IBM sunsetting Emptoris signals the beginning of a new era for contract management specialists
Earlier this month IBM announced that it was to retire its Emptoris contract and sourcing supply management tool, but does that mean the death knell has sounded for contract management? After all, if IBM with all of its experience and resources can’t make it work, can anyone?
IBM acquired Emptoris in 2011, but after just six years it recently announced a deal that will see the technology giant foster a closer working relationship with SAP and migrate its Emptoris customers to the SAP Ariba platform. Although Emptoris customers will be supported for the next several years, there will be no product updates and the software is effectively no more. But rather than the demise of contract management, this signals it is best left to the specialists who operate in the arena. IBM is simply unloading a technology it didn’t create in-house and no longer has the inclination to develop. Instead, it will focus its attention on the fast-moving enterprise technology and services sector, leaving the specialists players to thrive and innovate in the market.
The future of contract management
With its exit, IBM leaves the contract management sector in a very healthy position. While Ariba and Emptoris are great sourcing and procurement technologies, they offer a vast array of features that, in reality, many organizations neither need nor want, but are paying for regardless. This can lead to customer dismay at investing in technology they are not using.
Additionally, Ariba and Emptoris have traditionally focused on the procurement side of contractual obligation and, while effective for the procurement department, they don’t have the specialist knowledge to cover the legal, HR or finance departmental contract management requirements. This means many organizations were paying for not just under-utilized technology, but also losing the advantages that cross organizational contract management can offer.
If IBM is encouraging customers to migrate over to SAP Ariba, why not take this opportunity to re-evaluate what your business really needs? Having already used Emptoris for a number of years, customers are by now experts in their contract management requirements. They are better equipped to make smarter decisions, and this time around will know exactly what they need to look for.
Migration or migraine?
Migration will undoubtedly be a high priority. IBM is encouraging customers to migrate over to Ariba, but without timeframes or cost implications, how are businesses to evaluate the longevity and value of yet another system? SAP is not, after all, known for its quick implementation times. Ensuring the right data is migrated in the right way to guarantee that value can be derived from the information is crucial. Exigent’s contract management system, Chameleon, has been specifically designed to be quickly and seamlessly integrated into a business. What’s more, we do the heavy lifting of the migration process for you, and assign highly qualified reviewers to ensure your migration project is successful.
Our contract experts and GCs know what data needs meta-tagging, how to conduct system uploads quickly and which data points should be included for any future litigation and risk management; and not just from procurement contracts, but from across the business.
While Emptoris and Ariba are focused on procurement, the data within HR, legal and finance contracts is also part of a portfolio that requires management and mining for valuable insights. Contracts are not just a risk portfolio that need managing, but can drive value to the bottom line.
Specialist contract management software, such as Chameleon, can actually help companies save money, while renegotiating contracts to help drive more revenue.
Opportunity for procurement, legal and finance to collaborate
This raises another question: will Ariba help internal teams collaborate for interdepartmental advantages to the bottom line? As we mentioned, the focus on procurement means other departments may assume contract management is not within their remit. But IBM’s move gives procurement, legal and finance functions the opportunity to work together to meet shared business strategy. It’s worth considering a system that gives each team member access to shared information and insights, personalized reports and customizable data to help with board and senior commercial decisions.
Contract management is more than just procurement; it’s more than just a single storage repository where dumb data sits; and it’s more than just long implementation cycles and migration headaches. With today’s contract management, organizations leading the way in terms of Artificial Intelligence-powered e-discovery, contract optimization and ultimately helping empower smarter decision-making, companies such as Alexander Forbes and Hub International are already seeing the advantages with Exigent.
Contracts are the very DNA of business; they help create, maintain and run business relationships. As organizations transition through digital transformation, digitizing those contracts and mining them for the valuable data within will ensure life and growth in the contract management sector for many years to come.