Zycus Horizon Dispatch 5 – Shuffle This! A New “Card” User Interface

Zycus has big ambitions to become one of the top broader suite vendors in the procurement market. In fact, its marketing “coverage” of product areas today would put it (at least on paper) just about complete as any vendor today – financing savings management, spend analysis, strategic sourcing, contact management, supplier management, requisition processing, catalog management, purchase order management, invoice management, etc. The reality, of course, is that Zycus is deeper in certain areas than others. But one spot Zycus is hoping that really unites the suite beyond its individual components is a new user interface that is due out in Q2/Q3 2015.

This interface, which Zycus provided a demo on during its annual event, uses a rather novel (at least for procurement tools) card-like metaphor. Users can move cards around the screen (any form factor from smartphone to tablet to desktop) and navigate between not just modules, but activities, and then take action in the cards themselves. Code-named “Rainbow,” the idea is to show all the colors of procurement activities in a practical context as a user thinks of activities logically – not just a tabular or menu driven navigation structure to going back and forth between modules.

On the most basic level, the idea is to provide one-click access in a new navigation structure that feels more like a modern website organized around a user than around enterprise applications. The idea behind the card approach is a tabular structure that allows you to add cards, hide them, etc.

Apps (modules), application activities/priorities, task reminders and general alerts all surface front and center for the user. Cards can be moved around and accessed. With the card approach, the suite does not feel like a suite of modules – rather, it is truly “one” toolset. This cascades to search, and Zycus demoed a procurement SIRI-like capability with natural language text-based search.

For example, you can ask the search tool “show me all new contracts and sourcing events from January to March 2014 with Mexican suppliers,” and it will provide what you ask (in theory, if it works in practice – we just saw a demo!) Beyond search, users can also/link and tag activity and create either micro or macro objects based on atomic spend/supplier elements through to overall projects/relationships. The idea is sort of an uber-tagging type approach, but one that crosses “like” elements. For example, a tag could include a contract, SKU, 5 team members, a supplier and a performance review.

Zycus’ new UI will go a long way to differentiating the overall suite – and getting past the idea of just looking at how well modules work together. Of course, the proof will be in the execution, and an on-screen demonstration is completely different than playing in the user interface sandbox itself. Still, it looks promising.

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