50/50 Webinar: Lessons Learned from the 2019 Providers to Watch and Know

Now that Spend Matters’ 50 Providers to Know and 50 Providers to Watch lists have been released, we are diving deeper into the sets of honorees and examining the market trends they demonstrate. From A.T. Kearney through Zylo, there are plenty of intriguing tidbits and conclusions to draw.

Earlier this week, Spend Matters Chief Research Officer Pierre Mitchell hosted our annual Vendor Intelligence webinar exploring the 50 to Watch and Know (you can view the webinar on-demand here). Topics included the industry pace-setters, disruptive newcomers and how all the honorees are taking procurement to the next level. In the sixth year of the lists, there is still plenty to be learned.

Scope and Methodology

Many are curious how the 50 to Watch/Know providers are selected, and what the distinction is between the two lists. The lists are mutually exclusive in a given year, but vendors often fluctuate between Watch and Know annually. The 50 to Know represents the major players in the space: best-in-class providers you should be aware of. The 50 to Watch is more unpredictable: a mix of best-of-breed providers and innovative up-and-comers.

While our 50/50 selection process does not have many hard rules, there are a detailed set of guidelines we adhere to. The process starts early in the year when our analyst team gets together to identify who should stay from the previous year’s lists, who should go and which new companies deserve recognition. We use some of the following guidelines (view our full methodology here) when whittling down the final lists:

  • Private sector — though some firms will certainly serve the public sector, honorees will be commercially focused primarily on the private sector
  • Tech competency — the 50/50 campaign focuses on businesses with tech offerings, and more broadly any business process as a service (XaaS)
  • North America and Europe — while there are many outstanding solutions originating from other markets, we limit our scope to the geographic regions we know best
  • 1-to-1 solution delivery — we avoid recognizing membership organizations and event organizations, instead centering on those with B2B solution offerings
  • Almanac and SolutionMap — the more we know about a vendor, the better. For this reason companies should make sure they are listed in our self-service provider directory and participate in SolutionMap (if their solution area is applicable).

The 50 to Know

With several drop-offs and newcomers this edition, the 50 to Know list had one of its more turbulent years. As a result, the lineup is as diverse as ever in terms of solution category and company profile:

  • While there are plenty of pure software players, content providers comprise a large portion of the list, with companies like Dun & Bradstreet and EcoVadis.
  • Similarly, market intelligence and analytics feature with the likes of ProcurementIQ, Beroe and the Smart Cube.
  • One cannot ignore large networks such as Amazon Business, recognized for its expansive marketplace.
  • Consulting powerhouses like A.T. Kearney and McKinsey retain their spots on the list, and a few more industry-specific businesses like Everest Group and the Shelby Group make appearances as well.
  • There are plenty of niche specialists too; Seal Software holds AI expertise and is proving its place in the contract management space, much like recent Coupa acquisition Exari.
  • Managed service providers (MSPs) occupy a few spots, not just with BPOs but also including vendors with a healthy mix of services, like Proxima Group.
  • OMNIA Partners is the lone group purchasing organization (GPO) among the 100 providers recognized.

The 50 to Watch

As in previous years, the 50 to Watch list features more turnover than its counterpart. A broader, more mixed group of solution providers, the lineup highlights some of the newest market entrants and those growing steadily:

  • Some older players have come back into focus, like Llamasoft, and 2014 honoree and supply network design provider now being recognized for focusing on the inbound supply chain.
  • There are hybrids such as Resilience360, part of DHL, which has come about as an extension of what the parent company uses within its own logistics network.
  • Increasingly, spend category-specific solutions like Bodhala and LegalSifter are making the lists.
  • The above providers deserve recognition from a transformation standpoint, as does Celonis. Their process-mining tech is instrumental in understanding the ways in which companies buy and pay for goods.
  • We anticipate this spend category-specific tech will become commoditized and start showing up in the workflows of major players soon.
  • Certain honorees are leading experts in their spaces and feature deep intelligence. NPI Financial exemplifies this in the area of IT Sourcing, and Chainalytics offers expertise around transportation optimization and packaging.
  • Contract and service management vendor Agiloft is noteworthy as an example of the Configurator persona from our SolutionMap; customers receive a tailored solution and are able to continually build it up.

To see complete listings for these and other solution providers, check out the Spend Matters Almanac.

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