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.


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

contract

There is more than meets the product and functional eye when it comes to evaluating independent contract lifecycle management (CLM) providers. Spend Matters research, including our recently published Q4 2017 CLM SolutionMap, suggests this is a technology market where it is easier to define what makes individual vendors different than what makes them similar. This is even the case where just about every best-of-breed (i.e., non-suite) vendor ticks the baseline contract management checklist boxes across all key areas including core modeling, extended contract modeling/analytics, expiration/renewal, creation/authoring, collaboration, and implementation, compliance, obligation and performance management.

Exari is one such provider in this specialized and diverse segment of the procurement technology market that stands out based on its current intellectual property and software development focus. Consider, for example, Exari’s data architecture, built on what the provider describes as a universal contract model (UCM) that can encapsulate all of the elements, relationships and actions in a contract. Exari can use this abstracted contract data structure to guide a user through contract creation, identify potential issues and raise alerts based upon data elements or events or (unexpected) actions. It can even analyze third-party documents and convert external contracts into a document within Exari or into its UCM-based canonical contract data model through other artificial intelligence (AI) and semantic parsing capabilities in its broader solution portfolio.

This third and final installment of this Spend Matters Vendor Snapshot covering Exari provides an objective SWOT analysis of the provider and offers a competitive segmentation analysis and comparison. It also includes recommended shortlist candidates as alternative vendors to Exari and offers provider selection guidance. Finally, it provides summary analysis and recommendations for companies considering the vendor. Part 1 provided an in-depth look at Exari as a technology provider and its specific solutions, and Part 2 gave a detailed analysis of solution strengths and weaknesses and a review of the product’s user experience.

10 Questions Jaggaer’s Acquisition of BravoSolution Should Raise for Customers and the Market (Part 2)

Jaggaer’s acquisition of BravoSolution raises a number of questions for customers and partners regarding the broader strategy that Jaggaer and its owner, Accel-KKR, appear to be following in the market. In the second installment of this research brief, we pose five more questions customers, prospects and partners should consider as they explore the combination and what it means for them. (See questions one through five here.) These questions center on Jaggaer’s solution gaps that will remain following the acquisition of BravoSolution, whether the verticalization of procurement technology solutions matters, what it will take to enable a “super suite,” specific procure-to-pay (P2P) considerations and whether the transaction might trigger other acquisitions in the sector.

10 Questions Jaggaer’s Acquisition of BravoSolution Should Raise for Customers and the Market (Part 1)

This Spend Matters PRO Research Note asks 10 questions that Jaggaer and BravoSolution customers and partners should consider asking as informed “consumers” of this combination. These questions cover both the recently announced acquisition of BravoSolution by Jaggaer and general considerations based on Jaggaer and Accel-KKR’s business strategy as we see it. Part 1 of this research brief covers questions one through five, while Part 2 covers questions six through 10:

  1. What is a roll-up, what benefits does it bring and why is Jaggaer following this strategy?
  2. What did Jaggaer see in BravoSolution? And why does this matter for BravoSolution customers?
  3. Will the strategy that Jaggaer and Accel-KKR appear to be pursuing end up being a net positive for customers?
  4. How did BravoSolution operate before (e.g., regional managers and “postponement” of solution delivery approaches at the local level) and how might this acquisition change its previous approach?
  5. Is there advantage in size alone?
  6. What gaps will remain in Jaggaer’s portfolio following the closure of the transaction?
  7. Will verticalization (industry-based approaches) to procurement technology end up being more about marketing or more about product?
  8. What is a “super suite” as claimed in the announcement of the combination?
  9. What might happen to Jaggaer and BravoSolution’s individual procure-to-pay solutions as a result of the combination?
  10. Will this transaction trigger other acquisitions in the sector? And what does this mean for customers of other solutions?

The Hidden 80/20 of IT Spend: Where to Mine for Savings

sourcing technology

This Wednesday I'm participating in a webinar titled “The Paradox of IT Spend: How to Influence the Biggest Cost Reduction Opportunity and Claim Savings.” The gist of the event is that there are significant savings in tackling what some may consider “sacred cow” categories within IT spend that are not so sacred at all. But what are the best opportunities, and how much in potential savings is on the line? The answer to the first question is more nuanced, as it centers on targeting budgets (and suppliers) based on the cost of maintaining systems. The answer to the second question, however, is simple: lots.

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

Even among specialist contract lifecycle management (CLM) providers, those that go below the surface in evaluating functional capabilities will discover that there is significant differentiation of both absolute functional capability and focus among vendors. The former point may be obvious, but the latter point is especially nuanced within the best-of-breed CLM market.

Exari is a perfect example. Comparing Exari even with its specialist contract management peers is like comparing apples to oranges. It stands apart from others that appear to tick similar functional boxes for many reasons and is likely a better fit for certain legal and procurement organizations over others, based on both their specific goals in deploying a CLM solution and their overall approach to enterprise contract management.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores Exari’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 and a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering Exari. The third part of this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

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

A few years ago we could have divided the contract lifecycle management (CLM) technology provider market into two segments: providers that delivered CLM as part of integrated source-to-pay suites and standalone CLM providers, including those owned by suite vendors but that were not fully integrated as part of a source-to-pay platform, which offered significantly greater capability. But in our recent Q4 CLM SolutionMap, we learned this segmentation is no longer accurate. Select standalone CLM providers have begun to distanced themselves considerably, on a function scoring (Solution) basis, from the previous generation of best-of-breed providers that were part of suite vendor offerings (e.g., Selectica/Determine, Upside/Jaggaer).

One of these independent providers that is pulling away from the suite crowd is Exari. Like other CLM specialists, Exari not only focuses on procurement contracts but also enterprise contracts, including sales contracts, leases, partnership agreements, employment agreements and other contracts that fall outside the realm of the procurement.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement and legal organizations make informed decisions about whether Exari, as a standalone CLM solution, is a better fit than using a suite-based contract management provider. Part 1 of our analysis provides a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider Exari. The remainder of this multipart research brief covers product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analysis, user selection guides, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

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

This Vendor Snapshot focuses on Beeline, a contingent workforce and services sourcing and management technology solution provider. For years one of the top global players in the traditional VMS software category, the company has begun to expand its solution in a number of different directions to address the changing needs of enterprise clients at a time when external workforce utilization is increasing and new technology solutions for sourcing and managing contingent workforce and services (CW/S) are required. Although Beeline, as a company now merged with IQNavigator (IQN), currently serves clients with two VMS solutions, in this series we focus on the Beeline platform; we plan to address the IQN solution in the future.

Part 1 of our analysis provided a company and solution overview, including basic fit criteria for firms considering Beeline. Part 2 explores Beeline’s product strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide if they should shortlist the vendor to enable their services procurement technology requirements. It also offers a high-level evaluation of the user interface. Part 3 of this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

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

For most procurement organizations, artificial intelligence (AI) technology in 2017 is similar to what online marketplaces and B2B exchanges were to purchasing teams in 2000. In other words, more of a curiosity — and a place to potentially make investments — than a proven thing. But the similarity ends there.

AI is very much real — and early adopters in procurement, finance and supply chain are already taking advantage of its benefits. And perhaps most important for skeptical procurement functions more interested in containing technology risk than fully embracing digital capabilities, there is no chance that the AI movement will implode, like the majority of B2B exchanges from the turn of the last millennium — it’s too far along for that already and the benefits are all too real.

If you’re not yet convinced, use cases from providers like Dhatim will help you make you a believer. While not a traditional source-to-pay modular or suite provider, Dhatim brings adjacent AI-led spend, invoice, broader P2P and payment classification, analytics and proactive opportunity identification capabilities that are complementary to existing systems and the data they produce.

Today’s third and final installment of this Spend Matters Vendor Snapshot covering Dhatim provides an objective SWOT analysis of the provider and offers a competitive segmentation analysis and comparison. It also includes recommended shortlist candidates as alternative vendors to Dhatim and offers provider selection guidance. Finally, it provides summary analysis and recommendations for companies considering the vendor. Part 1 provided an in-depth look at Dhatim as a firm and its specific solutions, and Part 2 gave a detailed analysis of solution strengths and weaknesses and a review of the product’s user experience.

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

“Cognitive” procurement has a ring to it. Enough so that any CPO who works for an organization with a broader digital transformation mandate just might pick up the old handset when a new technology provider that uses artificial intelligence (AI) in new ways decides to call. And Dhatim’s Conciliator, one of the first entrants into the cognitive sourcing market that uses AI and customized learning models to identify and predict savings opportunities, classification errors, and even individual (and theoretically supplier/vendor) performance/quality, may very well be the one on the other end of the line.

Conciliator is not the first “next generation” integrated AI-based solution that we have seen with true cognitive procurement (or sourcing) capabilities. LevaData (see our Vendor Snapshot series here, here and here) takes that prize. But Conciliator is one of the first true cognitive platforms on the market with an ability to do deep predictive analytics on certain categories in certain verticals in ways that go beyond basic AI applications to spend classification, fraud detection, predictive risk scoring and other established use cases alone.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores Conciliator’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 and a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering Conciliator. The third part of this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

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

You might not know it, but France has a great history of building outstanding, engineering-led procurement technology firms. Ivalua and b-pack (now Determine) stand out for different reasons, but both have achieved varying degrees of success globally. Dhatim, founded in 2007, stands to follow in their footsteps — and potentially create an even larger imprint. While not a new technology provider in the procurement space, Dhatim, and its solution named Conciliator, is relatively new outside of its home country. Like others that have expanded outside the French market before it, Dhatim is looking to build a global presence, first in Europe and the UK, and then beyond.

Dhatim’s Conciliator is not a procurement suite. In fact, it would misleading to view the provider as a module-centric vendor only. Rather, it has developed an artificial intelligence (AI)-centered suite of applications that leverage the underlying learning and analytics capability to solve specific procurement, finance and even HR business challenges as well as shared services end-to-end processes operational challenges, primarily centered on automated compliance. Many of Conciliator’s large customers are keen to take advantage of digital initiatives that center on “cognitive procurement” and related areas. Conciliator not only checks the box but also delivers against use cases in which other, non-AI based solutions would have a much more difficult time — if they could do it at all.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement and finance organizations make informed decisions about whether they need a solution like Conciliator alongside or as an adjunct to other analytics and data classification technologies. Part 1 of our analysis provides a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider Conciliator. The remainder of this multipart research brief covers product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analysis, user selection guides, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

Behind the Scenes: Interpreting Q4 2017 SolutionMap Results With Jason Busch — Jaggaer (and Jaggaer Direct)

Today I’m wrapping up my series of observations on Q4 2017 SolutionMap suite providers with perhaps the most fun vendor of all to opine on beyond the data alone: Jaggaer. (Be sure to check out the previous installments covering SAP Ariba, Basware and CoupaDetermine, GEP and Ivalua; and BravoSolution and Zycus, too.) When I think of potential — using the truest sense of the word — in the procurement technology market, there is no provider more underutilized than Jaggaer, especially in scenarios where it can serve industry segments and geographies that have not previously embraced solutions designed for them. Below I share my thoughts on this opportunity and how Jaggaer did in the Q4 2017 SolutionMaps, with maybe a few Jägerbomb(shells) tossed down the thirsty Friday throat for good measure. Whether your mixer is a Red Bull or Heineken, sit back and enjoy.

Behind the Scenes: Interpreting Q4 2017 SolutionMap Results With Jason Busch — BravoSolution and Zycus

Today I continue to offer my observations on technology providers that participated in the Q4 2017 SolutionMaps by turning to two suite providers: BravoSolution and Zycus. During the course of our analysis, I was struck by how different both providers are overall in what they actually serve up to customers and how they fit into the market, despite having similar product footprints. Comparing the two is like comparing apples to oranges, which actually sums up quite well the odd, diverse and certainly complex category we today call procurement solutions. So sit back, relax and enjoy. And do drop me a line or post a comment if you want to add anything else to the discussion.