OB10 Update – more than just an E-Invoicing Network

When my US colleague Jason Busch was over in the UK recently, we caught up with OB10. We met Stefan Foryszewski,  one of their founders (they set out in 2001), who it turns out started his career as a real live procurement person. Their headquarters are still in London, although 40% of their business is now from the Americas. They’re generally thought of an e-invoicing provider, but that is too narrow a definition really now as they’ve moved into other supplier / buyer network services, such as supply chain finance.

Jason has now published a couple of posts (here and here) on the Spend Matters US site, covering OB10 progress and approach, which are well worth reading. He looks at why Ariba now see OB10 as a serious competitor: as he says,

“The fact that Ariba has put OB10 in the competitive crosshairs despite its relative size compared to Ariba's network business (revenues) suggests how potentially threatening Ariba believes OB10 is to their core model and business -- even if it does have functional advantages over OB10 in certain areas”.

Some of that threat comes from their pricing model and geographical strength. Here’s  Jason again -

“OB10's focus on per-document pricing for network connectivity is a big threat to the dollar volume-based pricing Ariba charges suppliers. Moreover, OB10 is strong where Ariba has less traction compared with North America, South America and Australia -- in the UK and Europe, primarily (although OB10 did get 39% of its volume from the Americas)”.

In the second part of the Spend Matters review, Jason looks at current and planned developments at OB10. As he puts it, they are focusing significant effort on

"delivering more than just network connectivity, especially in supplier self service and automation. They've also made some continuing underlying investments in internal platform/architecture to drive scalability, PDF extraction and a new supply chain finance service , OB10 Express Payments (which is live, having processed its first invoice in early July). OB10 has also made it a major focus to increase the number of suppliers that are network enabled at key accounts -- what they refer to as "supplier releases."

A common theme is improving the user (supplier / buyside) experience of using the service, and extending the global reach of the firm with additional country-specific capabilities (e.g., Brazil, Chile, Russia). Currently OB10 is compliant in 39 countries (and this will expand based on "customer requests", they told us).

Jason speculates as to whether OB10 will stay independent for another 12 years given the strong market position they’ve built up – but we’ll watch their current developments with interest. And do read Jason’s more detailed reviews for further insight and analysis.

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