One Perspective: Thinking Through Ariba and Procuri Product Integration

When I spoke to Ariba and Procuri yesterday, they were understandably quiet in regards to the product integration of the two suites. But being the opinionated blogger I am, I thought I'd speculate anyway on what I'd do if I were at Ariba (presuming the deal closes). In this post, I'll take the perspective that within 12 months following deal close, that there's no reason for Ariba to support two competing code bases that essentially have similar functionality. But in a later post today, I'll take another contradicting perspective.

Let's get to it. If a code base rationalization happens between the companies -- which again is speculation -- what are some assumptions an informed observer might make? To answer this question, let's examine the Procuri product suite, beginning with TotalIntegration. Here, Procuri has what appears to be a good story to tell. But without question, Ariba has far more integration experience in the broader Spend Management arena. Seriously, e-sourcing, spend analysis and contract management integration do not require the same type of real-time systems connectivity and visibility as procure-to-pay solutions. Perhaps Ariba will adopt Procuri's integration approach in the sourcing area as well as the marketing for it. But that's it. Either way, we'll have to wait and see.

Next up let's consider TotalView, Procuri's sourcing dashboard. Here, it's probably a toss-up from a basic visualization perspective between Ariba and Procuri. But neither firm begins to approach the UI and dashboard visualization that providers like JV Kelly have built for customers integrating supplier performance, supply risk, contract compliance and sourcing information into a flex-based UI. Both Ariba and Procuri should make some investments in this area, in my book, to get ahead of the competition. SAP and Emptoris don't exactly have anything here to write home about either, so the market is open.

TotalSupplier, Procuri's supplier management tool, was born out of CMSI roots. From what I know, it's a solid, but basic solution, which now also includes scorecarding capabilities. Ariba has similar portal and scorecarding capabilities that many consider deeper, although I've heard that Procuri's approach has won fans over the years because of its ease of use and simply UI. The winner? It's a toss up, although I'm willing to bet that Ariba will take the best of both modules and create something new.

TotalContracts is Procuri's contact management solution, acquired from CMSI. From what I've heard in the market, there has not been much development and enhancement to the module in the past couple of years relative to where Emptoris, Upside and others have taken their solutions. Ariba has never known for industry leading contract management either, but I would give them the edge from a feature/function and overall suite integration perspective.

Next on the list: TotalSpend. TotalSpend is Procuri's spend analysis solution, acquired from TrueSource. When Procuri acquired TrueSource, they got themselves an excellent deal largely on earn-out terms from what I heard. I know that one company chose TrueSource over Ariba largely because they got "3 Ariba modules for the price of one". But from what I've seen and heard in the past year, Ariba compares quite favorably to Procuri, and has a far larger installed base from a spend visibility perspective to reference. I reckon that Ariba will quietly take some of the extraction/integration IP from TrueSource and put the rest of the solution out to digital pasture.

TotalSource, Procuri's sourcing solution, is the big conundrum. What will Ariba do with it? Certainly, they won't support both TotalSource and their own sourcing solutions. Or will they? This is where the real product integration brainpower will need to go. I'm guessing that Ariba will adopt some of the UI and workflow from Procuri -- and probably some of the category-based and sourcing process templates -- and attempt to enhance their own solution with it. But I'm tossed up on this one. Still, Ariba will need to work fast, lest Emptoris, SAP, Iasta, Oracle, and the many other e-sourcing solutions out there in the market continue to innovate while they get mired in product integration details.

What do you think? Obviously this entire post is speculative and one person's musing are far less likely to be accurate than the contributions of a broader community. So, please, chime in and comment below. And check back later today when I take a contradictory view on the topic, instead presenting the case for keeping two separate platforms.

Jason Busch

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