In our coverage of Zycus' recent product enhancements in this series, we've focused primarily on the e-sourcing evolution of the vendor. We'll conclude our analysis in this area today and also share a preview of some of the capabilities of their other recently introduced solutions. It's our view that Zycus iSource and iOptimize tools and modules bring potential significant appeal to organizations at nearly all levels of sourcing sophistication. The ability to really quite elegantly manage potentially over 1000 lines items, leverage basic optimization to apply constraints and run, save and evaluate scenarios, have hundreds of individual qualifying questions and RFX components and over one hundred suppliers in a single event will appeal to those organizations looking for something a bit more powerful than what vendors like Oracle and Ariba can bring to the table (at varying levels, mind you).
Moreover, the ability to introduce fairly robust cost modeling capabilities for total cost models and supplier breakdowns -- that goes beyond the majority of competitors -- is a big plus as well. But where Zycus' ability really shines is not in the Feature 500 road race. Rather, it's the elegance and simplicity of application execution. To date, there's not been a "Coupa" of e-sourcing, a vendor combining significant and competitive capabilities, a different (and broader) perspective on the potential application of a toolset and a killer walk-up UI that just about anyone can take advantage of, even the more advanced features. Zycus is not yet this vendor for e-sourcing, but they're the closest we've seen.
For example, the three-step optimization process Zycus has created would reduce by at minimum 20 IQ points the degree of intellectual horsepower required to walk up to a sourcing toolset with greater bid solicitation flexibility, constraint applications and scenario building without training (in relation to basic e-sourcing) compared to competitors. Granted, the optimization toolset is not as powerful (yet) as the CombineNets, Bravos and Trade Extensions of the world -- not even close -- but that's not the point. Zycus' e-sourcing capability is about bringing sourcing power to the masses. Perhaps this is why, as Zycus told Spend Matters and the other analysts at their analyst day, "innovation and differentiation" in its solutions are lower level priorities compared to usability and cross-suite integration.
Still, the cross-suite capabilities are improving as well. Zycus' supplier management and supplier performance capabilities, for example, are a solid extension to sourcing (and for those looking for basic capabilities in these areas, could likely stand alone as well). Still, the ability to closely link sourcing with supplier performance, regulatory compliance, sourcing/supplier governance and broader collaboration across a single suite of capabilities is what stands out. SAP is likely closest in this vision today -- though AECSoft arguably pioneered it -- with its own On-Demand sourcing toolset (now the multigenerational product offspring of Frictionless), but Zycus' execution of the combined products together is surprisingly far down the pragmatic usability and integration path.
The ability to leverage existing (or create new) scoring templates and KPI mechanisms for supplier and/or internal stakeholder satisfaction surveys is very straightforward and leverages the same interface (and objects) as the sourcing toolset. Zycus also goes further than some other basic SPM tools in the market by enabling the ability to roll-up sets of KPIs as well as objective systems metrics (e.g., PPM, escapes, on-time performance, etc.) into combined ratings and access and easily leverage these across the suite. Granted, Zycus has not deployed a supplier network vision to enable the one-to-many or many-to-many collection of supplier information -- or collective ranking, scoring and predictive forecasting of next generation networks like an SAP Supplier InfoNet -- a single time to avoid rework and improve potential performance and risk outcomes, but the basics of what they have are solid indeed.
In addition, Zycus' SPM and supplier management roadmap calls for an enhanced vertical and geographic focus on specific compliance issues (e.g., ISO, TS) and enhanced supplier collaboration involving asynchronous online collaboration for document and task management. They also have some good ideas for roadmap releases for consolidated supplier reporting across all Zycus data (and even third-party systems data integrated into SPM and supplier management).
All in all, it's a pretty unique and sourcing, supplier information management and supplier performance management integrated value proposition wrapped in a tidy package. And there's more -- much more -- well. We'll conclude our observations and analysis on Zycus' product enhancements and introductions in the final post in this series.