Procurement Research Content

Mastercard Track adds payment features in bid to disrupt B2B market


Mastercard is ramping up its effort to be a player in the B2B payments market by adding payment tools for Mastercard Track, its product launched in 2018 that intends to make inroads into the procure-to-pay technology space.

This week, Mastercard Track announced in a press release that it has added the product Business Payment Service, describing it as “a single connection bringing together multiple payment types, greater control and richer data to optimize B2B transactions for both suppliers and buyers.”

Automation of accounts payable and facilitating payments are hot topics in P2P, and Spend Matters’ analysts have been covering the issues with our PRO subscription series defining AP automation and an in-depth look at Mastercard Track, introducing its capabilities and analyzing its potential to disrupt the market.

20 Tips to Maximize Private Equity, Investment and Strategic Buyer Outcomes (Part 3: Before the Process — Third-Party Validated Analysis and the Importance of Understanding the Strategic Buyer Landscape) [PRO]

Aside from companies already owned by private equity firms, it is the rare solution provider — or any company — that is selling to private equity, going out for a later investment round or seeking a strategic buyer that has prepared adequately for the transaction process in such a way that the efforts will fully maximize the valuation, terms and other factors in its favor. That is, unless it gets lucky, and to be fair, some folks get lucky!

As expert advisers — primarily to “buyers” — we’ve seen this phenomenon play out time-and-time again in the procurement solutions universe. But it doesn’t have to continue to be that way. This series is focused on leveling the playing field for more advanced sellers of all types, gained by sharing our lessons learned from over 20 years of involvement in transactions in the sector, and especially our work as advisers to private equity investors, nearly all of which are extremely methodical and rigorous in their deal screening and due diligence processes.

So far in this Spend Matters Nexus series, we covered the initial seven tips to prepare — ideally far in advance — of the process itself (see Part 1 and Part 2). Today we continue with the next two tips to pay particular attention to in the lead-up to a process (but still ideally before it begins). And later in the series, we will explore tips to leverage in the actual process itself, ideally once you’ve fully prepared ahead of time to maximize your chances of an optimal exit, transaction or investment.

Jason Busch serves as Managing Director of Spend Matters Nexus, a membership, research and advisory organization serving technology acquirers (private equity, corporate development, etc.) and CEOs in the procurement and finance solutions marketplace (including contract management, B2B marketplaces/connectivity, indirect procurement, services procurement, direct procurement, commodity management, payment, trade financing, GRC/third-party management and related adjacent sectors).

Icertis’ customer reviews are in the new SolutionMap Customer Insights report

This week’s SolutionMap Customer Insights report focuses on customer reviews for Icertis, a top provider of cloud-based, enterprise contract lifecycle management (CLM) software. The applicable SolutionMap category for this report is in CLM. 

SolutionMap Insider members can read about Icertis in our latest report. In each Customer Insights report, we provide a one-page summary of information gleaned from the SolutionMap peer review process. The summary includes ratings on how well the vendor meets user expectations, three key differentiators for the vendor and a list of quotes about the vendor’s greatest strengths.

20 Tips to Maximize Private Equity, Investment and Strategic Buyer Outcomes (Part 1: Preparing Wisely) [PRO]

In recent years, we’ve spent thousands of hours working with private equity groups, CEOs and boards to evaluate acquisition targets — and with sellers to optimize exit scenarios and outcomes in the procurement solution market. In each M&A advisory or SolutionMap due diligence benchmark engagement, there has not been a single study in which we have not learned something new as a team. While from a seller perspective specific tactics can change over time based on conditions in the capital markets, the overall economy and other externalities (e.g., the current “dry powder” excess), there are well over 20 universal tips that we’ve identified that can apply in nearly all scenarios.*

So we decided to write this Spend Matters Nexus brief to share our top 20 lessons learned from the perspective of sellers’ to maximize their private equity, investment and strategic buyer outcomes (based on working “the other side” of the transaction). Today, we start with an initial five tips to prepare wisely (ideally) before a process begins. In the second installment, we’ll continue to share the next five tips for preparing wisely as the actual process approaches (i.e., “pre-process” tips). Then in Parts 3 and 4, we will jump to the actual deal process itself, offering tips for stewarding the effort and driving to an optimal outcome.

Jason Busch serves as Managing Director of Spend Matters Nexus, a membership, research and advisory organization serving technology acquirers (private equity, corporate development, etc.) and CEOs in the procurement and finance solutions marketplace (including contract management, B2B marketplaces/connectivity, indirect procurement, services procurement, direct procurement, commodity management, payment, trade financing, GRC/third-party management and related adjacent sectors).

As colleges restart, so too does ASCM’s supply chain competition for students

The 2020 ASCM Case Competition, previously called the APICS Case Competition, is an event that allows student teams to use their knowledge of supply chains to solve real-world business problems. It is hosted by the Association of Supply Chain Management, which evolved from APICS, and Deloitte, the consulting firm that helps companies combine supply chain initiatives with business strategies. Registration opened Aug. 1. Find out the next steps for your team.

Blockchain Update: Its Use Accelerates in Food Traceability, Auto Finance, Pharmaceuticals, Global Shipping

Since we ran our first blockchain update article in January, key areas of supply chain and logistics operations in multiple industries have continued to implement successful blockchain trials and projects. The open traceability of a blockchain system has proven especially popular in the food security marketplace, where it is being used both to fight infectious outbreaks of bacteria like E. coli and drive revenue in French supermarkets by giving customers access to sourcing data on dozens of fresh products. In markets like automotive, pharmaceuticals, coffee, and global shipping, blockchain innovations continue to make headlines in a growing array of industry supply chains and applications.

Announcing Spend Matters Nexus — Where Capital and Strategy Converge

As I hinted at last week, we’re excited to announce the launch of a new research, advisory and networking organization — Spend Matters Nexus.

The Nexus membership program is designed for investors/acquirers (private equity, corporate development, etc.) and solution provider CEOs in the procurement and finance technology/solution ecosystem. Membership offers a new strategic lens to the solution areas covered on Spend Matters.

Nexus was borne out of an increased demand for research subscriptions, due diligence and strategy support with our private equity clients in late 2018 (which has picked up exponentially this year). But recently, our team realized there was a flip side to working with technology acquirers — providing relevant market intelligence for solution provider CEOs, boards and leadership teams on their own strategy, corporate development and business development/partnership initiatives.

Spend Matters Nexus will hopefully become invaluable for both groups. The goal is to provide market intelligence, strategy and due diligence advisory for private equity firms and investors. For CEOs, boards and leadership teams, the program offers insights spanning strategy, corporate development and business development/partnership topics. For all members, there are invitation-only networking opportunities.

Coupa’s 3 Special Forces Teams (Part 1: Corporate Development) [PRO]

Coupa has assembled three behind-the-scenes weapons — non-product, non-solution and non-R&D teams — which it uses to great effect to collectively win individual battles against competitors and, at least so far, the broader growth war in the source-to-pay market from a logo growth perspective in recent years. These are effectively “special forces” groups that have leverage far beyond their individual ability to contribute alone (but would not be successful without the broader Coupa arsenal that they’re supporting).

Other vendors may have one of these weapons individually. Or on paper. But collectively Coupa is the only one that combines them to great effect as it moves its chess pieces around the tactical and strategic board. This Spend Matters PRO brief provides a unique take from the perspective of   long-time industry insider who has seen them put to use effectively from a unique vantage point. Today we start by exploring the first of Coupa’s special forces teams: corporate development.

Jason Busch serves as Managing Director of Spend Matters Nexus, a membership, research and advisory organization serving technology acquirers (private equity, corporate development, etc.) and CEOs. The views expressed in this research brief are his and do not necessarily reflect that of the Spend Matters analyst team.

ConnXus Brings ‘Quick and Clean’ Supplier Data Cleansing to the Masses with SmartScrub: Vendor Snapshot Update [PRO]

For the majority of procurement organizations today, obtaining and maintaining accurate supplier master data is a huge pain point. Most organizations still do not trust their vendor master as a single source of truth (or even have one!) — nor do they have the time or personnel to continuously validate and enrich supplier records to the degree that is necessary to create that level of trust.

One solution to this problem for the last decade or so has been to gather a list of suppliers the organization has worked with in the past year and submit the records to one of several firms that clean and enrich this data as a service for various purposes (e.g., deduplication, verification, enrichment, etc.). Among these firms is ConnXus, a best-of-breed solution provider within the Supplier Relationship Management & Risk SolutionMap category. ConnXus is best known for strong supplier diversity management and a growing set of adjacent capabilities (such as a next-generation supplier network where a supplier can register once and share its profile with any business).

As technology has improved in the market, new options for supplier master data cleansing and enrichment have turned this service into an increasingly automated process (e.g., doing so via API every time a new supplier is added). But offerings vary. Some require a license to the entire platform to use the data services, while others provide a cost-effective entry point that do not guarantee perfect results. So ConnXus, as of this week, is seeking to provide a middle ground between these two extremes: A competitively priced supplier data cleansing and enrichment subscription called SmartScrub that guarantees 98% accurate records for U.S.-based businesses returned in under 24 hours — often much faster, as the service is completely automated once users provide an uploaded template containing supplier name and valid address.

More important for procurement organizations, SmartScrub’s capabilities are available for purchase without engaging ConnXus’ supplier management solutions. And at the price points ConnXus is offering, most companies will have the ability to validate, centralize and report on diversity and industry data for thousands of records where before such solutions may have been inaccessible. Although ConnXus does aim to turn these subscribers into full customers, of course, especially as it quickly evolves its data validation capabilities into what it sees as the next logical evolution: mass supplier discovery of diverse and industry-specific vendors.

This Spend Matter Vendor Snapshot Update reviews ConnXus’ new SmartScrub subscription and explains how the supplier management vendor is taking a potentially disruptive approach to enabling MDM cleansing and virtualization. It is an addendum to our previous reviews and analyses of ConnXus:

Part 1: Background and Solution Overview
Part 2: Product Strengths and Weaknesses
Part 3: Commentary and Summary Analysis
ConnXus Envisions a Next-Generation Supplier Network With myConnXion: Vendor Snapshot Update

What Puts the ‘U’ in Coupa? Look to the FAANG Playbook on Usability

Rare is the presentation where a Coupa employee fails to reference the acronymic meaning of the company’s name. We heard this numerous times at Coupa Inspire 2019 this week in Las Vegas, and while few these days would confuse the Palo Alto cafe with the unicorn software provider, I have to admit the repeated messaging on the name has clearly sunk in with customers.

Case in point, over multiple conversations at Inspire, customers have frequently referred to the “U” — usability — as a key reason why they either signed with Coupa or have remained a client.

Coupa Inspire: My Take on the Event, the Roadmap and My Next Move

In the coming days, you’ll be hearing quite a bit from the Spend Matters analysts who attended Coupa Inspire this week in Las Vegas. While I will officially resign my analyst duties from this ragtag crew of procurement experts, curmudgeons and technology geeks at Spend Matters on July 1 — stay tuned for some news on what I’ll be up to in a couple of weeks* — I could not hesitate to put down a few thoughts on the event: Inspire was big. Lots of prospective customers were here. AI now underpins the story but is not the narrative. Coupa team members are having fun. C is for Community.

2019 M&A and Investment Dynamics For Procurement Technology and Solutions: Segmenting the Market (Part 2) [PRO]

By Spend Matters’ count, there are hundreds of cloud technology providers in the procurement technology sector, and well over a thousand if you count providers with a solution orientation (which may include market/category intelligence, consulting, advisory and related capabilities). Investor and M&A interest across this landscape of providers — from both strategic and financial buyers — is at an all-time high.

We define procurement solutions as technologies and services that target a range of areas that include:

— Core procurement (i.e., source-to-pay, procure-to-pay, etc.)
— Direct procurement
— Services procurement
— Contract management (that goes beyond supplier contracts)
— Accounts payable
— Trade financing (B2B Fintech)
— B2B (transactional connectivity, marketplaces, aggregation and GPO models)
— Third-party (supplier) management, from a GRC standpoint as much as from a procurement standpoint

In the first installment of the series, we introduced the first five groups of providers attracting the most investor and buyout attention: procurement technology suites, transaction-focused solutions, payment/financing providers, nimble solutions and leveraged buying/GPO models.

Today, we continue our focus on the “who” — exploring the final five groups of providers, including sharing illustrative providers in each segment and why buyers are attracted to each group. The five groups are:

— data/analytics/market intelligence solutions
— services procurement providers
— contract management and analytics vendors
— supplier management (and contractor management) providers
— “finance first” or “fi-pro” procurement solutions

Series Abstract: This multi-part Spend Matters PRO research brief explores the “who” (i.e., what types of companies are attracting the most interest and the profile of different buyers), the “why” (i.e., typical investment theses) and the “how” (i.e., the mechanics of deal processes and what is unique to the solution area, including where buyers that are new to the sector often have a higher learning curve than expected). It also explores some important dynamics in the market that have changed in recent months as buyer interest from both the strategic and financial sides increases.