The Absolute way for firms to buy efficiently

By Patrick Anderson
PBN Staff Writer

Procurement deals between Global 2,000 companies and their suppliers can be worth hundreds of millions of dollars and are increasingly fulfilled through software from firms such as Oracle and SAP. More

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TECHNOLOGY

The Absolute way for firms to buy efficiently

PBN PHOTO/RUPERT WHITELEY
ABSOLUTE SUCCESS: Kevin Wilbur, president and founder of Absolute Commerce, is putting more than a decade of executive-level experience in e-procurement to work at his startup.

By Patrick Anderson
PBN Staff Writer

Posted 2/18/13

Procurement deals between Global 2,000 companies and their suppliers can be worth hundreds of millions of dollars and are increasingly fulfilled through software from firms such as Oracle and SAP.

But according to Kevin Wilbur, president and founder of Absolute Commerce, a Providence procurement-technology startup, as many as 74 percent of e-procurement systems do not bring back a return on investment for the company.

When the electronic systems don’t work as efficiently as they should, workers and office managers buy retail, negating the bulk-purchase discounts the company negotiated for.

With Absolute Commerce, Wilbur hopes to change that by bringing real-time merchandise and price data for business materials to the leading e-procurement systems.

“The piece that is missing right now is real-time connection between procurement and what suppliers offer,” Wilbur said.

Absolute Commerce last month raised $250,000 in financing from the state-backed Slater Technology Fund to scale up operations and release a beta version of their system later this year.

It’s a significant bet for Rhode Island’s public-venture capital firm on a company that just formed a month ago.

But Wilbur’s decade-plus, executive-level experience on both the customer and network side of e-procurement make Absolute more than your usual startup.

“It is a treat at the Slater Fund to work with someone who has that level of deep domain expertise,” said Slater Managing Partner Thorne Sparkman. “[Wilbur] has been implementing these solutions for a decade with the biggest firms in the U.S. It takes someone with that experience to find the Achilles’ heel of a system.”

The Achilles’ heel of current e-procurement systems, according to Wilbur, is that they often aren’t updated fast enough or with the proper details for employees to use them effectively.

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