Procurement in 2017: The Year’s Most Popular Articles

2017 DedMityay/Adobe Stock

The past year has been a year of change for the procurement world.

Old technology companies ceded ground to reigning titans. Market leaders adapted strategies and continued a wave of consolidation. And Spend Matters changed, too, debuting new reports and tools to help procurement leaders better understand the solution provider landscape.

To get a better understanding of where we’ve been and how procurement could continue to change in 2018, check out our top 10 articles of the year below.

IBM Sunsets Emptoris

The rumblings about our biggest story of the year began in April.

From conversations with numerous partners and customers, the Spend Matters team learned that the future of Emptoris within the IBM portfolio had become uncertain. Following multiple rounds of employee departures, rumors had emerged that IBM was preparing to divest Empotris to an external party.

Those whispers were confirmed in May when SAP Ariba announced it had formed a strategic partnership with IBM Emptoris. The agreement involved sunsetting Emptoris products over a multiyear timeline and providing customers an opportunity to transition over to SAP Ariba products.

“From an IBM Emptoris customer perspective, our initial analysis of the transaction suggests that IBM appears to have taken a high road with Emptoris customers across several areas regarding the future of its procurement applications with this partnership (vs. an outright sale of the assets),” Spend Matters Founder Jason Busch wrote at the time. “This includes the multiyear support horizon for current IBM Emptoris solutions as part of the sunsetting of the products and continued direct relationship with IBM, which should provide an ample window for procurement organizations to fully consider and develop a formalized transition plan.”

(Those looking for more insights and recommendations on how the IBM Emptoris and SAP Ariba partnership may affect them should see our Spend Matters PRO research brief on the news.)

And analysis was not all that Busch provided. In a moving tribute, he penned a eulogy for Emptoris, thanking its founders and employees for their contributions to the development of procurement-centric technology.

“One can quibble with the many things about Emptoris that did not go right or fully as planned (and there are many things). But on the whole, Emptoris did more to move the procurement technology sector forward than just about any other vendor I can think of, driving bold move after bold move on the organic development and acquisition trail.

What is Supplier Management?

This seems like a simple question, but it’s one that thousands of readers were looking to answer in 2017. Defining supplier management can be tricky because the term encompasses a broad topic, and the term has become ever broader in its evolution over the past decade. Said another way, supplier management has become supplier lifecycle management, which encompasses far more than just managing suppliers.

So where did we land? Spend Matters analysts Michael Lamoureux and Pierre Mitchell ultimately defined supplier management as “the management of supplier-facing business processes throughout the lifecycle of a supplier.” That’s still quite a mouthful, so if you’re looking for more detail on the definition, best practices for and solution providers serving the supplier management sphere, check out our Sourcing, Contracting and Supplier Management Landscape Definition and Overview report.

SolutionMap Debut

The second quarter of 2017 saw the beginning of a new era at Spend Matters. With the release of our first E-Procurement SolutionMap, we entered our humble attempt to update solution provider rankings and comparisons with a unique, persona-based approach.

For more about our SolutionMap approach and to access our most recent update (Q4 2017), go to our SolutionMap homepage.

50 to Watch and 50 to Know for 2017

Even as we broke new ground with SolutionMap, Spend Matters continued with its tried and true process for identifying the solution providers that procurement professional should have on their radar to succeed.

The Spend Matters 50 Providers to Know list highlights firms that continue to lead the charge for new procurement technologies and services, driving innovation and changing the way we do business. The 50 Providers to Watch list shines a light on exciting newcomers that are pushing the envelope. Review both by reading the release article, and stay tuned for May 2018 where we update the lists for this rapidly changing landscape.

Two Mergers and a Rebrand

Vendor consolidation has marked the procurement technology market for the past several years, but M&A activity picked up a big way in 2017.

One of the most perused transactions was Coupa’s acquisition of Trade Extensions, a provider of e-sourcing and strategic sourcing optimization solutions. Busch wrote of Trade Extensions that the provider has no equal in its niche, and that the deal’s significance to the broader market rivals Ariba’s acquisition of FreeMarkets — a true “game-changer” for the way procurement groups approach strategic sourcing.

(For more on this transaction, see our Solution and Market Analysis brief and our Customer and Partner Recommendations on Spend Matters PRO.)

Another move that turned heads was the rebrand of a suite provider with a long and storied history in the market. Back in February, SciQuest shed its roots — at least in name — as a solution serving life sciences companies and adopted the name Jaggaer, derived from the German word for hunter.

The name update indicated a new focus for the company, and although our team was sad to learn that Questie would never again see the light of day, we were optimistic that the change would help the firm move “beyond its traditional focus on select vertical markets and invest to deliver a comprehensive procurement suite, paying equal attention to the 'upstream' strategic components and 'downstream' transactional elements."

Jaggaer showed its commitment to doing just that when earlier this month it acquired suite provider BravoSolution. The combination, closed this week, would make Jaggaer the “largest independent, vertical spend management solution provider in the world,” the company said in a press release, with more than 1,850 customers connected to 3.7 million suppliers in 70 countries.

(Spend Matters PRO subscribers can read our thorough coverage of the Jaggaer-BravoSolution merger, including recommendations for BravoSolution customers, 10 questions customers and the market should be asking, and module-level comparisons of the two providers for spend analytics, sourcing, supplier management and contract management.)

Choosing the Right Sourcing Structure 

Finally, we come to one of the editorial team’s favorite projects of 2017: Ask Spend Matters. In this new series, we asked you, the reader, to tell us what to investigate and report about the world of procurement.

By far the most popular question and article to come out of this new initiative has been a question from Piyush Shah, a PhD student of supply chain management at Arizona State University: Centralized, decentralized or hybrid sourcing structure? How do we decide?

The easy answer, Editor-at-Large Sydney Lazarus explained, is “it depends.” The more complete answer depends on many factors, including company size, location, expansion rate and industry. To see how we answered Shah’s question, be sure to read the full article.

Do you have a question that you’d like answered in 2018? Send it to us using the box below!

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