CombineNet announce new alliances, new capability

Jason (Spend Matters US) and I were pretty confident that the pace of acquisitions and corporate developments in the procurement and supply chain technology world would increase in 2012. But there are different ways in which this might happen, and one is through alliances and partnerships rather than full acquisitions.

We saw an interesting example last week. CombineNet, leaders in complex sourcing technology (what we call market-informed sourcing) announced tie-ups with two other firms. That enables them to offer customers a wider range of capabilities, as they have integrated this external capability into two new products offered within their own range.

The links are with Upside Software on the contract management side, and Spend Radar on spend analytics. To my shame, Upside are not a firm I really know, but they are clearly a successful and highly rated firm in that market sector, although I suspect most of their focus has been on selling to the sales side of the contract management equation.  Here’s what CombineNet says about their new product.

CombineNet Contract Management, which is powered by technology partner Upside Software, allows customers to quickly and easily take enterprise-wide sourcing decisions to contract with extremely flexible features, such as native integration with Microsoft® tools”.

The solution includes template based contract creation; work flows for compliance management; the ability to collaborate with third parties on contract building or review; and “contract lifecycle visibility” – managing renewals, milestones and similar.

On the Spend Analysis side, we do know Spend Radar, and they’ve been a successful player in their market over their relatively short lifetime.

“CombineNet, Inc.. announced it has added an advanced spend analysis and spend management technology solution, powered by industry-recognized partner Spend Radar. The CombineNet Spend Analysis product is a natural extension to the CombineNet ASAP® e-sourcing product, bringing together the essential components of enterprise spend management and strategic sourcing with advanced capabilities”.

We’ve seen other players develop capability in different ways over the last few months. Emptoris have followed the acquisition route with Rivermine in the Telecoms Expense Management field and Xcitec (supplier information management). Another route is to develop your own new products or range extensions, which has been the option chosen by firms such as Coupa, Trade Extensions and Trading Partners (who we’ll be featuring shortly).

But this alliance route, utilising the expertise of others but bringing it firmly into your own product suite,  has many attractions for the firms involved. And in the case of CombineNet, who were very strong in a somewhat limited part of the procurement technology market, it looks like a sensible and positive way to grow their capability and offering to clients.

Later this week  we’ll discuss more generally the positives and benefits of such partnerships and alliances, and also look at a few points to watch out for from the clients’ perspective.

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