SciQuest NextLevel Dispatch – A Suite Step in the Right Direction

sciquest

SciQuest’s NextLevel customer conference is perennially one of my favorite vendor events. There’s a great diversity of attendees from the private, and public sectors and the suppliers in attendance aren’t just hawking software or IT gear – many are selling highly specialized laboratory suppliers given the provider’s historic focus on the sciences market.

But more important, everyone seems open to talking and sharing their experiences – there’s not the “close-to-the-chest” procurement stigma that many practitioners tend to play at other tech conferences. And besides, where else can you find a slightly creepy mascot in laboratory beaker garb with a bunch of groupies trailing him around the floor? SciQuest’s mascot is so popular that one year there was even a Questie impersonator, but I’ll leave the specifics of that episode out of the headlines.

With Questie in attendance (see below), NextLevel kicks off today in Washington DC. I’m attending the event for Spend Matters along with Xavier Olivera, our P2P lead analyst and director of Spend Matters Mexico/LATAM. Together, we’ll be sharing what we learn in the coming days. Check back throughout today for our live commentary from the event – and next week for our deeper analysis and dissection on Spend Matters PRO.

This Year Counts

This year’s NextLevel is a truly an important one for SciQuest. The source-to-pay provider, which has grown largely through acquisition in recent years, has faced increased competition from smaller competitors in its core P2P areas within the higher education, public sector and life sciences markets, while at the same time selling more into other private sector markets outside of e-procurement – especially more of what it has acquired.

This last point is key to understand, as behind the scenes, SciQuest has spent countless R&D and development cycles centered on fully integrating these acquisitions – some of which are still in process (e.g., contract management). These are not superficial integrations – SciQuest had to rewrite the entire suite of capabilities it acquired from AECsoft in the supplier management and sourcing areas onto a common platform. As we noted in our Spend Matters PRO coverage, SciQuest 14.2 Update: Total Supplier Management – Sophisticated Supplier Lifecycle Management Solution Renewed (see coverage here and here), at the end of 2014, this was not a simple task:

"SciQuest has released version 14.2 of its Total Supplier Management (TSM) solution. The bulk of the high-end supplier lifecycle management and supplier information management intellectual property contained in its 14.2 TSM offering was originally obtained through the AECsoft acquisition nearly 4 years ago, and the AECsoft’s .NET architected solution has now been almost entirely moved over to SciQuest’s Java-based framework as well as received a solid UI/UX scrubbing. Hats off to SciQuest for accomplishing this. For those not familiar with the advanced SLM solution (called TSMS by AECsoft), it covered initial supplier registration, onboarding steps, complex approvals, automated validation, data augmentation, parent-child linkages, audits (even revision management at the field level) and pretty much anything a client wanted (and was willing to pay for)." 

Jason and Xavier with the infamous SciQuest mascot.

Jason and Xavier with the famous SciQuest mascot.

P2P, Sourcing and Supplier Management

The intersection of P2P with advanced supplier management gives SciQuest something that Ariba and Coupa are lacking, at least at this level of capability – and both of these competitors have seen far greater growth in new P2P sales than SciQuest in recent years. Might the 14.2 release help SciQuest to become a more commonplace competitor in the general P2P market outside of higher education and life sciences (where it has been traditionally stronger)?

Yes, at some point. That is, if SciQuest can succeed on the commercial execution front (you’ll understand why if you read our solution review – and explore the important intersections of P2P and supplier management). And depending on who is at NextLevel (which is a good indication that prospects are at some stage in a buying process), we might see indication that SciQuest’s early efforts with the integrated solution are paying off – especially now that it is closing the e-invoicing enablement and connectivity loop with Transcepta as well – to position a differentiated approach to source-to-pay.

Regardless, look for Xavier’s and my coverage of the event to center on customer results and SciQuest’s solution enhancements, among other areas. We look forward to also drilling into areas that SciQuest has centered on in recent years around advanced sourcing and analytics as well – not to mention the contract management product, which we hope to see as a native component of the integrated P2P, sourcing and supplier management suite in the not too distant future!

Stay tuned.

First Voice

  1. Pierre:

    that Questie photo is going to give me nightmares. Procurement version of the Stay Puft marshmellow man from Ghostbusters

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