By Frank Treanor Best Practice Business Strategy 19th September 2016

Jack of all trades or master of ONE?

So, you are going to buy yourself the latest iphone 7, and you’ve been looking forward to the experience for weeks. And when I say ‘experience’ I mean exactly that because for many people buying new tech and discovering what it can do is one of modern life’s truly guilty pleasures. Of course, you’ve read all about Apple’s latest release, and you’ve already made up your mind that you are going to buy one. But there is one critical decision about the purchase that you still need to make. Where will you buy it?

Specialist or Jack of all Trades?

To fully indulge in the ‘buying experience’ you’d go to the expert, wouldn’t you? To immerse yourself in the far-flung reaches of the tech at hand and ensure that you do not miss a trick, a click or a flick of the touch-screen, you’d want a specialist (not a generalist) to guide you?

In the US, in particular, shopping malls are increasingly seeing people choose specialist stores over the giant department retailers. Consumers, it seems, are being drawn to the niche, personal, specialist knowledge and enthusiasm of the expert; over and above the convenience of a generalist.  They still want to visit a single destination, park their car in one place, use the mall’s lifts and escalators to access different floors and stores,  and make use of a single roof to keep the weather off them during their retail therapy. But today’s savvy shoppers also expect the tailored service and advice, only available through specialist retailers, under the same single roof.

Strategic Procurement technology doesn’t provide the intuitive purchasing experience demanded by business users

If you look at the huge list of things that systems like SAP, Ariba, Oracle or Coupa can do, it is like wandering around a department store. By trying to deliver so much, they become bland department stores without the depth of offering required to meet the real expectations of pragmatic business users. In this case one size really does not fit all. That’s often the reason that businesses pay huge license and renewal fees for software that simply does not get used.

I accept that there is a ‘convenience factor’ in shopping at a department store and getting all of your essential needs in one place, with one bill. But what if that bill ends up being more than it needs to be and you are not getting the full benefit of your money’s worth? What if you are missing out on the additional functionality, latest developments and expert configuration that will make your purchase even more valuable?

Cooperation beats convenience

The reason that specialist stores like Apple, Niketown and Starbucks do so well is that they complement each other within a general shopping centre environment. These stores encourage having an experience, not just selling you an off-the-shelf product. Their focus and expertise is the one thing that they do and do really well. Yet, they sit nicely together, do not compete for each other’s pound and compliment the whole customer journey.

Yes, you can get a procurement solution from SAP, Ariba, Coupa, Basware et al, and you will probably feel like you are doing the best thing for your business. (No one ever got fired for choosing IBM.) But wouldn’t it be worth getting a more in-depth, rewarding and value added service from an expert? Rather than talking to a Jack of All Trades (albeit a giant one) surely a Master of One can give you a better level of specialist attention and expertise, particularly if they sit within the “virtual shopping mall” that you create for your business users.

Our Geneus platform does just that – it integrates and complements existing technologies such as ERP systems and, at the same time, provides a best-in-class, bespoke eCatalogue solution. Using this specialist solution simplifies complex spend for our customers, allowing them to spend more of their valuable time on procurement strategy, rather than supporting purchasing activities.

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