But, as with the spend management solutions that have transformed Procurement, successfully implementing cloud-based applications requires careful planning and lots of change management. It also takes a realistic view of what they can and cannot do.


Before leaping into the Cloud, Procurement leaders need to have a clear vision of where they want to go. And they need to see Cloud computing for what it is; an enabler, not the ultimate solution, to that vision.  To be successful, they must develop a roadmap through which they can:


1) Get connected – It’s no longer enough to assemble a supply chain and execute transactions. The future of business commerce will be driven through networks that facilitate true collaboration around key commerce processes both internally and externally, with employees, customers and suppliers. Create one as a vehicle to share best practices with stake-holders, and use the connections to react more quickly to market opportunities.


2) Be efficient – Cost savings programs are critical. But true value comes from automating tactical, transactional work to drive greater efficiency and productivity. Leveraging software solutions delivered in the cloud can get these automated processes up and running quickly.


3) Stay informed – In today’s volatile and competitive environment, information is vital to survival. But it’s not just about research and data. To gain and maintain competitive advantage, companies need to participate in communities that deliver market insights and best practices they can leverage to fuel optimal performance and decisions.


Business commerce is hard. But if history is any indication, companies that embrace creative new solutions and look outward for insights, can manage the challenges and position themselves for the next wave of growth and successfully ride it—Procurement can show them the way.


More Forecast for Procurement in 2011:

Pt. 1: Out with the Old

Pt. 2: Shaking Things Up... Again

Pt. 3: Reaching for the Cloud


This piece also posted at the Sourcing Interest Group


Kevin Costello is president of Ariba Inc., a leading provider of cloud-based collaborative business commerce solutions.