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Procurement Technology

Supplier Management: When the User Experience Guides Functionality (Part 1) [PRO]

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When it comes to supplier management technology, there seems to be a near universal playbook that most of the top technology providers follow for defining, capturing and managing supplier data. It’s not surprising, then, that when it comes to marketing such capabilities, there's essentially no differentiation at all. As a result, you'd be forgiven if you thought that many supplier management vendors sound interchangeable, despite claims of advanced master data management, metric tracking or portal superiority.

In practice, however, nothing could be further from the truth. As our latest Supplier Management SolutionMap indicates, there is significant differentiation among providers, and our PRO Vendor Snapshot reviews on providers such as Aravo, HICX and Lavante only further illustrate this point. But you need to dive deep to find the variation that counts — differentiation that only comes into play when you start unpacking the specific supplier information management, performance management, supplier portal, relationship management, initiative management, discovery, master data components and related capabilities of best-in-class providers.

The purpose of this series on supplier management functionality and user design is to, in effect, share the ingredients to the secret sauce we see in use today among both top performing providers and those making the recipe list for tomorrow’s supplier management menu. We kick off our series by first exploring messaging, chat and collaboration, guided survey and template creation, uploading of templates and documents, and simplified data creation and validation.

Intelligent Procurement Requires Intelligent Procurement Solutions: Defining Artificial Intelligence Capabilities to Expect from Software Providers (Part 1) [PRO]

procurement technology

In this Spend Matters PRO analysis, we’ll cover a few dozen of our AI-related functional requirements extracted from more than 400 requirements (and growing) in our current SolutionMap database, which we use to evaluate many dozens of providers. If you’re a practitioner, you can infuse these requirements into your ongoing provider selections and into your own in-house capability development (e.g., within an analytics CoE).

Of course, if you use the capabilities from our “palette” of requirements, you also can augment your own solution provider intelligence and create your own custom solution maps (based on data science rather than just analyst “magic”) to massively shrink your RFI cycle times and grow your provider intelligence to drive a much more effective and strategic provider selection process.

If you’re a procurement technology solutions provider who has gone through our SolutionMaps, you’re likely painfully aware of this level of detail that we get to, and we’d like to again thank you for your trip through our proverbial MRI. But if you haven’t “gotten on the map,” you’ll hopefully still find this very useful to benchmark against. (Contact us if you want to benchmark yourself against the “full monty” of requirements in your area — if you’re part of any modules within the source-to-pay market, or now services procurement, too.)

SAP Ariba Procurement Desk: Shared Services and Center of Excellence (CoE) Enablement [PRO]

category management

Procurement shared services groups can take different shapes and can add different sources of value. Shared services tend to focus on procure-to-pay (P2P) and accounts payable support, including supplier enablement, supplier master data maintenance, transactional purchasing, transaction processing, invoice automation and exception management. CoEs focus on both a classic shared services model (i.e., supporting processes on behalf of the business units) or a more transformational CoE model (i.e., giving business units tools, training and focused resources like third-party services). 

The former tends to focus on tactical buying like spot buying and tail spend management, and the latter tends to focus on strategic procurement areas such as analytics, sourcing, category and supply market intelligence, and contract management support. Increasingly, a number of CoEs are focused on both areas, whether run and administered internally or in an outsourced manner — sometimes only in part — by a business process outsourcing (BPO) partner such as Accenture or GEP.

Yet even with the help of these outsourced partners, procurement shared services teams and CoEs have not had up to this point a purpose-built technology solution to manage their own operations. SAP Ariba is hoping to change this with its new Procurement Desk product. Available in March to limited release customers and in the summer months to all SAP Ariba customers, Procurement Desk has big plans to improve the capability of shared services teams and CoEs to deliver value and drive continuous improvement.

Based on demonstration sessions, presentations and analyst discussions at SAP Ariba Live in March 2018, this Spend Matters PRO research brief introduces the initial release of Procurement Desk, explores some of SAP Ariba’s ambitions for future releases based on the product roadmap and offers our initial analysis of the new offering, along with recommendations for SAP Ariba customers. A subsequent PRO research brief will provide a generalized CoE operating framework spanning all areas that procurement shared services groups can address with SAP Ariba’s current and planned capabilities for targeting this market.

Use Cases of E-Signatures and Digital Signatures in Procurement and the Supply Chain [Plus +]

digital signatures

E-signatures and digital signatures are a rapidly growing sub-segment of the procurement and broader enterprise technology market. The numbers are truly off the charts. According to industry research, for example, the segment experienced 48% growth in 2011, and an average of 53% annual growth in 2012 and 2013. But where do e-signatures and digital signatures fit into e-procurement, beyond simply replacing handwritten signatures on the contract paper? This Spend Matters Plus research brief provides examples and use cases where these solutions can play a critical role supporting end-to-end source-to-pay (S2P) and related procurement processes.

Procurement Business Drivers and Considerations For Digital and E-Signatures [Plus +]

Digital and electronic signatures can play a significant role in accelerating procurement and supplier management processes, reducing cycle times and eliminating latency across a range of activities. They can also help create value in other areas, from organizational and vendor compliance to saving money. This Spend Matters PRO series exploring e-signatures and digital signatures provides a foundation for procurement organizations to understand, evaluate and implement these solutions to enable a variety of use cases, including contract implementation and contract lifecycle management. In this research brief, we explore the business drivers for digital and electronic signature usage as well as selection considerations when evaluating potential solution providers.

E-Signatures and Digital Signatures in Procurement: Definitions and Considerations [Plus +]

digital signature

While the terms e-signature and digital signature are often used interchangeably, they are not the same. Every digital signature is electronic, but not every electronic signature is digital. This may sound a bit confusing, but it's not with proper definitions. This three-part research series provides a foundation for procurement and supply chain practitioners to understand the benefits that digital signatures can bring to contracting and contract management, as well as interactions with internal stakeholders, suppliers and partners. This first part provides definitions, a general background on the topic and the benefits and drawbacks of these tools.

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 

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.

E-Procurement 2018 Trends and Forecast (Part 3: Provider Analysis and Market Sizing) [PRO]

AnyData Solutions

So far in this Spend Matters PRO series exploring 2018 e-procurement trends, we have covered both procurement organization (demand) and technology provider (supply) trends we are seeing in the market. Today we kick off the third and final installment of this series by examining three additional provider trends: the new, resurgent role of B2B e-marketplaces such as Amazon Business; new and varying approaches to chasing tail spend, including e-marketplace models; and the early rise of embedded artificial intelligence (AI) in an e-procurement context. Finally, we conclude this three-part brief with our 2018 market sizing for e-procurement and a list of trends we see driving demand in the market. Don’t forget to read Part 1 (2018 customer e-procurement trends) and Part 2 (2018 provider trends — M&A and B2B/P2P intersections), as well.

E-Procurement 2018 Trends and Forecast (Part 2: Provider Analysis) [PRO]

The pace of change in the e-procurement market is moving faster than a speeding cXML document flying across the internet. Software vendors are innovating more quickly than ever before; solutions are no longer are just “software” but come preloaded with a dizzying array of additional items that are difficult to compare on an apples-to-apples basis; and customers are coming in smarter both in “new” and “replacement” deals, with greater expectations from provider solutions than ever before, especially the rate at which they’ll begin to realize benefits.

Today we publish the second installment of our 2108 procurement technology trend and forecast series, focusing on solution provider trends and priorities within e-procurement market. Part 2 of this series provides an analysis and exploration of two provider trend areas: continued M&A consolidation expectations in the e-procurement market (fasten your seat belt on this one) and rising procure-to-pay (P2P) and business-to-business (B2B) intersections, including a quantitative look at the rise, definition and size of B2B e-commerce today. Following today’s analysis, the final installment in this series will feature three additional trends and conclude with our 2018 e-procurement market forecast.

So without further adieu, let’s introduce some controversy, data, practitioner recommendations and (hopefully) insight on the first and arguably the most important near-term provider trends Spend Matters is already seeing evidence of early in 2018.