Such ultimatums may not seem surprising from companies such as Computer Science Corporation, the global IT consultancy and outsourcing company, but its demand for on-line innovation does not simply lie in its familiarity with the computer world.
In fact, the explosive growth experienced by IT companies means that only the very latest cutting-edge technology can provide adequate purchasing tools and management information.
'This is a fast growing, highly pressured organisation where we have to be able to drop everything at the drop of a hat to serve our customers, wherever they are in the world,' said Deborah Major, CSC's procurement manager.
She is responsible for CSC's pan-European daily rental spend - some €820,000 per year - as well as its UK fleet, and can be called upon to source cars for consultancy teams anywhere in Europe at a moment's notice.
The company operates a global daily rental contract with Avis Inc and Avis Europe, in which CSC national operations negotiate locally in their domestic markets before feeding the details into the United States, where the final deal is struck.
The contract retains the flexibility, however, to address local competitive factors. Recently a competitor to Avis in France offered better national rates than those available under CSC's global arrangement, and Major was responsible for negotiating with Avis to ensure it matched the improved terms.
In future, she can see suppliers carrying out this type of benchmarking test themselves on behalf of their customers, with a contractual guarantee that they will always match the cheapest rate. This is already happening in the mobile telephone market, where a proliferation of tariffs makes it difficult for corporate customers to continually ensure that they are enjoying the best terms available. But modern procurement practices are not all about price, and while praising Avis's level of service and network coverage, Major said 'there are companies coming up fast, such as Budget.'
Fortunately from a procurement perspective, car hire is not as emotive as a company car, and CSC is happy to devolve reservations to individual managers within the business, monitoring that they operate within the framework of the corporate policy.
'The people we employ would question anything excessive, but we also believe in the empowerment of staff,' said Major.
Staff at CSC are already working on pilot projects with mobile phones that have internet access, enabling them to book flights and hotels online from wherever they are in the world, and it will not be long before such facilities are extended to car hire.
'Everything will be done over the internet, be it an extranet or intranet,' said Major. 'The future is on the keyboard for everything.' (April 2000)