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.
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!