Hubwoo and SAP Look Forward — Which Dog is Wagging Which Tail? (Part 3)

Please click here for the initial posts in this series: Part 1 and Part 2.

When Hubwoo first started hosting SAP solutions, one might have dismissed the move simply as becoming what used to be known as an "ASP" before SaaS lingo entered the procurement technology equation. But as Hubwoo's strategy has evolved, it's become clear they have become a much more strategic partner to SAP in delivering multi-tenant, single instance cloud solutions with unique capabilities including a master data approach that links different SAP products and greatly simplifies integration efforts required on a customer site. Of course the real threat Hubwoo makes to the market in this case is not against SAP competitors like Ariba, but rather the SAP consulting and SI ecosystem who used to make a fortune off of one-off deployments and integration projects that Hubwoo is now increasingly offering out of the box for a fraction of the cost and with significantly reduced implementation risk (of course there are limitations with any type of more vanilla deployment strategy as well -- just ask Ariba customers considering the transition from custom deployments of Buyer to SaaS P2P). However, the proposition of putting a box around any type of SAP transactional system deployment -- even with caveats -- is most certainly appealing for those with integration/implementation fee fever from past ERP projects that shot into the fee stratosphere.

From an integration perspective, Hubwoo positioned the shift in their strategy at their recent customer forum from just enabling system-to-system integration to a model that embraces the broader syndication and mastering of content. For example, Hubwoo's multi-tenant cloud version of SAP's sourcing and contract management capabilities can directly integrate with SAP ECC (i.e., ERP instance) for information regarding RFQs, materials, awards (POs), awards (contracts) and master agreements to flow back and forth and populate/update the other system. The theme here (if you have not picked up on it directly) is seamless master data orchestration between the cloud and behind the firewall SAP ERP (and other business application) deployments. Certainly there is some marketing spin to this, but the vision is sound.

As another example of this data syndication capability, master agreements and agreements contained within an SRM central repository can flow back and forth between Hubwoo's multi-tenant cloud contract management instance (in SAP Sourcing 7) and their latest eBuy (i.e., SRM 7) solution. In the future, Hubwoo is planning additional master data syndications including linkages between eBuy (SRM) and their own content management capability to dynamically update information, direct contract management to content management syndication to create catalogs from contracts as well as SAP ECC ABAP support for non-IDOC based master data.

Looking toward the near future, Hubwoo is planning a number of additional enhancements in 2011. These include new risk KPIs in their spend analysis toolset (SAP Spend Performance Management) as well as the continued roll-out of the latest version of eBuy (e.g., SAP SRM 7.0) and related enhancements to workflows, contracts and Netweaver portal integration. For supplier enablement (including invoicing) and catalog management, 2011 enhancements call for increased search capability, increased master data exchange processes (many outlined above), broader support for services procurement (SOW) and greater visibility into invoice processes and status updates (as well as meeting increased local regulatory requirements).

Moving into 2012, Hubwoo plans to deploy the next generation of SAP spend analytics, including offering contract hierarchy analysis and what-if modeling capability. In 2013, Hubwoo will further enhance this offering with additional predictive analytics, new integration support and the adoption of the SAP in-memory (HANA) database technology. For sourcing in 2012 and 2013, Hubwoo will roll out and support Version 7 and Version 9, respectively. On the P2P front, 2012 will bring continued focus on enhancing the user interface, enhanced search, the ability to view price trending history, the integration of risk information into vendor/catalog profiles, dynamic discount capabilities as well as greater mobile support. In 2013, additional enhancements will include closer P2P, contract management and supplier management linkages plus a complete invoice automation solution beyond just foundational electronic invoicing for "paperless" operations.

Without question, Hubwoo and SAP are headed down quite a unique partnership road together. Even though it can sometimes be hard to tell which tail is wagging which dog in this relationship, it's clear these are two procurement pooches that are joined at the spend management hip. Despite SAP's embrace of a range of additional BPO partners (e.g., CapGemini, Infosys, Bristlecone) across the procurement spectrum, it's clear Hubwoo is as closely linked with SAP's product management and development organization as any SAP partner in the broader market today.

- Jason Busch

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