Ariba Supplier Network Alternatives: OB10 (Background — Part 1)

This post is part of a fall 2010 series looking at Ariba Supplier Network alternatives. We will cover each Ariba supplier network alternative in a series of posts starting with each provider's basic background in the area. Following this initial installment, we will then examine their solution approach and Ariba/third party systems integration. Finally, we will provide our own summary and analysis of the provider's overall capabilities.

OB10's core business centers on providing what they describe as a "secure global network service," which is currently used by over 120 global clients to receive electronic invoice data from over 86,000 suppliers spread across 137 countries. The OB10 revenue numbers we have looked at suggest its supplier network business (it's only business) is one of the larger and healthier ones in the market in both absolute and relative terms. The company appears poised to grow approximately 25% or more in the coming 12 months. OB10 processes over ten million e-invoices per year, which it notes are "system-to-system" rather than e-mails or faxes. Current e-invoice volume is growing at 40% year over year.

In their own words, OB10 core offering enables companies to:

  • Receive and correctly interpret purchase order data sent by customers to their suppliers;
  • Format and present purchase order data to each supplier in their preferred format and structure;
  • Receive and correctly interpret invoice data sent by suppliers to their customers;
  • Format and present invoice data to each buyer in their preferred format and structure.
  • Receive (and provide suppliers with access 24/7 to) the customer's processing and payment status.
  • Receive files of remittance advices from buyers and deliver files of remittance advices to suppliers.

OB10 currently has 124 A/P clients who receive e-Invoices via the OB10 network including several common clients who use Ariba Buyer or Ariba P2P "in concert with the OB10 e-Invoicing network." OB10 notes, "There is no technical barrier preventing the exchange of data between the Ariba Buyer or Ariba P2P system and the OB10 e-Invoicing network. OB10 exchanges data with Ariba P2P or Ariba Buyer via flat files that are formatted and specified using native export functionality supported by the relevant Ariba system."

Including Ariba users in its user base, OB10 processes and delivers invoices for 86,000 suppliers today, of which approximately 20% submit invoices via file upload. The remainder submits invoices via the OB10 portal. OB10 users have the option of receiving invoices directly or via interoperability agreements. OB10 has 10 interoperability agreements in Europe, yet less than 1% of their volume comes from these networks. When volume is generated via interoperability agreements, the OB10 network retains the legal invoice for tax and audit purposes.

From a document and transactional standards perspective, OB10 is format and layout independent. They note, "While OB10 supports standards such as EDI and XML, it does not impose any 'standards-based' requirements on trading partners. OB10 clients exchange data via flat files in the format and file specification used by the native functions supported by their processing systems." In addition, "OB10 provides the Invoice Data Capture service to convert invoices submitted via e-mail, mail or fax to electronic invoices. The A/P client receives a single stream of electronic invoice data regardless of how the supplier submits the invoice."

From a pricing standpoint, OB10 supplier pricing "varies depending on the method of submission." Suppliers that "upload files of invoices pay an annual membership fee plus a transaction fee that varies based on volume. Suppliers "who submit invoices online pay a transaction fee that varies based on volume." Buy-side customers contract with OB10 for a range of services at a fixed annual fee.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of our OB10 analysis when we look at the specific capabilities they serve up on top of Ariba and other P2P/SRM environments.

Jason Busch

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