As many of you already probably saw in the news this morning, Oracle finally announced its long-rumored purchase of Siebel. The Siebel deal, from a size and customer impact perspective, certainly puts it in the "blockbuster" category of acquisitions. But dig below the surface, and I believe the greater symbolism of the deal is a sign of rapid consolidation in the stagnant, traditional CRM market (despite Siebel’s forays into newer, growing segments, such as On-demand and consulting).
In contrast, I believe that the Spend Management market is still in its early years, despite the mopping up of a few smaller players and key technologies in the past year. Yes, as I've argued here in the past, we will see consolidation among Spend Management arms dealers (and even mercenary soldiers). But I believe that there's still plenty of room for innovation and growth, for large and small vendors alike.
All the numbers that I’ve seen suggest that innovation and growth in the Spend Management market is alive and well -- and that investors are wiling to put new money on the table. Just last month, Akoya, a provider of direct materials purchasing analytics solutions, closed on a round of financing. Emptoris, Procuri, Verticalnet, and others have also been able to raise additional funds recently, if my memory serves.
But in my book, innovation is not just about whether venture capitalists and investors are willing to invest in an idea or sector. Innovation is about enhancing the way users and customers of Spend Management applications, information, and services do business, reducing costs, creating leverage, and increasing worth.
To highlight this innovation, every week or two this fall I will be posting a blog that highlights a new or emerging Spend Management vendor that has taken a novel approach to creating new value in the market. I won’t be passing judgment on the vendor's long-term prospects or even if its claimed capabilities are real today (you can turn to analyst firms like AMR and Aberdeen for that). No, each post will call attention to Spend Management innovation for innovation's sake -- to prove to the world that the Spend Management market is in its early years, and that the best is still to come.