PRO Content

Corcentric to Acquire Determine: Exploring Determine’s Strategic Procurement Technologies Strengths and Weaknesses (Part 4) [PRO]

Corcentric recently announced its pending acquisition of Determine (see previous Spend Matters PRO analysis: Transaction Overview and Customer Recommendations and Competitive Landscape Analysis and Determine’s P2P Strengths and Weaknesses — as well as our news coverage here).

But in buying Determine, what exactly is Corcentric gaining from a strategic procurement technologies (SPT) perspective (i.e., product, solution and platform strengths and weaknesses)? And how do Determine’s capabilities stack up in the market overall relative to peers on a granular basis?

This is an important question to analyze, but two of the three vendors that came together to form Determine were in the SPT area, not P2P. (Some background: Determine came about in 2015 when Selectica and two other brands, Iasta and b-pack, combined. Selectica and Iasta had the SPT heritage.)

To answer the question about how Determine compares against peers, you can turn to the latest Q4 2018 SolutionMaps Insider provider scoring summaries (See: Sourcing, Supplier Management, Contract Lifecycle Management and Spend + Procurement Analytics). For those interested in viewing Determine from a broader Source-to-Pay perspective, there is a SolutionMap for you as well. Each report provides comparative overall and “deep-dive” capability insight (e.g., catalog management, requisitioning, invoicing compliance, etc.) as well as detailed customer reference benchmarks. Determine is one of dozens of providers featured in these granular, comparative vendor ratings analyses designed to aid shortlisting and selection decisions. Other providers include Coupa, Exari, HICX, Icertis, Ivalua, Jaggaer, Oracle, SAP, Sievo, Ariba, Zycus.

But to provide insight into overall product strengths and weaknesses for strategic procurement technologies, let’s dive right in today as we offer a summary view of where Determine stands out from the pack — and where it trails its peers.

Coupa, Services and Coupa Contingent Workforce: A Progress Report (Part 1) [PRO]

In September 2018, Coupa surprised the contingent workforce industry (and others) with its acquisition of DCR Workforce, a leading VMS solution.

In short order, the DCR solution was rebranded as Coupa Contingent Workforce (CCW). Coupa also immediately indicated that CCW — which includes its own best-in-class solution for sourcing as well as managing SOW engagements and complex services — would coexist with its Services Maestro that became available for all Coupa customers at the start of 2018.

After all that, it was then possible to see all the pieces of the puzzle but perhaps not really understand how they would all come together. In September, we had our first briefing on the acquisition, the rationale and next steps. And we recently saw an update on the progress with CCW.

In this PRO briefing, in addition to reporting on some of what has been happening with Coupa and its acquisition, we also want to use our perspective — now six months later — to try to render a more complete view into Coupa’s services procurement strategy based on the briefings and our own observations and inferences.

In what follows, we will provide background and context leading to the acquisition, revisit the key points and the setting of expectations in our initial briefing in September; discuss what we learned about progress in our most recent briefing; and, provide our own observations on where things seem to be heading for Coupa and in the contingent workforce industry and its increasing overlap with procurement technology solutions.

Avetta, Browz to Merge: History and the Growth of Community-Oriented, Network Models (Part 2) [PRO]

Industry insiders might argue that the growth of Avetta, Browz, ISNetworld and other industry supplier compliance and credentialing solutions like VendorMate (now part of GHX), GRMS and Hellios should never have been allowed to reach escape velocity owing to the first mover advantage that Achilles had on this market overall. But playing armchair supplier credentialing, pre-validation and certification vendor quarterback is nowhere near as useful an exercise as explaining the history of this market and how it became the largest procurement solutions sector that most buyers know little if anything about — yet is of critical strategic (and growing) importance.

So join us as we provide a history lesson about how this market came about and the value levers it created for buyers and suppliers. This investigation includes exploring how the sector in which Avetta competes can serve as a complement to other supplier management and risk management areas too (which we’ll tackle in more detail in the next research brief in this series).

If you’re just coming up on this market and the merger of Browz and Avetta, read the first research brief in this series (Avetta, Browz to Merge: Facts, Solution and Market Overview), which explored the core details and numbers behind the two companies coming together under the Avetta name.

AI in Optimization Tomorrow [PRO]

Our last article recounted the story of artificial intelligence in optimization today, or, more accurately the lack of AI in optimization today.

While AI in its most basic form of "assisted intelligence" is readily available in many modern procurement and sourcing platforms, as evidenced in our previous briefings (AI in Procurement and AI in Sourcing), it has not yet creeped into optimization. The most advanced platforms have limited themselves to easy constraint creation, data verification and detection of hard constraints that prevent solutions — as in the case of Coupa — or easy data population, wizard-based scenario creation (using standard model templates), and automation — as in the case of Keelvar. In the former case, the underlying statistical algorithms can be found at the heart of some modern machine learning technologies (but aren't quite there), and in the latter case, the robotic process automation (RPA) is nothing more than an automated, manually defined, workflow.

But that doesn't mean that AI won't creep into optimization tomorrow. While it may not with the current vendors on the market (for different reasons with each vendor), that doesn't mean that the next vendor to bring an optimization solution to the market won't learn from the oversights of its predecessors and bring some obvious advancements to the table — especially when certain vendors are releasing their platforms with an open API to support an Intel-inside-like model where sourcing or AI vendors can build on leading optimization foundations to offer something truly differentiated.

And what could those differentiators be? We'll get to that, but first let's review the premise.

Simply put, in the traditional sense of the abbreviation, there is no AI, or artificial intelligence, in any source-to-pay application today, as there is no AI in any enterprise software today. Algorithms are getting more advanced by the day, the data sets they can train on are getting bigger by the day, and the predictions and computations are getting more accurate by the day — but it's just computations. Like your old HP calculators, computers are still dumb as door knobs even though they can compute a million times faster.

However, with weaker definitions of the term, we have elements of AI in our platforms today. Assisted intelligence capabilities are beginning to become common in best-of-breed applications and platforms, and “augmented intelligence” capabilities are starting to hit the market for point-based problems. For example, tomorrow's procurement technologies will buy on your behalf automatically and invisibly, automatically detect opportunities, and even identify emerging categories.

But if AI is going to take root, it has to take root everywhere, and that includes sourcing optimization. So what could we see tomorrow?

Let's step back and review what optimization does. It takes a set of costs, constraints and goals, and then it determines an award scenario that maximizes the goals subject to the constraints and the costs provided. So where could AI help?

Corcentric to Acquire Determine: Exploring Determine’s Procure-to-Pay Strengths and Weaknesses (Part 3) [PRO]

Corcentric recently announced its pending acquisition of Determine (see previous Spend Matters PRO analysis: Transaction Overview and Customer Recommendations and Competitive Landscape Analysis — and news coverage here). But in buying Determine, what exactly is Corcentric gaining from a procure-to-pay perspective (i.e., product, solution and platform strengths and weaknesses)? And how do Determine’s capabilities stack up in the market overall relative to peers on a granular basis?

To answer the latter question, you can turn to the latest Q4 2018 SolutionMaps for e-procurement, invoice-to-pay and procure-to-pay SolutionMap Insider provider scoring summaries. For those interested in viewing Determine from a broader source-to-pay perspective, there is a SolutionMap for you as well. Each report provides comparative overall and “deep-dive” capability insight (e.g., catalog management, requisitioning, invoicing compliance, etc.) as well as detailed customer reference benchmarks. Determine is one of dozens of providers featured in these granular, comparative vendor ratings analyses — others include Basware, BuyerQuest, Coupa, Ivalua, Jaggaer, Oracle, SAP Ariba, Tradeshift, Taulia, Vroozi and Zycus — designed to aid shortlisting and selection decisions.

But to provide insight into overall product strengths and weaknesses for P2P, let’s dive right in today as we offer a summary view of where Determine stands out from the pack — and where it trails its peers. We’ll offer a similar analysis for sourcing, supplier management, contract lifecycle management (CLM) and spend/procurement analytics (collectively Strategic Procurement Technologies in SolutionMap) in a subsequent research brief in this series.

Avetta and Browz to Merge: Facts, Figures, Solution & Market Overview (Part 1)  [PRO]

Avetta announced earlier today that it and Browz are merging. Together under the Avetta name, the two providers of supplier management and supply chain risk management will become one of the clear leaders in perhaps the most “under the radar” procurement solutions market. The general focus of these two providers is on supplier and contractor on-boarding, pre-qualification and virtual auditing in support of vendor compliance, environmental, health and safety, risk management and related initiatives. SaaS-based enablement is a component of what Avetta and Browz do, but the real value they bring is based on the network impact and scale economics focused on supplier/contractor intelligence they provide to buyers and suppliers alike on a many-to-many basis.

Avetta, Browz, ISNetworld, Achilles and other similar solution providers compete in this somewhat niche — though quite sizeable and rapidly growing — area of the supplier management and supply chain risk management worlds. While not as well-known as providers like Coupa, Jaggaer and Ivalua (let alone SAP Ariba and Oracle), these four providers — along with a handful of other vertical and geographic specific providers — represent one of the fastest growing $500 million+ procurement solutions markets (2018 revenue), one that the vast majority of procurement and supply chain organizations know quite little about the inner workings of.

For many Spend Matters readers, this really is the largest procurement solutions market you’ve never heard of.

Over the course of the coming weeks, this Spend Matters PRO series will explore the combination of Avetta and Browz and what it means for the market. It will also unpack this market segment and explain how it fits alongside supply chain risk management, supplier information management (SIM), supplier performance management, master data management and adjacent sub-components of the supplier management market. We’ll also provide an outlook for customers of these solutions and for the broader growth of this sector as well (which Avetta pegs at a $14 billion market potential based on a referenced study to McKinsey in a briefing with Spend Matters prior to the deal announcement).

Today, we will start with a quick overview of the Avetta and Browz deal itself (facts/figures, estimated revenues, rationale, analysis, etc.) based on a variety of sources. Part 1 also includes a brief history of both providers and an overview of the current state of this market. For this series, our reference inputs include an interview earlier this week with the CEO of Avetta, John Herr, and over a dozen of other interviews conducted in recent years, as well as existing Spend Matters research (see previous Spend Matters PRO coverage on Avetta: Introduction/Background, Strengths / Weaknesses and Competitive Analysis/Customer Recommendations).

Corcentric to Acquire Determine: Valuation, Transaction Overview, Customer Recommendations and Competitive Landscape Analysis (Part 2) [PRO]

low commodity prices

Corcentric’s pending acquisition of Determine will create one of the more unique procurement and finance solutions providers in the market. In addition, the transaction, upon closing, will firmly establish Corcentric as a software (SaaS/cloud platform) provider in the source-to-pay sector. But what are the implications for Corcentric’s and Determine’s customers and the broader competitive market?

Part 1 of this Spend Matters PRO brief provided an overview of the combination (by the numbers), an analysis of the transaction/valuation and our “elephant in the room” observations.

Today, we turn our attention to customer recommendations for Corcentric and Determine users and offer a perspective on the competitive landscape implications of the transaction.

In later PRO briefs, we will offer our view of Determine’s functional strengths and weaknesses in both the procure-to-pay (i.e., e-procurement and invoice-to-pay) and strategic procurement technologies (e.g., sourcing, CLM, etc.) areas.

Corcentric to Acquire Determine: Valuation, Transaction Overview, Customer Recommendations and Competitive Landscape Analysis (Part 1) [PRO]

Earlier this week, Corcentric — a provider focused at the intersection of accounts payable automation, order-to-cash, trade financing, procurement consulting and group purchasing organization (GPO) software and services — announced its most strategic software acquisition to date: Determine.

But what are the highlights of the transaction? How do the proposed terms of the combination address Determine’s balance sheet liabilities — and more important, what is our summary analysis of Corcentric + Determine?

In this two-part Spend Matters PRO brief, we will provide an overview of the combination (by the numbers), an analysis of the transaction/valuation, our “elephant in the room” observations, summary recommendations for Corcentric and Determine customers and an analysis of the competitive landscape implications of the transaction.

In later PRO research briefs, we will offer our perspective on Determine’s functional strengths and weaknesses in both the procure-to-pay (i.e., e-procurement and invoice-to-pay) and strategic procurement technologies (e.g., sourcing, CLM, etc.) areas and what these bring to Corcentric, and, with sufficient distribution (that they lack today, at least in North America), what they could bring to the broader source-to-pay market.

AI in Optimization Today [PRO]

SciQuest

As we continue our investigation into AI in source-to-pay technology, which started with our AI in Procurement series and continued with our AI in Sourcing series, we take a deeper dive into optimization. Primarily the focus is on strategic sourcing decision optimization, but we'll discuss related areas as well.

First, let’s recap the status quo to remind us of the reason for the existence of these AI briefings.

AI, or artificial intelligence, does not yet exist, especially in the strictest definition of the term. Computers are not intelligent, not even artificially. They can do more calculations than ever before. They can take advantage of more data than ever before. They can find significantly more correlations than ever before and compute, with better and better statistical reliability, which are just correlations and which are true cause and effect relationships. But they are still, when you get right down to it, as dumb as door knobs. Probability is not intelligence. But it is damn good guidance.

In sourcing, logistics and supply chain, we are primarily concerned with decision optimization. Read on to find out the latest developments and expectations.

The CPO’s Conundrum (Part 1B): How Outside-In Issues are Shaping the Course of Procurement [PRO]

As we noted in yesterday’s Spend Matters PRO article, if you were to ask a roomful of CPOs what was their top concern was, for this year or even the coming decade, chances are the majority would lead with cost management and supply assurance. And while this makes sense, supply assurance and cost reduction are just two of a host of broader issues that are being pushed to the front of mind for today’s CPOs. So we are dedicating a series to the broad scope of issues that the modern CPO must face, starting with an overview of how they break out in the common PESTLE framework. Yesterday we addressed the “PES” — Political, Economic and Social — and today we will address the “TLE” — Technological, Legal and Environmental.

The CPO’s Conundrum (Part 1A): How Outside-In Issues Are Shaping the Course of Procurement [PRO]

If you were to ask a roomful of CPOs what was their top concern was, for this year or even the coming decade, chances are the majority would lead with cost management and supply assurance.

This makes sense. Within the hierarchy of procurement value, providing the right goods and services at the right time and place, preferably at the right (or better) price, constitute a foundation without which organizations cannot function.

Because of this requirement to secure and manage supply markets, procurement’s value proposition to the business is ultimately defined by its ability to access and derive value from markets. This means procurement value, then, is driven heavily from an outside-in perspective. That value starts with assurance of supply, just as top-line growth and brand development are foundational to sales and marketing.

The problem, however, is that supply assurance and cost reduction are just two of a host of broader issues that are being pushed to the front of mind for today’s CPOs. Because the CPO must manage multiple changing supply markets, and because those supply markets are affected by numerous external forces over which the CPO — let alone the business or even some governments — has no ability to influence, the CPO’s agenda is in reality much broader than assuring supply and reducing costs.

This brings us to what we call the CPO’s conundrum: Procurement organizations are primarily measured by the C-suite on supply assurance and cost control, but the agenda that the outside world is setting for the CPO is far bigger than just that. How, then, can procurement leaders meet the agendas recognized and prioritized by management while also addressing the equally (or perhaps more) important agendas of the changing, external supply world?

This Spend Matters PRO series examines the roots and resulting challenges of the CPO’s conundrum. In this brief, the introduction to this series, we discuss the current items on the CPO agenda, as well as the outside-in forces that are most notably butting their way in.

In subsequent installments, we will analyze overarching issues on the new CPO agenda individually, including corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability, digital business strategy, political and economic instability, and regulatory risk.

Coupa Pay: Solution Review and Analysis [PRO]

Spend Matters has analyzed dozens of solutions that span procurement and payables processes. This includes procure-to-pay (P2P), invoice-to-pay (I2P) and accounts payable automation solutions. Yet while each of these technology areas extends transactional capability into payments to some extent, each solution targets this area in a different manner. Some of this has to do with the way individual vendors explain their value propositions to customers and have built products based on their unique vantage point. And in an upcoming series on Spend Matters PRO, we will analyze the ways various vendors make the case for their approach to B2B payments (one model/size does not fit all!)

Today, however, we look at one vendor which is continuing to extend its P2P and I2P software to payments: Coupa. The provider's rapidly evolving solution, Coupa Pay, is unique on multiple levels both for what components it combines and also because it follows Coupa’s “unified” approach – which we will explore in this research brief in more detail.

Coupa Pay targets the payment process in a unique manner, and the combination of payment mechanisms, such as virtual credit cards (v-cards) and early payments, can become more effective through adoption and scale, through such a unified approach that extends the capability of procurement and finance (AP) functions. For Coupa, specifically, this concept falls under the domain of its vision for full business spend management (BSM) which may sound like jargon on the surface, but has some real merit as you unravel the marketing behind it and get into the actual solution.

What’s perhaps most interesting about Coupa’s approach to payments in particular is that the provider has identified the payment process gaps where it can generate better value to the business, rather than just satisfy an operational activity such as payments to suppliers or the reimbursement of expenses to employees.

This Spend Matters PRO research brief explores Coupa Pay — what it is, how it works and where it stands out from competitors.