The Technology Category

Allocation: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses [PRO]

FM Global Resilience Index

North America is a curious market for direct materials-centric procurement software. While many manufacturers currently use indirect materials- and services-centric applications (e.g., procure-to-pay, vendor management systems), few manufacturers have specialized direct materials-centric procurement tools as a part of their solution belt. And to note the elephant in the room, many manufacturing procurement organizations are still not even aware of what these solutions can do.

The exception to this is in Europe (especially Germany and Austria) where direct materials procurement software is generally well adopted, even among middle-market companies. Within this market segment, Allocation is one of a handful of leaders, with tailored capabilities for sourcing and supplier management — and it is expanding globally.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores Allocation’s strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement and finance 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 Allocation. The third part of this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

The Amazon Prime Effect: Rising Expectations for E-Commerce Delivery and Fulfillment

If the 100 million-plus shoppers who pay $119 a year for fast shipping via Amazon Prime are any indication, a smooth and expedient delivery and fulfillment process is crucial to e-commerce success. And expectations are rising. According to a recent survey of 3,000 online shoppers from Canada, the U.K. and the U.S., younger generations are particularly critical, with less than half of respondents between the ages of 18 and 34 saying that they receive their orders on time and in perfect condition. These findings are published in a new report from Radial, “The Everyday Essentials of Successful E-Commerce Fulfillment.”

Allocation: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background and Solution Overview [PRO]

When you start a vacuum cleaner, a number of things happen. First, the air pump creates a partial vacuum in the appliance. This results in air rapidly rushing in from the outside, through the attached hose or nozzle, pulling in dust, dirt and small debris with it. But the effects don't end there. The rapid movement of air from immediately outside the vacuum creates another partial vacuum that needs to be filled by the surrounding air, and this causes nearby particulates to also move and change position. And, thanks to the butterfly effect, this can have larger repercussions than one expects, creating unintended consequences. If pollen, mold or certain other once stationary particulates get into the air, people can sneeze, suffer allergic reactions or even get deathly ill.

What does this have to do with sourcing? When big firms buy smaller e-sourcing tools, vacuuming up the major standalone software companies in given niche, this creates a void — and kicks up a dust cloud, of sorts. From a manufacturing-centric sourcing perspective, this last year or so saw the acquisitions of Directworks (by Ivalua) and Pool4Tool (by Jaggaer). These acquisitions — not to mention Jaggaer’s prior acquisition of BravoSolution — took two specialist players in direct materials procurement and supplier management out of the best-of-breed market in North America, creating a new void. The result? The door was opened for new best-of-breed players from Europe to enter, and one of these players is Allocation.

But will Allocation benefit from the vacuum effect? It certainly has the pedigree. Founded in 1998, Allocation has been building its platform for two decades. Today it has one of the broadest and deepest platforms for direct supplier management and direct material sourcing on the market today. With a strong customer base in discrete manufacturing, Allocation can walk into just about any automotive, aerospace, CPG or other manufacturing-based procurement organization and talk the talk, backing up its knowledge with a set of specialized capabilities.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations make informed decisions about Allocation’s e-sourcing and supplier management solutions. Part 1 of our analysis offers a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider Allocation. The remaining parts of this research brief will cover product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analyses, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

How AI Forces Procurement to Change the Concept of Contract Management: A Q&A with Seal Software CEO Ulf Zetterberg

contract

Artificial intelligence (AI) may be the holy grail of procurement software capabilities, but few vendors have begun to distinguish the plain chalice of useful functionality from the jewel-encrusted goblet of empty marketing promises. This is especially true when it comes to contract management software, which claims numerous possible applications of AI yet few real-life case studies. To learn more about how the contract management software market has evolved in this context, we sat down with Ulf Zetterberg, founder and CEO of Seal Software, a provider of contract discovery, extraction and analytics solutions, to discuss how procurement organizations can tell if AI capabilities are the real deal, as well as how regulatory challenges from GDPR and increased M&A are changing the very concept of CLM.

Are Companies Doing Enough to Prevent Software Supply Chain Attacks?

cyber attack

Software supply chains are at ever higher risk of cyberattacks, a recent report from the U.S. National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) has warned. With seven significant events reported last year — compared to four between 2014 and 2016 — 2017 “represented a watershed in the reporting of software supply chain operations.” NCSC notes that “software supply chain infiltration already threatens the critical infrastructure sector and is poised to threaten other sectors.”

APEX Analytix: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Summary and Competitive Analysis [PRO]

data analytics

APEX Analytix is far more than just a recovery audit and spend analysis software provider. It’s also a specialist in supplier management. This third and final installment of our Vendor Snapshot covering APEX Analytix’s supplier management solution provides a SWOT analysis of the company along with a competitive segmentation analysis and comparison. It also offers recommended shortlist candidates that can serve as alternative vendors to APEX, complete with solution selection guidance. Finally, this research brief provides summary analysis and recommendations for organizations considering APEX for supplier management. 

For background on APEX, we encourage you to review Part 1 of the series, which provided an in-depth look at APEX and its supplier management solution, and Part 2, which gave a detailed analysis of product strengths and weaknesses, as well as a review of the its user experience.

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5 Reasons to Make Procurement Matter Now

Today’s cloud-based procurement software platforms offer many advantages for companies seeking to gain greater visibility into — and control over — spend. This is just one reason why the market for e-procurement software is expected to grow from $1.35 billion in 2016 to $2.75 billion in 2021. Senior decision-makers at organizations contemplating the adoption of an e-procurement solution will find plenty of information about the advantages of doing procurement better through process automation. What’s missing from most of the available literature, however, are insights into how a modern procurement infrastructure can help companies accomplish specific business objectives.

Beeline’s Acquisition by New Mountain Capital: Transaction Analysis and Competitive Impacts [PRO]

Beeline, well known in the contingent workforce and services sector as one of the top two global VMS solution providers, recently announced it is being acquired by New Mountain Capital (NMC), a private equity firm. NMC, which is focused on developing and growing companies in defensive growth industries, is now completing the last formal steps in its acquisition of Beeline from private equity firm GTCR. Spend Matters covered the acquisition announcement and followed up on the news with a subsequent interview of Beeline CEO Doug Leeby, who expressed enthusiasm about the deal and confidence in the new owner.

The acquisition comes at an interesting point in the evolution of the contingent workforce and services (CW/S) software market.  On the one hand, solution buying by enterprises continues to follow a customary pattern — we need a VMS or an MSP/VMS and a supplier-funded model — resulting in a commodified, competitive market. In such an environment, some VMS providers have focused on achieving economies of scale, exploiting solution adjacencies (e.g., SOW) and investing in new technologies (e.g., data analytics, artificial intelligence) to enhance solution value and differentiate their offerings.

At the same time, changing conditions on both demand and supply sides of the labor market (e.g., skill shortages, cost of talent, independent workforce, online platforms) have started to stimulate responses among CW/S intermediaries and software providers. Moreover, the application of state-of-the-art and leading-edge technologies is enabling incumbent and new providers to offer new types of solutions that may (or may not) address emerging business needs in the short term or the long term. In such an environment, having the capacity to invest — and a balanced but agile investment strategy — would appear to be critical to future success.

In this Spend Matters PRO brief, we add context to and take a closer look at the Beeline-NMC deal, which seems promising. We also offer our perspective on what the deal may mean for Beeline and the competitive markets it serves, in both short and long terms.

New Upwork Enterprise Capabilities Support Adoption of Flexible Talent Programs

Upwork, the global online freelancer marketplace, announced Wednesday that it is adding capabilities to its Upwork Enterprise solution that will support businesses in their adoption of online freelancing and other alternative forms of flexible talent. The announcement of the Program Owner Experience capabilities came at Upwork’s second annual Work Without Limits Executive Summit, a gathering of Upwork Enterprise clients.  Upwork Enterprise is Upwork’s technology and managed services solution geared to support larger organizations. Program Owner Experience will provide Upwork Enterprise clients “with the resources and tools they need to drive flexible workforce adoption to build, scale and measure the impact of their flexible talent program,” according to a press release.   

The Rise of the Social Enterprise (Part 3): Are Humans and Robots Smarter Together?

Robots are not our overlords (yet), but they will be our colleagues — if they aren’t already. According to Deloitte’s survey of 11,070 business and HR professionals around the world, the findings of which are published in the colossal 2018 Global Human Capital Trends Report, 47% say that their organizations are already undertaking automation projects. Twenty-four percent are using artificial intelligence and robotics to perform routine tasks, 16% are using automation to augment human skills, and 7% are restructuring work altogether.

APEX Analytix: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses [PRO]

spend analytics

Better known for its broader portfolio of recovery audit, overpayment and self-audit software, APEX Analytix also offers a specialized supplier management solution. APEX provides unique, out-of-the-box capabilities that support core supplier information management (SIM), validation and financial controls, as well as working capital optimization solutions. In addition, its supplier management solution delivers the broader configurability, workflow, rules, analytics, supplier portal and associated capabilities one would expect from supplier management software.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores APEX Analytix’s strengths and weaknesses in the supplier management area specifically, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement and finance 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 APEX Analytix. The third part of this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

GEP vs. SAP Ariba: Supplier Management Head-to-Head Technology Evaluation and Comparison

A decade ago, supplier management solutions had not even established themselves as an independent category of procurement software. At the time, Aravo was fighting for credibility as the only focused solution in the space. But today, supplier management is more than established — it is one the core components of both procurement suites and specialist solutions, many of which tend to excel in specific functional areas.

Within the supplier management software market, GEP and SAP Ariba go head-to-head as two suite providers with functional capabilities at or above the benchmark for the Q2 2018 Supplier Management SolutionMap. While nearly all potential GEP and SAP Ariba customers will evaluate supplier management in the context of a suite selection — GEP is even adamant that it does not sell “modules” — supplier management is an important factor in an increasing number of source-to-pay suite selections. But how do the two companies stack up against each other in a head-to-head bout?

Join us in this unfiltered SolutionMap results analysis from our Q2 2018 dataset, along with the commentary of the Spend Matters analyst team. These “Head-to-Head” columns share the insights of each quarterly SolutionMap report for SolutionMap Insider Subscribers, providing unique comparative cuts of SolutionMap benchmark data along with the trademark quips that Spend Matters was better known for in its early years. So buckle your seat belt, prepare for some real data and expect a few sparks to fly as we pit GEP and SAP Ariba against each other in the supplier management software evaluation ring.

Not yet an Insider member? Here’s a preview: In the majority of supplier management categories — which include master data management (MDM), supplier information management (SIM), supplier portal, supplier initiative management, technology, configurability and services — SAP Ariba comes out on top (sometimes convincingly so). But GEP shines in specific areas that could tip the scales in cases when a broader suite, managed services or BPO selection is involved.

Overall, the results suggest that the right solution will vary based on different initiative and organizational requirements — and how much “heavy lifting” procurement or AP organizations want to take on to enable supplier management versus working with a partner. There’s no debate that supplier management solutions will reward procurement organizations that tailor provider selection to their specific needs and even specific supplier management initiative requirements.