We all hear about the rise of social collaboration in business beyond just posting our résumés on LinkedIn. Many of us are likely using at least a few social tools in our personal lives — Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat. Even more are using social tools built on peer-to-peer and crowdsourcing-type models. For example, UberX or UberPool have become ubiquitous as crowdsourcing a method of getting from Point A to Point B using peers rather than professionals. Yet in business — and especially within procurement — social collaboration has been largely limited to the use of LinkedIn or rudimentary collaboration capabilities built into select procurement technologies.
Something odd happened during Selectica’s roll-up strategy. Usually when a technology vendor acquires a number of providers at relatively low valuations, its focus tends to be on financially engineering the various SaaS, maintenance, upsell and other income schemes from the assets. But in Selectica’s case, the acquired became the basis of the company, in a manner in which the sum of the assets became an entirely different equation that it likely even bargained for before getting into the activity in the first place. But sometimes the uncertainty of post-merger integrations can lead to an outcome that benefits all parties involved (including customers) in ways that would be difficult to have imagined going into the process. This two-part Spend Matters PRO research brief traces the history of Determine and its solutions, including the recent re-platforming of the b-pack technology architecture. It also offers an introductory overview (necessary for those that even knew it in the past!) of the provider’s strengths and weaknesses and provides customer and partner recommendations.
I’ve personally gotten a dozen notes or calls from people I know in the past few days asking “why weren’t we” on the Spend Matters 2016 50/50 “Watch” and “Know” lists. Some were polite. Others less so. I know that my colleagues have gotten similar lines of questioning as well. Inevitably, any list or ranking of vendors or solution provider will result in happy and unhappy people and providers. It comes with the territory.
SAP and Microsoft announced a new integration plan Tuesday that deploys SAP HANA on the Microsoft Azure cloud and links SAP applications, including Ariba, with Microsoft Office 365, giving procurement organizations opportunities for enhanced collaboration, functionality and connectivity within the tools they regularly use. According to Joe Fox, senior vice president of business development and strategy at SAP Ariba, the partnership with Microsoft shows SAP/Ariba’s commitment to delivering innovation through an open platform
ISM Accelerates Into Indianapolis — Examining Content Tracks at the 2016 Annual Event and the Brewing Knowledge Battle
Over the past two days, five members of the Spend Matters team descended on Indianapolis for the 2016 ISM Annual Conference. We (Jason Busch and Pierre Mitchell) are presenting in various sessions throughout the 3-day event and our team is catching the general vibe of the largest procurement event (roughly 2,500 people this year) in North America, and we’ve been impressed with the track design and much of the content in the sessions we’ve sat in on this year.
We’ll be summarizing our current and comparative analysis of Coupa as well as our Inspire 2016 takeaways from the hundreds of company, partner and customer conversations that the Spend Matters team had at the event this week in a more detailed Spend Matters PRO analysis in the coming days. But as our team wraps up the week and a truly an excellent event, I thought it would make sense to pose an almost rhetorical question: Might Coupa actually slow down to speed up?
Spend Matters 2016 50/50 List — David and Goliath Fight Together, the Disappointment of Content Providers and the Rise of Managed Services
One reason we decided to create the Spend Matters 50 Providers to Know and 50 Providers to Watch was to call attention to specialized (and often small) procurement technology and services providers that procurement organizations should know about, but likely do not. Yet a strange thing happened in the past 12 months: Innovation was found (and lost) among larger providers, many with long established brands and track records in the market. Without giving away the list just yet, here are three observations that came from looking at who made the cut (and who did not).
Raja Hammoud, Coupa’s vice president of product management, kicked off the second day of Coupa Inspire with a morning keynote centered on the value of a suite approach to procurement technology. The core of her overall message centered on how Coupa is focused on the intersections of modules, or what she termed “suite synergy.” Raja also shared some high-level elements of Coupa Release 15, which is generally available today
Coupa CEO Rob Bernshteyn kicked off Inspire this year with a show of comic genius tying back to his personal mantra — which you can read in his new book — of “value as a service.” Using oatmeal as the focus of his opening tirade this year, he danced around the story of a failure of room service in a hotel to provide the value he wanted from a particular transaction: simply a bowl of oatmeal, on-time, without frills. (He tossed the punchline, a packet of instant oatmeal, nonchalantly into the audience at the end.)
I had the chance to sit in with a small group of Coupa customers yesterday during an informal (non-sanctioned) meeting. A number of these organizations were relatively new to Coupa and were in the process of rollouts, some global, some regional. What struck me in this session — and some other informal chats I’ve had with people here so far — is how much basic blocking and tackling still matters from a deployment perspective and how much organizations take for granted that things will “just work.”
Procurement technology disruption is here. And next week, we have no doubt that when we publish the Spend Matters 50 Providers to Know and 50 Providers to Watch list, some eyebrows will be raised. But one thing is clear from the list: The vast majority of those who made the Spend Matters 50/50 in 2016 offer some type of procurement technology to customers — even if they configure or provision it rather than develop it internally or sell it directly.
Compared with other purchase-to-pay (P2P), e-invoicing and supplier network providers, Transcepta is a bit of an anomaly. Not only has it not raised significant capital to support sales and marketing expansion, it has remained focused (until recently) on supplier enablement, e-invoicing and document exchange/collaboration enablement rather than footprint expansion (e.g., e-procurement, trade financing, etc.). The largest tragedy of Transcepta (in our view) is that it doesn’t have the sales and marketing resources to get into more opportunities. In the first installment of this Spend Matters PRO series exploring Transcepta, we covered the provider’s corporate background, solution footprint and overall strengths. Part 2 provides insight into solution weaknesses, competition and customer and prospect recommendations.