New Agiloft CEO talks about scaling up its CLM platform that ‘can live and grow’ as a business transforms

Agiloft CEO Eric Laughlin

Following the announcement that specialist contract lifecycle management (CLM) provider Agiloft, had secured a $45 million growth equity investment from FTV Capital, Spend Matters spoke with the new Agiloft CEO, Eric Laughlin, about his vision for the firm in the coming 12 months.

Laughlin, previously global leader of Big Four firm EY's legal managed services business, has a decade of experience in legal tech and services, and has been around the contracting space for just as long.

He demonstrates a genuine passion for what the future holds for the contracting tech world, but his vision goes beyond tech development in legal services.

He foresees a future for contracting that reaches into the realms of wider business process improvement for every node in an organization that contracting touches.

"Contracts are no longer considered documents," Laughlin said in a Q&A. "They are data, and that data is the construction manual for the entire business."

More on that later — to begin with, we asked him …

What was it that attracted you to the lead role in Agiloft?

"Firstly," he said, "I am very excited to be part of Agiloft. It's a firm I've been getting to know over the past 18 months, both as a customer and as an adviser. When the team from Thomson Reuters was brought into EY, I discovered EY was using Agiloft for its contract purposes. So as part of the managed services team, I formed a partnership between the two firms to provide consulting services and implementation of the Agiloft platform."

So Laughlin was already well-versed in Agiloft before being approached by them, and could see the appeal.

Thinking about the perspective he brings to the job, he said, "it's clear to me, coming from the services side, that the customers who were taking contracts transformation the most seriously were those thinking wholly about the process, which includes the people and the tech. I believe that's what's special about the Agiloft platform; it has the capability to enable the process improvements required for legal or contracts transformation, because of its configurability and flexibility. The more it learns while serving procurement and sales, the more efficient it becomes and evolves with the firm. It's important that anyone involved in a transformation project to serve their internal clients better, considers a platform that can live and grow alongside their efforts, without costing an arm and a leg. This capability is what I saw in Agiloft, and that's what excited me."

"I was also attracted to the fact that Agiloft has long been profitable and growing, but so far without the need for external investment. Now it's a company that is ready to scale and grow, and has that infusion of investment to do what it has been doing, but on a much bigger scale."

What differentiation do you see in Agiloft?

"A lot of credit for Agiloft's readiness to scale goes to Colin Earl, the founder, because he had the foresight to build a no-code platform before no-code was a buzzword. Because Agiloft brings that no-code platform into CLM, it has built a world-class set of out-of-the-box features yet retains the no-code feature at its core, which allows the flexibility and configurability.

"The no-code platform is the one thing that completely differentiates Agiloft in the market. This brings numerous benefits, one of which is allowing the flawless execution of implementation. What Earl saw early on was that many enterprise software purchases and implementations end in some kind of failure — whether that's outright failure or in user adoption. He set out to address that with a platform that could have the flexibility to match the complexity of any organisation without breaking."

Agiloft ranks highly in Spend Matters' vendor rankings offering, SolutionMap, for functional capability and customer satisfaction, so we were also interested to hear his thoughts on its customer focus.

What accounts for Agiloft's high customer satisfaction ranking?

"Customer satisfaction is another big differentiator for us. We have more than 600 very happy customers because they get exactly what they thought they were buying. It's all down to a platform that can be easily implemented and developed. That's the secret sauce!"

As Spend Matters' Lead Analyst Magnus Bergfors remarked: "Agiloft is visionary. You can think of their platform like pieces of Lego, which you can build how you want for your needs."

Laughlin agrees: "Lego bricks fit together in many different ways and allow you to be creative, but the key is, they always fit perfectly. And that's what makes Agiloft special, because a lot of engineering goes into each simple brick that makes up the very complex platform. That's why we have so many happy customers."

So how do you plan to use the investment?

"The investment will be used to scale the organization globally and increase innovation for the platform. This means building our market, not just in North America but in EMEA and Asia Pacific. We do have customers around the globe, but this investment will let us put ‘feet on the street,' in those regions to serve our customers even better."

More coverage: SolutionMap Insider subscribers can use the Provider Scoring Summary to better understand Agiloft and all of the vendors in our CLM rankings.

Agiloft, which said it is hiring more personnel, has already seen a lot of success in the North American market, but it is less known in Europe. And because Europe is where a number of its customers already are, it makes sense to expand into that region as a first priority. Other priorities are threefold for the short term:

  • Continue to develop the platform, especially in AI
  • Invest in user experience
  • Start integrating with other software

And for the medium term, there is another vision, as Laughlin explains:

"The amazing thing about the Agiloft platform is that it allows the user to expand into adjacent and integrated applications. In fact our customers are already doing that. For example, you might have a legal team using Agiloft for CLM — they can build the asset management functionality on the platform. Or you might have Procurement using CLM — they can build an RFX tool on the platform. So all the apps that surround contracts in the commercial lifecycle of the corporation can be built on Agiloft.

"Our vision here, is to connect the data and the processes that flow into and out of contracts and tie them into the commercial apps around the enterprise. We are working hard on additional integrations with enterprise software in the near term, which is why we are building additional apps that sit alongside the CLM."

Agiloft calls this Contract and Commercial Lifecycle Management (CCLM). Their roadmap aligns well with a concept devised by Spend Matters' research of a year ago, where analyst Pierre Mitchell in a series of articles considered CLM as the core of all commercial processes. In a PRO research brief on "Commercial Value Management," he talks about building a virtual contract management capability that models contracts holistically and integrates them broadly and deeply into all of the functions and spend categories that are extended out to commercial partners.

For Agiloft its no-code platform is the key enabler of this expansion.

"Our perception," Laughlin explains, "is that contracts are no longer considered documents. They are data, and that data is the construction manual for the entire business. You have to move away from just collecting data to getting insight from it if you want to improve your processes. If you can imagine data integration across the whole workflow and with other enterprise systems' data, then you can see the path that Agiloft will be taking to expand beyond CLM and into the entire commercial life of your organization."

So watch this space, as they say!

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