Complex sourcing, advanced sourcing, optimization, expressive bidding or (our preferred term) market-informed sourcing — all of these describe the most complex sourcing problems you can imagine, involving many complex variables, a huge number of possible line-item bids, alternative supply chain structures ... you get the picture.
A number of (but not many) leading firms provide software that addresses this market, but what attracted us to the young Irish firm Keelvar was its desire to take the innate complexity of this sort of software product and put it into a platform that is easy to operate and has user interfaces that you don’t need a math degree to understand. Cloud-based, intuitive but powerful, Dr. Alan Holland, the founder of Keelvar, has targeted a challenging sector but in an innovative manner, hence Keelvar’s inclusion here. (Holland’s doctorate in computer science at the University of Cork had the title “Risk Management for Combinatorial Auctions,” by the way, so you can see from where Keelvar emerged!)
It remains to be seen how many organizations want to embrace this approach; Keelvar may find it simply educates users who then gravitate to the more fully featured products. But equally, we suspect there are many organizations that would benefit by using a product that is easy to use but has a bit more horsepower than the basic e-sourcing tools they currently have.
Keelvar has also innovated in having some of the first public sector clients for market-informed sourcing that we were aware of, initially in Ireland and at least some pilot projects in the U.K. (although we believe Trade Extensions has Swedish public sector customers, too). That would be another interesting possibility for Keelvar as it looks to expand. This is still a small firm, but one of the more interesting in its market.