A Look at Emptoris: Forrester/Duncan Jones’ View

Usually analysts are extremely constrained in the language they put in research reports. Quite often, editors at the major firms do their best to take away any color when reviewing software products or examining in comparative terms. But when you get an analyst in a more free-form blog format, what comes out is often far more instructive -- and in the case of Forrester's Duncan Jones, equally entertaining at the same time. Consider a recent piece he wrote covering Emptoris' annual European customer conference last month. In it, Ducan shares a number of observations worth repeating. Among them:

  • "All the speakers were procurement professionals in supposedly SAP-shops, so why had they chosen Emptoris over SAP's sourcing and CLM products? The consistent answer was that, while their IT colleagues did indeed pressure them to go for SAP, they decided that the benefit to them of Emptoris' superior functionality outweighed the benefits to IT of OEM integration and technology standardization."
  • "Indeed, Emptoris has further reduced those IT benefits by signing a deal with the Business Objects team to use their product as the embedded reporting tool within Emptoris' solution, so SAP can no longer use BO as a differentiator. No doubt I'll hear a different story at the SAP Insider event in Paris next week, at which I'm speaking (if I don't get burnt as a heretic beforehand). Hopefully there will be SAP eSourcing customers there with equally successful projects, matching the Emptoris customers' adoption and savings. And hopefully the Red Sox will have won a game by then."
  • Regarding integration: "Linking 20 different ERP instances with a single sourcing suite is a data harmonization problem, not a technical one. OEM integration may help a bit, but insufficient to offset any (alleged) functional deficiencies in the OEM's other products. AngloAmerican presented a great example at the Emptoris event, describing how they used SAP MDM and PI technology to link Emptoris CLM and Spend Analysis with multiple ERP back-end instances."

In short, Duncan makes the argument that technology standardization may be overrated. Personally, I believe that until SAP and Oracle make the transition to becoming information companies that put data and analytics -- including cross-company, cross-system aggregate intelligence -- at the core as an embedded part of enabling business applications and back-office financials, that we'll continue to see best of breed providers like Emptoris overcome the "standardization" argument any day of the week with their own examples of often complicated and powerful integration war stories.

For other another view on the Emptoris European customer event, check out what Peter Smith had to say about it over on Spend Matters UK/Europe.

Jason Busch

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