Zycus — Building Up the Solutions Arsenal Behind the Scenes (Part 4)

You can read the first, second and third posts in this series by clicking the previous links.

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.

- Jason Busch

Voices (3)

  1. Dan Roehrs:

    I’m saying the same – all in GA (with obvious exception of Procurri). Ariba, Coupa, Iasta – all eRFx "for dummies" available in GA today. I’m looking forward to your future observations and see how that compares to the near weekly demos we’re seeing in the space on behalf of our clients.

  2. Jason Busch:

    OK, Dan. I’ve taken the bait … in the next few days, maybe Friday, I’ll write my thoughts IN DETAIL on what the Coupa of sourcing should look like. I still stand by my argument in this piece but I’ll flesh out the concept more. BTW … I’m basing this analysis on current GA solutions, not things lurking in development right now. Yes, we have seen some very cool stuff recently …

  3. Dan Roehrs:

    I’m sorry did you just write, "To date, there’s not been a "Coupa" of e-sourcing…"? I’m not sure I completely agree. First, check out the right side of the page you wrote that on; that sponsor over there called IASTA, have you seen their eRFx engine? Also, you’ve been around and covered this thoroughly, so what about any mention of the old Procurri? Sure, they’re no longer there, but come on, they were doing "Coupa" when Coupa was just a place to eat lunch! Additionally, and in reality, while all of us in sourcing and procurement love to think of ourselves of needing so much crazy configuration, the reality is that 3 bids and buy gets us more than 80% of the way there. And guess who has that? That’s right, it’s Coupa. But I would contend that Ariba isn’t exactly brain surgery either Jason. I realize you had a bit of a falling out with them and it’s not exactly easy to deal with them, but if we’re strictly judging a solution by its ease of use and capability, there’s many more contenders that warrant inclusion.

    I will agree that all of these solutions, regardless of the discipline must get simpler. Apple didn’t do all that bad making things less complex. Wal-Mart seems to be doing okay with a no frills service offering. How about Hyundai? They seem to doing okay at making pocket fulls of money in an industry that only years ago was on the verge of collapsing.

    All of these solutions that you and I have mentioned have a case, depending on the situation, depending on the client, their infrastructure, how much time & energy they want/willing to put into it, etc. and I know you know this. I just thought it worthwhile to mention to the readers that there are a truck-load of other solutions that seem to fit the bill.

    As "independent voices" of sourcing and procurement, we’re in a tricky spot at times, I realize. But if our real and genuine goal is to ultimately help enterprises through the slick haired, superbowl like ring wearing, sports car driving, time-share sales software rep’s rap that their solution is the only one capable of making sourcing and procurement rock starts, then open and frank conversations have to be the priority, regardless of the sponsorship dollars or the partnerships (or lack thereof – until you’ve got a "hot one").

    Let’s face it, it’s not even the capabilities and all the new "gee-wiz" features that make the enterprise a success, but rather it’s the commitment and service level of these said providers that ultimately makes the difference. When that’s your measuring stick for success, there’s almost always a rock star born!

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