The E-Sourcing Category

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E-Sourcing is Dead, Long Live Intelligent Sourcing Systems

People familiar with e-sourcing often lament its lack of adoption and how others don’t understand the value it drives. This is missing the point: There’s a reason why adoption of e-sourcing is lower than expected and why sourcing managers often try to avoid e-sourcing. The main problem is that people see it as a crude implement, a sledgehammer that harms supplier relationships when they needed a surgical knife to be more precise and nuanced in their negotiations. But a new era is about to begin.

E-Sourcing and Spend Analytics 2018 Trends and Forecast (Part 3: Provider Analysis) [PRO]

After years of relative stability in the e-sourcing and spend analytics market, 2018 appears to be ushering in a period of disruption and innovation for solution providers. From the early rise of artificial intelligence to greater adoption and innovation around sourcing optimization to the rapid emergence of contract-based analytics as a complement to traditional spend analysis, 2018 promises to be the year where change is just about the only constant in these markets. And, of course, we expect M&A activity to continue in 2018, as well, fueled by private equity interest in the sector and a general trend toward consolidation — which may or may not be good for customers, depending on the circumstances.

This is the third installment of our 2018 procurement technology trend and forecast series, focusing on solution provider trends and priorities within e-sourcing and spend analytics. Part 1 and Part 2 of this series provide an analysis and exploration of customer trends. In today’s PRO research brief, we turn our attention to the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and the continued trend toward M&A and consolidation within the procurement technology suite, sourcing and spend analytics markets. We also include a chart showing Jason Busch’s top five vendors most likely to be acquired in the next 12–18 months in the sourcing and spend analytics markets, along with a quick rationale as to “why” and “who”.

Following today’s analysis, the final installments in this series will feature additional trends (e.g., the rise of contract-based analytics) and conclude with our 2018 e-sourcing and spend analytics market sizing, forecast and adoption outlook.

E-Sourcing and Spend Analytics 2018 Trends and Forecast: Customer Adoption and Priorities (Part 2) [PRO]

The Spend Matters 2018 Trends and Predictions series is in full swing this quarter. In January, we published our complete e-procurement market commentary and forecast series (see Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3). Then in February, we continued the series with our first installment covering the e-sourcing and spend analytics markets, starting with two of five trends driving customer adoption and priorities. Today, we conclude our look at predictions and trends for these markets by exploring three additional developments: valuing suite optionality, expanding sourcing and spend analytics use cases, and the streamlining of RFI and deployment processes.

E-Sourcing and Spend Analytics 2018 Trends and Forecast (Part 1): Customer Adoption and Priorities [PRO]

Earlier this year we began our 2018 trends and predictions series, starting first with the e-procurement market. This earlier series is a useful primer for this one, and readers may find it worthwhile to read Part 1 (Customer Adoption and Priorities), as well as Part 2 and Part 3 (Provider Analysis and Market Sizing). Today, we continue our procurement technology trend and forecast series by diving into customer adoption trends and priorities within the e-sourcing and spend analytics markets.

We begin this exploration by analyzing what customers are valuing most from a selection and deployment perspective in 2018, as well as trends, such as IBM Emptoris migration, driving these activities. Then, in later installments in this series, we’ll offer insight into e-sourcing and spend analytics technology provider trends and strategies of note. Finally, we will share our comparative 2018 market growth and sizing estimates for both the e-sourcing and spend analytics.

From a customer adoption perspective, we see five distinctive trends, each of which we will cover in Parts 1 and 2 of the series: 

  1. Functionality Be Dammed! The Rise of the Nimble Buying Persona
  2. IBM Emptoris Migrations Accelerate
  3. Suite Optionality
  4. Expanding Sourcing and Spend Analytics Use Cases
  5. The Streamlining of RFI and Deployment Processes 

SynerTrade: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background and Solution Overview [PRO]


Thanks to Spend Matters SolutionMaps, readers are likely familiar with six of the larger source-to-pay providers: SAP Ariba, Determine, GEP, Ivalua, Jaggaer and Zycus. (Coupa, we should note, competes only selectively as an end-to-end suite provider.) But they might not be familiar with SynerTrade, an S2P provider we most recently reviewed in 2016.

Two years ago, SynerTrade offered a sprawling set of platform-based procurement applications, not so dissimilar in approach from what Pool4Tool (now Jaggaer Direct) offered at the time. But since then, SynerTrade has developed a globally competitive set of capabilities, creating an integrated suite model built on a common platform — with 34 individual apps available on top of it.

How SynerTrade compares with other providers will become clearer when we release our Q1 2018 SolutionMaps in March. For now, this Spend Matters PRO series offers an updated primer on SynerTrade, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should include it on their shortlists.

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 SynerTrade. The remaining parts of this research brief will cover product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analyses, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

Sourcing Provider Head-to-Head Comparison: Scout RFP vs. EC Sourcing [PRO]

The boom of the “Nimble” buying persona first started in e-procurement and coincided with the momentum that gave rise to Coupa’s leadership position as a “must shortlist” candidate for procure-to-pay (P2P). Spend Matters describes the Nimble buying persona as typifying companies with often early formalization of process, limited technology investment to date and potentially decentralized operations. Middle-market companies are also quite often Nimble buyers. But regardless of size, procurement organizations that fit the Nimble persona look to cloud-based technologies that can deliver on speed, efficiency, low price and quick value.

Anecdotally, Nimble is the most common buying persona Spend Matters sees today.(We will have data to corroborate this in later in 2018.) Even highly complex procurement organizations are often willing to trade off unique requirements to conform to the Nimble norm. And Nimble is not just a top buying persona for e-procurement. Nimble-minded procurement organizations are increasingly looking at solutions that meet similar criteria in other technology domains, including sourcing solutions. Based on Spend Matters Q4 2017 SolutionMap for North America customers, two of the top performing sourcing technology providers for the Nimble persona are Scout RFP and EC Sourcing.

But these providers could not be more different when it comes to outlook, motivations, management style and, most important, technology and solution strengths and weaknesses. Join us as we take off the gloves and based on Q4 2017 SolutionMap data, put Scout and EC Sourcing “head to head” into the Spend Matters evaluation ring. We’ll start by providing a technology summary comparative rating of each provider and then explore business requirements and scenarios, calling out the winner in each circumstance. PRO customers with advisory can reach out for us to comment on non-functional/technical considerations.

Granted, there’s not a bad choice among the two for the Nimble buyer. But let’s put them to the Spend Matters test and see which is the best fit for different requirements. If you’re considering either vendor or sourcing competitors, including other ranked SolutionMap providers Coupa, Determine, GEP, Ivalua, Jaggaer, Jaggaer Direct, Keelvar, Market Dojo, SAP Ariba, Scanmarket or Zycus, look no further for a head-to-head evaluation and comparison that you can’t get anywhere else.

Beyond Logistics: 6 Non-Traditional Categories Where Companies Should Apply Sourcing Optimization

What exactly is sourcing optimization, and where can it be applied, besides the obvious areas? Earlier this month, Spend Matters analysts Michael Lamoureux and Tom Finn teamed up with Garry Mansell, sourcing optimization general manager at Coupa, on a webinar on this very topic, “Sourcing Optimization in New Categories: A ‘How-To’ Guide.” As the webinar title suggests, this isn’t about logistics or MRO, but rather some more non-traditional categories — six to be exact — where sourcing optimization can bring significant savings.

Zycus: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Summary and Competitive Analysis [PRO]


For many years, Zycus’ self-proclaimed corporate objective was to become a “top three” procurement technology solutions provider. The irony of this goal was that it would ultimately — at least until Q2 2018 — prove elusive, not because of a failure to execute on objectives but rather how the market (e.g., Jaggaer’s strategy of combining multiple larger vendors and niche specialists under a single roof) moved against Zycus through unexpected actions. But more important than this is what Zycus’ initiatives actually mean for customers, based on the underlying current capabilities of the provider’s modules, suite and ecosystem today — and its planned enhancements for tomorrow. In these areas, fortunately, Zycus’ approach to meeting its business goals proved more important than the initial objective itself.

The third and final installment of this Spend Matters Vendor Snapshot series covering Zycus offers a SWOT analysis of the provider and a competitive segmentation analysis and comparison. It also includes recommended shortlist candidates as alternative vendors to Zycus and offers provider selection guidance. Previous installments provided an in-depth look at Zycus as a firm and its specific solutions (Part 1) and a detailed analysis of solution strengths and weaknesses, as well as a review of the product’s user experience (Part 2).

Zycus: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses [PRO]

Zycus is one of roughly half-a-dozen true source-to-pay (S2P) platform providers that offer more than lip service across all of the elements that comprise this solution area. In some modular areas, however, its technology is deeper than others.

For example, while Zycus has the RFX and auction functionality found in just about every sourcing platform, it also brings sourcing project management, spend analysis, a supplier network with supplier relationship management functionality and contract lifecycle management. Zycus also brings significant support for downstream procurement with its own native catalog management, requisition management, purchase order management, e-invoicing, payment support and dynamic discounting capability. And threaded throughout the platform is S2P project management support, organizational “ask procurement” support, integrated search and suggest functionality, and the capability to run end-to-end performance metrics.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot continues our exploration of Zycus’ source-to-pay offering by diving into the platform’s strengths, weaknesses and user interface. In Part 1 of this series, we provided an overview of Zycus as an organization, its primary platform modules and key considerations that will help an organization decide whether or not it should be investigating Zycus to meet its source-to-pay needs. In Part 3, we will conclude our coverage with a SWOT assessment, a detailed user selection guide, competition overview and our expert analysis.

Coupa R20: Incremental Disruption in Action [PRO]

The Spend Matters analyst team recently spent some time going through a deep dive demo on Coupa R20 and found it to be a solid incremental product release. But in this brief, we wanted to discuss the “revolution through evolution” we saw in addition to the new product details that we cover. Coupa’s product releases are now running about three times per year, and it’s refreshing to see more than 500 clients quickly moving through these releases. Such is the promise of SaaS, right?

R20’s main improvements are focused on services procurement and community-based intelligence, which allows users to extract insights from the B2B data generated within the Coupa buyer and supplier base. The disruptive aspect of R20 is twofold: its attempt to tackle the big nut of services procurement with Services Maestro and its efforts to derive intelligence from its installed base through what it calls "community intelligence."

This last trend is really the most disruptive aspect of what’s happening in digital value chains. It changes the provider value proposition from serving up “empty apps” that process the data of a single customer enterprise to one that provides a collective intelligence derived and captured from mass adoption of cloud-based tools that generate the data used to drive key insights.

There are some potential risks that companies face, however, when platform providers attempt to monetize (directly or indirectly) proprietary commercial information between buyers and sellers. Just as Facebook is not really free to the users who themselves are the “product” sold to advertisers, there’s a similar effect happening with suppliers who can use business networks for free but whose data is aggregated and repackaged in ways they aren’t necessarily aware of.

In this Spend Matters PRO analysis, we explore these topics and more, as well as share our initial thoughts on some of the more interesting features in R20.

Sourcing Head-to-Head Technology Evaluation and Comparison: Coupa and Jaggaer (BravoSolution) [PRO]

When it comes to functional capability, BravoSolution (now Jaggaer) and Coupa are the two providers to beat.

Jaggaer’s sourcing strengths should come as no surprise to those familiar with its history. Coupa’s rapid e-sourcing ascent, however, will surprise many. It went from laggard to leader in the sourcing technology sector when the ink dried on its agreement to acquire Trade Extensions. Regardless, both providers excel on a functional basis and lead in many of the buying personas for our Q4 2017 SolutionMap.

But are they the right fit for your organization?

Join us as we put on the gloves and pit Coupa and Jaggaer “head-to-head” in the Spend Matters evaluation ring. We’ll start by providing a technology summary comparative rating of each provider and then explore business requirements and scenarios, calling out the winner in each match up. If you’re considering either vendor or other sourcing competitors, look no further for an evaluation and comparison you can’t get anywhere else. This is the first in a series of “head-to-head” evaluations based on our SolutionMap data, and more matchups will follow as additional providers step into the ring and seats to these SolutionMap subscriber-specific events become available (in addition to our usual vendor deep dives on Spend Matters PRO, of course). Stay tuned!

Clarifying Robotic Process Automation: What It Is (and Isn’t) for Procurement

Robotic process automation has become a buzzword most procurement professionals can’t escape. But despite its seeming ubiquity, RPA still tends to produce just as much head scratching as efficiency gains. Taken out of context, RPA can seem like yet another disruptive technology to keep track of alongside machine learning, blockchain and the like. Really, RPA is a single element of an overall procurement digital transformation strategy, and one of the more readily accessible technologies, in fact.