There are very few true “suite” vendors in the procurement solutions marketplace today with significant cloud traction. Coupa is no doubt one – and has even expanded past traditional procurement suite components into peripheral ones like inventory management (albeit like others, with varying degrees of depth). There are a few more names to add to this list of what we like to call in the office “sweet suites” as opposed to Frankenstein’s suite monsters – we include Ariba/SAP/Fieldglass/Concur, SciQuest, Selectica/Iasta and many others loosely in this latter definition, although some of these larger providers (see recent SciQuest suite coverage here and here) are moving to integrate around new integrated suite models, at least across core components, shedding the Frankenstein moniker.
Yet some suites, built from the ground up on a single platform spanning the source-to-pay continuum, do exist and have at least decent traction in segments of the overall procurement market. Ivalua is a “suite sweet.” Oracle Fusion is, too. And so is Zycus. But “sweet” does not necessarily imply best-of-breed capability in all areas – or even some. It simply means that all pieces are part of the same core – and that a common spend/supplier data model, workflow, permissions, mobile/form factor and other underlying architectural elements cascade across the various modules (which can be turned on with a switch – fully integrated with the other suite elements). For further analysis of what we mean by “sweet suite,” see my colleague Thomas Kase’s coverage and introduction to the topic at the end of this post.
One of the bigger challenges of suite vendors is being able to come in and sell an integrated value proposition across modules and areas – as opposed to “upstream” and “downstream” areas on an individual basis. In fact, few have succeeded at doing this consistently within larger companies in the Global 2000, while keeping customers happy (albeit we believe this is changing). Zycus, on the other hand, has opted to build traction (so far) with its upstream suite components inside a range of organizations (of all sizes) while choosing, at least initially, to position the downstream P2P capabilities in targeted mid-market organization. This of course, might change, but is a logical place to start with a truly integrated suite message combining upstream and downstream strength (rather than relying on one area to carry the overall sale).
When it comes to building procurement technology, staying true to a suite vision requires taking a longer path than most. It is, indeed, the equivalent of running a marathon (or even an ultra-marathon) in training even before showing up at the first big race. As Zycus looks to position an integrated “guided buying” proposition (see here, here and here) alongside a clever and simplified sourcing, supplier management and contract management set of capabilities in larger companies, it will have to begin to share more of its initial successes from the middle market, which have been the proving grounds for its P2P commercial activities and testing to date.
This is a topic we are truly excited to cover for our readers and members as Zycus Horizon gets into full swing, and as Zycus begins to talk more about its differentiated approaches to e-procurement and closing the traction loop not just with document exchange and payments, but tying it back to analytics and broader supplier engagement and management, as well as sourcing strategy development and execution.