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Procurement Technology

LeanLinking Brings Social Media Principles to Procurement and Supply Management [Plus +]

- July 25, 2014 2:27 AM

We've been talking for some time on the different Spend Matters sites about how social media principles and approaches will inevitably make their way into the business and procurement world, yet progress has in reality been pretty slow. The innovative Rollstream has been assimilated into GXS, now itself part of OpenText, and seems pretty low-profile these days. However, there are signs that things are changing. Sourcemap is a more recently established firm that has an interesting approach, including some aspects of supply chain collaboration with a social media slant. Mark Perera, one of the founders of Procurement Leaders, is involved in Old Street Labs, whose new Vizibl platform is in its testing phase (we'll feature it as soon as you're ready, Mark). The platform looks to use some of the core social media principles in a business environment. And now we have LeanLinking starting to make a splash. This Spend Matters Plus research brief, by Peter Smith (managing editor of Spend Matters UK/Europe), looks at what LeanLinking has to offer and which organizations would benefit from the technology.

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Beware Ariba’s Patent Treasure Chest: Sourcing and eProcurement (Part 2) [Plus +]

- July 17, 2014 4:09 PM

This is the second in a multi-part series on Spend Matters Plus. Read Part 1 here.

As our exploration of Ariba’s extensive and deep patents continues, we turn our attention to three specific patents tied to sourcing and eProcurement. Ariba’s stash covers a broad range – and a good deal of provider companies in the market can't avoid being in violation. That said, to us, many patents appear to cover either features used prior to the filing date – prior art, as the legal term goes – or be overly broad or otherwise fairly trivial. However, if and when Ariba decides to release their legal hounds, a good number of companies will likely be dragged in. Some providers might have struck licensing deals, and for those with IP portfolios of their own there is always a mutual cross-licensing arrangement to be made. In this Spend Matters Plus research brief, Thomas Kase, VP of research, discusses the following Ariba patents: auction bid and visibility restrictions; eProcurement (“figuring out if your supplier is on the Internet”); and supplier connectivity.

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What Makes Public Sector Spend Analysis Different: Lessons From Spikes Cavell in the US and UK (Part 1) [PRO]

- July 16, 2014 7:02 PM

Spikes Cavell, a spend visibility provider perhaps best known in the UK for serving public sector clients with a broad-based spend classification and analytics offering, has spent significant time and effort expanding on a growing beachhead in US public sector procurement at the state and local level. This research brief begins to explore the basics behind Spikes Cavell’s approach to public sector spend analysis and what makes serving this challenging sector of the market different. In this first of a two-part Spend Matters PRO series, Jason Busch, founder and managing director of Spend Matters, also examines what unique spend visibility approaches and attributes are useful and/or required depending on specific public sector dynamics, based on lessons from Spikes Cavell and other experts in public sector procurement – as well as private sector takeaways and lessons from these situational requirements.

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Beware Ariba’s Patent Treasure Chest: An Arsenal of Intellectual Property (Part 1) [Plus +]

- July 14, 2014 3:21 PM

Intellectual property rights and patents are big business. And they are, of course, also competitive tools for companies. Witness how many years ago Ariba derailed Emptoris – now part of IBM – as a competitor for a number of quarters and forced a sale of the company based on a patent dispute. But the patent is more than just a tool for vendors to bash competing vendors. They are sometimes open to legal disputes. To the average consumer, the recent Apple vs. Samsung lawsuit over cell phone design and operating system features is probably the most widely recognized legal mess. In May, an Oracle vs. Google dispute concluded with a win for Oracle, with award amounts unspecified (Oracle originally wanted $6 billion).

Patents are powerful tools in the procurement solution software market as well, not just for warding off competitors, but even for generating considerable “income” for the successful parties when push comes to shove. Within the procurement sector, Ariba has amassed an incredibly impressive array of patents (if measured by the yardstick, at least), covering what some might construe as many of the basic elements of the source-to-pay process, including supplier connectivity and collaboration. In Part 1 of this Spend Matters Plus research series, Thomas Kase (VP of Research) provides context for past patent litigation in the sector and begins to cover a number of Ariba’s patents that could affect competitors and customers of competitors down the line. This analysis will attempt to get beyond the legalese with layman’s interpretations of each patent.

Today’s research brief looks at the following three Ariba patents: “supplier/buyer network that provides catalog updates,” “system and method for conducting electronic auctions with multi-parameter optimal bidding,” and “maintenance of a company profile of a company associated with a supplier/buyer commerce network.” If this is a topic of interest to you and you're not a Spend Matters Plus subscriber, contact us to inquire about a free trial.

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Gamification in Procurement – Looking Beyond the Technology [Plus +]

- July 2, 2014 2:33 AM

Gamification is a topic that has garnered some interest over the last few years, and I thought it would be a good topic to explore a little more deeply in terms of its application to enterprise procurement and supply chain. This is an interesting technology area that a few enterprises have sought to transplant from the mobile B2C world over to enterprise processes to help improve relationships with customers and with internal employees. For example, some progressive HR organizations are setting up wellness programs that reward employees to exercise and use mobile game apps to help motivate them. Similarly, some sales organizations have used it to create contests that let sales reps compete with each other for additional bonuses and recognition. In this Spend Matters Plus research brief, Chief Research Officer Pierre Mitchell looks at how gamification can be used in procurement, as well as where the benefits stop.

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Coupa Inventory: Expanding the P2P Value Proposition and Surrounding Core Financials [PRO]

- June 25, 2014 2:24 AM

Earlier this spring, Coupa provided a briefing and demonstrated a version of its latest inventory module to Spend Matters. Coupa sells its inventory module as an add-on to core procurement but separately from accounts payable, contracts management, and other suite components. But the question remains: in its initial release, does it provide enough value to justify the added cost and modular expansion for companies using other Coupa suite components?

After seeing it, Chief Research Officer Pierre Mitchell and Managing Director Jason Busch argue in this Spend Matters PRO research brief that Coupa’s new inventory management capabilities are likely to bring the company closer to marginalizing the expansion of an ERP value proposition in middle market deployments (but not necessarily a fit with larger customers who are likely to have more sophisticated processes than the tool can handle – let alone inventory management systems already in place).

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Get Ready For Contract Lifecycle Management 2.0 [PRO]

- June 18, 2014 3:27 PM

In a recent Spend Matters PRO report, Selectica and Iasta -- Mapping the Future of Procurement, Contract Management, and Customer Engagement, Pierre Mitchell and Jason Busch examined and fleshed out a number of scenarios for how companies could use contract lifecycle management (CLM) in new ways in the future as technology capabilities advance. From exploring the linkage of supplier management, corporate social responsibility (CSR) and governance risk and compliance (GRC) more closely to contract management to enabling purchasing contracts that are triggered contingently on a sell-side contract that align risk and profit, the brief suggests a future in which contract management becomes as essential to procurement and sourcing – let alone the broader business – and category management are today. But what will the underlying technology capabilities look like (beyond the basics) to enable these capabilities? In this Spend Matters PRO analysis, Thomas Kase and Jason Busch provide a perspective on contract lifecycle management (CLM) building blocks.

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The Suite Sound of Inevitability: On Iasta/Selectica and Source-to-Pay Generally [PRO]

- June 12, 2014 10:22 AM

Are you a weed sticking out of the lawn, or the beginning of a mighty tree? Sooner or later any provider (that is wooing the Global 2000 and the next tier down) needs to consider its suite footprint – before the figurative subway train heads their way. As a point solution provider, you can do a fantastic job and in fact be among the very best in the world – and still remain a bit player with revenues in the $5-15 million range. For some reason it is hard for solution providers to break through this barrier (more on this in the pricing commentary further down). Maybe it is a founder management team versus a “big” company team challenge. Regardless, the list of great (but small) companies that fail to grow past the $15 million or so mark on their own is long. Actually, “failed” is a strong word, as selling a company is a worthy exit strategy and there is nothing wrong with that. With that as a background, the Iasta/Selectica deal deserves some elaboration on why there is a business case for becoming a suite provider. In this Spend Matters PRO research brief, VP of Research Thomas Kase discusses what should go in a suite and why and gives recommendations to potential customers of suite providers.

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What Really Drives Valuation For Technology Companies These Days? [PRO]

- June 11, 2014 2:21 AM

We’ve always found the subject of valuation for technology companies a curious topic, one that we could probably bore too many people with during cocktail hour conversations. Last fall, we wrote about the topic of valuation in the Spend Matters PRO brief Procurement Vendor Valuation, M&A, and IPOs: Recent Deals and 2014 Forecast, touching on many of the elements in valuation play right now. But this analysis says little for the fact that we appear to have a market at the current time that is bifurcated between certain vendors (e.g., Fieldglass) worth 8-12X topline revenue (or higher in the case of certain private investment rounds) and those like Intesource and Iasta which are going for less than two times their topline. In today’s Spend Matters PRO research brief, Group Managing Director Jason Busch and Spend Matters Group Managing Richard Lee offer up a perspective on what elements appear to be driving valuation and multiples in this market beyond the basics of SaaS and related valuation drivers in the procurement, supply chain, and finance areas.

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Selectica and Iasta – Exploring Core Capabilities and Technology Components Today [PRO]

- June 6, 2014 9:40 AM

Late on Thursday, Selectica, a thinly traded public company that is yet one of the leaders in the contract lifecycle management market, announced its accretive acquisition of Iasta, one of the stand-out sourcing suite vendors which perennially ranks high in our shortlist analyses (not to mention Gartner Magic Quadrants). Spend Matters Plus/PRO subscribers can see our initial analysis of the acquisition here. The solution vision the companies outlined to Spend Matters following the announcement of the acquisition is daring, yet achievable with the right investment and integration. Yet Spend Matters thinks that tactical upsells and modular handoffs and handshakes will remain the order of the day for at least the next 12-18 months for the two providers. From an integration perspective, it’s also important to note that both providers are building off of different architecture – in Iasta’s case, multiple architectures – and while both bring a great set of enabling technologies, there is a fair amount of technical blocking and tackling to do to make the vision reality. In this Spend Matters PRO research brief, Jason Busch and Pierre Mitchell take a look at Iasta’s and Selectica’s combined technology assets and how they compare to those of peers and competitors. In a subsequent brief, the Spend Matters team will explore a vision for putting these assets together and changing the sourcing, supplier engagement, contracting, and buy/sell world tomorrow.

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Selectica and Iasta to Merge: Stealth IPO for Sourcing Provider, Suite Expansion for Contract Management Leader [Plus +]

- June 5, 2014 4:56 PM

After market close today, Selectica, one of the few leaders in the contract management market, announced its intent to merge with Iasta, a sourcing suite provider that has also managed to different insight and reach profitable growth, albeit in a much more crowded field.

At its core, the transaction represents a “stealth IPO” for Iasta and dramatic expansion of Selectica’s value proposition and target customer set. Iasta will now have a public currency, without having to go through the initial filing process (Iasta was also too small, by US standards, for a typical NASDAQ listing, although smaller competitors, such as Rosslyn Analytics, have recently floated on the AIM).

With the completion of the deal, in addition to the $7-million cash consideration as part of the acquisition, Iasta shareholders will hold 1 million shares of Selectica stock. Selectica also notes in a Q&A on their website that “in addition, in connection with the acquisition, Selectica would provide grants of options to purchase 700,000 shares of its common stock to the employees [of Iasta].” Prior to the transaction, Iasta was privately held by its three founders, David Bush, Jason Treida, and Todd Epple, which basically means each of them now has significant skin in the game in a public company.

In this Spend Matters Plus research brief, Managing Director Jason Busch and Chief Research Officer Pierre Mitchell discuss the comparatively low valuation, the deal highlights, and key questions that the deal brings up. Is this a combination that could change how we look at procurement?

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Simeno – A Stellar P2P Enablement Vendor That Few Have Heard Of [PRO]

- June 4, 2014 4:14 PM

A couple of weeks back, I caught up with Udo Gruenhoff, the founder and CEO of Swiss-based Simeno, yet another European P2P vendor focused on enabling the SAP procurement ecosystem. Simeno, which has been around since 2000, offers a range of tools that include a highly scalable catalog/content management solution (with some seriously large global deployments, including those that have daily updates spanning tens of thousands of SKUs in multiple languages such as Mandarin) and a friendly requisitioning, shopping, and eProcurement front-end to SAP SRM and MM. If you’ve not heard of Simeno, we’re not surprised. Like some of its European peers (including jCatalog, IBX/Capgemini, Wallmedien, Heiler, Hubwoo, Poet, etc.), they focus on highly engineered products (and implementing these solutions for customers themselves) but not as much on marketing. In this Spend Matters PRO research brief, Managing Director Jason Busch provides an introduction to Simeno as well as recommendations on what types of organizations are most suited to take advantage of its capabilities. Simeno – and some of its peers – can provide a strong alternative to moving away from an ERP procurement environment. So don’t scrap SAP SRM – or write off MM, even without using SRM – for procurement just yet!

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