The Technology Category

Q2 2018 SolutionMap Release Notes: Sourcing, Spend Analytics, SRM, CLM and Strategic Procurement Technology Suites

This Spend Matters SolutionMap Insider release note provides insight into the Q2 2018 SolutionMap release for Sourcing, Spend and Procurement Analytics, Supplier Relationship Management & Risk, Contract Lifecycle Management, and Strategic Procurement Technologies Suite SolutionMaps, reviewing the process we follow and highlighting what has changed since the last release.

Within the individual areas covered in this brief, the following provider has been added to the Q2 2018 release: Bonfire. Additionally, providers such as EC Sourcing, Ivalua, and SynerTrade have received updated scoring following the submission and demonstration of new capabilities based on production releases of individual modules. (Non-GA capabilities are not considered in SolutionMap scoring.) Perhaps most important, over 100 new customer references were added in the Strategic Procurement Technology areas for Q2.

This SolutionMap Insider release note explores these and additional changes in the Q2 2018 SolutionMap release.

SRM Provider Kodiak Rating to Develop Blockchain to Improve Supply Chain Transparency

blockchain

The Stockholm-based supplier relationship management provider Kodiak Rating announced that it will apply blockchain technology to improve supply chain transparency and traceability and to better manage supplier risk. Research and development will be supported by a 800,000 SEK grant (approximately $92,000) that was recently awarded to Kodiak Rating by Vinnova, a federal agency under Sweden’s Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation.

5 Reasons to Bet For and Against Coupa (Part 1: The Virtuous ‘Cloud’ Prince) [PRO]

One of the best validations of the procurement technology sector is to see irrational exuberance from those who know comparatively little about it as they begin to speculate more aggressively on who is going to win in the market. Hearing Cramer call Coupa the “Cloud Prince” was but one example of the dozens I’ve heard both publicly and in one-on-one conversations in recent weeks from those outside the procurement solutions world.

These days, it seems everyone has an opinion on Coupa. Sometimes this speculation and soap-boxing grates on me because, in theory, it could mislead those within procurement and finance from making the best decisions if they get wrapped up in the noise. But it’s a price worth paying. Every insider — including everyone on the front lines of procurement, every tech vendor, every consultant, every analyst — should welcome every minute of attention Coupa gets. Why? Because it means there is going to be plenty of cash to fund the next generation of innovation for the sector.

Procurement is red hot right now, and honestly, shouldn’t saving money always be hot? But just how hot is Coupa? While I have real work to do providing a final set of eyes on some 250+ pages of draft copy for the Q2 SolutionMap Insider publications this week, I thought I’d procrastinate and share my own prognostications on Coupa and the arguments I’d make on betting both “for” and “against” the new crown prince — and also offer some fantasy sports commentary on just whom I’d combine Coupa with from the comfort of my lazyboy to conclude things (and luckily our SolutionMap framework lets us mix and match providers in different combinations — something that some of our early adopter practitioner clients are starting to explore in their evaluations).

Today I’ll start with five reasons I’m bullish on Coupa for procurement organizations — the company, not the stock, which is an important distinction as I have no opinion on share prices — by sticking with Cramer’s “prince” analogy. Of course I can’t help but think back to a philosophy class in 11th grade with Dr. Morinelli where we learned and debated Machiavelli's “The Prince.”

Virtuous princes, as Wikipedia translates and paraphrases Machiavelli, “rise to power through their own skill and resources (their ‘virtue’) rather than luck … [even though comparatively they] tend to have a hard time rising to the top, once they reach the top they are very secure in their position. This is because they effectively crush their opponents and earn great respect from everyone else. Because they are strong and more self-sufficient, they have to make fewer compromises with their allies.”

How is Coupa the virtuous [resourceful] prince for procurement? Read on as we explore the five reasons I’d bet on Coupa’s continued success at the same levels of the past.

Ivalua vs. SAP Ariba: E-Procurement Head-to-Head Technology Evaluation and Comparison

Few procurement organizations evaluate Ivalua only from an e-procurement angle. Most prospective customers are looking for integrated suite capabilities that the uber configurable and increasingly industry-specific procurement provider can bring. Moreover, Ivalua has unfortunately remained somewhat of a “best kept” secret in the procurement tech community, especially in the procure-to-pay (P2P) area, owing in part to the double-whammy negative combination of less brand awareness than others like Coupa as well as having a smaller systems integrator community to recommend it (although it has a long standing and close relationship with KMPG).

Yet overall Ivalua does very well in the Spend Matters SolutionMap. As of Q2 2018 Ivalua delivers the highest ranked source-to-pay suite on a functional basis (across spend analytics, sourcing, contract management, supplier management and procure-to-pay). But how does Ivalua stack up to the biggies like SAP Ariba in e-procurement specifically? Curious? So were we.

Join us as we put Ivalua’s e-procurement capabilities to the test against SAP Ariba. Today, we offer a preview of the Q2 dataset (also see the Q1 2018 E-Procurement SolutionMap) and pit Ivalua head-to-head against SAP Ariba. These recurring columns share insights from each quarterly SolutionMap report for SolutionMap Insider Subscribers, providing unique comparative cuts of SolutionMap benchmark data, along with the trademark quips that have defined Spend Matters analysis since its inception.

So prepare for some real data and expect at least a modicum of salty opinion. Here’s a preview: across certain e-procurement functional requirements — which span catalog management, shopping/requisitioning, ordering, receiving, supplier network, configurability, technology (overall), general services and a summary e-procurement average — SAP Ariba, not surprisingly, comes out on top. But Ivalua more than holds its own in most areas and convincingly wins in one.

But real world procurement technology decisions are more complex that just module-by-module comparisons and geeking out over functional battles between two finalists across sets of hundreds of requirements. And this is where customers will likely gravitate to one solution over the other. So join us as we explore how each provider stacks up on a direct competitive basis and share our perspectives on which is likely a better fit in real-world circumstances.

The Q2 2018 E-Procurement SolutionMap benchmark is now based on an underlying dataset featuring 21 separate providers, including all of the “biggies” procurement organizations can expect to consider in a typical selection process. Whether you’re in the market for a new e-procurement product or want to know if you made the right decision for your organization, our SolutionMap analysis and benchmark data can tell you the answer. Curious to learn more? Don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Next-Generation Digital Service Providers: The Who, What and Why for Services Procurement [Plus+]

An increasing number of digital, platform-based service providers are appearing today, and while they now represent a small category far outside the scope of most contingent workforce and services (CW/S) procurement programs, the spend they account for is growing.

Back around 2010, traditional BPO providers sought to introduce clients to digitally turbo-charged offerings. Though similar in concept, the providers appearing today represent a whole new generation of platform-based service providers, many of which were startups or didn’t exist in 2010. They did not arise with the scale and legacy of the BPO providers, nor did they occupy the category of major service providers of which procurement was aware and already oversaw.

Far from a passing fad, these next-generation digital service providers will become an increasingly significant segment of services consumption and spend over the next 10 years. We base our projections on solid, long-term trends evidenced in both the consumer and business sectors.

This Spend Matters Plus article defines this new generation of digital service providers and poses the entirely open question of whether they require the attention of procurement organizations tasked with managing services spend at this time. This question may be especially pertinent, given the significant similarities of digital service providers and traditional ones.

Catalog Management: Technical and Functional Component Requirements (Part 5) — Catalog Contracts and Marketplace/Internet Search [PRO]

Today we conclude our multi-part research brief exploring catalog management functional and technical requirements with an emphasis on the last two requirements we consider in our SolutionMap functional requirements for e-procurement.

The first requirement that we analyze is what we term “catalog contracts,” capability which focuses on pre-negotiated pricing through group purchasing organization (GPO) arrangements, leveraged buying or otherwise third-party negotiated typically contracts outside of what a procurement organization would negotiate itself. The second area, marketplace / internet search and catalog visibility, extends the scope of catalog management capability to integration with online marketplaces (e.g., Amazon Business) and electronic commerce storefronts on the Internet, a requirement which is increasingly becoming more important in the evaluation of e-procurement solutions overall.

If you’re new to the series, check out Part 1 (overall definition/background and supplier network intersections), Part 2 (catalog creation, supplier onboarding and data quality control) and Part 3 (maintenance, workflow and analytics) and Part 4 (catalog objects/methods and catalog mobility capabilities, expectations and requirements).

Whether you’re a procurement organization, supplier, software provider or consultancy, our goal with this series is to provide the bill of materials to allow the assembly of the best possible catalog management solution, either on a unified basis with the same e-procurement platform or integrated with a broader solution.

Beyond Contingent Workforce Management: Embracing an Agile Workforce

Today, when it comes to talent — especially highly skilled or expert talent — organizations are at the beginning of a new phase of workforce innovation. In the coming years, organizations will be going beyond the now well-established practice of sourcing external contingent workforce to augmenting or even replacing parts of their “permanent” employee workforce. The next phase of workforce organization innovation is embracing an agile workforce model.

Spend Management Versus E-Procurement: Is There a Philosophical Difference?

Editor’s note: This is part of the Ask Spend Matters series, where readers send in their burning questions about procurement and supply chain.

What is the difference — philosophically — between spend management software and e-procurement software? One of our readers recently posed the above question, noting the amount of noise out there over spend management and the general sense of confusion as to what constitutes spend management and what constitutes e-procurement. We’re always fond of these fun philosophical questions, so we asked our own Spend Matters analysts and editors for their opinions on this one.

Building the Business Case for SRM (Part 4): Reducing Supplier Risk

risk

Spend Matters welcomes this guest series from Sean Harley, co-founder and CEO of LUPR.

In this post in our series on developing the business case for investing in supplier relationship management (SRM) capabilities, we focus on reducing supplier risk. Supplier qualification (SQ), a subcomponent of SRM, enables your organization to identify suppliers with weak quality management processes, thereby minimizing your exposure to supplier noncompliance with safety, insurance, environmental and security requirements. In addition, SQ facilitates root cause analysis with suppliers performing poorly.

Catalog Management: Technical and Functional Component Requirements (Part 4) — Catalog Objects and Mobility [PRO]

on-demand workforce

It’s possible to build or use a “good” e-procurement solution that has rudimentary catalog management. But it’s impossible to deliver or leverage a great one, unless its catalog management capabilities are best in class compared with the rest of the e-procurement and procure-to-pay (P2P) pack.

Based on our SolutionMap functional requirements for e-procurement, this multipart Spend Matters PRO research brief defines all of the elements of catalog management. It also provides a feature checklist of the elements that comprise each component, defining what constitutes best in class performance in each case. Today, in Part 4, we flesh out catalog objects and mobility capabilities, expectations and requirements.

Those new to this series can catch up with Part 1 (background and supplier network intersections), Part 2 (catalog creation, supplier onboarding and data quality control) and Part 3 (maintenance, workflow and analytics). Whether you’re a procurement organization, supplier, software provider or consultancy, this series provides the bill of materials to inform the assembly of the best possible catalog management solution, either on a unified basis with the same e-procurement platform or integrated with a broader solution.

Cognitive Sourcing Provider LevaData Completes $12 Million Series B

funding

LevaData announced Tuesday it had completed a $12 million Series B financing round, led by Tola Capital. The sourcing technology provider plans to use the funding to deepen the capability of its platform, further innovations in engineering and data science, and expand into new industry verticals, according to a press release. Since 2014, LevaData has raised close to $20 million in venture capital, including $5 million in August of last year from its Series A round, also led by Tola Capital. 

3 Surprising Ways the Procurement Technology Market Has Changed in the Past Year

In the year since we launched our first SolutionMap, the procurement technology space has evolved considerably. Between product updates, the rise of new solution areas and increasing provider consolidation, the technology landscape is changing every day. Procurement professionals no doubt have found it harder than ever to keep track of which solutions offer what capabilities, which companies are still independent and which have become part of a suite, and what technologies they need know to stay ahead of the competition. And just as the provider space is changing, so too has our approach to evaluating and ranking vendors.