Basware Launches Marketplace – Interview with Ilari Nurmi

At the recent Basware Connect event, we took time out from the main sessions to speak with  Ilari Nurmi, Senior Vice-President, Purchase to Pay, at the firm. We started by asking him about the recent change of senior management, with Esa Tihilä standing down as CEO and Vesa Tykkyläinen, who joined the firm earlier this year, taking over.

“Many things have not and will not change. We are leaders in eInvoicing and P2P, but the focus now is very much on cloud revenue growth. We have been on that trajectory for some time but we are now looking at that as the key external measure of our success”.

Although Tykkyläinen worked for Nokia before joining the firm, “he is very much a software guy” says Nurmi and he is emphasising “customer success” as being at the heart of the Basware proposition. Interestingly, that is exactly what Rob Bernshteyn of Coupa majored on in his keynote speech at that firm’s conference (which we covered here). But of course it is an eminently sensible focus for any software firm, particularly  if they are focusing on recurring annual SaaS fees. To establish a high renewal percentage, customer success is essential really.

“We must make sure users get real value out of our solutions. We’ve had a low customer churn rate in the past but we can do even better”, Nurmi explains.

He also brought Verian – the US based P2P  firm Basware acquired in March this year – into that discussion. “Verian has a very strong customer service ethos and were rated right at the top for that factor in the Gartner quadrant”. So Basware are looking to use that experience across the whole business, beyond Verian and North America. “There won’t be a single headline change in the way we work, but you should start to see a difference”.

Nurmi also expressed the desire to coach customers more effectively, as he puts it. “We don’t want to grow the consulting side of the business particularly, but we think we can help with benchmarks across our customer base, pointing out best practice and providing useful guidance to customers”.

There are also opportunities to provide a wider range of capabilities into customers, covering more of the whole source-to-pay (S2P) cycle, and he expects to see a growth in the number of customers taking the wider S2P offering.

He also told us – ahead of the official announcement last week – that Basware will be looking to globalise their marketplace offering. As the press release said, the firm is launching “Marketplace, a global catalogue management tool on the Basware Network. Marketplace facilitates stronger buyer-supplier relationships by allowing private and public sector organisations across the world to access negotiated supplier contracts, browse available products and services with a consumer-like shopping experience, and place orders directly with suppliers”.

Marketplace is an advanced catalogue management and marketplace solution, which is now fully integrated with the P2P offering. It should make adding and amending catalogue data easier and has an enhanced user interface “that mirrors those of major online retailers making it simpler and quicker to train buyers”. The product is really taking the technology acquired when the firm bought UK firm Procserve last year, and offering it on a more global basis.

It’s an important step for the firm; and we will be interested to see if Tykkyläinen brings further changes to the business over coming months.

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