Bristlecone and Hubwoo — Two SAP Ecosystem Rivals Decide to Work Together (Part 2)

In the first post in this series examining the recently announced partnership between Bristlecone and Hubwoo, I explored a number of background elements that led to the partnership as well as some of its highlights. In today's installment, I will continue the analysis, offering specific details about the relative solution capabilities of each partners. For those who are just coming up to speed on the relationship between Bristlecone and Hubwoo, the recently announced partnership represents a joint effort between two providers that work extensively in the SAP procurement ecosystem.

From a Bristlecone perspective, customers will now have available to them a multi-tenant deployment model for a range of SAP solutions (e.g., SRM, E-Sourcing, CLM, etc.) The relationship will also provide regional on-the-ground capabilities in Europe and Latin America to Bristlecone customers. But perhaps most important of all, Bristlecone customers will gain access to the solution enhancements that Hubwoo has built around SAP SRM, including a supplier network (for initial on-boarding as well as ongoing data/document exchange), catalog content management (including supplier self-service tools, an area where SAP MDM comes up woefully short) and invoice management/automation. It is Spend Matters' belief that given Bristlecone's own direct sales efforts, that more potential customers will be exposed to this SaaS variant of SAP SRM, providing additional competition to third-party options in the sector (e.g., Ariba, Coupa, etc.).

The Bristlecone partnership will enable Hubwoo customers to deploy SAP sourcing, spend analysis, contract management and procurement solutions in three ways: license/on-premise, license/hosted, single tenant subscription and multi-tenant subscription. Even though Hubwoo gains behind-the-firewall deployment expertise as part of the relationship (as well as single tenant hosting capabilities), Spend Matters believes that one of the real benefits for Hubwoo customers will be gaining access to Bristlecone's expertise in the spend visibility area. Bristlecone was a development partner of SAP for the Spend Performance Management solution. In addition, Hubwoo customers stand to gain access to Bristlecone's hybrid onshore/offshore delivery capabilities and its overall bench strength and implementation scale. From a Hubwoo corporate perspective, Bristlecone provides significantly more feet-on-the-sales-street in North America as well.

Overall, Spend Matters believes this partnership will provide the greatest benefit to SAP by more closely aligning the capabilities and relative strengths of two key partners in its Spend Management ecosystem. It will also benefit customers, who will gain access to greater solution breadth and flexibility, but potentially at the expense of not having two SAP partners compete against each other from a pricing perspective (in the limited areas of overlap they had before).

Still, for solutions, the relationship does little to address a number of the underlying shortcomings of SAP (especially in the core procurement area). If SAP ever does get around to building in additional capabilities into SRM while delivering solutions internally in a more flexible manner, the separate and joint value proposition for Hubwoo/Bristlecone will erode. However, SAP's historic glacial pace suggests that neither partner in this case has much to worry about.

Jason Busch

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