Nine Spend Management Vendors to Watch in 2008 (Part 1)

Even though I plan on offering up a more detailed look at Spend Management technology market makers and market shapers on these pages in a series of posts starting this month, I thought in the spirit of getting something out early in the New Year, that I would do a quick-hit three-part post on nine Spend Management Vendors to Watch in 2008. Without further adieu, if I were to put my dollars on who will shake things up this year -- perhaps not in the headlines, but certainly in the market -- let me suggest that Aravo, Ariba, BIQ, Coupa, CVM Solutions, Emptoris, Ketera, SAP and Zycus will be names to watch for a number of reasons. Today, I'll tackle the first three on my list.

Ariba -- In the past few years, Ariba has squandered tremendous potential in the market to really shake things up. Rather than push the innovation edge, they've taken a conservative management approach that has helped them to avoid disappointing Wall Street. But things are really changing on the product and marketing side at the vendor. New faces -- and hence new ideas -- are making their way into the management ranks. I happen to believe that these folks really understand the underlying asset and potential of the Ariba Supplier Network (ASN) among other areas. And they also have an appreciation for the role of content, market intelligence and community in the context of software and services delivery -- and also as stand-alone solutions. So mark my words: 2008 will be a year Ariba finally steps out from its conservative Brooks Brothers suit and puts on some more exciting duds. That is, if they're not acquired by Oracle or IBM (both of which would be a good fit, though Oracle would likely spin off or sell the services business).

Aravo -- Along with European upstart EcoVadis, Aravo is almost singlehandedly burnishing the sustainability torch. By offering real, stand-alone solution offerings that can help procurement and supply chain organizations to transform their sustainability practices, Aravo is one step ahead of many others attempting to jump on the sustainability bandwagon without having focused offerings available in the field. Already today, they have capabilities that not only enable companies to manage green sourcing and procurement initiatives but also track specific areas such as their extended supply chain carbon footprint, monitor for toxic substances, and manage specific environmental compliance programs. And that's just the beginning. Even though in my youth, I was never been one to carry the eco-torch myself -- in university, I distinctly remember holding anti-environmental rallies to put the lefty nutcases in their place -- I firmly believe that sustainability procurement practices will become as mainstream as competitive negotiations in the near future. And Aravo is the provider must likely to trumpet this movement and cause in 2008. Let's hope that their effort is not all for naught giving a looming economic downturn, and that companies see through emerging fiscal challenges to make investments in sustainable practices.

BIQ -- Without question, BIQ is the one Spend Management provider who has a solution that is faster, better, cheaper and fundamentally different than the rest of the pack. In fact, perhaps one of the reasons that BIQ is quietly building traction with a range of organizations who've used other spend analysis solutions in the past but have switched -- or complemented their existing investments -- with BIQ is because they understand that analysis matters Über Alles when it comes to spend visibility investments. Whether you're just getting started with spend visibility -- or any type of compliance or related procurement analysis -- you owe it to yourself to demo what BIQ has to offer. And when you do so, you'll quickly discover the difference that their approach -- which relies on a custom OLAP engine -- can make. For example, imagine the ability to easily create disposable cubes for the on-the-fly investigations and to enable the entire analysis process by carrying out real-time changes to hierarchies and rules. For the true "power" analyst in all of us, BIQ is like stepping out of an overbuilt Range Rover that spends too much time in the shop -- and never sees the off road for which it was intended -- into a bullet proof Quattro Audi S4 which is nearly three times as quick and just as stable on the road as on the track (and cheaper to boot).

- Jason Busch

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