Exploring Oracle’s Portfolio Approach to Supplier Enablement

In contrast to nearly all of its purchase-to-pay competitors, which have an integrated approach and offering to supplier enablement, Oracle has adopted a portfolio strategy that places some of the onus on the customer to decide for themselves which pieces to use – or not use. There are definitely advantages and disadvantages to this loose coupling of capabilities – including the ability to easily use a third-party supplier enablement and connectivity solution (compare this, for example, with the lock-in of Ariba applications to the Ariba supplier network).

Yet if you stick with the Oracle recommended approaches, here’s what you’ll find:

First, you’ll find the Oracle Supplier Network, whose speciality is driving connectivity for larger suppliers in cases of high document throughout. Oracle recommends “leveraging Fusion Middleware to connect directly with other trading partners for industry specific processes.” But of course there are other connectivity approaches one can tie into the OSN including standards based EDI and cXML – and third-party VANs and EDI providers such as GXS and IBM/Sterling.

Second, a “Portal-based collaboration for low volume suppliers.” This is essentially the “partial e-invoicing solution” that drives suppliers to a portal to submit an invoice and check on statuses. We think that Oracle’s supplier portal approach is basic and undifferentiated compared with what Tradeshift has done with its platform and Cloudscan, for example. But at least Oracle doesn’t charge suppliers fees for submitting invoices in a portal environment.

And third, Oracle can introduce its partner Transcepta into the mix. Transcepta offers a clever toolbox that is looking less differentiated (though certainly still effective) by the year to onboard and manage transactions and document flow for smaller and mid-tier suppliers. Transcepta offers connectivity through a virtual printer approach tied to a supplier’s ERP/financials package, the scanning of PDFs and extracting metadata, and other means. Transcepta also offers European VAT compliance services (we are not aware of their compliance offerings, if any, for Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina). Besides Transcepta, Oracle customers may wish to consider other networks and platforms in the sector (e.g., Tradeshift, Nipendo, Taulia, OB10, IBX, Hubwoo, Basware, etc.), some of which are bringing newer approaches to taking outputs from suppliers and building significant value-added services on top of network connectivity (e.g., discounting/receivables financing, etc.)

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