Emptoris Launches a Pre-Emptive Strike Ahead of Ariba LIVE (Part 2)

Earlier today, I provided some context around Emptoris' recent guaranteed results announcement. But what does it mean in the market -- and why did Emptoris decide to pull the trigger now (besides the timing of Ariba LIVE)? Let me share some quick observations and thoughts here.

First, some context, at least as I see it: I have been tracking a number of Spend Management deals of late and Emptoris appears be behaving somewhat inconsistently in various situations, a sign of less integrated cohesion and coordination than what I've seen previously (which was a finely honed sales, product and solution delivery machine). At least one prospect I've heard about recently dismissed them outright before the final phase of the negotiation, not because of product, but because of how they handled themselves in a sales situation relative to the competition (this was a deal Ariba did not win either, for what it's worth).

I’ve also observed of late that Emptoris is also not getting into at least some other deals that 12 months ago, they would have automatically been invited to the table for. Clearly, this is a company in a marketplace transition despite having some of the best -- if not the best, depending on one's perspective -- solutions in the areas in which they compete.

Having said this, I still believe that companies should always shortlist Emptoris for spend analysis, sourcing, supplier performance management and contract management -- they have highly capable solutions in each of these areas. But it's beginning to feel like the patent case and related negative fallout from it -- as well as the terms of the buy-out last fall -- are beginning to take their toll in the eyes of at least some prospects for which Emptoris is no longer an automatic short-list candidate -- or shoe-in, for that matter. This is too bad -- both for customers who stand to benefit from additional Emptoris R&D investment from a continued high growth rate and prospects that are depriving themselves of the chance at working with one of the leaders in the market.

At the end of this round on the battlefield, I believe the timing of the Emptoris press release and adoption of the language this week is symptomatic of a competitor that is searching for its rightful place in the market versus one that is driving a true leadership position. Emptoris is hedging its bets versus taking its chances going down a singular path which is in marked contrast to how they used to behave. Of course this says nothing for their actual capability -- or even financial growth metrics -- but sometimes the public perception tail can ultimately end-up wagging the solution and customer success dog. And I would not want to see that happen to Emptoris for the sake of the overall Spend Management market.

Jason Busch

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