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News of the legal tiff between Somerset County Council and the IBM led Southwest One Consortium set me wondering once again about the outsourcing of Procurement. Specifically, why would you want to do it? Outsourcing of procurement in one form or another is not new. Strategic IT partnerships between pubic bodies and ICT providers, for example, have a history that is decidedly mixed, although the difficulties tend not to be made public by either “partner”. At least one such partnership was to my knowledge originally promoted in part as a nifty wheeze to get round those pesky public procurement rules and another seemed to me on at least one occasion to sail very close to the wind indeed in terms of propriety and legality of decision making.

The reason we founded Tradeshift goes all the way back to a very specific moment in 2005. At that time I was a student in the policy department of the Danish Ministry of Science, IT and Innovation. I was reading about a new law in the making and I could not believe what it said. The government was about to deploy a combined scanning and electronic invoicing solution for their 200,000 suppliers. That was not the problem. The problem was they had picked solutions that cost suppliers on average €2 per invoice. I was stunned. Who would pay more to send something electronically than on paper?

Calling it an idiot’s guide is fairly safe. I’m unlikely to offend anyone. The fact that you’re reading this confirms you’re not an idiot. There has been some pretty high profile research into the power and effectiveness of social media. McKinsey estimate that it’s worth $1.3 trillion in terms of the extra value that the global economy can extract through it’s use. And we do see it used effectively. The B2C use case of viral marketing campaigns and the damage limitation campaigns (O2 deserves a medal for their recent success in managing the fallout from a network outage using twitter and, importantly, a sense of humour.) I spoke to Renette Youssef, CMO at Tradeshift recently about how they use social media as a powerful marketing tool. (You can listen to the podcast here). But how do individual professionals in procurement or finance use social media in a professional context? We see celebrities using social media all the time but as professionals, what value is there in sharing with our followers what we had for breakfast? And is it really a good idea to share pictures of your Friday night out?

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