Services and Indirect Content

Afternoon Coffee: U.S. factory output falls; LevaData, IBM announce DirectSpend IQ; Science Exchange gets new funding

Science Exchange, a leading SaaS-enabled marketplace, sourcing and management solution for outsourced research and development (R&D), has raised an additional $20 million in equity and debt financing. LevaData and IBM partnered to launch a new offering called DirectSpend IQ, which “brings together IBM's expert managed services with LevaData’s Cognitive Sourcing Platform to deliver insights and recommendations for direct procurement cost savings opportunities and process transformation." And due to the GM strike among other factors, U.S. factory output has suffered. Afternoon Coffee: here's to a Happy Friday of procurement and supply chain news.

Afternoon Coffee: A new SolutionMap analysis of VMS software providers; Tesla’s Powerwall batteries to hit Japan’s market

Today Spend Matters published a “roll-up” view and analysis of software providers currently participating in SolutionMap that offer vendor management system (VMS) solutions, using SolutionMap scoring data to give an up-to-date perspective of the VMS landscape. Starting next spring, Tesla will start installing the 13.5 kWh Powerwall home power storage batteries in Japan. And Expanse, the net ops management company that counts the U.S. Department of Defense as one of its clients, today said it had launched Expanse Link, a product that helps identify and manage strategic suppliers' Internet assets and risks. Afternoon Coffee: your source for procurement and supply chain news.

What is a VMS today? Spend Matters’ SolutionMap helps define it 

work intermediation platform

Vendor management system (VMS) solutions have been synonymous with contingent workforce technology for the past two decades, but the functions associated with it have been evolving.

It began as a fit-for-purpose software application for managing temporary staffing suppliers and temporary workers, but over the past 10 years, most of these solutions have added functionality or modules to manage contract services/SOW suppliers and service delivery engagements. In the past five years, some providers of these solutions have grappled with the VMS term and concept. Today, most providers of these types of solutions still refer to themselves as VMS solutions, although their solution footprints vary.

When Spend Matters introduced its first SolutionMap for Contingent Workforce and Services (CW/S) enterprise technology in Q2 2018, it decided to forgo the use of the term VMS in favor of developing separate SolutionMap rankings for distinct technology solutions that addressed three extended workforce categories: (1) Temp Staffing, (2) Contract Services/SOW and (3) Direct Sourcing of Workforce/Services (formerly named “Independent Contract Workers”). This was done in part to sidestep the growing variability of the meaning of the term VMS. But more importantly, it was done based on the belief that the three categories provided a more accurate way to analyze and compare solution capabilities (to be discussed further below).

This SolutionMap Insider brief examines the current status of VMS and how Spend Matters draws a tentative line around what constitutes a VMS solution today. It also provides a high-level view of the “VMS” capabilities and an anonymized analysis of corresponding SolutionMap scores. Lastly, it concludes with questions posed to practitioners and providers about the validity of the definition and concept of VMS presented in this brief.

Afternoon Coffee: RigUp raises $300M in latest funding round; Trump tariff call-off continues supply chain uncertainty

Online marketplace RigUp, which refers to itself as “the energy industry’s largest marketplace for on-demand services and skilled labor,” has announced a $300 million Series D round led by Andreessen Horowitz (a16z). The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) has called the logic behind President Donald Trump’s trade strategy with China akin to taking “one step forward, two steps back." And women are increasingly joining the truck driving workforce, according to the WSJ. Afternoon Coffee: your source for procurement and supply chain news.

VectorVMS: What Makes It Great (Temp Staffing/VMS SolutionMap Analysis)

workers

VectorVMS, previously known as PeopleFluent, delivers software and services that support businesses in the management of their contingent workforce programs.

Acquired by publicly traded Learning Technologies Group (LTG) in 2018, VectorVMS now operates as a separate business unit focused on providing contingent workforce and services (CW/S) technology solutions. VectorVMS' clients today are using its technology solution that enables organizations’ sourcing and management staffing suppliers and temp workers.

VectorVMS offers businesses what may be a unique blend of (i) solid Temp Staffing sourcing /management functionality, (ii) established domain expertise and experience and, last but not least, (iii) a set of a la carte services that (for internally managed programs, for example), can even substitute for some processes that MSPs traditionally offer. It therefore holds a unique place in Spend Matter’s SolutionMap lineup.

Spend Matters segments the evolving CW/S enterprise technology solution market into Temp Staffing and two other main categories:
* Temp Staffing (Temp), the historical focus and largest category of spend under management for established VMS providers (e.g. Beeline, Coupa-DCR Contingent Workforce, SAP Fieldglass, etc.)
* Contracted Services/SOW (SOW), the spend on services provided by organized suppliers (e.g., professional services, etc.), the sprawling category of spend now contributing the highest growth to some VMS providers’ spend under management.
* Direct Sourcing of Workforce/Services (DSW/S), the spend on directly-sourced individual external workers and very-small-scale services providers, a category of spend that is becoming more relevant to many businesses.

At the time of the Q3 2019 Solution Map RFI submission, VectorVMS reported providing temporary staffing solution capabilities to nearly 200 clients in various private sector verticals (such as healthcare) as well as government. While VectorVMS did demo an appreciable set of capabilities addressing Complex Services/SOW, it is not represented in that SolutionMap this quarter (but may be in a subsequent quarters).

The Spend Matters SolutionMap contains functional and customer satisfaction benchmarks on more than 50 technology providers within the broad procurement solution landscape, including 14 providers within the CW/S segment. But where does VectorVMS stand out most and help “set the bar” for the Temp Staffing solution segment? And why should this matter for procurement and HR organizations? Let’s delve into the SolutionMap benchmark to find out where VectorVMS is great.

“What Makes It Great” is a recurring column that shares insights from each quarterly SolutionMap report for SolutionMap Insider subscribers. Based on both our rigorous evaluation process and customer reference reviews, each brief offers quick facts on the provider, describes where it excels, provides hard data on where it beats the SolutionMap benchmark and concludes with a checklist for ideal customer scenarios in which procurement, finance and supply chain organizations should consider it.

Utmost’s Extended Workforce System: What’s Behind It, What Is It and What Does It Mean for Enterprises? [PRO]

It is important for enterprises to have a handle on the whole of their contingent (or extended) workforce. Not just temporary workers supplied by staffing firms, but also workers that are engaged through service providers (ranging from building maintenance companies to management consulting firms and BPOs ). And then there are the independent and freelancer workers of all kinds, however they are classified.

A new workforce technology start-up, Utmost, thinks it’s very important to enterprises — and workers too. The company recently announced the launch of its core platform, Utmost Extended Workforce System, and an $11 million series A round led by Greylock Partners and a partnership with Workday Ventures. The company, with offices in San Francisco and Dublin, was founded by two former Workday executives and a former Groupon technologist.

With respect to where there is a critical gap in the solution marketplace, the co-founder and CEO of Utmost, Annrai O’Toole, said in a recent announcement: “With hundreds of millions of extended workers engaged with companies today, there is an undeniable shift happening, yet it is clear that businesses need new, seamless solutions to transparently manage this population.”

Greylock partner Sarah Guo offered a starker assessment of the gap in the market: “Companies in every sector engage with an extended workforce, but the rigid and clunky systems used to manage that workforce are stuck in the past. Utmost is a cloud solution for the modern, flexible enterprise, and offers a worker-centric approach to manage this population that enterprises previously lacked.”

To be clear, Utmost is building an advanced open-technology platform that will be valued by enterprises right out of the gate. But, just as important (if not more so), the company is also taking a “worker-centric” approach, starting with easy-to-use mobile apps and efficient engagement workflows for external workers (and it is also working on delivering a set of enabling services to these often severely underserved workers).

In this PRO brief, Spend Matters examines the conditions that are creating a demand for a solution like Utmost Extended Workforce, provides an explanation of the solution and looks at what it means for enterprises.

Afternoon Coffee: One CFO in (Field Nation), one CFO out (U.S. Steel); IBM looks to smarten supply chains; China trade talks resume today

Top U.S. and Chinese negotiators are set to meet today for the first time since late July to try to work out a path forward from a 15-month trade war between the two nations. Jason Woods has been named CFO of Field Nation, a provider of workforce management solutions, after having served in that role recently for SAP Concur. A new product, IBM Sterling Supply Chain Suite, tries to take out the complexity from global supply chains and make them smarter and more efficient. And U.S. Steel's CFO is resigning, amidst the company getting set to bring in a new operating model to cut costs. Afternoon Coffee: your source for procurement and supply chain news.

Afternoon Coffee: Utmost announces new workforce solution; Amazon Web Services just got smarter; Unilever to cut plastic use in half by 2025

Utmost, a San Francisco-based start-up, announced that it has launched its first solution, Utmost Extended Workforce System. Unilever has pledged to cut its plastic use in half by 2025. Boeing's beleaguered 737 MAX faces even more headwinds to return to the air, according to the WSJ. And Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced the launch of AWS IQ, “a new service that helps customers quickly find, engage, and do business with AWS-Certified third party experts for on-demand project work." Afternoon Coffee: launching the latest dispatch of procurement and supply chain news.

Uber Works app launches to match shift workers and businesses via staffing agencies

After about a year of testing, Uber has launched its Uber Works app that uses staffing agencies to help connect shift workers with businesses trying to fill jobs, according to a company blog post.

Spend Matters’ Research Director for labor and services procurement, Andrew Karpie, sees the Uber Works development as part of a longer trend.

“Over the past 10 years, the gig platform economy has emerged in the broader context of organizations using more contingent workers sourced from staffing agencies,” Karpie said. “It has not only created value for consumers and businesses, but has challenged and shaken up the status quo."

Staffing firm software provider Bullhorn acquires rival Erecruit

Bullhorn, a leading (and perhaps now the largest) provider of comprehensive software for staffing/recruiting agencies, announced this week it had acquired Erecruit, “a provider of applicant tracking and pay and bill solutions and a leader in candidate experience for the staffing and recruitment industry,” according to a press release. Bullhorn reports in the press release that it has more than 10,000 customers globally, while Erecruit reported on its website having 2,100 customers. Until now, Bullhorn and Erecruit — both based in Boston — had been rivals in the category.

Brightfield (TDX) Raises a Whopper of a Round: Analysis + Implications for Contingent Workforce/Services Technology [PRO]

Earlier today, Spend Matters reported that a $53 million Series A funding round was raised by Brightfield (TDX), formerly a consulting firm that became a provider of AI-derived market intelligence for the contingent workforce/services community. Spend Matters believes the size of the round — very large for a series A — is indicative of a number of factors beyond the fact that Brightfield (TDX) is a more mature organization in terms of product, customers and revenue than most companies going up for an earlier stage funding round.

Indeed, Brightfield “2.0’s” rapid data-driven success after its pivot — and the comparatively gargantuan investor vote of confidence at the Series A level — represent several converging trends. We will explore these in this Spend Matters Nexus research brief, which also provides overall analysis and key takeaways for services procurement providers, investors and practitioners. Our analysis begins with a company and solution overview of Brightfield and its TDX platform, Talent Data Exchange.

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).

Brightfield (TDX) raises $53 million to light up the extended workforce

procurement

Brightfield — a New York City-based artificial intelligence and big data analytics company that optimizes contract labor spend and program performance for employers, MSPs and staffing firms — announced today that it has received an investment of $53 million to fuel its market expansion and the continuing development of its platform, Talent Data Exchange (TDX).

The Series A round was led by Sapphire Ventures, with participation by MissionOG, CapitalOne Growth Ventures and Telescope Partners. A valuation for the company has not been disclosed.

Spend Matters has been covering Brightfield and the development of TDX for several years, and tracing the arc of Brightfield’s evolution from a consulting firm to a subscription-based data analytics platform business.

Read this coverage now and look for our analysis later.