How does Wall Street and Venture Capitalist money influence service provider transparency?

Posted on January 27, 2016


I have been getting a lot of interesting feedback regarding my last post about Zycus.

In one discussion, I had expressed my surprise regarding how frank they were about the market, the competition, where they are weak, and where they are strong. I could not help but wonder why they were so open.

The response I received was simple and to the point . . . because they don’t have anything to hide, and even less to fear.

Already talking about the framework for our next book, I brought this last point up with Kelly Barner.

Is the fact that Zycus is financially independent from external third-party interests such as VCs and Wall Street expectations, the reason for their openness?

Wall Street

In other words, does the need to play to Wall Street and VCs make service providers less open?

Do they make service providers less likely to be forthcoming?

Her answer was a qualified yes.

According to Kelly, they can only get away with being less than forthright “if” procurement decision makers don’t push for more. In more, Kelly is talking about real information beyond a perfunctory features, functions and benefits analysis.

If we in the procurement world continue to be blinded by the shiny paper of traditional analyst assessments – think Magic Quadrant or Top 50 to watch lists – we can (and will) miss the big picture.

So too will the service providers.

In an earlier post, I had made reference to an article titled The Myth of Ariba. In it, a former executive for the company said the following; “Ariba was a real company with a real product that got swept up in its own hype, with unfortunate consequences.” The executive then added “Ariba was basically a fraud . . . creating [the impression that Ariba was constructing a global marketplace]. . . even though this was seen as being “a rather impossible task.”

In the same article and a subsequent book, the executive then went on to say that the company “went through the motions” of building this marketplace because “the stock was the only thing that mattered. A valuable stock gave Ariba currency it could use to buy other companies.”

Barner then added that with investment dollars being “harder to come by,” service providers need to shift their thinking. From my standpoint, this means that they have to become more transparent about their strengths and weaknesses beyond a specification sheet.

Instead of playing to The Street, which includes using press releases that brag about wins, they need to openly talk to the real market about real areas of interest and concern.

It would appear, at least based on this one call, that Zycus has figured this out.

With a healthy percentage of failed initiatives and increasing churn rates, one can only wonder how long it will take other providers to follow suit.


Posted in: Commentary