Q&A with new Jaggaer CEO: ‘Our vision and passion … it’s around the customer experience’

Jim Bureau is the new chief executive of Jaggaer. (2019 Jaggaer photo)

The global suite provider Jaggaer has been undergoing a lot of changes this year — converging its solutions on a single platform called Jaggaer One, getting a new owner this summer and seeing a change in leadership a few weeks ago.

To learn more about these changes, Spend Matters Founder Jason Busch talked with Jaggaer’s new CEO, Jim Bureau, who has been with the company a little over two years and most recently was executive vice president.

In a Q&A, Bureau kept coming back to the idea that the needs of the customer drive Jaggaer forward.

“As we look at our vision and passion for what we do, it’s around the customer experience,” he said. “You can’t maximize the customer experience without great adoption. So to get adoption, and to really get that level of customer experience, we believe that you have to know and understand their business.”

In Part 1, Bureau touches on Jaggaer’s strengths as well as knowing market verticals, serving the Europe markets, and planning where Jaggaer will expand.

Q&A with Jim Bureau

Jason Busch: As you look at Jaggaer’s strengths today, what really stands out to you the most?

Jim Bureau: As I look back at our history with all of the various companies that we have assembled over the years, there are three real core areas that stick out. First and foremost is the sheer comprehensiveness of our solutions. So, if you look at the marketplace, Jaggaer can do it all in the spend management space from upstream to downstream, direct and indirect. And in each of those areas, we offer the level of granularity that our customers demand. We’ve got a fairly demanding customer base, as you can probably appreciate, and they expect a level of detail from Jaggaer that they don’t find elsewhere.

The other thing that really stands out is the loyalty of our customers. At our REV Conference, which we held a couple of weeks ago, I was in one of the breakout sessions and we went around the room and asked, ‘How long have you been a Jaggaer customer?’ The tenure of a lot of our customers was over 15 years, which is very satisfying in today’s era of SaaS solutions, when it is relatively easy to change vendors.

The third thing that stands out to me is how we got here, which means quality employees and domain expertise. The people that we’ve got in our organization really bring it to that customer base.

So, these three areas — comprehensiveness of our solutions, customer retention and domain expertise — are particular strengths and how we will continue to work on these as we go forward.

Verticalization — or a focus on targeted industry sectors — has long been in the DNA of Jaggaer. Will that continue to be important? And if so, which verticals are most appealing?

It’s interesting, when you look at verticalization, the question really becomes: Why do you verticalize? And what value does it bring? As we look at our vision and passion for what we do, it’s around the customer experience. You can’t maximize the customer experience without great adoption. So to get adoption, and to really get that level of customer experience, we believe that you have to know and understand their business. To us, that means going vertical in the markets so that we have a deep dive into the specifics and the nuances.

The industries that we take a deep interest in are public sector, manufacturing, logistics, pharmaceutical, healthcare, retail, CPG. And higher education has always been a big one for us. Plus, business services, and of course energy and utilities. The way that we view it is that each one of those vertical markets has specific, deep nuances that “a generic solution” won’t provide.

Whether it’s a pharmaceutical company needing chemical inventory management through their procurement process, or a higher education institution that needs to manage grant funding, or logistics companies doing sourcing optimization for transportation events; each one of these has nuances, kind of like a special-shaped peg that only fits into a special-shaped hole. It’s incumbent upon us to make sure that we provide that for our customers. So, we will absolutely continue to focus on vertical markets because we believe that’s how you get adoption, which is how you deliver the return on investments the customers are expecting.

Rather quietly, Jaggaer has become one of the largest players in Europe today for procurement, if not the largest, at least outside of SAP. What makes the European market(s) different — I am using the plural deliberately! — and how do you go from strength to strength in the region?

First, we don’t necessarily want to do so quietly, so we will fix that. We do have a very big presence in the European market, and we have an opportunity to continue to brand with the Jaggaer brand. The Bravo Solution brand was very strong and continues to be a very strong brand, but it’s important for our global customers that Jaggaer is the one and only way that we go to market, because this takes advantage of all the assets we’ve incorporated into Jaggaer One. It is important for our large global customers to have a seamless experience from China to London to San Diego. But again, there are nuances within the European markets, and I think we’ve done a pretty good job of navigating them.

As you go from one country to the other, you have to be able to incorporate the language nuances, the legal requirements, and tax requirements. And do so seamlessly. Then, the other thing that’s interesting in European markets is, dependent upon which region you’re in, you have pockets of specialties around vertical markets. There’s really an opportunity for us to be able to take those pockets and expand them to other parts of Europe. For example, as you probably well know, manufacturing has been a real differentiator for us in the DACH region, consisting of Germany, Austria and Switzerland. We’re now seeing movement with people leveraging that expertise in places such as Spain, Dubai and Australia. As we mature, we are incorporating all of that into our Jaggaer One platform.

Being able to do that requires some expertise in terms of navigating from one country to another. We have a long history through our Bravo acquisition in Europe. We really rely on the domain expertise we acquired in order to navigate the nuances of each one of those countries and then bring best practices from vertical markets in one country to similar vertical markets in others. For example, we do a lot of work in the public sector in the United Kingdom, gaining domain expertise that we are bringing to the public sector in Italy, then in France. We’re really trying to branch out across all of those vertical markets.

You mentioned manufacturing. It’s clear that in the DACH countries (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) and probably other regional markets you mentioned, there’s a huge market for direct materials procurement. Do you see that as a standalone capability in North America too?

Yes, we’re super excited about incorporating direct materials procurement into our portfolio for a variety of reasons. First, if you look at the total spend throughout various organizations, the direct material spend, is not only significant, but it’s also of critical importance to these customers. We see it as a huge differentiator for us. We’ve got some very large customers like PPG, Kohler, Bosch and Siemens that have a heavy reliance upon on direct materials solutions within their broader portfolio. We’re seeing that market expand quite a bit in the U.S. as well, to the point that we’re pulling specialized resources to cater for this demand.

We are also working with some external partners that specialize in the manufacturing space and can really tailor our solutions to the needs of direct procurement customers.

The other interesting thing, if you look at that direct material spend, is that it’s very applicable beyond manufacturing. When you look at direct materials, you’d think of verticals like healthcare, right? Having spent a long time in healthcare myself, it’s a fantastic environment in which to bring a direct-spend solution meeting the needs of the healthcare provider market. So, we’re seeing material interest from organizations in that respect, and that’s certainly applicable on a global scale.

Looking ahead a bit, where do you see the greatest potential areas of interest for Jaggaer to expand what it’s currently doing on the product side? Are there any adjacencies that seem the most relevant?

There’s a couple of really important things that we see in changing the market dynamics. One of those is embedded intelligence.

When people interact with spend management solutions, they typically have to make a concerted effort to go and find something. That’s not really the way that people expect to interact with systems today. I mean, very simply: When I get in my car, my car knows it’s Saturday, and I am likely to be going to Home Depot. What does it do? It prompts me, ‘Hey, are you going to Home Depot? Would you like directions?’ Similarly, if I’m working in a category, in a particular category, there are things that I do on a day-in, day-out basis that should feed me information that I’m expecting. When there are variances in those, it should explicitly call these out without me having to go and intervene and look for that information.

So, when we look at adjacent markets, we’re really focused on how we make that user experience distinctly different, so that interactions with the system really allow the human capital to focus on activities that deliver a large return on investment. Other areas that are of interest to us are the payments market, the supplier markets, and we’ll continue to look at vertical-specific niches. These are the areas where you will see continuous evolution of the Jaggaer One platform.

In Part 2 of this series, CEO Jim Bureau discusses Jaggaer’s partner network and looks farther into the company’s future to discuss what its products will look like and what the company will accomplish.

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