For the majority of procurement professionals, does technology really matter?

Posted on November 25, 2015


The other day I started to write a post regarding a November 17th, 2015 American Banking & Market News article on Oracle.

Under the headline Oracle Downgraded to “Sell” at Zacks Investment Research (ORCL), the analyst firm offered the following explanation for their assessment:

“Also, the company’s continuing transition from licensing, where revenues are recognized upfront, to a cloud subscription model where it is realized over the years, will hurt its top line in the near term. Stiff competition remains an added concern.” 

They then went on to say . . .

“Nevertheless, we believe that rapid adoption of engineered systems and cloud suites will boost top-line growth in 2015 and beyond. In addition, the company’s growth prospects in SaaS, PaaS and Big Data are also encouraging.”

At first the ideas seemed to cascade through my mind with the usual level of excitement that marks the beginnings of a new post. After all, this blog brings together two of my passions – writing and procurement.

Having the opportunity to throw my hat into the ring in terms of offering my two cents in the form of well researched and thoughtful prose, is something I live for.

But a funny thing happened after the first few furious clicks of my keyboard . . . I suddenly stopped and wondered – who really cares about Oracle. For that matter, who cares about technology in general?

I know, I know, technology has been for such a long time an overarching presence – and not just in the procurement world. Even in our personal lives, the ever growing and unstoppable wave of technological evolution is an undeniable constant. From iPads to smart phones to wearable technology, it has permeated all areas of every day life.

But it is in this ubiquity, that the seeds of irrelevance need to be sown.

Think about this last statement for a moment, then look down at your desk and I bet you will see your telephone. How much thought do you give to the technology behind being able to pick up the receiver and dial someone on the other side of the world? Yet when the telephone was first invented and introduced en mass to the world, it was no less revolutionary as the facsimile machine, personal computer or the cloud-based technologies we use today.

Unlike those early adopters, we use the phone without giving it a second thought. It’s like the route we take when we drive home from work . . . we do it so often that we don’t even think about the specific turns we take along the way. We don’t stop to look at our cars before driving and contemplate how it works, we just get in and drive. We simply want the engine to turn over when we turn the key in the ignition, and get home to our lives and all that we hold dear.

Yet here we are – the media that covers the procurement world – force feeding our readers and listeners with inconsequential news about stock prices and Magic Quadrants and everything else in between, when all you want is for everything to work. In short, who really cares about technology. You want to instead focus on the people aspect of your work. The strategies and the day-to-day challenges of human interaction such as building strong relationships with your suppliers as well as members within your own organization.

If technology is to be truly successful, like the telephone, it should be seen (and used) without any real thought. In short, successful technology should simply work, period.

Technology should free you to think and focus on other things as opposed to occupying your time and energy. YOU should be its master as opposed to the other way around, and the Oracles of the world should be your quiet and humble servants, as opposed to occupying the center stage limelight. Like the telephone or the facsimile machine or pen and paper, your procurement technology should be a given.

Maybe this is the greater purpose of the emerging Robotic Process Automation champions, or The Institute For Robotic Process Automation (IRPA). By the way, it is a silly name “Robotic Process Automation,” especially the Robotic part. That said, it would appear that based on a model that has been around for close to 20 years, IRPA’s vision at least captures the spirit of both humble and ubiquitous integration into our daily work lives. Only time will tell.

In the meantime, when it comes to vendors and their solutions, keep the analyst assessments, and Top 50 Suppliers, and the bell ringing proclamations to a minimum, and focus on providing technology that simply and without any fanfare, works.

Or to put it in a less eloquent and more direct fashion . . . just shut up and deliver, and in the process enable me to do a better job without my having to hear and think about you.

Just Do It


Posted in: Commentary