Nine Spend Management Vendors to Watch in 2008 (Part 3)

Last week, I looked at six Spend Management vendors that I thought would shake things up in 2008 from a customer and solution perspective. Today, I will continue this analysis, investigating three more vendors who I think will make some noise -- maybe quiet noise when it comes to headlines, but certainly with customers -- in 2008. These are Ketera, SAP and Zycus.

Ketera -- I've not included Ketera on this list of nine Spend Management vendors to watch because they were the first On Demand eProcurement vendor (today, in this core area, they face On Demand competition from Ariba, ePlus, Coupa and many others). Nor did I choose to include Ketera because of their strong commitment to delivering Spend Management solutions with straightforward and simple user interfaces (Coupa, Oracle and others have made similar investments). No, the reason I named Ketera has little to do with core eProcurement. Rather, I believe Ketera has got a huge opportunity in 2008 to evangelize what I'll term "true" supplier relationship management (tSRM, for short). With their recently unveiled Supplier Connect solution, Ketera has bragging rights to the most integrated suite of capabilities that I've seen which confront the true lifecycle of managing suppliers, from up-front enablement through to performance management. If Ketera can succeed in getting a few banner reference accounts in the SAP, Ariba and Oracle eProcurement installed base, I have no doubt that others will follow. So here's to tSRM in 2008.

SAP -- Let me guess what you're thinking. How could SAP make my list? I knew SAP would be the most controversial pick of the nine vendors to watch in 2008. But I believe 2008 will be a critically important year for SAP as they accelerate the commercialization of their new spend analytics xAPP, not to mention pushing forward on the contract management and sourcing fronts (and readying their SRM 7.0 for their ramp-up program later in the year). In addition, SAP is not sitting still when it comes to understanding that software is only one component of Spend Management. They are quietly building out an ecosystem of outsourcing partners for their SRM platform (I know of at least three providers they're working with on this front). Plus, I have it on good authority that SAP's commitment to SRM runs all the way up the organization with true management-level interest in the solution area. Granted, the beginning of 2008 could prove rocky for SAP on the Spend Management front as the sales force attempts to figure out what to push -- SRM 6.0 is not an option, of course -- but I suspect their commercial traction from new -- and partner -- solutions will only build throughout the year and into 2009.

Zycus -- I got a call the other day from a market research company who clearly appeared to be conducting an awareness poll about Zycus. When the researcher asked me what were the top Spend Management vendors that came to mind in the market, I did not name the Indian-based vendor in question (they've been too focused historically in my book on just two areas). But as I alluded to in my ProcureTech Live presentation late in 2007, Zycus is up to some pretty nifty things which should cause their footprint to grow materially in 2008 (listen to an archive of the presentation if you're curious to hear what they're up to). I reckon that if I get the same market research phone call later in 2008 that they'll definitely make the top list of Spend Management vendors that come to mind. But what will make Zycus stand out from the crowd? In my view, Zycus' commitment to putting data and insight -- not to mention analytics -- at the core of non-transactional Spend Management (i.e., everything but eProcurement) to drive better decision making is second to none.

- Jason Busch

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