Author Archives: Michael Lamoureux



Dhatim Conciliator: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths & Weaknesses

“Cognitive” procurement has a ring to it. Enough so that any CPO who works for an organization with a broader digital transformation mandate just might pick up the old handset when a new technology provider that uses artificial intelligence (AI) in new ways decides to call. And Dhatim’s Conciliator, one of the first entrants into the cognitive sourcing market that uses AI and customized learning models to identify and predict savings opportunities, classification errors, and even individual (and theoretically supplier/vendor) performance/quality, may very well be the one on the other end of the line.

Conciliator is not the first “next generation” integrated AI-based solution that we have seen with true cognitive procurement (or sourcing) capabilities. LevaData (see our Vendor Snapshot series here, here and here) takes that prize. But Conciliator is one of the first true cognitive platforms on the market with an ability to do deep predictive analytics on certain categories in certain verticals in ways that go beyond basic AI applications to spend classification, fraud detection, predictive risk scoring and other established use cases alone.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores Conciliator’s strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should consider the provider. Part 1 of our analysis provided a company and detailed solution overview and a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering Conciliator. The third part of this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

Dhatim Conciliator: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background & Solution Overview

You might not know it, but France has a great history of building outstanding, engineering-led procurement technology firms. Ivalua and b-pack (now Determine) stand out for different reasons, but both have achieved varying degrees of success globally. Dhatim, founded in 2007, stands to follow in their footsteps — and potentially create an even larger imprint. While not a new technology provider in the procurement space, Dhatim, and its solution named Conciliator, is relatively new outside of its home country. Like others that have expanded outside the French market before it, Dhatim is looking to build a global presence, first in Europe and the UK, and then beyond.

Dhatim’s Conciliator is not a procurement suite. In fact, it would misleading to view the provider as a module-centric vendor only. Rather, it has developed an artificial intelligence (AI)-centered suite of applications that leverage the underlying learning and analytics capability to solve specific procurement, finance and even HR business challenges as well as shared services end-to-end processes operational challenges, primarily centered on automated compliance. Many of Conciliator’s large customers are keen to take advantage of digital initiatives that center on “cognitive procurement” and related areas. Conciliator not only checks the box but also delivers against use cases in which other, non-AI based solutions would have a much more difficult time — if they could do it at all.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement and finance organizations make informed decisions about whether they need a solution like Conciliator alongside or as an adjunct to other analytics and data classification technologies. Part 1 of our analysis provides a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider Conciliator. The remainder of this multipart research brief covers product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analysis, user selection guides, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

The Procure-to-Pay User Experience (Part 4)

Amazon Business

In Part 1 of this series, we addressed why the user experience (UX) is important in a procure-to-pay (P2P) solution, and why we have` dedicated so much time to the topic. The reality is that if users do not use the solution to do their job, the solution does not generate value. And the ultimate key to adoption is the user experience. That’s why many IT companies are beginning to invest significantly in providing a user interface that provides the optimal user experience to do their job.

That’s also why we are providing you with this information to help you identify who those companies are. This started in Part 2, where we noted that there is not just one optimal user interface for an optimal user experience. There are multiple user interfaces, one per role. We then described the key aspects of these for the more casual roles — the casual buyer, the admin or IT supporter and the supplier. In Part 3, we began to address the professional procurement buyer role, starting with the core functionality required across the P2P platform. Now we need to address the core functionality required by the professional buyer in each phase of the P2P cycle.

The Procure-to-Pay User Experience (Part 3)

In Part 1 of this series, we addressed why the user experience (UX) of a procure-to-pay (P2P) solution is important, and why we have dedicated so much time to the topic. The reality is that if a user does not use a solution to do their job, the solution does not generate value. And the ultimate key to adoption is the user experience. That’s why many IT companies are beginning to invest significantly in providing a user interface that provides users the optimal experience to do their job.

That’s also why we are providing you with the information to help you identify who those companies are. This started in Part 2, where we noted that there is not just one optimal user interface for an optimal user experience. There are multiple user interfaces, one per role. In our last article, we described the key aspects of these for the more casual roles — the casual buyer, the admin or IT supporter, and the supplier. Today, we tackle the requirements for the professional, full-time procurement buyer, which are predictably much more extensive.

The Procure-to-Pay User Experience (Part 2)

In Part 1 of this series, we addressed why the user experience (UX) is important, and why we have dedicated so much time to this topic. The reality is that if users do not use a solution to do their job, the solution does not generate value. And the ultimate key to adoption is often the user experience. That's why many IT companies are beginning to invest in providing a user interface that provides the user with an optimal experience, and why we are providing the information organizations will need to identify which companies those are.

The Procure-to-Pay User Experience (Part 1)

The history of enterprise software systems is fraught with implementation failures. This is especially true in the ERP and MRP space, which have contributed to some of the biggest supply chain failures in history (including Hershey Foods, Adidas and Foxmeyer). But not all failures are catastrophic. The majority are just the result of (significant) project overruns in terms of time and money or the inability to deliver critical features or functions in the original system specification. And this is more common than one may think. Some estimates put the rate of project overruns in IT as high as 85%. That's problematic.

Why are there so many failures? The reasons are many. Some are the result of poor change management; others are the result of the selection of inappropriate process automation for the company; and still more are the result of limited or low-quality information. If one goes through the list of possible reasons, we see there is one commonality across the majority of failures: the user experience. Poor change management leaves users confused. Inappropriate process selection frustrates users as it increases time and effort (rather than decreasing it), and low-quality information makes users question why they are migrating to a new system at all. (And when significant system features or functions fail to be implemented at all, that's the worst user experience.)

That's why the user experience (UX) is important, and why Spend Matters has dedicated so much time to this topic (first on sourcing, and now on procurement). The reality is that if users does not use a solution to do their jobs, the solution does not generate value. And the ultimate key to adoption is often the user experience.

Spendency: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Summary & Competitive Analysis

data analytics

What is your spend analysis buying persona? If it looks like the Spend Matters SolutionMap “Nimble” persona — by definition an organization looking for speed, efficiency, low price and quick value from cloud-based procurement technologies — then Spendency, a Sweden-based spend analytics provider that provides a do-it-yourself toolset, should be on your shortlist. And if you need some hand-holding or want a third party to help on data loading, cleansing, classification or related procurement and IT services, Spendency is still an option, as its investors are also its partners and bring particular expertise in their respective areas.

In two years since launching, Spendency has already amassed a respectable 60 customers, primarily in the Nordic markets. As it looks to expand globally, Spendency’s combination of ease of use and comparatively low cost make it an attractive option for organizations looking for a highly usable analytics solution they can take in-house with limited or no training.

This final installment of our multipart Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot series covering Spendency offers a SWOT analysis, a competitive assessment and a comparison with other providers in the spend analysis market. It also includes a user selection guide and summary evaluation and selection considerations. Part 1 and Part 2 of this PRO research series provide a company and deep-dive solution overview, product strengths and weaknesses and a recommended fit analysis for what types of organizations should consider Spendency.

Spendency: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths & Weaknesses

Analytics

Like other areas that fall into what we describe as the strategic procurement technology segment (which includes strategic sourcing, supplier management and contract management), the spend analytics sector remain a high-growth yet fragmented market. Spend Matters market sizing models suggest a healthy double-digit CAGR for spend analytics in 2017 and 2018, although not one solution provider has been able to create a leadership position overall. Within this market segment, Spendency, a relatively new Nordic-based provider, has quietly built significant traction with a self-service spend analytics offering, supported by enabling services via its partners and investors for those customers who do not want a DIY tool alone.

Since releasing the first version of its cloud-based application in 2015, Spendency has proven a fit with several dozen middle market customers and some larger organizations, as well. Originally focused on signing up Scandinavian organizations, Spendency is now making a play for the global spend analysis market. The solution is quick to get up and running, easy to use, and satisfies the 80/20 rule for organizations that just need a basic spend analysis solution to get started on their analytics journey.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores Spendency’s strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should consider the provider. Part 1 of our analysis provided a company and detailed solution overview, as well as a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering Spendency. The third part of this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

Spendency: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background & Solution Overview

You can count on the timing like procurement technology clockwork. Every time a spend analytics vendor is acquired, a new one pops up, always with a slightly different take on previous-generation solutions. One of these relatively new spend analytics providers is Spendency, a cloud-based provider spun out of a procurement consultancy that focuses on the Nordic market (although it is not limiting its geographic focus and reach).

Spendency is attempting to fill a niche as one of only a few low-cost spend analytics solutions that is fast to stand up and comparatively inexpensive to deploy. The idea behind the toolset is to put spend analytics in the hand of every buyer and analyst that needs it with a low-cost entry point. Specifically, the solution starts at about €10,000 per year for a small or mid-size organization, a sum that is less than 5% of the annual costs that many organizations pay for other spend analysis solutions today. At this price, Spendency provides significant value for money for an end-to-end spend analytics solution.

So far, Spendency’s niche is proving itself to be significant in the market, as the provider has acquired more than 60 clients in 24 months since launch. But will it succeed on the global stage with diverse competition ranging from ERP vendors to procurement suite providers to AI-led specialists to numerous other low-cost, do-it-yourself spend analytics platforms? This Spend Matters PRO analysis provides an overview of Spendency, letting our subscribers form their own opinions (while sharing more than a few of our own).

The three-part Vendor Snapshot series provides facts and expert opinion to help procurement organizations make informed decisions about Spendency and whether its capabilities are a fit for their needs. Part 1 of our analysis provides a company background and a detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider Spendency for procurement and spend analysis. The remaining parts of this research brief will cover product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analyses, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

Opera Solutions (BIQ/Signalytics): Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Summary & Competitive Analysis

analytics

Opera Solutions takes a unique approach to the process of managing spending data today. Its solution is a hybrid desktop and SaaS application that lets a user manage analytics in the cloud through a highly customized QlikView “front end” or on the desktop, through a new and much improved Windows desktop application with a more modern look and feel than the aged Windows XP interface that BIQ came with for most of its existence. Or, they can leverage both, doing “local” analysis, uploading downloads for sharing, downloading for experimenting and so on. On top of this, they can build their own customized analysis in Python and run it in the in-memory Opera Solutions engine, as well as do custom analytics as fast as out-of-the-box analytics, at industry leading speeds.

This final installment of our multipart Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot series covering Opera Solutions’ Signalytics offers a SWOT analysis, competitive assessment, and comparison with other similar and “crossover” providers in the supplier management and supplier diversity market. It also includes a user selection guide and summary evaluation and selection considerations. Part 1 and Part 2 of this PRO research series provide a company and deep-dive solution overview, product strengths and weaknesses, and a recommended fit analysis for what types of organizations should consider Opera Solutions for procurement and spend analytics.

Opera Solutions (BIQ/Signalytics): Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths & Weaknesses

data analytics

In most cases, spend analysis solutions do not age like fine wine. The speed with which technology innovation is happening can make a product that was state of the art five years ago taste like the equivalent of plonk today — or worse. But Opera Solutions’ Signaltyics, which still leverages much of the code in the original BIQ spend analysis product that it acquired in 2012, is proof that with the right continued investment, even previous-generation core technologies can outdo modern platforms in certain areas. The recent enhancements to the product that we have seen surprised us in positive ways.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores Signalytics’ strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should consider the provider. Part 1 of our analysis provided a company and detailed solution overview and a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering Opera Solutions’ Signalytics. The third part of this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations. The focus of this review is not on Opera Solutions’ overall Signal Hub enterprise analytics platform but rather its specific solution targeting indirect procurement.

ConnXus: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Summary & Competitive Analysis

supplier diversity

The market for supplier diversity and supplier management solutions has clearly entered its “2.0” phase. While the DNA of firms competing in this market segment has not changed considerably from the first wave of specialists, the level of capability and overall user experience has evolved considerably since the previous generation of solutions — and what one can do with the solutions has matured, as well.

Users of these solutions can still expect a combination of diversity data enrichment, supplier on-boarding and basic supplier information management capability. But this is now just the ante for a newer generation of providers like ConnXus, a supplier (information) management solution designed to simplify the complexity associated with identifying, qualifying and introducing the right suppliers, including the right diversity suppliers, into global supply chains in a manner that achieves organizational goals of responsible and sustainable sourcing.

This final installment of our multipart Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot series covering ConnXus offers a SWOT analysis, competitive assessment and comparison with other similar and “crossover” providers in the supplier management and supplier diversity market. It also includes a user selection guide and summary evaluation and selection considerations. Part 1 and Part 2 of this PRO research series provide a company and deep-dive solution overview, product strengths and weaknesses and a recommended fit analysis for what types of organizations should consider ConnXus.