Ariba Supplier Network Alternatives: Ketera/Rearden (Part 1)

This post is part of a Spend Matters series looking at Ariba Supplier Network alternatives. We will cover each Ariba supplier network alternative beginning with each provider's basic background in the area and then their solution approach and Ariba/third party systems integration. Finally, we will provide our own summary and analysis of the provider's overall capabilities.

Ketera was recently acquired by Rearden Commerce (for more information on this news, please see our coverage: here and here). Before the acquisition, however, Ketera submitted a response last quarter to Spend Matters regarding our survey asking for specific capabilities and background on their supplier network capabilities. Ketera, which is now operating as part of the Rearden portfolio of offerings, is a viable P2P solutions provider in its own right, and perhaps one with the most supplier friendly (and focused) vision on the market. An this despite its relatively small P2P / network revenue size and slow P2P growth in recent years prior to the Rearden acquisition.

Ketera positions its network as bringing together buying organizations and their suppliers to improve business results for both. The network serves as a meeting point in between their source-to-pay offering for customers and a business community for suppliers. In their words, "It is a public community that contains both public and private trading circles and operates on a platform that was designed from the ground up to integrate seamlessly with existing P2P infrastructure." Within the Ketera network environment, users (both buyers and suppliers) enjoy an intuitive user interface and controls that make the network interface feel more like a consumer application than a B2B one. Perhaps closest to Ariba in vision and spirit from a network philosophy perspective that incorporates P2P and supplier discovery, Ketera positions their network as improving the control buying organizations realize while "increasing revenue opportunities for network suppliers."

Ketera has been one of the only network providers (and P2P providers) that Spend Matters is aware of that leverages its aggregate transactional information to share with both buyer and supplier members. As of Q4 2010, Ketera claims to have over 100,000 buyers connected into the network and 40,000 active suppliers (over the past 90 days) on a transactional basis. On an annual basis, Ketera claims that 250,000 were active on the network, having conducted a transaction, and that all of these suppliers are fully integrated and onboarded into the Ketera system. In total, Ketera claims over 800,000 direct supplier members of the Ketera network.

From a connectivity perspective, Ketera suggests that it "supports integration to other networks though open APIs, but since direct integration can be completed in seconds and offers greater Network benefits, that is the preferred approach." From a document exchange and standards perspective, Ketera supports cXML, EDI, OCI (SAP open catalog interface), Oracle XML, OpenID, LDAP authentication, e-mail, and fax standards. Ketera does not track the number of documents flowing through its network, but on an overall dollar volume basis, the Ketera network saw $48.6 billion of activity in the past 12 months (as of Q4 2011).

Ketera's pricing model and philosophy is straightforward and easy to understand, at least in Spend Matters' view. They explain that their philosophy "is designed to offer simple low and no cost options for suppliers to participate." Moreover, suppliers do not have to meet any minimum price or transaction thresholds. Ketera offers the following two membership categories to suppliers:

Free Membership allows suppliers to build an online company profile to promote their business, load their products and services for online orders (no listing fees, 3.5% referral fee only on orders received), get unlimited automated lead alerts in their category when relevant buyer inquires (RFPs, RFIs, and RFQs) are published, and to respond to up to three buyer inquires without any per transaction fees.

Premier Membership (annual subscription -- $24.99 per month) allows suppliers to reply to unlimited POs and buyer inquires (RFPs, RFIs, and RFQs) without any per transaction fees, receive preferred placement in search results, become eligible for rotation into our Featured Supplier listing on the Ketera Network homepage, and receive discounted rates on Network advertising. Ketera suggests that "many of their suppliers receive benefits of Premier membership through the sponsorship of a Ketera Network enterprise buyer". In other words, Ketera buying customers have the opportunity to offset supplier fees directly.

Please note that with the Rearden acquisition, these models and rates might change at some point in time.

Stay tuned as we continue our analysis of Ketera's supplier network capabilities.

- Jason Busch

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