D&B's New Spend Apps: Beauty Over Brawn (Part 3)

Editors Note: This is the third part of a three-part series. Part 1 provided background and context for D&B's new Spend Management applications. Part 2, posted yesterday, analyzed two of the products and how they stack-up in the market. This final part will provide further context around how D&B's new solutions and how they can fit into a company's Spend Management technology portfolio.

In the past, D&B has largely been known as a data company. Sure, they dabbled in applications -- and now appear to be getting more serious about data integration applications or hubs -- but technology was largely thought of as a means to deliver content rather than as viable, stand alone businesses. But given the fact that D&B has a long list of supply management data customers but fewer customers that use D&B supply management applications, these new solutions represent a good up-sell opportunity into what amounts to a significant data installed base.

And they've designed a specific model to engage these customers to get them excited about the new capabilities. In my conversation with D&B and JV Kelly, I learned that D&B uses a proof of concept approach to go to market with these new solutions -- almost always focusing on the D&B installed base. According to Jim Lawton, more than two-thirds of the proof of concepts that D&B carries out result in immediate sales (proof that the UI speaks for itself). Jim noted to me that "D&B also uses the proof of concepts as the basis for demonstrating the value to the customer, which we use to help the customer understand the ROI and to create the price."

But how much is D&B charging for Supply Portfolio Manager and Supply Analysis? While I could not get D&B to cough up an exact number or range, I'd wager that the price is in large part tied to the overall number of records and the size of current content/enrichment implementations. In some cases, I'd guess that it can go as low as the five figures for small implementations, but I know at least one deal which was well into the eight figures (including content). In other words, the variability of the pricing is significant, but it would appear that it depends on the size of the overall D&B relationship as well as potentially the number of users and if D&B is turning on other data as a result of the implementation (e.g., diversity information).

Without question Supply Portfolio Manager and Supply Analysis are applications which sell themselves as a result of the user experience. But just as an iPhone is not yet a replacement for a desktop user who needs the full power of a word processor or spreadsheet application, D&B's new capabilities are not complete replacements for a certain class of power users (e.g., sourcing analysts focusing solely on drilling into spend data). To this end, I reckon that the Analysis module will serve as a perfect front-end and complement to more sophisticated analysis tools which only a handful of folks inside most procurement organizations will need access to. And Supply Portfolio Manager, while immensely valuable as a tool to manage and gain visibility into the top levels of supplier information, will suffice for all but the individual supplier management power users who needs to drill down into such areas as tier two supplier information and supplier credential / certification management.

So what's my net take on D&B's new solutions for users? My advice to companies using D&B data -- and even those not using it -- is to take a serious look at Supply Portfolio Manager and Supply Analysis as a top level tool to gain visibility into supplier and spend information. But even those who are shocked at the quality of the visualization experience should take a step back and ask themselves whether or not what is currently on offer from D&B is a complete replacement for other applications. For some, it might suffice. But others will need to supplement these new tools with solutions from other providers.

- Jason Busch

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