Emptoris' Empower (Take Two)

In my chat with Avner and his team on Wednesday, I picked up a number of interesting tidbits that speak to the successes Emptoris is having as a result of some of the strategic directions the vendor went down -- which I would argue have little to do with the product itself -- in the past. For one, building a close relationship with IBM -- on the consulting, BPO, and customer fronts -- was smart indeed. You can learn more about how IBM is using Emptoris internally by clicking on this internal IBM site. Needless to say, it sounds like a massive implementation.

In addition, Emptoris invested significantly in building close links with SAP. In a survey they conducted with SAP customers, they found that 86% of SAP customers like working with SAP partners. For other vendors in the Spend Management world -- especially those targeting discrete manufacturers where SAP is especially strong, and who often spend a lot of procurement and operations technology -- this is a great learning. A SAP certified partnership can take IT out of the way as a stumbling block to selling and implementing a third party technology -- especially in SaaS situations. Consider that while Emptoris prefers to host the application for their customers, they are running native on the NetWeaver stack -- at least the app server. This should put even the most stalwart SAP IT shops at ease. Smart strategy. Smart marketing.

While not as formal a program, Emptoris has also invested in building -- and marketing -- its integration into Oracle. Given that Oracle has, in Emptoris' fighting words, "lost its way in supply management," this has helped the vendor poach Oracle customers who are looking for alternative solutions, given that Oracle is discontinuing development on some of its historic procurement applications. The fact that Emptoris can claim solid integration into existing Oracle applications is helping, in this regard.

The final point I will leave you with from Empower is Emptoris' drive to promote its Overdrive program -- a major theme of the event. You can read about Overdrive in a previous post, but it suffices to say the program is relatively unique in the market, designed to increase adoption and usage along a set of benchmarks, measurements, and program and change management. The net result is that Overdrive should, in theory, increase a customer's overall impact and bottom line procurement results. Right now, there are 12 Emptoris resources dedicated to Overdrive (including the benchmarking and adoption sub-programs). These resources primarily come from a management -- versus a procurement -- consulting background.

As I opined previously, Overdrive appears to be a "combination of Hackett-"lite" benchmarking, SAP/i2 value engineering, Big-5-esqe program management and SIG-like networking and support." As an example, one benchmark Emptoris shared was that companies that move to monthly -- or even more frequent -- refreshes for spend visibility while also improving the granularity of their spend taxonomy perform better overall, saving more and driving results to the bottom line. Stay tuned as I write more about Overdrive in the future. Like Emptoris' SAP relationship, Overdrive is a smart strategy. And as important -- as with their SAP approach -- they know how to market it.

Jason Busch

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