Back to Hub

Zip Forward 2023: Recap of first annual Zip User Conference

11/15/2023 By

Adobe Stock

On November 8, Zip hosted its first annual Zip Forward User Conference in San Francisco, California. At the event, the provider revealed several new solution features, including a relatively robust sourcing module. Zip also hosted panels and facilitated keynotes and Q&A sessions with various procurement and finance leaders from notable customers, such as Snowflake, OpenAI, Discover and Northwestern Mutual.

New features announced at Zip Forward

In addition to the AI-based features it unveiled last month, Zip also introduced its new sourcing module. The module is a big step, as Zip previously only handled the sourcing event request intake, vendor onboarding and contract signature/approval steps of the source-to-contract process.

For example, users can import RFx content from existing spreadsheets/documents and apply AI to map questions and inputs to Zip-native events to minimize manual work. From there, Zip’s AI can suggest new RFP questions based on the category of the sourcing request and recommend additional vendors to invite to respond. Once a user initiates an RFx event, vendors respond as they would on a typical sourcing solution. Users can then view vendor responses side-by-side and manage collaborative scoring processes with requesters/stakeholders alongside response-level potential risks flagged by Zip’s AI. After the user chooses a winner (or winners), the award process also flows into Zip’s requests and contracts areas.

As with all of Zip’s modules, the sourcing addition has been built with simplicity and configurability as the primary considerations. All of Zip’s workflows, collaboration and dashboards are fully integrated into the sourcing module. This continues the provider’s push toward managing the full scope of procurement activity with native source-to-pay functionalities in addition to the ability to orchestrate processes beginning with intake. You can dive deeper on the intake/orchestration market in our recent coverage here.

Keynote speakers, panels and more notes

Throughout the conference, procurement and finance panelists and keynote speakers from various high-profile organizations spoke about Zip, intake management and their own procurement software journeys. The high representation among finance departments was intriguing, as Zip’s appeal beyond procurement has certainly been heightened since the intake-to-pay release, and the provider figures to continue expanding support of financial tasks.

For instance, Mike Scarpelli, CFO of Snowflake, shared that vendor onboarding was by far the biggest pain point in his organization prior to implementing Zip. This sentiment was echoed by several speakers throughout the day. The lack of pre-purchase requisition workflows, too, restricted visibility in his organization before it turned to Zip.

Later, on a panel hosted by Zip’s Head of Research, Nick Heinzmann, panelists agreed that beyond the intake and workflow aspect of Zip, the in-platform messaging and communication features have been among the largest advantages for their organizations. The panelists also shared some general thoughts on the evolution of the procurement software market; one interesting observation was that the operationalization of inventory (including forecasting inventory needs) is a procurement value-add that software may soon be able to address more robustly.

Another speaker was Jason Moore, Director of Procurement Operations at Discover. Moore noted that of the roughly 20,000 Discover employees, about 800 submit a request on Zip annually. Of those 800 requesters, about 75% of them submit only 1 to 4 requests per year.

While this makes sense considering Discover is a large financial organization, the fact that most active requesters submit only a few requests each year is actually an interesting feather in Zip’s cap. As these requesters may not be procurement users (that figure to submit requests more regularly), Zip’s intuitiveness is key for these more occasional requesters to efficiently and accurately route their needs.

Moore also advised the audience to learn how to say no to stakeholders that want to create highly customized workflows in Zip to address new use cases. While this is certainly achievable, Moore argued that this could overcomplicate the solution for infrequent users, which could lead to decreased user adoption since one of Zip’s strengths is its simplicity. On the contrary, speakers from Snowflake and OpenAI noted that the creation of new workflows for different functions has been a major benefit of the solution, as Zip has added value in areas that their organizations did not envision.

Throughout the conference, which included several other fascinating panels and keynotes, it was clear that Zip’s customers and prospects are excited about both intake management and Zip’s specific direction as it continues to add more native source-to-pay functionalities.

Stay tuned for more coverage and trends on the intake management market as a whole in the coming weeks!