Looking Under IBM's New Procurement Covers: Examining the Latest From Emptoris (Part 1)

In early February, IBM completed its acquisition of Emptoris (giving 725 Emptoris employees a new Emptoris/IBM business card). Going forward, the company will maintain its historic name under the new branding: "Emptoris, an IBM Company." Given this name change as well as the change of control, those running Emptoris for spend analysis (or any other Emptoris solution) should take note that it's time to update your IBM parent/child linkages in your spend analysis package!

Aside from this, for those working with Emptoris or taking another look at the provider now that it is part of IBM, there are far more important elements for consideration given the current state of the vendor's modules, architecture and solution direction, not to mention its broader integration and relationship with the new parent company. In a series of posts looking at Emptoris today and where they stand at the point of ownership transition, we'll plan to provide a number of useful insights to Emptoris' customers, prospects and partners.

Beginning with the state of Emptoris at the time of transition, it's clear that in recent quarters, Emptoris has focused on the higher-end of the sourcing and procurement market. Indeed, Emptoris is more focused on selling and building larger relationships than many of its smaller rivals rather than trying to be all things to all procurement organizations. In contrast to Ariba, for example, Emptoris is not focused on discounting software/SaaS deals to the bone in exchange for transaction-based revenue. Rather, they are most at home selling larger suite deals with material configuration and/or customization and integration requirements.

Looking at execution and numbers, this strategy appears to have worked in 2011, based on information Emptoris shared with Spend Matters earlier in 2012. Growth appears to have come from a combination of organic and acquisition-led activities.

Solution-wise, Emptoris put (relatively speaking, given its software mid-cap size before the IBM buyout) a huge development effort into its latest product release: Version 9.0. Working with a group of customers in a beta program earlier in 2011 before the product shipped in GA (general availability) mode and then implementing several customers on V9 in Q4 of 2011, V9 is clearly getting out into the market. While we'll save our analysis of V9, including digging into the solution architecture and Emptoris' strategy for bringing together different components from its acquired building blocks for the remaining posts in this series, it's important to note a few elements that define the product and suite strategy going forward:

  • A platform-based approach that looks for leverage, re-use, and integration of objects and components
  • Extensive use of proven IP in building an integrated suite of capabilities
  • Flexibility of deployment approach (hosted and installed are both available)
  • Taking advantage of tight integration with other IBM products, integration/connectivity services and architectural components (e.g., FileNet, WebSphere and Sterling Commerce)
  • Incorporation of broader IBM technology into the Emptoris stack (DB2, Cognos, WebSphere, etc.)
  • Placing an emphasis on creating a supplier record tied to broader suite access and capability -- but not supplier MDM, a nuance we'll address in a follow-up post -- as well as a means of enforcing rigor for all types of supplier compliance (i.e., a commitment to supplier management, albeit with an approach that is more suite-driven than what others are taking around traditional supplier information management)
  • Increased user-friendliness, enabling both casual and power users to walk up to the applications and take advantage of increasing levels of capability without requiring training
  • Continued focus on heavy systems integration, configuration and customization for those organizations that truly want to make these levels of investments (while also serving a market looking for more packaged and standard configurations)
  • Commitment to the historic core products (e.g., sourcing, spend analysis, contract management) with incremental features, releases, etc.

Emptoris has simplified its walk-up contract management interface for typical business users.

Based on our recent briefings, discussions and product and architectural walkthroughs, it's clear Emptoris is still taking a very different approach than many of its rivals when it comes to suite expansion, customization/configurability direction and interoperability. Still, while it remains to be seen what IBM's broader P2P and supply management will look like (including eProcurement, e-invoicing and other areas) it's clear that Emptoris' new strategy of increasingly linking its suite and leveraging a common platform for an increasing number of development activities will create many options as it targets both Fortune 100 and broader Global 2000 type organizations.

Stay tuned as our analysis continues.

- Jason Busch and Thomas Kase

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Voices (2)

  1. Doug Macdonald:

    Ralph – Although, as you correctly point out, we are a provider of SaaS solutions, most of our customers choose to install standalone instances of our software, either on-premise or via our hosting operations. Thus, when a new version of the software is released, most our customers upgrade on a timetable of their own choosing – hence Jason’s description above.
    Doug Macdonald, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Emptoris, an IBM Company

  2. Ralph:

    Question – I had thought that when a company is SaaS that all customers have to be on the same version – as it is served up by the SaaS Provider. You say they are rolling out V9. Does that mean that they are not offering a SaaS solution? How can people on different versions if it is multi tennant/single instance?

    Thank you for answering

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