Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Steve Wilson, Jason Bloomberg

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Agile Computing, @BigDataExpo

@CloudExpo: Blog Post

Analysis Efficiencies of Cloud Computing | @CloudExpo #API #Cloud #BigData

ChainLink analyst on how cloud-enabled supply chain networks drive companies to better manage finances, procurement

New Technologies and Services Move Procurement and Finance to Center Stage

The next BriefingsDirect business innovation thought leadership discussion focuses on how companies are exploiting advances in procurement and finance services to produce new types of productivity benefits.

We'll now hear from a leading industry analyst on how more data, process integration, and analysis efficiencies of cloud computing are helping companies to better manage their finances in tighter collaboration with procurement and supply-chain networks. This business-process innovation exchange comes in conjunction with the Tradeshift Innovation Day held in New York on June 22, 2016.

To learn more about how new trends are driving innovation into invoicing and spend management, we're joined by Bill McBeath, Chief Research Officer at ChainLink Research in Newton, Mass. The discussion is moderated by me, Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.

Here are some excerpts:

Gardner: What's going on in terms of disruption across organizations that are looking to do better things with their procurement-to-payment processes? What is it that's going on, that's focusing them more on this? Why is the status quo no longer acceptable?

McBeath: There are a couple things. There is this longer-term trends toward digitization, moving away from paper and manual processes. That's nothing new, but having said that, when we do research we always see these huge percentage of companies that are still either on paper or even more common is a mix. They have some portion of their stuff on paper and another portion that's automated. That's foundational and still in the process.

McBeath

A big part of that is getting the long tail of suppliers on board. The large suppliers have the internal resources and that they can get hooked up with these networks and systems to get automated. Smaller suppliers, we think about people that may have less than 100 people or even mid-sized suppliers, have no dedicated IT resources. They may have a very limited ability to do these things.

That's where the challenge is and that's where we see some of the innovations in helping lower the barriers for them. It's helping get a company that's trying to automate all of their invoices or other things -- that can be a mix of paper, fax, e-mail, and EDI documents -- and then gradually move that customer base over to some sort of automation, whether it's through a portal or starting to directly integrate their systems.

So that ability to get that long tail into, so that everything comes in digitally ultimately, is one of the things we're seeing.

Common denominator

Gardner: In order to get digital, as you put it, it seems like we need a common-denominator environment that all the players -- the suppliers, the buyers, the partners -- can play in. It can't be too confining, but it can be too loosey-goosey and insecure either. Have we found that balance between the right level of platform that's suitable for these processes but that doesn't stifle innovation and doesn't push people away because of rigid rules?

McBeath: I want to make a couple points on that. One is about the network approach, versus the portal approach. They are distinctive approaches. In the portal approach, each buyer will set up their own portal and that's how they'll try to get that long tail in. The problem for the suppliers is that if they have dozens or hundreds of customers, they now have dozens or hundreds of portals to deal with.

The network is supposed to solve that problem with a network of buyers and suppliers. If you have a supplier who has multiple buyers on the network, they just have to integrate once to the network. That's the theory, and it helps, but the problem there is that there are also lots of networks.

No one has cracked the nut yet, from the supplier’s point of view, on how not to deal with all these multiple technologies. There are a couple companies out there that are trying to build this supplier capability to just integrate once into one network and then it goes out and gets all the other networks. So, people are trying to solve that problem.

Gardner: And we have seen this before with Salesforce.com for example. We have an environment to develop on, trying to provide services that people would use in the customer relationship management (CRM) space, for example. We saw in June that Tradeshift has come out with an app store. Is this what you are getting at? Do you think the app store model with a development element to it is an important step in the right direction?

The salesforce.com or Tradeshift approach is different. It's not just a set of APIs to integrate to their application; it's really a full development kit, so that you can build applications on top of that.

McBeath: I mentioned there were two points. The network point was one point, and the second one is exactly what you're talking about, which is that you may have a network, but it's still constrained to just that solution provider's functionality.

The Salesforce.com or Tradeshift approach is different. It's not just a set of APIs to integrate to their application; it's really a full development kit, so that you can build applications on top of that.

There's a bit of a fuzzy line there, but there are definitely things you can point to. There are enough APIs that you can write an application from scratch. That's question number one. Does that include UI integration? That would be the second question I would ask, so that when you develop using their UI  APIs and UI guidelines, it actually looks as fully integrated as if it was one application.

There's also a philosophy point of view. More and more large-solution providers are kind of in the “light bulb is going out” [stage] and they can't necessarily build it all. Everyone has had partners. So, there's nothing new about partnering and having ISV partners and integrating, but it's a wholesale shift to building a whole toolkit, promoting it, and making it easy, and then trying to get others to build those pieces. That's a different kind of approach.

Gardner: So clearly, a critical mass is necessary to attract enough suppliers that then attracts the buyers, that then attracts more development, and so on. What's an important element to bring to that critical mass capability? I'm thinking about data analytics as one, mobile enablement, and security. What's the short list of critical factors that you think these network and platform approaches need to have in order to reach critical mass?

Critical mass

McBeath: I would separate it into technology and industry-focused things, and I'll cover the second one first. Supplier communities, especially for direct materials, tend to cluster around industries. What I see for these networks is that they can potentially meet critical mass within a specific industry by focusing on the industry. So, you get more buyers in the industry, more suppliers in the industry, and now it becomes almost the de facto way to do business within that industry.

Related to that, there are sometimes very industry-specific capabilities that are needed on the platform. It could be regulated industries like pharma or chemical that have certain things they have to do that are different from other industries. Or it could be aerospace defense, which has super-high security requirements. They may look for all of these robust identity-management capabilities.

That would be one aspect of building up a critical mass within an industry. Indirect is a little more of a horizontal play; indirect suppliers tend to go more across industries. In that case, it can be just the aggregate size of the marketplace, but it can also be the capabilities that are built in.

Some companies are trying to provide more value to suppliers, not just in terms of how they market themselves, but then also outward-facing supply-chain and logistics capabilities.

One interesting part of this is the supplier’s perspective, and for some of these networks, what they offer to suppliers is basically a platform to get noticed and to transact. But some companies are trying to provide more value to suppliers, not just in terms of how they market themselves, but then also outward-facing supply-chain and logistics capabilities. They're building rich capabilities that suppliers might actually be willing to pay for, instead of just paying for the honor of transaction on a platform.

Gardner: Suffice to say things are changing rapidly in the pay-to-procure space. What advice would you give both buyers and sellers, suppliers, when it comes to looking at the landscape and trying to make evaluations and making good decisions about being on the leading edge of disruption, taking advantage of it, rather than being perhaps injured or negatively impacted by it?

McBeath: That can be a challenging question. Eventually, the winners become quite obvious when it comes to network space, because certain networks, as I mentioned, will dominate within an industry. Then, it becomes somewhat easy decision.

Before that happens, you're trying to figure out if you're going to bet on the right horse. Part of that is looking at the kind of capabilities on the platform. One of them that's important, going back to this API extensibility thing, is that it's very difficult for one platform to do it all.

So, you'd look at whether they can do 80 percent of what you need. But then, do they also provide the tools for the other 20 percent, especially if that 20 percent, even though it may be a small amount of functionality, it may be very critical functionality for your business that you really can't live without or get high value from? If it has the ability for you to build that yourself, so that you can really get the value, that's always a good thing.

Gardner: It sounds like it would be a good idea to try a lot of things on, see what you can do in terms of that innovation at the platform level, look at the portal approach, and see what works best for you. We've heard many times that each company is, in fact, quite different, and each business grouping and ecosystem is different.

Getting the long tail

McBeath: There's a supplier perspective, and there is a buyer perspective. Besides your trading partners on the platform, from a buyer’s perspective, one of the things we talked about is getting that long tail.

Buyers should be looking at, and interested in, what level of effort it takes to onboard a new supplier, how automated can that be, and then how attractive is it to the supplier. You can ask or tell your suppliers to get on board. But if it's really hard to do, if it's expensive for them, if it takes a lot of time, then it’s going to be like pulling teeth. Whereas, if there are benefits for the suppliers, it’s easy to do, and it’s actually helping them, this becomes much easier to get that long tail of suppliers onboard.

You may also be interested in:

More Stories By Dana Gardner

At Interarbor Solutions, we create the analysis and in-depth podcasts on enterprise software and cloud trends that help fuel the social media revolution. As a veteran IT analyst, Dana Gardner moderates discussions and interviews get to the meat of the hottest technology topics. We define and forecast the business productivity effects of enterprise infrastructure, SOA and cloud advances. Our social media vehicles become conversational platforms, powerfully distributed via the BriefingsDirect Network of online media partners like ZDNet and IT-Director.com. As founder and principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, Dana Gardner created BriefingsDirect to give online readers and listeners in-depth and direct access to the brightest thought leaders on IT. Our twice-monthly BriefingsDirect Analyst Insights Edition podcasts examine the latest IT news with a panel of analysts and guests. Our sponsored discussions provide a unique, deep-dive focus on specific industry problems and the latest solutions. This podcast equivalent of an analyst briefing session -- made available as a podcast/transcript/blog to any interested viewer and search engine seeker -- breaks the mold on closed knowledge. These informational podcasts jump-start conversational evangelism, drive traffic to lead generation campaigns, and produce strong SEO returns. Interarbor Solutions provides fresh and creative thinking on IT, SOA, cloud and social media strategies based on the power of thoughtful content, made freely and easily available to proactive seekers of insights and information. As a result, marketers and branding professionals can communicate inexpensively with self-qualifiying readers/listeners in discreet market segments. BriefingsDirect podcasts hosted by Dana Gardner: Full turnkey planning, moderatiing, producing, hosting, and distribution via blogs and IT media partners of essential IT knowledge and understanding.

@CloudExpo Stories
"Cloud computing is certainly changing how people consume storage, how they use it, and what they use it for. It's also making people rethink how they architect their environment," stated Brad Winett, Senior Technologist for DDN Storage, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Existing Big Data solutions are mainly focused on the discovery and analysis of data. The solutions are scalable and highly available but tedious when swapping in and swapping out occurs in disarray and thrashing takes place. The resolution for thrashing through machine learning algorithms and support nomenclature is through simple techniques. Organizations that have been collecting large customer data are increasingly seeing the need to use the data for swapping in and out and thrashing occurs ...
As many know, the first generation of Cloud Management Platform (CMP) solutions were designed for managing virtual infrastructure (IaaS) and traditional applications. But that’s no longer enough to satisfy evolving and complex business requirements. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Scott Davis, Embotics CTO, will explore how next-generation CMPs ensure organizations can manage cloud-native and microservice-based application architectures, while also facilitating agile DevOps methodology. He wi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Datera, that offers a radically new data management architecture, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Datera is transforming the traditional datacenter model through modern cloud simplicity. The technology industry is at another major inflection point. The rise of mobile, the Internet of Things, data storage and Big...
Blockchain is a shared, secure record of exchange that establishes trust, accountability and transparency across business networks. Supported by the Linux Foundation's open source, open-standards based Hyperledger Project, Blockchain has the potential to improve regulatory compliance, reduce cost as well as advance trade. Are you curious about how Blockchain is built for business? In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, will discuss th...
“Why didn’t testing catch this” must become “How did this make it to testing?” Traditional quality teams are the crutch and excuse keeping organizations from making the necessary investment in people, process, and technology to accelerate test automation. Just like societies that did not build waterways because the labor to keep carrying the water was so cheap, we have created disincentives to automate. In her session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Anne Hungate, President of Daring System...
SYS-CON Events announced today that GrapeUp, the leading provider of rapid product development at the speed of business, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Grape Up is a software company, specialized in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market acr...
From 2013, NTT Communications has been providing cPaaS service, SkyWay. Its customer’s expectations for leveraging WebRTC technology are not only typical real-time communication use cases such as Web conference, remote education, but also IoT use cases such as remote camera monitoring, smart-glass, and robotic. Because of this, NTT Communications has numerous IoT business use-cases that its customers are developing on top of PaaS. WebRTC will lead IoT businesses to be more innovative and address...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named "Platinum Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business - from apparel to energy - is being rewritten by software. From planning to development to management to security, CA creates software that fuels transformation for companies in the applic...
For financial firms, the cloud is going to increasingly become a crucial part of dealing with customers over the next five years and beyond, particularly with the growing use and acceptance of virtual currencies. There are new data storage paradigms on the horizon that will deliver secure solutions for storing and moving sensitive financial data around the world without touching terrestrial networks. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Cliff Beek, President of Cloud Constellation Corporation, d...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devic...
In his opening keynote at 20th Cloud Expo, Michael Maximilien, Research Scientist, Architect, and Engineer at IBM, discussed the full potential of the cloud and social data requires artificial intelligence. By mixing Cloud Foundry and the rich set of Watson services, IBM's Bluemix is the best cloud operating system for enterprises today, providing rapid development and deployment of applications that can take advantage of the rich catalog of Watson services to help drive insights from the vast t...
As DevOps methodologies expand their reach across the enterprise, organizations face the daunting challenge of adapting related cloud strategies to ensure optimal alignment, from managing complexity to ensuring proper governance. How can culture, automation, legacy apps and even budget be reexamined to enable this ongoing shift within the modern software factory?
SYS-CON Events announced today that Elastifile will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Elastifile Cloud File System (ECFS) is software-defined data infrastructure designed for seamless and efficient management of dynamic workloads across heterogeneous environments. Elastifile provides the architecture needed to optimize your hybrid cloud environment, by facilitating efficient...
While some vendors scramble to create and sell you a fancy solution for monitoring your spanking new Amazon Lambdas, hear how you can do it on the cheap using just built-in Java APIs yourself. By exploiting a little-known fact that Lambdas aren’t exactly single-threaded, you can effectively identify hot spots in your serverless code. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Dave Martin, Product owner at CA Technologies, will give a live demonstration and code walkthrough, showing how ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Golden Gate University will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Since 1901, non-profit Golden Gate University (GGU) has been helping adults achieve their professional goals by providing high quality, practice-based undergraduate and graduate educational programs in law, taxation, business and related professions. Many of its courses are taug...
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo taking place Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 21st International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is ...
Historically, some banking activities such as trading have been relying heavily on analytics and cutting edge algorithmic tools. The coming of age of powerful data analytics solutions combined with the development of intelligent algorithms have created new opportunities for financial institutions. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Sebastien Meunier, Head of Digital for North America at Chappuis Halder & Co., discussed how these tools can be leveraged to develop a lasting competitive advantage ...
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to w...
SYS-CON Events announced today that DXWorldExpo has been named “Global Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation is the key issue driving the global enterprise IT business. Digital Transformation is most prominent among Global 2000 enterprises and government institutions.