Aatish Dedhia, Zycus’ exceptionally competitive founder and CEO, has always cared about the competition and measuring the success (and failure) of his firm’s initiatives based on how Zycus stacks up to others. You can tell the guy loses sleep over this stuff. He cares about it not because of wanting to maximize his valuation or win additional incremental deals -- Aatish wants to win the market. Period. He's that passionate and competitive. And patient.
Moreover, Aatish is not defensive of criticism. I’ve always found him receptive to nearly all critical input (one of the best qualities of Zycus), but the firm’s competitive rhetoric always makes me smile, because it’s really not necessary. If you’re building a next generation procurement solution, the best competitive tactic is not to give others the time of day (which Zycus has consistently done in comparisons at events).
I suppose the good news in this is that Zycus is run by engineers and product wonks (all the way up) that are proud of what they’ve done. And, Aatish couldn’t resist another Ariba comparison as he started his keynote this morning. As to be expected, when Aatish took the main stage to share a preview of his firm’s product strategy and new “rainbow” interface (due out in 2015 – more on this later), he first started by showing, based on his yardstick, how Zycus is stacking up in competitive deals (I wish I had bet with past attendees that he’d do this).
He began by noting that suite deals (between 2011 and 2014) comprised a rising percentage of overall Zycus business – 45% in total. And in these (and other deals), the constant is Ariba. Between 2012 and 2013, he noted, 35% of customer wins had Ariba and Zycus as finalists. This number jumped to 62% in 2013 and in 2014. Why is Zycus winning its share of these deals vs. Ariba and SAP? Here are the elements cited based on customer feedback that Aatish shared based on win (not win/loss) surveys:
- 86% end-user adoption
- 78% responsiveness
- 61% product innovation
- 57% better analytics
- 52% functionality
- 43% deployment
Or course Zycus is not winning every deal against Ariba (and if I were Zycus, I’d be more concerned with competition from the nimble corners of the market versus the giant, slower-moving elephant in the middle). But still, there is no prouder company that is also willing to take criticism and improve -- all the time. For Aatish, winning is vindication of the long independent path Zycus has taken and every little granular step his R&D team has taken to build and sharpen the solution set over the years.
I respect that. Even if I don’t agree that bringing up the old competition to a room of customers, prospects, analysts and partners is necessarily the best approach to drawing attention to the right issues.
Stay tuned as our coverage of Zycus Horizon continues.