The A to Z of Spend Matters Future 5 2021 — Introducing Zip
- AP Automation (Invoice-to-Pay or I2P)
- Supplier Management
As markets evolve, grow and mature, supply and demand changes. Businesses must continue to adapt and so must the tools they use to support them. The procurement technology market too is rapidly evolving to respond to changing needs, talent maturity, compliance, regulation, risk, faster time-to-market and more. It’s not easy for heads of procurement to keep a watchful eye on the new, adaptive technologies and capabilities that are entering what is already a very crowded space. But Spend Matters does.
Our procurement technology analysts scour the market each year to find those new solution providers that can fulfil a very specialist and niche role to cater for procurement’s current needs. After weeks of strong debate and scrutiny based on their extensive market knowledge of the procurement technologies they review, analyse and benchmark every day, they wheedle down tens of start-ups to find five that they believe are exciting, have a rapidly rising presence in the market, are in it for the long run, and which every CPO should have on their radar.
These start-ups invariably take existing technologies much further to address the problems they can’t, or are introducing a new category of automation that tackles new challenges in interesting ways. We believe these companies deserve greater visibility, especially in a market which is increasingly consolidating and diluting buyer choices.
So we are delighted to introduce you to our Future 5s as we capture their voices. In no order of preference other than alphabetically they are:
Zip is a fast-growing vendor start-up that describes itself as operating in a new segment adjacent to and overlapping with P2P known as “intake-to-procure.” Its value proposition is to provide both requesters and stakeholders with an “intelligent, intuitive front-end to their ERP or P2P.” Zip is therefore meant to be the one place for any employee to initiate a new purchase or vendor request through a flexible, configurable intake that requires no code to change. Zip will then support communication and approvals to ensure that the need is clearly understood and that all sign-offs are obtained.
We talked to Felix Meng, Chief Customer Officer at Zip to understand more about …
How Zip came into being
“Zip was born entirely out of frustration and first-hand experience,” he explained. “When our founders were working for an online vacation rentals marketplace, they were facing a huge large-figure software renewal. They followed the renewal process, partnering with the finance team, the procurement team and other stakeholders, and found it to be a very manual process, involving manual systems and touchpoints, which was frustrating for such tech-savvy engineering professionals.
“It was then they realized that if they were struggling with the process, others must be too. This led them to actively survey more than 100 procurement and finance leaders, sourcing partners and other stakeholders to validate just how big a problem this was across various companies. They discovered that the top three problems being faced were connected to the front end of the procurement process: workflow, user experience and integration.
“Workflow was cited as unmanageable and complex with disparate systems that don’t talk to each other. Some involved dealing with up to 20 platforms per process, requiring data to be entered multiple times.
“The requester population was frustrated with procurement, whose workflow problems were not being solved by the larger platforms. So they decided to build a procurement software that was purpose-built for the people at the front end of the process.”
What’s Zip’s greatest strength?
“There are three tailwinds behind our purpose,” explained Meng:
- User experience: We are in an era of decentralized purchasing, where an increasing number of employees are initiating purchases, and these are not necessarily sourcing professionals. Procurement teams struggle to get involved earlier so that they can do what they are good at — helping save money, driving compliance, policies and procedures, and finding the right partners. Procurement is serving more internal customers than ever before, and solving the user experience has never been more important.
- Compliance: Companies have never cared more about compliance, regulations, approvals and assurance. They want to know that purchases are safe, reliable and compliant. Data security, compliance, legal, and governance teams are all critical to ensure due diligence has been done.
- And, as Spend Matters has been highlighting, we are witnessing a massive explosion of investment in procurement innovation in a landscape that has stood relatively still for about a decade. It’s only in about the past three years that we’ve seen the procurement part of tech innovation accelerate at speed. So organizations are starting to have a lot more choice of the likes of CLM, supplier onboarding, risk management and analytics, and particularly SRM.
“So there is a mass proliferation of tools, but the problem is that none of them talk to each other, which makes for a disparate landscape. The conundrum is that while we are solving things better with modern purpose-built tools, we are simultaneously eroding user experience. What’s missing is a central nervous system to connect them.
“Zip’s great strength lies in putting the ‘requester’ at the heart of our product design to better serve that group:
- Every employee in every organization has access to Zip, with no need for licences, and this adoption drives savings, assurance and compliance.
- We are the first purpose-built workflow solution for the procurement space that handles the most complicated procedures and policies a company might have (governance, compliance, policies and procedures) and we integrate as part of the workflow with different systems.
- We fix the user experience. Zip sits on top of all the core solutions as an orchestration layer. It extracts from older systems the ability to interact with them and provides one front door to the process.”
What’s next for Zip?
“We want to establish a full-blown new category that is instantly recognized as a must-have, called intake-to-procure,” he said. “It precedes the procure-to-pay process and is where the upstream user experience lies: the intake, the cross-functional approvals, the integrations. Basically we want to make that part of the process extraordinarily simple for employees.
“If we are able to address that, we will essentially have solved the biggest issue that will plague procurement for the next decade, and we’re very excited about it.”
What does it mean to be a Future 5?
“Being a Future 5 is a huge amount of validation: for all the companies that shared our theories early on and had the foresight to co-build this with us; for our community of customers who helped us accomplish this success; for the incredible work our team delivers day in and day out.
“People need to know that there is a purpose-built and proven solution to their problem that they can use instead of spending years and countless dollars on an archaic or home-grown solution. The Future 5 shines a light on these technologies.”
Many thanks to Zip for sharing their story with us. We hope the Future 5 broadens our readers’ perception of what’s possible with technology to help you position your organization to address the future’s challenges.
The Future 5 list is a true complement to our 50 Providers to Watch and 50 Providers to Know lists, which highlight the more established tech firms you should either be watching or get to know. Many outstanding procurement technology start-ups move from early-stage to market contenders quickly, graduating to the ‘To Watch’ list.
If you haven’t already, please register your own organization if you’d like to make a start on getting your solution in front of the technology analysts.
You can also find our existing coverage of Zip here in our more in-depth subscription PRO analysis:
- AP Automation (Invoice-to-Pay or I2P)
- Supplier Management