Akoya, an upstart analytics vendor that analyzes feature-level CAD information to help procurement and engineering organizations conduct top-down "should-costing" efforts to understand how individual design features in a part impact total cost, is finally getting some media play. Earlier this month, Industry Week profiled the vendor's approach to direct materials spend analytics. The article describes how "Akoya's software is able to take input from [a] company's existing files and, through regression analysis, identify pricing and cost trends as they relate to part configurations. Simply put, Akoya's solution can quickly compare the characteristics of thousands of parts with the assumption that similar characteristics should have similar costs." Neat stuff, but my question is this: might this type of approach ultimately become the bridge between the procurement and design functions? In other words, are solutions like this the common denominator between design and procurement, enabling category managers to impact design decisions before cost is engineered into a product? We'll see, but this is a very early market, and a lot could happen. But I like where it's headed. If you're curious about other players as well, check out Apriori, another next-generation analytics and design vendor.