IQNsiders 2015: Big Ambitions Starting with a New Platform Model

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Last night, Andrew Karpie and I landed in Phoenix, Arizona, for IQNavigator’s customer event. Within the vendor management system world, we’ve historically found customer events to be more about the combination of sharing best practices among participants and previewing future product evolutions (centered on sharing emerging capabilities and features) than anything radical or surprising.

Such a customer conference agenda is something that would not be possible in the all too familiar “keep-it-close-to-the-chest” nature of most procurement types that attend other events. The level of free flowing ideas and the willingness to share between participants at customer conferences, whether hosted by IQN, Beeline or Fieldglass, is at once both refreshing but surprising for those who come from the traditional procurement and supply chain world.

But IQNavigator is shaking things up a bit year while also adhering to the standard VMS customer event script with significant time dedicated to customer and partner best practice sharing. To this end, IQNavigator is unveiling its latest Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) initiative at IQNsiders. The Spend Matters team got an early peak at the new platform earlier this month.

More on “Falcon”

IQN is basing its new solution, which has the internal code-name of Falcon, on 4 key principles:

  1. Delivering a true system of engagement,
  2. Providing a “mission critical” platform at the executive suite level,
  3. Supporting “new work types" across geographies and
  4. Enabling “data driven decisions” through analytics

 

From a marketing perspective, these high-level objectives don’t do justice to what IQN is trying to achieve – namely providing the first true Services-Oriented Architecture (SOA) platform in the vendor management system arena.

In delivering its new platform and PaaS model, IQN wants to foster an ecosystem around its solutions, which will allow other vendors to plug and play their capabilities through a range of published APIs in manner that more resembles what Amazon enables with merchants, supply chain partners, tech providers, advertisers and customers than what Ariba, Coupa or others have built to date in the P2P sector. Amazon is in fact a whole ecosystem in its own right, with some very interesting possibilities when you consider how Amazon Mechanical Turk, Elastic Beanstalk (Amazon's PaaS offering), AWS Marketplace, and Amazon B2B could all potentially work together, but this is a big discussion for another day.

The closest example to IQN’s vision is what Tradeshift is attempting to do for e-invoicing and trading partner connectivity, but more broadly resembles what SalesForce has done with its Force.com ecosystem and stack (or what Apple has done with iOS and the app store). Oracle and SAP are also obviously getting into the PaaS game, with Oracle having the lead as we wrote about here.  A new platform play is at once ambitious, large and daunting – especially considering that IQN has to continue to support its current technology stack (not to mention customers leveraging the acquired Volt/ProcureStaff VMS as well). But if IQN pulls it off, the VMS world will be in for far greater collaboration among tech providers with a rate of innovation that dramatically exceeds what a single vendor could achieve by itself.

In the coming weeks on Spend Matters, we’ll look at the “Falcon” platform in more detail, including offering a more nuanced comparative analysis of its initial capabilities and coverage to our Spend Matters PRO members.

But in the meantime, stay tuned for live event coverage from IQNsiders this week.

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