If the conference circuit is still a good indicator of what is hot in the industry, then supplier relationship management (SRM) software may finally have come of age.
In October, almost three years since the three-letter acronym was unleashed on a weary, post-emarketplace world, executives at SAP gathered in Berlin for the software company’s first ever SRM event.
Hundreds of customers from across Europe converged on the conference to swap their experiences, make new contacts and learn more about the latest incarnation of the German company’s ‘mySAP SRM’ suite, which began shipping in the summer.
Delegates heard how the third and newest generation of the technology will enable them to hold live auctions with potential suppliers and accept bids in real time.
Other highlights of the release include : an adaptive user interface; content consolidation capabilities that are embedded within SAP’s new Collaborative Master Data Management module; enhanced procurement features; and a supplier portal.
For SAP, SRM offers the opportunity to try to squeeze more money from its installed base. One early customer win, German manufacturer of catering and medical equipment, Blanco,is a case in point. A long-term SAP customer, it rolled out SAP’s R/3 suite in the mid-1990s, followed by its customer relationship management software and then SRM.
Demand for SRM software is growing fast, say analysts. The largest 2,000 companies in the US spent between $20 billion and $30 billion on manual sourcing, procurement and supplier management in 2002, according to the Meta Group.
Of that, less than $300 million was spent on SRM software and Meta expects the market to grow tenfold over the next five years.
Given that, expect conferences dealing specifically with SRM to be a permanent feature of the years ahead.