E-procurement’s second wind (2) – Vinimaya
In the first post in this series, we put forward the view that e-procurement has never lived up to its promise. The promise of buying everything from an on-line catalogue. A system that would enforce compliance to contract, eliminate maverick spend, reduce the cost of purchasing and provide rich spend data that could be leveraged to make even better sourcing decisions. And that’s what we’ve got right? Wrong!
I would say that in most large organizations it is as time consuming, as costly and as painful to buy something as it was 15 years ago. The problem is that the job – the job of implementing automated web enabled procurement systems – was never finished. The whole point was that buying for business was supposed to be as easy as buying off Amazon. But the objectives were forgotten and the vendors took their eye off the ball.
But it’s not all bad news. In the last few years a new breed of solution has emerged. The thinking isn’t really new but the execution is slick and more and more companies are beginning to realize the e-procurement vision.
As part of the research for this short series looking into the ways that e-procurement is being advanced, I spoke to John Hutchinson, CEO of Vinimaya, one of the vendors that are contributing to e-procurement’s second wind.
Vinimaya isn’t actually an e-procurement solution at all. It doesn’t doesn’t define workflows or issue POs. It is a cloud solution that connects to the existing e-procurement solution giving it a user interface that uses what Vinimaya call Smart Market Place Technology™ to deliver a consumer like shopping experience for business buyers.
This isn’t just aesthetics. Amazon is successful because people choose to use it. Requisitioners in companies use their e-procurement system because they are told to use it. It’s not a great intellectual leap to understand that if the corporate purchasing system behaves in a similar fashion to a successful B2C system, there is going to be a greater use of the system. Greater use means greater compliance, bigger savings and reduced maverick spend.
What Vinimaya have achieved is to deliver a functionally rich “skin” for established e-proc systems. Things like federated search to deliver what consumers would recognize as a price comparison engine – but for contracted suppliers only. And a google-style search engine results that delivers the most relevant results rather than the results that most closely match search criteria (there is a difference!). And this is being delivered today to companies like Corning, Siemens and others in 80 countries, 40 currencies and 20 languages.
But what impresses me most about Vinimaya isn’t the clever skin. It’s the fact that the clever skin is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s much more such as price history tracking, alerts and price audit for online suppliers. John also shared with me some of the exciting developments that are in progress and I have a feeling that we’ll be revisiting Vinimaya in the near future.
We’ll cover some other “new wave” e-procurement vendors in the coming weeks