Still Waters Run Deep: A Profile of cloudBuy’s Nilesh Gopali by Jon Hansen

Posted on May 5, 2015


One of the most exciting elements of Procurement Insights’ New Wave Companies Program, is that it does not provide an expansive list of vendors or, attempt to fall back on the familiar features, functions, benefits framework of the past.  Let’s face it, the myriad of lists and quadrants over the years have done little in terms of helping end-user clients achieve meaningful outcomes.  The high rate of initiative failures provide testimony to the veracity of this assessment.

While technology is obviously a critical part of a successful eProcurement initiative – it is after all the “e” in eProcurement, it is not the only factor that will determine a vendor’s future or a client’s success.

It is the intangible, hard to scale aspects of a vendor’s offering, that at first carves out an initial presence in what is becoming an increasingly crowded marketplace.  Of course, establishing said presence is not chronological i.e. determined by years in business.  As you examine both our 2014 and 2015 New Wave Companies you will see that some have been around not only for years, but also decades.  Innovation has it turns out, is not the sole domain of the young – at least in certain instances.

Within this context,  you will find that the real factors relating to solution viability and market acceptance include; leadership and vision, organizational capability, and market sensitivity or awareness.

These of course are not normally the things that the pundits usually cover.  Given their ultimate importance, I am not sure why.  For me, what is most telling are the often times overlooked details beyond the technology.

It is through this expanded lens that cloudBuy first caught my attention, and in particular Nilesh Gopali.

Gopali, who’s first in a 4-Part series of magazine articles was featured in Procurement Insights this past summer, had just taken the helm as Country Head for India for the UK-based cloudBuy in 2014.

At that time, the Indian market while not new to me, was to a certain extent an undiscovered country. I say this, because I was not sure how cloudBuy’s vendor designed eCommerce platform would do in a dynamically changing, still maturing B2B environment.

Let’s face it, hadn’t other more notable – again I am talking about brand as opposed to years in business – vendors such as IBM and Amazon, established a strong Indian presence well before cloudBuy?

This however is where the aforementioned intangibles associated with covering the industry, as opposed to the technology within the industry, comes into play.

Gopali’s extensive background as a C-Level Executive, in which his expertise was instrumental in launching a new UK High Street bank from scratch – Metro Bank – which was Britain’s first new High Street bank in over 100 years, is something you don’t find in most analyst coverage.  In fact, I was hard pressed to find any mention of it in any industry publication including blogs.  For some reason I am reminded of the television special The Brady Six.

Gopali has other noteworthy achievements, that when considered, reflect a “still waters run deep” determination that at least from my perspective, gave me the impression that he could transform cloudBuy from being a great vision into a great reality.

As reflected in my December 8th, 2014 post “20 years in the making cloudBuy now starting to challenge the big boys“, that perspective or impression manifested itself in the form of a major win.

“In winning the backing of the CII” wrote Steve Brooks in his December 8th, 2014 article Has cloudBuy forged a new channel for ecommerce? “, “cloudBuy have taken a potentially non traditional approach to the market and one that might win them significant market share.”

Brooks then went on to write that “The  Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) choosing to use the cloudBuy platform for their core membership,” was an “incredible win for a British company” and that it represented a “massive challenge to the corporate players such as IBM”.  A point that was further emphasized when cloudBuy became a key component of the Indian Government’s Make In India initiative.

There is no doubt that those who are just noting cloudBuy’s presence on their radar screens will – with a certain degree of surprise, be wondering “where did these guys come from”?  Questions regarding who is Nilesh Gopali are certain to be part of that contemplation as well.

Once again when you cover the industry as opposed to technology, you get a whole new perspective and yes, even an appreciation for where the procurement world is headed, and who or whom may be leading the charge.

As a result, and while cloudBuy still has a great deal of work to do before they truly “arrive”, one thing is certain, they continue to be one of the most interesting players to watch in the new eCommerce world.