In positioning its new network and enhanced capability, Hubwoo spends quite a bit of time playing up the "social" capabilities of the collaborative environment that encourages suppliers not only to maintain profiles, but to also to rank and rate supplier capabilities and performance that is the closest version of a B2B Yelp we've seen. While we believe that networks leveraging aggregate systems performance data (e.g., SAP Supplier InfoNet) are likely to be more valuable for predicting supplier performance and risk information, the social component of a Yelp-type model could be useful.
Still the concept of a network where "all applications are built to be network enabled" while also "leveraging search, community and ratings" at the core makes significant sense. However – and we'll cover this more in our Spend Matters PRO analysis – there can really be only one Yelp, Amazon or Trip Advisor who does this in the B2B space, becoming the de facto network organizations go to in order to query suppliers. And our money will be on the provider with the greatest critical mass – not necessarily the more innovative or daring set of offerings.
Still, the value proposition that Hubwoo has brought with its Network 3.0 capability in supplier search and sourcing are quite socially collaborative at the core, including the ability to join without paying fees and querying suppliers by either category, location or search term. Combining this with "mouse-click access to supply risk management data including financial performance and credit scores" as well as "visibility to certifications including diversity, sustainability and fair trade" also contributes to the Hubwoo network value proposition in the sourcing and supplier identification areas.
Yet for marketplace sourcing and matching, there is no doubt that providers such as Ariba (Discovery), Fedbid, MFG.com and others that specialize in network market making have significant more experience and historic capabilities in this area. Our own experience using Ariba Discovery as a tool to identify suppliers, for example, was quite positive (even though we ultimately awarded business offline to a local vendor rather than one found through the network sourcing identification process).
Another concept of the Hubwoo network we see as quite forward looking – and one that Hubwoo faces less competition for today – is what they're describing as "Supplier Master Sync" which essentially maintains profile information on suppliers in a many-to-many manner, requesting automated updates and such, while then populating a company's back-end systems with this data including on-premise or hosted ERP, eProcurement, sourcing tools and P2P solutions. The vision is truly not only a virtual vendor master; it takes advantage of a network effect, so suppliers only need to push information a single time rather than on a one-off basis when changes are made to such data as banking information, contact details, insurance certifications, addresses and the like. Think Plaxo, LinkedIn, or Data.com analogies.
Hubwoo is one of the first network providers to take mobile seriously. Ariba was surprisingly behind the times on mobile at the time of the SAP acquisition (but there's no doubt that SAP is quickly changing this as we write, given their extensive capability and familiarity with mobile environments including procurement apps developed specifically for an IOS environment). Still, in comparison to other providers today, Hubwoo's latest mobile browser capability (which is not app-based but optimized for a mobile environment) appears intuitive and useful for a number of P2P use cases on first glance (to enable basic approval capabilities). But they do have some ways to go to catch SAP and Coupa, among other P2P providers, in native mobile app development offerings and individual features.
Entry screen: the Hubwoo mobile interface
Our cursory analysis of Hubwoo's direction with its latest network release is generally positive. But as those in procurement technology know, the devil is always in the P2P details. Spend Matters PRO subscribers will be able to read our candid comparative analysis and recommendations on our subscription site exploring how Hubwoo's current network offering stacks up for SAP and non-SAP environments in the coming days.
Stay tuned for our final analysis and client/customer recommendations on Spend Matters PRO. If you're interested in this analysis on a regular basis, drop Sheena a line (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we'll get your organization signed up for a free PRO trial.