Emptoris Empower 2011: Dispatch One – A "New" Emptoris

Emptoris Empower kicked off yesterday in Boston. I was here with my colleague Thomas Kase, exploring the latest from the venerable sourcing, contract management, spend analysis, telecom expense management and supplier management provider (phew...that's a long and growing list). Earlier this year, our colleague Peter Smith from Spend Matters UK/Europe attended the European version of the same show (you can check out some of Peter's commentary here and here). But on this side of the Atlantic, this Empower is an important show (and year) for Emptoris for a number of reasons. In many ways, Emptoris needs to put a new stake in the ground with customers (and prospects) about what it will stand for in a market that's increasingly seeing new types of competition, inclusive of vast improvements in certain areas of the SAP and Oracle product lines across the procurement solutions arena.

There are a number of reasons why Emptoris must put a new stake in the ground in the marketplace if it is to continue to grow at the rate it has in past years. For one, it has acquired a diverse set of solutions over the years which have come together from an integration perspective, but in many cases, not an architectural one (i.e., one-code base, one stack). Moreover, the customers for these solutions are not always the same, even within procurement and the rest of the business. But perhaps most important, in a number of core areas (e.g., e-sourcing, spend analysis, contract management), Emptoris was, until its latest release announced at the event, outflanked in terms of usability for the typical front-line user rather than the power-user who wants all the potential bells and whistles of each solution exposed.

We're expecting Empower to showcase some of these usability improvements and front-end re-skinning of interfaces to better serve the needs of non-power users of applications that simply want to walk up to a tool, without training, and perform a smaller subset of simpler tasks. It's also going to be imperative for Emptoris to position its broader portfolio of solutions under a more defined umbrella if it wants to fully take advantage of the up-sell/cross-sell ability of its arsenal (they did this on the first day and we plan to report on it in more detail). Effective execution of this effort will be essential not just from a direct sales and account management standpoint, but also a channel and consulting one, given how much Emptoris relies on partners to deliver services on top of its solutions rather than taking a cut of revenue for services beyond implementations (in which cases it does even this work rather than having partners perform it). Defining this umbrella will also help Emptoris better explain and integrate future acquisitions and organic expansions, leveraging a consistent vision for why companies should use Emptoris vs. competitive solutions.

Stay tuned as we share what we learn in the coming days and weeks from Emptoris Empower 2011. We're looking forward to digging into some of the solution enhancements and product announcements in detail -- not to mention the higher-level solution positioning and integrated suite elements (which we think are actually quite important in the scheme of things for Emptoris going forward).

Jason Busch

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