Rearden Commerce: A Spend Management Blue Ocean

In the software world, true, commercially-viable innovation is rare. You can count on one hand the few companies every year that introduce a tremendous new innovation and survive long enough to thrive independently in the world market. In the Spend Management sector, the innovation path is paved with carcasses of past efforts that were certainly pioneering, but did not have sustainable commercial viability. Xporta, a pioneer in total landed cost management, and Hologix, a vendor that enabled item and attribute-based matching technology, are just two vendors buried in this Spend Management innovation graveyard. And lest anyone forget about Commerce One, the original marketplace pioneer, whose ideas live on the Ariba Supplier network and the dozen or so surviving exchanges and marketplaces.

Indeed, it's rare that a true innovative technology is also highly commercially relevant. It's easier to compete using traditional strategic tactics in a competitive market than to create and launch an entirely revolutionary concept. That's why there are so many vendors, for example, in the e-sourcing space where dozens of providers are now fighting over scraps, attempting to differentiate themselves based on features, functions, and price. This is a classic "Red Ocean Strategy" where vendors attack each other in a sea of bloodied waters. But a "Blue Ocean Strategy" is different. Blue oceans represent "untapped market space and the opportunity for highly profitable growth," according to the authors of the theory.

I believe that Rearden Commerce is one of the few Blue Ocean vendors in the Spend Management world. What makes Rearden revolutionary? I had the chance to demo the product earlier this week and was blown away with the potential. It is the first procurement product that frontline employees in an organization will actually look forward to using. And I'll even wager that most will not be able to imagine what life was like before it.

Rearden enables all employees in a company to better manage and integrate their basic services spend (e.g., travel, entertainment, web conferencing) into a portal that directly interfaces with Outlook, PDAs, and even phones. It's so incredibly easy to use and actually makes compliance fun! Well, almost. At the least, it makes it painless and more efficient than non-compliance. I can personally see how Rearden will shave minutes -- potentially hours -- off of administrative tasks that employees at all levels of an organization go through each day. In fact, it could someday become easier to use Rearden than to rely on a secretary (once the system is capable of populating expense reports in addition to calendars).

Rearden Commerce is really a personal services "concierge" in the most basic sense. And it's not just me drinking the Cool Aid. Bruce Richardson was incredibly positive on Rearden in a brief published last night that discusses why Google should buy Rearden. Rearden has even piqued the interest of USA Today.

Stay tuned. I'll continue to discuss Rearden Commerce in the coming weeks. I've not even begun to talk about the savings Rearden can enable!

-Jason Busch

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