For the majority of vendors moving into the realms of sustainability procurement technology, it is either a sign of desperation or distraction but . . . with Rosslyn it’s just another crack in their egg

Posted on October 26, 2011


Don’t bite off more than you can chew, or avoid starting a new project until the present project is completed, are axioms that immediately come to mind when I consider the efforts on the part of some vendors to find that all important traction that ultimately leads to the scalability of their business model.

In these instances, and reflecting on Jim Collins’ Good To Great Doom Loop versus Flywheel comparison, the contrived quest to achieve a market presence and subsequent dominance usually reflects an executive mindset centred on the former as opposed to the latter of these two concepts.

Of course to truly understand the negative impact of one, you must first recognize and appreciate the significant difference of the other in terms of the development of a true scalability track.

Let me share the following video with you to illustrate my point . . .

While I am definitely not alone in my enthusiasm for the concepts Collins presented in both his Good To Great and Built To Last books . . . so much so that I was delighted to have had him provide me with his perspective on the impact of social media on business for an article I had written in 2009, the opportunity to actually witness a similar evolution of a company along the lines of the one he had referred to in the above video is both interesting and exciting.

I am of course talking about Rosslyn Analytics.

For those of you who I have the privilege of calling my regular readers, the name Rosslyn is not knew.

However, while Rosslyn is a company that I began tracking in earnest in late 2009, their latest press release announcing that in conjunction with Truscot (a firm that “helps companies, investors and governments understand and quantify the environmental impacts of business activities”), were launching the world’s first sustainability procurement application, I was – if only momentarily, taken aback.

My hesitation had nothing to do with Rosslyn so much as it did with the nature of the industry itself.  Over the years it has been a common practice for vendors to issue a press release on a purported industry shifting paradigm, the reality of which was largely limited to their own minds, in an effort to create a buzz and in the process stimulate the market to take notice of their solutions or services.

Along the lines of Search Engine Optimization strategies, this contrived effort to create traction based on little more than winning business usually reflected Collins’ Doom Loop in that it was the single idea that was viewed as the all important spark igniting the fire of increasing demand.  In the real world this self-serving, look at me chase for the latest and greatest idea around which to base their respective companies did very little to influence their intended market.  You have to look no further than Ariba’s and Oracle’s foray into the on-demand world as an example of the futility of this energy sapping exercise.

Or to put it another way, an idea or product is an extension of the core vision of a company from its origins, with the subsequent introduction of new solutions being a natural progression of said founding vision.   Having to go through, as the CFO for Ariba informed me during an on-air interview back in 2009, a DNA transformation to make this kind of transition a reality is usually a desperate attempt to cash in on market interest or a revenue siphoning distraction.  Either way, it is a reflection of a business model that has not found its footing within a sustainable market.

There are tell-tale signs of the desperation and/or distraction to which I am referring in both a company’s balance sheet (with Ariba for example, they lost $3 billion on $1 billion in sales between 2001 and 2005), and its success within the market itself (again with Ariba and as is the case with most ERP-type vendors, 85% of all initiatives have failed to achieve the client’s expected results).  In short, moves by companies such as these are predicated by continuing struggles in terms of making meaningful headway within their self-defined market.

With Rosslyn, they are extending their intelligence reach through a strategic alignment with another company, and doing so from a platform of growing as opposed to diminishing success.  As a result, a horizontal-type expansion within the intelligence framework to include sustainability measurement is not only smart, it is also a necessary response to a market that is increasingly looking to Rosslyn for solutions.

Sometime in the month of November, I will likely be once again welcoming to the PI Window on Business Rosslyn CEO Charles Clark, to talk about this latest development in greater detail.  In the meantime, If Rosslyn isn’t on your radar screen yet . . . then they should be.


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