Vinimaya — From Valuable Niche to Broader P2P Enabler? (Part 1)

Over the past five years, Vinimaya (see select past coverage: here and here) has come to represent a vendor that successfully remade itself in the wake of debuting technology that was originally developed for the consumer space, but actually found broader applicability to help companies manage and search distributed catalog, punch-out, website and related content in a B2B environment. Yet the company recently shared with Spend Matters a vision that extends beyond the valuable niche it served until recently, showing a handful of new solutions and new customer acquisition details suggesting that organizations are turning to the provider for more than simply solving catalog and content enablement challenges. In addition, our recent reference checks of two Vinimaya customers representing vastly different industries and buying environments also suggests that the company is delivering both hard- and soft-dollar ROI by further extending current content search, audit, analysis and compliance enterprise capabilities.

This multi-part post will serve to update our past coverage on Vinimaya's products, positioning, customer experience and overall fit within the broader marketplace. At its most basic, Vinimaya positions itself as creating a "portable" B2B marketplace "in the cloud". The word choice of portable is certainly appropriate, given Vinimaya's immediate ability to gather, present and compare real-time distributed information sets outside a company's four walls. And I guess one could argue for the "cloud" moniker as well. But neither phrase or description captures the depth of their capability in enabling companies to compare data stored behind the firewall plus punch-out information -- even punch-out information in a non-customized environment (i.e., just sitting out there on the web or at a site) -- and then conduct a transaction seamlessly in a structured P2P environment sitting on top of the requisitioning system of choice.

In fact, users could even get around the need for a requisitioning tool for Vinimaya in some past configurations we're aware of, but that's not the power of the tool. Besides its basic value proposition in the catalog and content management arena, Vinimaya is now going down the path of delivering a broader supplier information and analytical toolset designed to provide richer transactional analysis on items, users, vendors, etc. than nearly all P2P systems afford today (as perhaps the one exception to this statement, Coupa also captures and reports on transactions even outside of an indirect catalog environment -- in addition to within, like Vinimaya -- in a similar manner).

Having dispensed with the product and capability basics, it's now possible to examine all of the specific solution areas Vinimaya enables today. All of its customer relationships feature the SmartMarketplace product, which provides a framework for "search and shopping," as Vinimaya describes it. This includes the cross-site, cross-system Federated search, described previously. It also includes a hierarchical search-tree structure, an environment, allowing for item comparison (including side-by-side data and images), the ability to save a shopping cart (within Vinimaya -- not just SAP, Oracle, Ariba, etc.), and a rapid "Quick" ordering capability in the tool.

Users can, of course, use the tool to enable contingent purchasing scenarios (e.g., required bundles within a shopping cart) as well as more complex multi-vendor shopping carts. Other core features of the Vinimaya suite include the ability to load and manage local catalog content in a similar manner to other content management-specific tools. User profile management, P2P and ERP integration, ongoing catalog management, and stock room integration, as Vinimaya describes it, are also part of the core enabling solution.

From an ancillary standpoint, Vinimaya has rolled out three additional modules that it positions as "decision optimization" components of its broader, modular suite. These are SmartAudit, Smart RankAnalytics and SmartQuote. To date, Vinimaya's extended modules, which have only been available for less than twelve months, are already in use at over 20% of the vendor's installed base. In practice, most new customers are now opting to purchase the integrated package of capabilities (not just the foundation). These extended components in an auditing capability (SmartAudit) can ensure that punch-out suppliers are playing by the contracted rules and not changing pricing and terms. With this component, administrators can do audit reports on a periodic or one-time basis and also configure the system to do real-time checks at the point of search and shopping.

The power of SmartAudit comes into play most in real-time shopping environments. Not only does the tool restrict users from buying a price that's above a contracted amount, it can show the actual purchase price history of the item as well as price variation (including median, low and high prices, as well as the actual price in the current shopping cart). In addition, it shows the tolerance threshold administrators have set for the audit baseline plus the contract compliance tolerance percentage. In other words, it provides pure transparency for the buyer as to why they can't buy at that price. Moreover, the roadmap calls for the ability in this auditing context to make alternative recommendations based on equivalent pricing at other sites as well as potential promotional or periodic sales activities vendors may be running in the area.

Stay tuned as our analysis of Vinimaya continues.

To learn more about how tools like Vinimaya fit into the purchasing ecosystem as well as the role (and relative capabilities) of different vendors, we encourage you to register for and download our latest free Compass report in the area:

A Foundational Look at P2P Technologies

The report is part of our 2011-2012 Series: P2P and Working Capital--Bridging Technology & Collaboration to Drive Savings and Cash

Jason Busch

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