In previous Spend Matters coverage of the announced partnership between BravoSolution and Verian, analysts discussed some of the implications of the new relationship. I had a chance to spend some time with Tehseen Ali Dahya, the CEO of Verian, to do a bit of a deep dive, and it gave me a much better idea of the what the partnership is and is not all about. In this Spend Matters PRO analysis, I’ll lay out the details and explain the implications for current customers, future customers and the market in general.
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Work Intermediation Platforms (WIPs) are emerging and evolving—not just as isolated platform-based service providers, but as parts of digital value networks that connect with other platforms and service providers. There are already more than 250 WIPs in the world today allowing labor services consumers and potentially tens of millions of workers to establish and transact work arrangements almost entirely through digital, platform-based processes. This Spend Matters PRO analysis explores how this broad process of connection development not only leads to more capable platform ecosystems for attracting, engaging and servicing labor resources and capabilities but also to integration with larger enterprises and the formation of new digital channels for sourcing, engaging, and procuring talent alongside existing vendor management systems, managed services providers and other specialized services procurement ecosystems.
These days, I spend a good deal of my time in the broader M&A and investment ecosystem surrounding procurement and supply chain technology. In the past few years, I’ve worked with dozens of providers and private equity firms exploring the market, vetting targets, conducting due diligence and related analyses and representing various parties at different stages of transactions through an affiliate firm. I see and hear a lot. Yet I’ve also learned a number of lessons of why and how M&A works in the sector, and in many ways it has proved transformative for both providers and their customers. In this Spend Matters PRO analysis, I share 3 M&A case studies (Xchanging / MarketMaker4, SAP / Ariba and SciQuest / CombineNet / Upside / AECSoft / Spend Radar) from the trenches and key lessons learned about why and how M&A can work for expected – and unexpected – reasons.
Last week, Perfect Commerce LLC made an offer to buy all shares in Hubwoo SA, a Paris-based procure-to-pay software company. Virginia-based Perfect Commerce is getting a relative bargain-basement price in the deal, but there will be some serious issues to work through if the transaction is finalized. This Spend Matters PRO article takes an in-depth look at what the deal could mean and opportunities it presents for Perfect Commerce.
Wax Digital is one of a number of providers that we’ve encountered over the years that upon deeper examination does a better job delivering a truly unique approach to transactional procurement activities than explaining how and what it does from a sales and marketing perspective in language that procurement can fully appreciate. This is a good thing, albeit it’s also why you’ve likely not heard of the company to date outside of the UK market. This Spend Matters overview and analysis provides an introduction to how Wax Digital provides an integration platform-as-a-service (iPaas) capability that is tightly coupled with core enabling source-to-pay (S2P) functional capability. Don’t worry if you have no idea what that means. We’ll explain it – in business terms. This second installment in our PRO series introducing Wax Digital to our subscribers explores what makes the provider quite different compared to most other P2P providers. Subscribers can access Part 1 here, which we recommend reading first.
On the transactional procurement surface, Wax Digital, a procurement solutions technology provider based in the UK, delivers a source-to-pay (S2P) solution for medium- and large-sized organizations. But dig a bit deeper and Wax is offering something that is different. Very different. While regionally based in the past, Wax is betting that its S2P platform will become a viable global option as it expands in the US and elsewhere, competing effectively against the likes of Coupa, Ariba/SAP, Oracle, Ivalua, Verian and others. In a crowded S2P suite market, the fundamental premise by which Wax Digital is starting to carve out a clever niche is based on delivering solutions where absolute functional capability and ERP and other business application integration become inseparable. Such a premise is daring, different and daunting. This 2-part Spend Matters PRO overview provides an introduction to Wax’s emerging integration and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) approach while also starting to explore a high-level solution overview of the provider. We’ll attempt to wax eloquent, so to speak, on this topic and translate a rather technical topic into one procurement can understand as it thinks about how to compare Wax Digital to alternatives in the market.
Three members of the Spend Matters team spent 2 days at the Coupa Inspire 2015 conference last week, taking in all the news and happenings from the provider that appears to be assuming the mantle of the P2P leadership in the procurement technology market (although that’s a bit of a misleading statement, for reasons I’ll share in a minute). Regardless and most important, the momentum has no doubt shifted away from Ariba/SAP as the one to watch – and to beat – in the sector. Coupa, to put it in high-level terms, is the new Ariba, in large part since there is so much that’s encumbering Ariba that Coupa doesn't have to deal with. But where does Coupa really sit today? Is Coupa truly “winning” this market? Is it proving to be inspirational? These are tough questions to answer and obviously, by nature, any attempt at responding will be subjective. Still, we get paid for our opinions, and in this Spend Matters PRO brief, we sum up a number of observations coming out of Inspire based on our perception of Coupa’s competitive position in a candid and intentionally critical take on the vendor. Finally, we encourage our members to chime in with their views as well and reach out to discuss their experience and thoughts, especially those going through a Coupa evaluation.
Since the company’s inception, Coupa has steadily bet on its high usability that has driven adoption (and getting spend into a system, aka under management), and doggedly focused on what creates success for its clients. The Coupa success factor comes from easy-to-use software-as-a-service (SaaS) technology to quickly empower the purchasing function, instead of the long journey of getting the complicated procurement modules in an ERP system to perform. This looked like a sound bet to us – and it has been very successful. The industry as a whole has changed and today, usability is the word most often used in sales pitches for every P2P system. Coupa has not only bet on usability but has also put its money and future into a vision of how businesses need to evolve in order to reach simpler and smarter processes to achieve operational efficiencies (purchases), while retaining (and even increasing) the agility to change course when necessary. The idea of having thousands of features and functions (from the start) is something that Coupa has never been in agreement with. This Spend Matters PRO article takes an in-depth look at the provider following its conference.
In our previous posts on Amazon Business, we highlighted numerous areas where the solution could be improved to make it more attractive to larger-sized buyers in the upper mid-market and enterprise segments. For buyers, the biggest issue currently is the lack of depth of functionality, support and services to provide the domain expertise to serve industrial buyers. Other limitations include the fact Amazon Business isn’t global, it only supports SKUs (although Mechanical Turk offers an IT freelancer marketplace, and we do see the writing on the wall for Amazon Home Services to potentially creep upstream into B2B), its notion of e-procurement support is a PO reference field, its customer service levels are not designed for B2B and so on. But Amazon Business is alive – and despite the limitations, there are current use cases for large buyers and small procurement organizations alike. In this Spend Matters PRO brief, we dive into a range of Amazon Business considerations including drawing comparisons to Grainger (Zoro) and others. We also make an easy-to-implement recommendation to Amazon that would be disruptive to the industry – and highly valued by buyers – if adopted. Put on your P2P, MRO and distribution flack jacket and read on.
Yesterday, I had the chance to catch up briefly with Coupa’s President and CEO Rob Bernshteyn about the provider’s recent $80 million funding round, which valued the company in excess of $1 billion. The discussion was actually quite boring, but not in a bad way – Rob is anything but dull. However, there seems to be little change in direction – or even an evolution – of Coupa’s strategy. Rather, it is more of the “high-growth same” if you will – an emphasis on customers, markets (e.g., geographic) and continued suite innovation, in Rob’s words. In this Spend Matters Plus analysis, we share some of the notes from our discussion with Rob as well as our outlook for Coupa Inspire this week and questions that we hope to get answered from attending.
As Spend Matters PRO concludes its initial detailed coverage of ZeroChaos, a solutions provider with a refreshing procurement-centric attitude that is shaking up the MSP status quo, we offer initial impressions of the provider’s own vendor management system (VMS) technology including support for statement of work (SOW), independent contractors/freelancer and talent pools. We also feature impressions of what we learned from talking to ZeroChaos customers. It's been a while since we last wrote about ZeroChaos, but here we dive back into analyzing and providing insight on the company's technology and the experience it offers.
Exploring the IBM Emptoris and Coupa Partnership: Opportunities, Potential Challenges and Customer Recommendations [PRO]
Earlier this week, IBM announced it is formalizing a deeper partnership with Coupa. As part of the relationship, IBM Procurement, aka Emptoris, is gaining access to Coupa’s procure-to-pay (P2P) capabilities including supplier network connectivity to be able to more effectively respond to RFPs that require a full source-to-pay suite capabilities. Through the partnership, Coupa is gaining access to a full-featured sourcing, contract management and supplier management capabilities from Emptoris IBM, but the reality is that Coupa is adding deeper suite capabilities in these and related product areas with every release cycle. This Spend Matters PRO analysis provides perspective and commentary on the opportunities and potential challenges the partnership between IBM Emptoris and Coupa will bring – as well as recommendations for prospects and customers considering an integrated solution from the two providers. But before delving into these areas, we will first explore the history and context behind the partnership, going back to the original Emptoris (pre-IBM) and Coupa partnership.