Disruptive Trends and Technology: Top Spend Matters Posts of 2017

As Spend Matters’ year in review continues, we move on to the disruptive technologies and trends that made their mark on 2017. Today, we look at artificial intelligence, blockchain, new developments in contingent workforce technology and more.


Whatever your views on the online behemoth may be, when was the last time it couldn’t be said that Amazon had a successful and eventful year? In June, Amazon announced that it plans to purchase Whole Foods, and by summer’s end, the $13.7-billion acquisition was complete.

Spend Matters analysts Jason Busch and Pierre Mitchell were curious to see what the deal would mean for Amazon Business and the intersection of business and consumer buying. They shared their initial thoughts in 5 Quick and Crazy Ideas About What Amazon’s Acquisition of Whole Foods Means for the Intersection of B2B and B2C, predicting, among other things, a further “death of brands.”

Over on Spend Matters PRO, Mitchell wrote about Coupa’s Open Buy, on which the spend management provider worked with Amazon Business to develop. In Coupa’s Open Buy Solution with Amazon Business is a Game-Changer for Unified Catalog Management and Real Guided Buying, Mitchell examined how the solution works, how it differs from others and what the strategic implications are for the market.


If you’re a business looking for a boost on the stock market, change your name to include the word “blockchain.” That’s what the former Long Island Iced Tea Corp did. After rebranding itself as Long Blockchain Corp., its shares rose 289%.

While procurement technology companies are not pulling that trick (yet), blockchain is certainly on everyone’s radar. After all, here’s an exciting technology that is actually likely to prove disruptive and worth the hype. In May, Busch talked to Joe Fox, SAP Ariba’s senior vice president of business development and strategy, about how the company is approaching blockchain and which elements of the technology procurement should be most excited about. Check out the two-part interview below:

And if you’re unfamiliar with blockchain, check out Blockchain Technology and the Reformation of Procurement as We Know It, written by GEP’s Thomas Cherian.

New Talent Platforms

We can’t neglect to mention news in the contingent workforce technology market, what with the rapid growth and evolution of the gig economy. One company in particular that impressed Andrew Karpie, Spend Matters’ resident expert in this area, was Hired. After making a visit to the company’s San Francisco headquarters, Karpie wrote Hired: A Next-Generation, Platform-Based Staffing Supplier?, in which he gave an overview of what the platform does, what it has in common with staffing firms and where its capabilities exceed the traditional staffing supplier model.

Another company that caught Karpie’s attention this year was Genesys Talent. In Innovative Talent Sourcing Firm Genesys Talent Adds AI to the Mix with PREDICte, Karpie talked to the Genesys team to get more insight into PREDICTe, an AI-based set of capabilities for building and creating talent clouds.

For Spend Matters PRO subscribers, Karpie put together A User’s Guide to the Gig Economy for Procurement Practitioners, which offers advice on how practitioners can make the gig economy work for them.

Artificial Intelligence

While few things fire up the imagination like artificial intelligence, the fact is that developments in this technology have been stalling somewhat, due to a lack of experts in the area. Yes, there is indeed a shortage of human intelligence on artificial intelligence, even if there’s no shortage of hype.

Separating hype from reality was the aim and title of a post on the rise of AI in procurement that Keelvar chief executive Alan Holland wrote earlier this year. “Some crazy extrapolations are made when the boundaries of possibilities are poorly understood,” Holland wrote. “Marketers can sometime over-promise or make mistakes about which challenges are reasonable and which are still out of reach.”

Also don’t miss these AI-related posts that were highly read this year:

SAP Ariba

Five years ago, Spend Matters published a post titled “Ariba Doesn’t Have Customers, It Has Prisoners” concerning the solution provider’s supplier fees. The response from our readers was forceful and sustained (the flow of comments has yet to cease). But things do change. Analysts Jason Busch and Pierre Mitchell wrote a follow-up post a couple weeks ago, No More Ariba Network Prisoners: 75,000 Suppliers (and Counting) are Transacting for Free.