line questions and polling.  There are tools and platforms that for a fraction of the cost enable up to six live TV-type screens to be displayed simultaneously including the ability for one to include a PowerPoint presentation or film clips.  The Q&A within this emerging venue can be opened to live on-air questions with the audience, enabling the presenter to actually make a real and tangible connection.  It is the difference between what David Cushing referred to as traditional and increasingly ineffective eyes looking toward a single stage versus eyes looking at each other.

As indicated, Zycus is a sponsor of the Procurement Insights Blog.  However the $250 US annual sponsorship fee (nor any amount of money) would influence my coverage of a vendor event.  That said while you should most definitely take the time to tune into the webinar, especially the latter half with Zycus’ Senior Product Marketing Manager Bikash Mohanty, you need to view the insights delivered through the expanded lens of emerging innovative breakthrough.  In essence you need to see Zycus’ solution in the context of a proactive, real-time tool for keeping your fingers on the pulse of real-world market conditions that consistently empowers best value-best result decision making with each and every transaction.

Like the old saying, “it’s what’s inside that counts,” (in this case the content of the Zycus message versus the vehicle through which it is being delivered), the growing testimony to my enthusiasm for the power of the solution is reflected in the steady stream of new, international clients that are choosing Zycus as their procurement platform.

In fact just this morning Zycus announced that the world’s largest dairy exporter, New Zealand-based Fonterra “has selected Zycus’ Spend Analysis and Strategic Sourcing solutions to help streamline procurement processes and create an enterprise-wide view of spend to identify savings opportunities and improve sourcing performance.”

The above statement, and those like it give the best and most reliable testimony to a vendor’s ability to deliver(and even exceed) expectations.  This is why I have recognized Zycus as one of the New Titans of the SaaS World for 2009.

Note: use the following link to access the eSourcing 2.0 is here! on-demand webinar.