Hubwoo’s New Network Launch: Plumbing, Collaboration & More (Part 2)

Please click here for the first installment of this series.

There are really two different elements to Hubwoo 3.0 network strategy and execution. The first is extremely pragmatic: take functionality that either existed (or didn't) in procurement applications and stick it in the cloud as part of a network offering surrounding on-premise procurement environments (e.g., SAP SRM, Oracle eBusiness Suite). In Hubwoo's words, this can both help users gain more value from existing eProcurement or ERP implementations and potentially avoid Ariba/SAP fees.

Hubwoo told Spend Matters the first component of the initial element of their offering is a stand-alone search engine to find the right set of suppliers. The second is their Easy Buy offering, which can reduce SAP licensing costs by not requiring an SRM license (or upgrade) if a company already has ECC. Easy Buy is essentially on one level a re-skinned version of SAP MM or SRM. But on another, it's a stand-alone procurement tool if a certain amount of SAP back-end debits/credits/direct procurement plumbing already exists.
The third component remains Hubwoo's hosted SRM application, eBuy. This is the hosted version of SAP SRM combined with Hubwoo's own enabling IP. And the fourth element, of course, is the application enabling connectivity within the true network itself, including significant capability to supplier self-service and maintenance of their own information profile, details and catalog/content information (if applicable).

The ability to support service entry sheets for spend that doesn't fall into a traditional catalog PO-based environment is another feather in Hubwoo's 3.0 network cap. But perhaps more interesting for Spend Matters readers concerned with the future of network adoption and capability than this collective set of enabling eProcurement capability delivered through both a hosted software and network environment is what Hubwoo has delivered with its latest release in the area of network listings and supplier-focused capabilities. This is the second element to "Hubwoo 3.0" that I spoke of at the start of this post – the ability to drive a truly networked, scalable offering that sits between buyers and suppliers.

Hubwoo's Invoice & Payment Status Dashboard

Drill-down of invoice documents (e.g., Service Entry Sheets)

The scale question interested us, so we asked about it during the network demonstration Hubwoo provided. The product manager told us that Hubwoo has stress tested the core network capability with 600 concurrent users and has the ability to "grow volume ten times" without re-architecting, in their words. In addition, he mentioned they're currently managing 100 million SKUs in multiple supplier catalogs and expect this number to grow as network adoption picks up.

Essentially, from a commerce/web-driven supplier perspective, Hubwoo has taken a close look at what Ariba does with its own network capability to allow suppliers to market to prospects through both Discovery and P2P/Buyer (either responding to RFPs or simply with directory listings) and added its own twists. Yet Hubwoo's goal (as was Ariba's before the SAP acquisition) is to reach far beyond just the SAP ecosystem if possible and enable suppliers to identify and transact with customers in a truly eProcurement system agnostic fashion.

Central to the network value proposition for suppliers is the ability to come in and maintain and manage their profile, campaigns and various initiatives. While Hubwoo has preloaded basic profile information for over one million suppliers (300,000 from existing Hubwoo trading relationships), suppliers have the ability to update both profiles and specific offers/advertisements. The ad campaign cockpit manager includes the ability to update/add basic category information, images (e.g., logos, banners), text to support specific targeting efforts, and publish public catalogs to market their goods and services in a large searchable network (think Amazon marketplace).

Beyond these marketing capabilities, Hubwoo positions the other supplier-facing network value proposition elements in a very similar manner to Ariba/SAP, including the ability to "publish catalog content of both products and services" while enabling a "close-looped buying process of customers for greater repeat business." Additional value proposition elements (also similar to Ariba in nearly all aspects) include the ability to:

- Transact electronically with customers, reducing errors, returns and reduced DSO (Days Sales Outstanding)

- Take advantage of value added packages to get instant access to RFx's

- Pre-match invoices before sending to Buyer

- On-line negotiation of early pay discounts

Why will Hubwoo triumph over other networks with what seems like a relatively similar supplier-facing shtick? If you drink their broader network Kool-Aid verbatim, the argument goes something like this. First, Hubwoo claims high levels of supplier on-boarding success and enablement (combined with a guarantee) along with a primary model of "no supplier fees." (Hubwoo offers buyers a choice to share fees with the supply chain if they choose.) Second, Hubwoo argues the consumer-like shopping experience their network capability provides stands in contrast to the "poor user adoption" that other systems foster. Next, Hubwoo takes the functional high ground in its network adoption argument citing "active catalog management & centralization) combined with "business process synchronization" and "conditional logic for invoice accuracy" versus less advanced networks.

We'll offer our own comparative analysis and opinion on this as this series concludes on Spend Matters PRO next week. But we first need to wrap-up our reporting on Hubwoo's network vision and capability, which we'll do in the final installment of our series on Spend Matters. Stay tuned!

- Jason Busch

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