Zycus Horizon Dispatch: Partnerships and Partner Ecosystems Matter

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A subtle shift took place at Zycus Horizon this year compared with past events. Partners started to do more than show up, instead engaging with both the Zycus team and customers.

I spoke with two Zycus partners at the event who are participating in internal Zycus training efforts following the conclusion of the customer conference. One of these partners is working on an integration that will truly weave together its own capabilities with Zycus at a joint customer that is asking for the combination.

Zycus has a huge opportunity to increase its customer base and defend its existing customer fort from an increasing number of competitors by building out a partner ecosystem that can expand the value of its own solutions. Yet it has been slow to the game to date.

This is a tactical mistake. One customer I spoke with at the event even suggested that in the areas that Zycus is “just good enough in" today versus “where it excels,” it would still be hard to switch given the dual value proposition of an integrated suite and partners that can expand it.

Partnership Opportunities: Obvious and Less So

Zycus is just starting to develop a partner ecosystem. A few areas, beyond the obvious partnerships, should take priority. These include:

  • Services procurement. Zycus is clearly not going to build a complete services procurement solution. (In fact, we would argue no vendor has a complete solution — even specialists.) Partnering with vendor management system (VMS) as well as freelancer management system (FMS) providers could be a start, as would working with specialized providers (e.g., marketing, telecom, legal) to fully support individual category lifecycle management, even if Zycus eventually plans to invest in these areas
  • Payments and Trade Financing. Zycus is building (and it appears will soon deploy) a strong invoice discounting capability as part of its purchase-to-pay (P2P) offering. Yet there is a broader opportunity to build a payment (technology) and trade financing (other technology solutions, banks, non-factors, etc.) solution that captures both buyer and supplier needs. As it stands, the solution Zycus is bringing to market around invoice discounting may be strong technically, but that’s only 10% of the adoption battle in this area
  • Travel and Expense. Zycus may end up building its own T&E application, but full T&E support requires an ecosystem. Integrating travel booking and ground transportation would be a start, for one
  • Risk management. There are many different areas of supplier and supply chain risk management, some of which Zycus may support internally, and others it will need to partner for. “Risk” will never fit nicely in a single module. Building out a partner ecosystem and deciding whether Zycus itself wants to support specialized governance risk and compliance (GRC), supply chain risk management, risk data and other components of risk management will be an important step to delivering a holistic solution to customers.

Where Partnerships and Technology Converge

Zycus now has a critical mass of customers and prospects for its source-to-pay (S2P) capabilities that will make it an attractive candidate for others to partner with. But the degree to which Zycus is committed to fostering and investing in a broad-scale, open partner network (technology architecture included) remains to be seen.

In our view, it can’t happen soon enough.

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