With IBM’s acquisition of Emptoris the other shoe drops vis-à-vis the latter’s 2009 acquisition of Click Commerce or . . . will Jason Busch finally get what I was saying!

Posted on December 22, 2011


I had a lot more respect for you before this post. Seriously, you seem to dismiss the market dynamics of acquisitions as not consequential, referencing indirectly what I wrote. But in doing so, you’re actually showing a complete lack of knowledge of what happens after software acquisitions and their impact on customers!

comment by Jason Busch on my May 21st, 2009 post “Achieving Practical Outcomes to Complex Purchases at the Heart of the Emptoris Acquisition of Click Commerce” in which he questioned my enthusiasm for the company’s acquisition of Click Commerce

From calling Spend Intelligence Madison Avenue hype and a “shot of botox for the existing spend management space, to his having Deloitte’s Brian Umbenhauer as a guest expert contributor on his Spend Matters blog shortly after Marin County voted to stop an ongoing SAP project and seek a replacement solution, implicitly accepting that it wasted over $30 million on software and related implementation services from Deloitte Consulting, and most recently his condescending dismissal of WhyAbe while touting Ariba within the context of free e-Sourcing solution viability, Jason Busch’s questioning both my industry perspective and overall business acumen for applauding the Emptoris acquisition of Click Commerce back in 2009 should not have been surprising.

Spend Matters or Spend Miss . . . planning evening activities on the Titanic after it hit the iceberg

After all Busch and the other industry cronies that made up the “old boys network” had come to view themselves as being the bellwethers of purchasing market insight, and the gatekeepers of the hearts and minds of end user decision-makers.

For emerging players, genuflecting at the altar of these purported purveyors of influence was a required passage into the realms of what was once considered mainstream acceptance, with a thumbs up opening the door to untold success and riches, and a thumbs down relegating others to the back alleys of market acceptance.

Of course no one ever stopped to question the high rate of initiative failures during this period that collectively cost end users hundreds of millions of dollars.  Similar to the old fairy tale, it was as if no one wanted to tell the kings that they were naked in terms of having (or in this case not having) a true understanding of the market.

“Let me ask you: have you ever been through one (or more than one), have you purchased software on behalf of a company considering working with an acquired company (or the company doing the acquisition), and/or have you witnessed the amount of work required to integrate organizational efforts?”

When Jason made this comment in the Procurement Insights blog, there was a kind of arrogance that discounted the fact that I might be speaking from a vantage point of actual experience that provided the long range vision which recognized the possibility of today’s IBM acquisition of Emptoris.  While I want to assure you that back in 2009 I had no idea that IBM or for that matter any particular suitor would make a play for Emptoris based on the Click Commerce acquisition, my enthusiasm for the deal was directly related to what I had referred to as being a logical DNA expansion versus an Ariba-type evolution.  Specifically, and by bringing together the right mix of service expertise and solution offerings, Emptoris was putting itself in the position to achieve a positive outcome whether through a client base expansion or by becoming a significant acquisition target.

How Busch missed this obvious connection still surprises me but perhaps it has less to do with real market awareness and understanding, and more to do with the obfuscating sensibilities associated with his cosy relationships with vendor insiders.  Or to put it another way, in the new era of social media, no one blogger or group of industry pundits should view themselves as trendsetters and king makers in which our take on a particular situation is confined to an artificially contrived narrow field of players.

Today’s range of bona fide players is indeed wide and varied, with creditability no longer being tied to capitalization size or for that matter present install bases.

Until the old oligarchical guard understands this new reality, they are doomed to continue to ignore the WhyAbe’s of the world, or the impact of discontinuous innovations such as with spend management technologies, in favour of self-serving pontifications within an increasingly shrinking circle of influence, in which their observations are relegated to the “whatever they say, do the opposite” category.


Posted in: Commentary