Government is a Major Driver of B2B Commerce

While organizations of all kinds the world over benefit from B2B technology and practices, one of the most prominent is government, according to Bob Cohen, North American vice-president for Basware.

“Governments are forerunners in pushing connected commerce,” he wrote in his column Paythink recently. “More than fifty governments around the world are in the process of implementing e-invoicing mandates and are pushing for a supportive infrastructure to enable agile e-commerce.”

He cited tax compliance and fraud reduction as significant drivers in the push, noting that efficiency and savings were major factors domestically, with the U.S. multi-agency Invoice Processing Platform resulting in a $20 processing cost reduction on federal invoice processing.

For the European Union, borderless commerce has been the goal, he said, with an interoperable e-invoicing standard. Government suppliers must now conform to the standard, which is causing it to proliferate within private industry as well.

Other benefits emanating from government e-commerce include the untethering of financial process, he added, through the exploitation of cloud technology and mobile platforms. Business and supplier networks, experiencing rapid growth, are simplifying and accelerating governmental requisition processes in turn.

Finally, he noted, the increasing demand for real-time payment and financing options by businesses in general have made government uptake of B2B prudent in any case. And the analytics that modern B2B methodologies and systems enable are causing both governmental purchasing systems and suppliers to grow ever more efficient over time.

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Healthcare Analytics Put Data Out Front

The Indiana Partnership for Healthy Communities recently published a review of its Community Health Assessment reports, emphasizing the importance of geoinformatics – data-driven analysis of unmet needs among populations in specified areas – in improving outcomes.

In a discussion with, Sharon Kandris and Karen Comer described the analytical metrics – Social Assets and Vulnerabilities Indicators – being employed to identify areas of interest in community healthcare outcomes.

The metrics have enabled “a large repository of community data about socio-economic conditions of neighborhoods and builds the capacity of organizations to use the data to be more strategic and effective as they plan, implement, and monitor programs and services,” Kandris said.

The review found that shortcomings in analytical data used by hospital represent opportunity for significant improvements, Comer added: “Preliminary findings included that the majority of hospitals are using only county-level data for both their CHA and their health-improvement plans. This suggests the opportunity to empower the CHA and health improvement planning processes with more local data. Also, most did not inventory community resources with geographic service specificity, but rather just included a list of organization or facility names, without address, contact information, or information about the programs and services offered.”

An additional metric, Kandris said, is derived from the aggregation of confidential federal, state and local government sources that generate meaningful indicators about local communities, around socio-economic conditions, health, housing, and public safety.

Comer added that the geographic breakdown of the analytics has generated insights into how hospital responses vary across Indiana, in terms of cooperation with local health departments.

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What Would a Salesforce Purchase by Microsoft Look Like?

With rumors of a possible acquisition of Salesforce circulating – and with Microsoft a leading contender to make that buy – it’s interesting to wonder what such a purchase might entail, and what its impact on the procurement market would be.

Jeff Muscarella of the spend management consultancy NPI offered several important considerations of such an acquisition in a recent Spend Matters post. In general, he saw such a purchase as a wise buy:

“As old guard vendors like Microsoft try to re-architect their businesses for a cloud- and mobility-first approach,” he said, “acquiring the technology and customer base of a pioneer in those areas looks like a smart idea.”

Muscarella identified several useful points of interest to be scrutinized in any Microsoft/Salesforce merger.

- Pricing. The two companies employ vastly different pricing strategies. Either side would have a rough time assimilating the other’s approach.
- Quality of service. Microsoft makes vast bargeloads of money from support. How would it live alongside a completely different support model/infrastructure? Or would Salesforce be forced to adopt its parent’s support, and how would that go over?
- Innovation? Microsoft needs to innovate in this domain if it is to become a serious player in procurement – and given its lofty goals for Azure, that would be essential. Given Redmond’s penchant for recycling and mixing/matching, could it manage?
- Contractual practices. Microsoft’s approach to contracting and negotiation would need to soften. Could it manage? And if not, what would be the impact on Salesforce?

Microsoft/Salesforce is fascinating what-if; but if it comes to pass, Muscarella said, “One thing is certain – it will have an impact on the thousands of customers that use both vendor solutions.”

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Acquisition of Salesforce Could Have a Profound Effect on the Procurement Market

Speculation about the fate of CRM giant Salesforce includes its potential impact on the procurement market, suggested Pierre Mitchell, Managing Director of Azul Partners, in a recent article for Spend Matters Network.

With Salesforce currently valued at $50 billion, the circle of potential buyers is very small, but also very interesting, Mitchell pointed out. Depending on who bites, in the end, Salesforce’s vast armies of users might find their world changing dramatically.

A number of the potential buyers are already in the procurement business, it turns out, and many – Microsoft, IBM, Google, Oracle, Amazon – are already gigantic platform providers. To which of them would Salesforce be a strategic plus?

Mitchell pointed out that Microsoft’s cloud presence is strong and growing rapidly, but that it isn’t yet a player in procurement. Acquiring Salesforce would change that. How would this affect current Salesforce users’ perceptions of security and ease of use? Azure has expanded a great deal, but is still an evolving creature.

IBM, Mitchell said, is strong in the market, but passe and in need of a face lift, which Salesforce could provide. Oracle could buy Salesforce without missing the money, but already owns Siebel.

Google might be the most interesting buyer, because it has steered clear of real business integration and would have to rally and innovate to make it work.

Whatever happens, Mitchell concluded, the potential impact on terms, pricing, service and security could be significant, and all players should have their responses gamed out in advance.

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