With Ketera, Will Rearden Prove a Viable P2P Competitor to Ariba, Basware, Coupa, SAP, Oracle, etc.?

See our initial coverage of Rearden's acquisition of Ketera here. One thing has been for sure in terms of Ketera in recent years, and that's the fact that few dispute whether the vendor has gotten enough at bats relative to competitors in the P2P and network enablement market to judge whether or not it can hold its own in the broader sector. Spend Matters has rarely seen Ketera in any new enterprise eProcurement, invoice management or network enablement deals on either side of the Atlantic in recent years and it's our hypothesis that much of the vendor's sustaining revenue has come from other areas. This appears true, despite company positioning that suggests it has entirely gone down the path of delivering a network-based business model. Spend Matters believes this situation brings opportunity to Rearden Commerce, Ketera's new owner, which has had a strong focus on select "personal services" category procurement revolving around travel in recent years.

With Ketera, the opportunity for Rearden is obviously significant given its existing distribution and reseller network with the likes of American Express and Chase. The SMB eProcurement and broader P2P marketplace is largely un-penetrated and Coupa's rapid growth through direct sales in the past 18 months with a more narrow but perhaps more user friendly offering than Ketera or anyone else suggests there's huge opportunity to reach small and mid-sized organizations through channels. Overnight, Ketera has gained over 100X the sales distribution capacity of Coupa. Of course this is not to say that Rearden's partners will have any idea how to sell a broader P2P and network connectivity suite relative to more focused travel and expense management offerings from the start, but I'm sure they'll learn fast. This means that Coupa, B-Pack, Ivalua, Proactis and other boutique P2P providers should pay close attention to how this deal, by exposing Ketera to Rearden's channels, could shake up the market.

On the other side of the spend coin, I think it's unlikely that the combination of Rearden and Ketera will have much impact on SAP and Oracle. Their entrenched customer relationships and Big 5 SI support structure are all but impenetrable for a subset of the market, especially the largest companies in the world that form the backbone of their user base. And given Basware's downstream strength in the invoice management, electronic invoice presentment payment (EIPP), and network connectivity areas -- where Ketera only has basic capabilities -- combined with their strong European presence, it's unlikely the Rearden acquisition will impact them much, if at all, at least in the initial twelve to eighteen months relative to others.

This leaves Ariba as the vendor potentially with the most to lose if Rearden pulls off a successful post-acquisition integration, especially as it attempts to position its P2P capabilities to a smaller Fortune 500 and large middle market audience. Ariba still has significant functional advantages relative to Ketera in certain areas, but given current pricing structures, they're also a more expensive (even before network fees are factored into the equation) and less user-friendly alternative than Rearden/Ketera. Moreover, Ariba almost completely lacks domestic P2P channel distribution and their P2P roll-outs often require significantly more configuration time for full deployment (typically measured in months, rather than weeks) relative to lower-cost competitors.

Rearden banking channels Chase and American Express, which also have their own EIPP and supply chain finance solutions competing with Ariba (the former with more success than the latter), will have every incentive to go head-to-head against Ariba with a broader Spend Management package once they begin to resell Ketera's P2P solutions alongside their own. But perhaps most important, Rearden can now lay claim to having an even broader Spend Management offering than Ariba, factoring in travel and solid expense management capabilities into the spend equation (Spend Matters believes Ariba punted on T&E long ago, despite keeping these capabilities on its price sheet).

In short, the P2P and supplier network market has just gotten a whole lot more interesting. Stay tuned for further Spend Matters analysis of the acquisition and what it means for current Ketera customers.

Jason Busch

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