Aravo’s New Executive Chairman — Tim Albinson on Supplier Management’s Future (Part 2)

Click here for the first installment of this interview as well as a quick corporate update on Aravo's growth metrics.

Continuing the interview from the last post, I asked Tim how Aravo got started and when the revelation came that there was a market for supplier management outside of supplier enablement for Ariba clients. He told me that it's been over a decade since that original flash of light. In his words, "the light bulb went off very early, way back in 2000. The key initial 'light bulb' was that the pioneering e-procurement companies were far more 'vision' than 'reality' in terms of the complex set of features/functionality required to enable and manage suppliers and their data at any real scale. We [Aravo] initially set out to build a better catalog management tool for Ariba and Commerce One clients, but that quickly grew into the broader SIM positioning when we realized the extent to which those early e-procurement platforms fell short when it came to enabling and managing the required super-set of supplier information. I suppose you could say that the recognition of those shortcomings, and thus the opportunity to fill those needs, was really the 'birthplace of the modern SIM/SLM market.' We coined the SIM acronym in 2004 and the rest, as they say, is history."

I asked Tim to trace the early history of the platform. He told me, "once we launched v1.0 of Aravo SIM in 2005 we were very fortunate to sign GE as our first truly global client. GE quickly saw the potential in what Aravo SIM was, and more importantly, what it could be. They worked with us to develop a broad, scalable, industrial strength vision of what they ultimately wanted to achieve -- and our market-leading SIM platform is the result. The nature of their global operations required that we build flexibility and configurability into everything we developed, so as a result, by working with one of the most complex and diversified global companies on this initial deployment, we realized that if we could solve their problems, we could solve anyone's problems."

Next, I asked Tim to cut the infomercial (despite its relevance to some degree from a contextual perspective) and tell us what the top priorities of Aravo's customers are when it comes to supplier management today, and also what specific issues are pushing them to make the investment. He told us, "Our customers want to remove excess cost from their global supplier management processes and improve the efficiency of their other enterprise systems through a common SIM source of truth. But increasingly, every customer and prospect we talk to has immediate problems to solve around supplier compliance, supply chain risk and supplier performance."

"These are the areas keeping CPOs, CFOs and Compliance Officers awake at night. Unmanaged, they have the ability to drive down EPS and cost a company competitive advantage in the marketplace. As a result, our most recent wins, both for new logos and for expansion in existing customers, have been around compliance and risk. This is what has driven Aravo into expanding its SIM foundation into a broader SLM footprint."

Where does Tim see the marketed headed next? Here, he observes "two exciting trends developing: the first is the need for a single cross-functional SIM/SLM data model. Today, supplier information requirements have grown organically from early transaction requirements for EDI and Rosettanet, to ERP vendor masters and niche system data models, and third party data aggregators. The result is a confusing mess of supplier information definitions. We deal with this every day, and while there have been a few attempts at sorting out this morass, they have been mainly around vertical industry needs. I think the time has come for a single comprehensive view of supplier information that can be leveraged industry-wide."

Stay tuned for the final post in this series. We'll start with Tim's second prediction for what's coming next in the market.

Jason Busch

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