Author Archives: Jason Busch



About Jason Busch

The closest thing to a household name in procurement and supply chain, Jason has led the charge as an advocate, futurist and evangelist since the 1990s. Initially at FreeMarkets and then an adviser to Ariba and other firms, Jason branched out on his own to establish the Spend Matters brand (parent company: Azul Partners), which emerged to become the largest news and information portal covering the sector. Over the years, Azul Partners has expanded this digital portfolio to 12 affiliated properties including leading titles such as Spend Matters UK/Europe, MetalMiner and Public Spend Forum, making it one of the largest independent B2B digital media firms. Jason divides his time between research, speaking, corporate finance advisory and mentoring dozens of firms and procurement organizations in the industry. Prior to Azul Partners and FreeMarkets, Jason worked in consulting and merchant banking. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. Personal investment disclosures: Azul Partners, Inc., Public Spend Forum, LLC, Remitia Ltd., RJSL Group LLC, Sigaria Ltd., Spare to Share, LLC, Spendata LLC, SpendLead, Inc., Spend Matters Europe Ltd., Spend Matters Group, LLC.


The First Row Seat: Interpreting Q4 2017 SolutionMap Results With Jason Busch — SAP Ariba, Basware and Coupa

The Q4 2017 SolutionMap was a major product release for Spend Matters. It included six individual functional product types, two suite areas and spanned 32 vendors. Despite our marketing claims of having invested “hundreds of hours” of analyst time in the process, the actual number felt like more in the thousands, by my own accounting. I told one of my colleagues I felt like I was “in the Matrix” at one would point when looking at technology provider demonstrations.

It was a Herculean effort here on the Spend Matters side by roughly a dozen people. I played my part, but so did so many others. And now we start all over again working on the Q1 2018 release, adding new providers and updating current participants. (We encourage existing participants to update their RFIs and provide new product demonstrations twice per year, although this is just a recommended level. As for submitting additional customer survey participants, we always welcome new ones on a quarterly basis and will be “self-sourcing” validated reviews starting in Q1, as well.)

While I have not yet fulfilled all of my own deliverable obligations for SolutionMap to our trusty editorial team — the final three pieces are coming by tomorrow, I promise! — I could not wait any longer to share my own interpretation of some of the results.

This Spend Matters PRO Research Note does not necessarily represent the views of Spend Matters or my colleagues. But as the founder of this thing, please grant me the license to share some personal opinions on what the results may tell us, including insights into some of the providers that are on the rise (and others potentially on the fall). Today I’ll share insights into three providers: SAP Ariba, Basware and Coupa. For each, I’ll provide SolutionMap interpretation, opinion, analysis and some succinct recommendations to customers, prospects and partners.

In a follow-up piece, I’ll share my thoughts on other providers. Finally, in the coming weeks, I’ll also offer my opinion about how to interpret the overall SolutionMap results and cases where practitioners really need to unpack each persona to identify the best-fit providers to support a given initiative.

SolutionMap is in many ways the new Spend Matters, and while it is designed to be data driven and equal parts expert and customer led, I built a large chunk of the original site on opinion. (And, I admit, sometimes gossip, though most of it proved true!) After all, Spend Matters was a blog for so long. So let me opine and share what I really think.

Spendency: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Summary & Competitive Analysis

data analytics

What is your spend analysis buying persona? If it looks like the Spend Matters SolutionMap “Nimble” persona — by definition an organization looking for speed, efficiency, low price and quick value from cloud-based procurement technologies — then Spendency, a Sweden-based spend analytics provider that provides a do-it-yourself toolset, should be on your shortlist. And if you need some hand-holding or want a third party to help on data loading, cleansing, classification or related procurement and IT services, Spendency is still an option, as its investors are also its partners and bring particular expertise in their respective areas.

In two years since launching, Spendency has already amassed a respectable 60 customers, primarily in the Nordic markets. As it looks to expand globally, Spendency’s combination of ease of use and comparatively low cost make it an attractive option for organizations looking for a highly usable analytics solution they can take in-house with limited or no training.

This final installment of our multipart Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot series covering Spendency offers a SWOT analysis, a competitive assessment and a comparison with other providers in the spend analysis market. It also includes a user selection guide and summary evaluation and selection considerations. Part 1 and Part 2 of this PRO research series provide a company and deep-dive solution overview, product strengths and weaknesses and a recommended fit analysis for what types of organizations should consider Spendency.

Zycus Horizon 2017 Dispatch: Exploring Zycus’ Products and Modules Across Source-to-Pay

Earlier in the week on the mainstage at Zycus Horizon, Aatish Dedhia, Zycus’ founder and CEO, provided an overview of his firm’s current and emerging product footprint. The suite is “comprehensive,” to use a word Dedhia favors in describing it. To his credit, Zycus arguably offers one of the broadest suites available today, albeit with varying degrees of depth and comparative functionality. While our definition of what falls into a particular module or another may differ from how various providers define it, here’s how Zycus explains its footprint today.

Spendency: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths & Weaknesses

Analytics

Like other areas that fall into what we describe as the strategic procurement technology segment (which includes strategic sourcing, supplier management and contract management), the spend analytics sector remain a high-growth yet fragmented market. Spend Matters market sizing models suggest a healthy double-digit CAGR for spend analytics in 2017 and 2018, although not one solution provider has been able to create a leadership position overall. Within this market segment, Spendency, a relatively new Nordic-based provider, has quietly built significant traction with a self-service spend analytics offering, supported by enabling services via its partners and investors for those customers who do not want a DIY tool alone.

Since releasing the first version of its cloud-based application in 2015, Spendency has proven a fit with several dozen middle market customers and some larger organizations, as well. Originally focused on signing up Scandinavian organizations, Spendency is now making a play for the global spend analysis market. The solution is quick to get up and running, easy to use, and satisfies the 80/20 rule for organizations that just need a basic spend analysis solution to get started on their analytics journey.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores Spendency’s strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should consider the provider. Part 1 of our analysis provided a company and detailed solution overview, as well as a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering Spendency. The third part of this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

Zycus Horizon 2017 Dispatch: Blockchain, Robotic Process Automation and the Cloud

At Zycus Horizon, I participated in two panel discussions, one as a “pinch hitter” and the other with some up-front planning. One centered on the impact of robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence on the future of procurement technology and the procurement function, while also tying in cloud, blockchain, the internet of things (IoT) and other disruptive technology areas. The other panel touched on these topics but emphasized the future of the user experience in procurement technology.

Zycus Horizon 2017 Dispatch: 5 Impressions From The Event So Far

Eved

Xavier Olivera and I have spent the past 24 hours at Zycus Horizon. We’ve been in and out of sessions, had conversations with customers and partners, and spent significant time talking to Zycus management. While we did not spend too much time in New Orleans digging into Zycus’ latest product releases, we’ve spent a dozen or so hours in the past quarter reviewing Zycus’ core procure-to-pay (P2P) and strategic procurement technology modules. Factoring these sessions into account and what we’ve learned at Horizon, we thought we’d do a “shoot from the hip” list of impressions from the event this year.

Spendency: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background & Solution Overview

You can count on the timing like procurement technology clockwork. Every time a spend analytics vendor is acquired, a new one pops up, always with a slightly different take on previous-generation solutions. One of these relatively new spend analytics providers is Spendency, a cloud-based provider spun out of a procurement consultancy that focuses on the Nordic market (although it is not limiting its geographic focus and reach).

Spendency is attempting to fill a niche as one of only a few low-cost spend analytics solutions that is fast to stand up and comparatively inexpensive to deploy. The idea behind the toolset is to put spend analytics in the hand of every buyer and analyst that needs it with a low-cost entry point. Specifically, the solution starts at about €10,000 per year for a small or mid-size organization, a sum that is less than 5% of the annual costs that many organizations pay for other spend analysis solutions today. At this price, Spendency provides significant value for money for an end-to-end spend analytics solution.

So far, Spendency’s niche is proving itself to be significant in the market, as the provider has acquired more than 60 clients in 24 months since launch. But will it succeed on the global stage with diverse competition ranging from ERP vendors to procurement suite providers to AI-led specialists to numerous other low-cost, do-it-yourself spend analytics platforms? This Spend Matters PRO analysis provides an overview of Spendency, letting our subscribers form their own opinions (while sharing more than a few of our own).

The three-part Vendor Snapshot series provides facts and expert opinion to help procurement organizations make informed decisions about Spendency and whether its capabilities are a fit for their needs. Part 1 of our analysis provides a company background and a detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider Spendency for procurement and spend analysis. The remaining parts of this research brief will cover product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analyses, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

Zycus Horizon 2017 Dispatch: By the Numbers and Hinting at the Future

Xavier Olivera and I are on the ground in New Orleans (post “supply risk weather incident”) to attend the Zycus Horizon 2017 customer conference. Early in the afternoon, after a late start because of the hurricane — the storm, not the drink! — Aatish Dedhia, founder and CEO of Zycus, took the stage to provide an update and outlook on Zycus.

The Venerable VMS: A Situation and SWOT Analysis of the VMS Solution Category

In this PRO brief, we take an in-depth look at the presumably well-understood vendor management solution (VMS) solution category: where it and the providers falling within it are today and what the future may hold. We also provide practical insights and suggestions for enterprise buyers, as well as recommendations for further reading.

Analyzing 2017 E-Sourcing Savings and Trends with Scanmarket

Last week I touched down in London to attend and speak at Scanmarket’s eSourcing Exclusive Summit. Scanmarket is a provider of strategic sourcing software and over the years has developed a particular expertise and customer following based on its reverse auction capability and formats. During the event, Henrik Balslev, senior vice president of operations for Scanmarket, gave a presentation on e-sourcing and reverse auction trends. I thought it would be valuable for Spend Matters readers to hear some of the data Balslev shared.

Opera Solutions (BIQ/Signalytics): Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Summary & Competitive Analysis

analytics

Opera Solutions takes a unique approach to the process of managing spending data today. Its solution is a hybrid desktop and SaaS application that lets a user manage analytics in the cloud through a highly customized QlikView “front end” or on the desktop, through a new and much improved Windows desktop application with a more modern look and feel than the aged Windows XP interface that BIQ came with for most of its existence. Or, they can leverage both, doing “local” analysis, uploading downloads for sharing, downloading for experimenting and so on. On top of this, they can build their own customized analysis in Python and run it in the in-memory Opera Solutions engine, as well as do custom analytics as fast as out-of-the-box analytics, at industry leading speeds.

This final installment of our multipart Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot series covering Opera Solutions’ Signalytics offers a SWOT analysis, competitive assessment, and comparison with other similar and “crossover” providers in the supplier management and supplier diversity market. It also includes a user selection guide and summary evaluation and selection considerations. Part 1 and Part 2 of this PRO research series provide a company and deep-dive solution overview, product strengths and weaknesses, and a recommended fit analysis for what types of organizations should consider Opera Solutions for procurement and spend analytics.

Opera Solutions (BIQ/Signalytics): Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths & Weaknesses

data analytics

In most cases, spend analysis solutions do not age like fine wine. The speed with which technology innovation is happening can make a product that was state of the art five years ago taste like the equivalent of plonk today — or worse. But Opera Solutions’ Signaltyics, which still leverages much of the code in the original BIQ spend analysis product that it acquired in 2012, is proof that with the right continued investment, even previous-generation core technologies can outdo modern platforms in certain areas. The recent enhancements to the product that we have seen surprised us in positive ways.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores Signalytics’ strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should consider the provider. Part 1 of our analysis provided a company and detailed solution overview and a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering Opera Solutions’ Signalytics. The third part of this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations. The focus of this review is not on Opera Solutions’ overall Signal Hub enterprise analytics platform but rather its specific solution targeting indirect procurement.