Today, Ketera is quietly launching a new E-Sourcing product that aims to challenge the status quo in the sector with outrageously low price points and decent functionality. While I'll get to the pricing in a minute, let's just say that the cost should be a non-issue and Ketera will even accept plastic. That's right. You'll be able to pay with your credit card. The product formally replaces Ketera's partnership with Iasta (it previously re-sold a private label verison of the Iasta product). While Ketera's new, home-grown solution lacks some of the advanced features of Iasta, Ariba, BravoSolution and Emptoris such as project management and optimization, it does have a decent set of capabilities. For example, the product includes event and bid creation wizards and the ability to create and re-use templates. It also has some fairly sophisticated reverse auction capabilities such as weighting and scoring as well as a number of configurable market feedback mechanisms. Dashboards even provide specific views for different stakeholders in the process. In Ketera's words, the product has functionality that should meet the needs of "80% of the market."
Outside of pricing, what is most interesting about the product is its close ties to the Ketera Supplier Network which allows users to access over 40,000 suppliers. Granted, this number is tiny relative to the number of suppliers you can find in supplier directories, but it's a start nonetheless. At this point in time, there are no market feedback mechanisms like MFG.com to have the community rank and rate suppliers, but I suspect Ketera will get there in future releases. From a UI standpoint, the application appears easy to use. I asked for a username and password and have yet to receive one, but I did look at a number of screen shots. What will surprise people is how straightforward the application is and the relative depth of such capabilities as bid graphs and bid analysis given the price points.
So what about that pricing, you ask? Ketera is offering a choice of three plans for their Sourcing product, all of which cost less than a typical consultant would charge for a day of work. In other words, I’m guessing that cost will be a non-issue for companies that make the decision to give the product a shot. The basic plan which costs $39.99 per month for 12 months provides unlimited RFX capability and 6 reverse auctions per year. The advanced plan includes unlimited RFX capability and 12 reverse auctions per year and will set you back $59.99 per month. Or why not go for the professional plan for $99.99 per month and gain access to unlimited RFX capability and 24 reverse auctions in a year.
As I mentioned earlier in this post, I've not had a chance to play around with the tool yet. I will in the coming weeks when I'm back from vacation. I'll withhold judgment until then to see how the application stacks up to others, but given the low price-points, it's hard to imagine how companies which have yet to run reverse auctions or bring an RFX process online can go wrong by trying out Ketera's offering. What about others already using another sourcing platform or tool? I'd wait to see what Spend Matters, AMR and others have to say about it after we've reviewed the product.
- Jason Busch