How marketing is killing Integrated Business planning

Not too long ago I sat down with a software vendor. He showed me a very interesting demand and promotional planning tool. It was user-friendly, collaborative with workflows and well integrated financially. Then it happened:

‘This is our Integrated Business Planning tool’, he said. I said; ‘That’s not IBP, or at least, I have a different definition’. After a longer chat he came around and said; ‘We have to call this IBP from our marketing department’. Even more recently I got invited in by a software vendor who wanted to sell a Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) solution to an enormous client, but at first didn’t have the in-house expertise to explain the client what S&OP is. That same vendor is talking about S&OP like it’s their day to day business.

It was last week that my friend – an IBP manager – called me in the morning just after he joined a breakfast of one of the world’s biggest analyst companies. His words were literally; ‘I’m sick and tired of this sh*t’. The same old process stories and motherhood statements on strategy deployment and financial integration are nice for GM’s or CEO’s that don’t get IBP. They are not of value any more for practitioners and people with expertise who want to know; how are we going to do this?

Only 3 years ago you could go on LinkedIn and easily find some good content. Now a lot of the content is published by Marketing Managers, some coming straight out of university. Content marketing is not done for the love of the content, to develop mastery, or to help and educate people, it is done to get business! Again, the sole purpose of content marketing is to get business.

One result is that finding good content has become like finding a needle in a haystack. There are indeed some businesses with a very good content marketing strategy and quality content. But only a few. The amount of whitepapers and e-books published on S&OP or Integrated Business Planning with shallow depth or nothing new to mentioned is so disheartening that many practitioners stop looking at them at all.

Another result is that S&OP practitioners are left behind confused. In my last S&OP survey, 48% of practitioners think there is a difference between S&OP and IBP, 32% think there is no difference and a whopping 20% answered ‘don’t know’. This might be the marketing goal as within the vacuum of confusion you can to sell your product as there is no real reference and comparison possible.

S&OP innovation

Well…software vendors, consultancy and analyst marketeers and conference content marketeers. S&OP practitioners see right through this and have enough of this.  How do I know?

In my yearly survey, the S&OP pulse check 2015:

  • 64% of respondents think there is not enough coordinated innovation in S&OP processes
  • 62% think there is not enough innovation in S&OP systems
  • 71% think we need more industry standards around S&OP

The lack of standards and definitions has left the door wide open for anybody to call their solution S&OP or IBP. This has created an enormous amount of garbage with S&OP or IBP in the title. Practitioners have spoken now and called the bluff. They tell us that there is not enough innovation in either S&OP processes or systems and that we’re in desperate need for some industry standards.

Let’s start listening to them and help them with their real needs!

6 thoughts on “How marketing is killing Integrated Business planning

  1. Hi Niels, I love your passion. If your friend is looking for the “how” as a practioner please refer him to our public education workshop “Integrated Business Planning in Practice”. As you know this covers the IBP process in detail and the “how to sucessfully implement” piece as well. At Oliver Wight we are all IBP Practioners, everyone has played a senior role in implementing S&OP or IBP while in industry. We are passionate about sharing our experiences both good and bad with our clients and participants at our public education workshops.

  2. Thanks Stuart,
    just a tiny bit of passion indeed 🙂

    I know OW got experience and passion. You also have the authority and reach to make a stand and call out some of the IBP ‘bluff’ out there. That’s part of your role as a thought leader I would say.

    Yes, that means stepping on some people and business toes indeed. And yes, that might come back at you in one business deal one day. It also means staying true to what you have developed in the first place and what is the core of your business.

    Taking a stand will be good for the whole planning community and in the long run for the OW business I’m sure.


  3. Hi Niels, great article once again. Your friends comments resonate with me. Supply Chain is not synonymous with S&OP! The old view of the S&OP process and the core benefits/outputs are now managed all within the modern day Supply Review meeting. IBP is MUCH broader than this encompassing the entire business’s ability to cross functionally plan and deploy Its strategy. We need to think bigger than Supply chain & S&OP and understand how we can progress the Integrated Business Planning process to improve and drive the front end of the business, not only the Supply Chain.

  4. Thanks Ryan,
    There is indeed a supply chain bias in the IBP conversation. This is understandable as that’s where it originated. It is time however to start thinking and talking beyond that. The supply chain bias is holding the development of IBP back.


  5. Niels,

    Great article, as usual. As the Marketing Manager at River Logic, I’m likely guilty of allowing less-than-compelling content to occasionally be published on our blog (much less so for white papers, e-books and case studies, though, if at all). Qualifier: I’ve only been in the industry for 5 months and have absolutely no background in it. What advice can you offer someone like me to prevent this problem? “The amount of white papers and e-books published on S&OP or Integrated Business Planning with shallow depth or nothing new to mentioned is so disheartening that many practitioners stop looking at them at all.” Perhaps the solution is presenting the content in a different way, e.g. providing practitioners w/ templates rather than white papers. Would love to get your thoughts on making more in-depth yet standardized content for S&OP practitioners.

  6. The answer is simple; ‘Have a great content marketing strategy’

    As marketer you manage the content vision, strategy and process, rather than writing or knowing all the stuff yourself.

    A friend of my is content marketer and he runs a very successful news room. He has journalists working for him as editors and gets input form many thoughtleaders. His aim is to compete for the reader with newspapers, magazines and television, rather than just spit out biased content to get linkbacks or send a PR to announce the 27th useless whitepaper.

    I’m not a great fan of pure content marketing as it is all about getting business, rather then about the love for the content. However I see examples in several industries I can appreciate and that do provide great content.

    So my tip? Start with a vision to be the best offer for the reader in whatever industry, content or keywords you’re working in.

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