SciQuest Next Level 2016 Kicks Off: New Attendees, New Ownership and a New Ecosystem

Next Level

Xavier Olivera, Pierre Mitchell and I are down in Nashville this week at SciQuest’s annual Next Level customer conference. This year’s Next Level, the largest one held to date, features a curious mix of attendees from the private sector, higher education and government. It is also host to a mix of exhibitors and sponsors, including a surprising number focused on enabling punch-out catalog models (not to mention Amazon Business, which is also speaking at the event).

Even amidst this diversity, the research lab is a special breed when it comes to procurement. Download this paper to see how one global pharmaceutical research leader drives procurement success.

Unfortunately — or not, depending on perspective — Questie, a happy beaker and SciQuest’s former mascot, did not make an appearance this morning. Questie caused quite a social media stir a few years back when he spawned a doppelganger, Evil Questie, on Twitter during a previous Next Level. This was after he seemingly came back to life after an untimely, early death. Alas, there are more important matters to cover than reminiscing about pear-shaped former mascots.

First among these is the number of new attendees at the event. When Karen Sage, SciQuest’s CMO, kicked off the first full day on the main stage this morning, she asked audience members to raise their hands if they were attending their first SciQuest customer event. A surprising number, perhaps 30% or more of roughly 750 folks in attendance, signaled this was their first event. Besides new attendees (and prospects), SciQuest has new ownership, as well, and is a private company once again. (Accel-KKR closed its acquisition of SciQuest in June.)

But there’s more to SciQuest this fall than just new ownership. The provider has clearly heard the feedback that, like Ariba and Coupa (not to mention Tradeshift), it needs to focus on building a partner ecosystem model and incorporate a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) model from a partnering and app development perspective. During the first keynote this morning, SciQuest CEO Stephen Wiehe spoke to the “evolution of SciQuest’s source-to-settle platform” and described a new “architecture [model] designed to promote collaboration and networking” that puts a RESTful API-based strategy at the core for integration, as well as enables “custom apps” and even “pre-integrated apps” authored by others to integrate out-of-the-box with the SciQuest suite.

From an internal development and roadmap strategy, Wiehe outlined four key areas of focus around which the product organization is driving the future of the suite: business process optimization (for procurement), data and insights, risk and performance management and return on investment (including spend planning, tracking, goal mapping and benchmarks). Overall, the positioning appears to shift SciQuest away from selling tools (and a suite) to solve specific procurement technology requirements to offering broader modules and capabilities that work together to support emerging procurement priorities and responsibilities.

As we continue our coverage of Next Level 2016 live from Nashville, we’ll be sharing more company, product strategy and solution updates — not to mention our perspective and analysis — on Spend Matters and Spend Matters PRO. Stay tuned!

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