Zycus Horizon Dispatch: Head West, Young Vendor (But Not Too Far West)!

I touched down late last night to Zycus Horizon (along with my colleague Pierre Mitchell), the procurement suite vendor’s annual customer (and prospect) conference. I’d eyeball the attendance this year at 10-20% larger than last year (roughly 250+ folks in Arizona). The event is truly managed from the heart – the Zycus team is so committed to the details (and running it themselves), from being on top of every aspect of speaker planning and scheduling to orchestrating a great set of morning sessions, including one of the best outside keynotes I’ve heard in recent years (Space Shuttle Captain, Mark Kelly).

But as impressive as Mark was Zycus’ founder and CEO Aatish Dedhia, who has come such a long way as a leader and voice over the years at the helm of his firm. Aatish is an engineer and strategist at heart, who gets more comfortable every year with not only explaining Zycus’ position in the market, but offering a truly personal view of why his firm is making investments in key areas and why. He comes off as more comfortable in his shoes and perspective externally than ever before.


Zycus CEO Aatish Dedhia has put a personal stamp on leading the firm and extolling its vision. (Photo: Jason Busch/Spend Matters.)

For example, these include new lightweight sourcing capabilities in part of the suite and regional e-invoicing compliance and invoice discounting in another. Aatish is also not afraid to say when his firm is not the best and when there are true specialists in the market that Zycus customers can benefit from working in partnership with – such is the case with an emerging partnership with Trade Extensions for complex sourcing optimization, for example, that Aatish cited.

Head West — Just Not Too Far West

Zycus held Horizon this year in Arizona, which befits where Zycus stands now as a firm – it’s “West” but not “too far West” as the title of this post attempted to suggest. “Too Far West” is to go down the Silicon Valley / Bay Area path of growing at a pace almost entirely to meet shareholder expectations of a typical IPO or other exit, rather than taking the time to methodically listen to customers with an endgame centered on product and user outcomes rather than an “exit.” Note: very few companies have this luxury at the scale of Zycus.

Every year, Aatish tells his customers, “We’re not for sale,” and “We’re not going down the IPO path.” For a firm that grew approximately 30% in 2015 and saw its “suite-based” sales jump from 13% to 38% of new deals (all cloud-based revenue), these are important words to listen to. Aatish reiterated this year that “Zycus will always stay private” because in the “long-term” this is right for customers and the firm itself.

What Zycus Stands For

But beyond this stance on capitalization/ownership structure, what does Zycus stand for today?

Here are a few points I jotted down during Aatish’s talk:

  • Suite – Zycus stands for being a full suite provider (source-to-pay) with a single integrated code base. Partial suite is not an option. Note: we are looking forward to discussions with additional P2P customers at the event to hear how these deployments are going. Spend Matters still sees Zycus primarily in non-P2P opportunities, at least among Fortune 500-type organizations.
  • Modular Depth – Aatish is stalwart in in his belief that all modules should have enough modular depth to stand on their own. This goes for contract management, supplier management and other areas.
  • Independence – Per the above points on ownership, to allow for both a focus on customer engagement (for honing solutions) and product strategy over the long-term
  • Adoption Scale – Zycus likes to see customers put down big numbers in terms of adoption (regardless of module) and to drive increased adoption year-over-year through adding new capabilities (e.g., a simpler sourcing capability for smaller bids).
  • Focusing on Emerging Customer Needs – these include looking closely at areas such as risk management throughout the procurement process (not just “supplier risk management”) and directing product investment to these areas

Focusing on the Longer-Term Horizon

Zycus’ overall message is consistent and on-point. Granted, the firm is not without potential blind spots and challenges:

  • Partnership strategies and approaches still seem opportunistic and to serve as an extension of Zycus’ own perspective on the market – rather than fostering ecosystems which can take on a life of their own. For example, having just a small integrator — albeit a good one! — in the form of Nitor for P2P is insufficient. An ecosystem of SIs and consultants is needed to give customers choice.
  • Modular expansion. We believe that Zycus will have a significant amount of work cut out for itself as it attempts to implement globally compliant P2P/invoicing solutions and scale its nascent trade financings (e.g., invoice discounting programs), among other areas. These are both cases where suite integration, check-the-box features/function and clever UIs are only part of the battle – and a small part at that.
  • Overcoming the suite “island” syndrome. This includes articulating a fleshed-out strategy around how it plans to externalize and deliver its capabilities in an interconnected world (e.g., broader API-based strategies beyond financial systems integration, platform-as-a-service (PaaS) approaches, etc.). In today’s environment, no vendor, not even suite providers in procurement, can afford to behave as an island.

Stay tuned for live coverage from Zycus Horizon throughout the first half of this week.

Up next: examining suite and product adoption levels and product strategy.

Share on Procurious

Discuss this:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *