Author Archives: Michael Lamoureux



AI In Procurement Tomorrow (Part 2): Ninjabots and Augmented Intelligence

In this series we are discussing artificial intelligence, with AI touted by many a salesperson. Virtually every vendor is claiming AI, even though it’s a stretch to promote having a fully functioning model. However, if you are willing to settle for “assisted intelligence,” that AI exists today (as per our precursor series that you can read here: AI in Procurement Today, Part 1 and Part 2), and it won't be long before we have the “augmented intelligence” that we are discussing in this series, as some vendors already have limited beta capabilities (that are typically restricted to a subset of categories) in many of these areas. In our last article, we discussed how tomorrow's systems are going to help considerably with overspend protection. In today's article, we'll consider “ninjabots” and dive into invisible buying, automatic buying and automatic opportunity identification.

AI in Procurement Tomorrow (Part 1): Recap and Overspend Prevention Examples

As we highlighted in our earlier series on AI in Procurement Today (see Part 1 and Part 2), artificial intelligence is the buzzword — or, more precisely, the buzz acronym — du jour in procurement software. Virtually every vendor these days is either claiming to have AI or to be working on it, even if all the vendor has, or is working on, is robotic process automation (RPA).

Whether your vendor has AI or not, however, is not the most pressing question. Because AI is coming, possibly faster than you think. Moreover, if you don't adopt (at least the precursor) technology today, your procurement organization may be left in the dust tomorrow.

Wax Digital: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses

In Part 1, we introduced you to Wax Digital, a source-to-pay provider from the UK that you may not be familiar with, especially since it has not yet participated in Solution Map (although that changes this quarter). Wax Digital is a provider of note as it is one of the few providers that has a relatively complete, integrated, source-to-pay offering on one code base that is already used globally in over 100 countries. In our last article, we overviewed some of the key parts of Wax Digital’s platform. In this post, we dive into its strengths and weaknesses.

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

Some vendors prefer to wax poetic. Others prefer to wax digital. One such source-to-pay provider likes waxing digital so much, that it even calls itself Wax Digital. And it is our latest source-to-pay vendor to get the in-depth PRO treatment here on Spend Matters (before its debut in Q4 SolutionMap).

By now you are all familiar with its primary source-to-pay competitors, including SAP Ariba, Coupa, Determine, GEP, iValua, Jaggaer, SynerTrade and Zycus, as they have been covered extensively on PRO and appear in the SPT & S2P solution maps, and while you are quite familiar with the American S2P providers (Ariba, Coupa, Determine, GEP, Jaggaer and Zycus) and now the European S2P providers (iValua and SynerTrade), you're likely not as familiar with their English counterparts, namely Proactis and Wax Digital, as they have not had as much exposure in recent years. And Wax Digital is definitely a provider that should make your familiarization list.

Wax Digital, which has been around for almost two decades, is one of the largest European providers of source-to-pay solutions, with users in over 100 countries around the globe. It is available in 15 languages out of the box and supports all currencies under ISO 4217 for its 250,000+ global users.

Part 1 of this analysis provides a detailed company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit for when organizations should consider Wax Digital. The remaining parts of this research brief will dive into product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analyses, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

AI in Procurement Today (Part 2): 6 Applications in P2P

As we discussed in Part 1 of this series, AI is the reigning buzzword of the day in procurement software. Just about every enterprise vendor out there claims to have AI, even if all they have is RPA. To help procurement organizations get up to speed, we reviewed the definition of each of the technologies in the “cognitive” stack — RPA, ML, AR, AI and cognitive — and discussed how some (but definitely not all) platforms are making use of these emerging technologies to make procurement faster, better and more productive than ever before.

Specifically, in Part 1 we discussed how the right application of these assistive technologies today can give you a platform that provides true automation, smart auto-reorder of MRO/retail stock and enhanced mobile support. We also noted that there were just a few of the applications that were available. Today, we review three more capabilities that a best-of-breed procurement platform should provide to take your (tactical) procurement to the next level.

Why Community Intelligence is the Leading Coupa Value Proposition

Brexit

The Spend Matters team is on the ground at Coupa Inspire 2018 EMEA, in London, where Coupa CEO Rob Bernshteyn kicked off the event by reiterating the company’s vision through a letter-by-letter explanation of Coupa’s name. We’ve covered this approach to defining Coupa before, and while the attributes of openness, usability, prescriptive and acceleration are all of course applicable, we respectfully disagree with choice for “C.” While Coupa is indeed “comprehensive,” there is a better choice: community.

AI In Procurement Today (Part 1): Definitions and 6 Applications in P2P

AI is the buzzword — or, more precisely, the buzz acronym — du jour in procurement software. Just about every vendor claims its applications have artificial intelligence, even though many have only basic forms of robotic process automation (RPA) or, at best, automated reasoning systems enhanced by machine learning.

But whether or not a vendor has capabilities that constitute true AI is not the ultimate question procurement needs to answer. Rather, procurement must ask what currently available systems can do today, how those systems can be used to automate and improve standard processes, and how today’s technology can prepare organizations to adopt true “cognitive” systems when they become available. Because real AI is coming. And if procurement fails to adopt the precursor technologies available today, laggard organizations risk being left in the dust by those that do.

This Spend Matters PRO series explores use cases for artificial intelligence in procurement, today and in the near future. It begins by defining, in plain terms, what AI is, which technologies fall under its umbrella and how they relate to procurement. We then identify six of the best mainstream applications of AI in procurement and explain how each can be applied to the procure-to-pay cycle. Future installments will examine applications of AI beyond P2P, including sourcing, spend analytics and supplier management.

AdaptOne: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Summary and Competitive Analysis

supplier management

The supplier management technology market is among the most fragmented of those in the procurement technology landscape.

It comprises multiple segments (and sub-segments), and Spend Matters now tracks approximately 50 providers that compete within niche segments of it. One of these providers is AdaptOne, a vendor specializing in supplier information management that perfectly matches Spend Matters’ SolutionMap “Turnkey” persona for supplier management. This Spend Matters PRO report provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations make informed decisions about AdaptOne’s solution — and whether its “turnkey” services-driven approach is right for them.

Part 1 of our analysis provided a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider AdaptOne in the procurement, supply chain and finance technology areas. Part 2 covered product strengths and weaknesses. This final installment offers SWOT analysis, explores competitive alternatives to AdaptOne and provides insight into evaluation and selection considerations, including a prioritization/fit checklist.

Coupa: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Commentary and Summary Analysis (2018 Update)

Since we last reviewed Coupa, the provider has continued to increase its market share within the source-to-pay technology segment, albeit with a primary focus on procure-to-pay (e-procurement and invoice-to-pay), spend analytics and sourcing. As we have noted in the past, numerous areas can be credited for its continued ascent, including a spend under management growth rate that continues to exceed revenue growth — a metric that shows the rapid manner in which customers are implementing and scaling Coupa implementations relative to first generation procure-to-pay (P2P) solutions. Coupa’s metrics-centric approach to measurable business value is an extension of its own culture, including an emphasis on rapid solution development based on listening to customers and creating accountability for results.

While Coupa is not an ideal fit for all procurement technology requirements, it has become the new benchmark by which other e-procurement and spend management technology suite vendors must measure themselves, or at least in comparison and differentiation. In many ways, Coupa’s initial public offering (IPO) established the first of a new generation of providers assuming a leadership position in the market.

From a competitive perspective, when we last wrote, we suggested that  Coupa had moved from the hunter to the hunted, although its competition remained fragmented, with the exception of SAP Ariba, which it continues to encounter most in shortlist and evaluation considerations, and Oracle, which is now its second largest competitor as it markets itself as the provider of “Business Spend Management” solutions. More recently, we also have seen Ivalua be considered in — and often win — a range of often large deals, with an emphasis on public sector, healthcare and manufacturing, in situations where Coupa, SAP Ariba and others might have been in the pole position in the past.

Regardless, Coupa competes against both a select few and many dozen of providers — depending on the situation and how fragmented the competition is for a given opportunity, geography, industry or modular need. Regardless, Coupa competes against both a select few and many dozen of providers — depending on the situation and how fragmented the competition is for a given opportunity, geography, industry or modular need.

This third and final installment of this Spend Matters Vendor Snapshot covering Coupa provides an objective SWOT analysis of Coupa and offers a competitive segmentation analysis and comparison based on Q4 2018 information. It also includes recommended shortlist candidates as alternative vendors to Coupa and offers provider selection guidance. Finally, it provides summary analysis and recommendations for companies considering Coupa. Part 1 provided an in-depth look at Coupa 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.

AdaptOne: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses

supplier network

As a standalone component of procurement, supplier management is not new. Nor is the technology to enable it. But most procurement organizations still only have sourcing or e-procurement technology (at best) with capabilities that offer targeted supplier support for larger vendors. From a supplier management standpoint, the majority of firms still pay little attention to the long tail of hundreds, thousands or even tens of thousands of suppliers that they do business with. One of the key promises of supplier management solutions is to tier engagement levels and manage these suppliers across the entire lifecycle of engagement.

Within this market, AdaptOne offers targeted capabilities that focus on supplier information management (SIM) and supplier diversity, which represent two sub-disciplines within supplier lifecycle management. Having started out as an enterprise business process management (BPM) and workflow management provider that customized solutions to client processes, AdaptOne evolved into a SIM provider that offers turn-key solutions inclusive of customized configuration.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores AdaptOne’s product strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide if they should shortlist the vendor. It also offers a critique of the user interface. Part 1 of our analysis offered a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider AdaptOne’s supplier management software. The final installment of this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

AdaptOne: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background and Solution Overview

The supplier lifecycle management software market — which can be segregated at least half a dozen different ways — includes dozens upon dozens of different providers specializing in one or more enterprise technology areas. These include supplier information management (SIM), supplier performance management (SPM), supplier relationship management (SRM), supplier quality management (SQM), supplier discovery management (SDM), supplier diversity, supplier risk management, and governance, risk and compliance (GRC). 

Some of these areas are data-centric, others are process-centric and others still are relationship-centric. Following this pattern, from a tech vendor “supply market” perspective, some of the providers that compete in this sector are well known to procurement organizations, having invested heavily in marketing and sales for many years. But the majority tend to slip under the radar, either due to lack of marketing investment, lack of focus or simply poor communication (e.g., getting caught up in broader offerings/suite capabilities). And some are not even on the radar of most organizations.

One of the providers in these latter camps that recently caught our attention is AdaptOne. And not necessarily because it has a unique supplier management solution, as the truth is there is a lot of similarity between it and a few other SIM solutions. Rather, AdaptOne piqued our interest because it comes from a unique background and sells the solution from a new perspective. Leveraging a business process management (BPM) development and deployment orientation, AdaptOne’s solution is more configurable and, well, adaptable (sorry, we could not resist) than most of its peers.

But how does AdaptOne stack up functionally, and what does its solution offer? This Spend Matters Pro Vendor Snapshot provides an overview of the AdaptOne solution, along with facts and expert analysis to help buying organizations, suppliers and their partners make informed decisions about AdaptOne's SIM-centric solution. Part 1 of our analysis provides a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations might want to consider AdaptOne. The rest of this multipart research brief will cover product strengths and weaknesses, competitors and SWOT analysis, user selection guides, insider evaluation and selection considerations.

Program Management: The Missing Link in Procurement Technology Modules and Suites (Part 10: E-Procurement Components, Continued)

In this series, we have been discussing the glue that binds together different areas of procurement workflow: the overall program management of both individual tasks and collective activities across the source-to-pay continuum, along with the technology components that support this end-to-end perspective. As a whole, this Spend Matters PRO series provides deep insight into what effective program management technology capabilities encapsulate from a design, platform and functional perspective.

We started this series by exploring design principles on which effective program management technology is based across the source-to-pay continuum. We then provided insights into the building blocks of effective program management technology components including best-of-breed project management, performance management, program compliance, program collaboration and other areas. We then highlighted specific examples of category management requirements and supplier management requirements before our series wrap-up with e-procurement and broader P2P.

In our last article (Part 9 — E-Procurement Components), we defined the P2P program counterparts to the sourcing-centric programs and began a deep dive into the platform components required to support the programs covered in our last entry. In this final installment on P2P, we conclude the platform components required to support modern procurement programs.