The Technology Category

Blockchain Technology & The Reformation of Procurement as We Know It

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Thomas Cherian of GEP.

The reality of blockchains becoming the basic building block of tomorrow’s connected world is fast approaching. According to some, that day has already arrived. A lot has happened over the past year regarding the revolutionary concept of blockchains, which are expected to store an estimated 10% of global GDP in its network over the next decade.

SciQuest: Solution Review & Analysis [Plus+]

SciQuest is arguably the most challenging procurement technology suite vendor to compare directly to the competition. This perhaps explains why it has tended to surface less in competitive procure-to-pay (P2P) or source-to-pay (S2P) suite opportunities outside of its traditional key vertical sectors for transactional procurement (e.g., higher education, laboratory/research, life sciences, public sector) in the past. While it is possible to label SciQuest as a procurement technology suite vendor (source-to-pay, source-to-contract and procure-to-pay), the reality is that to date, the provider has competed in multiple, infrequently overlapping segments of the procurement technology market.

Historically, SciQuest has generally had different sets of customers, prospects and competitors for its core P2P product and its sourcing optimization, spend/supply analytics and contract lifecycle management solutions. This stands in contrast to many of its peers, which have generally chosen to focus on fewer market segments (e.g, eProcurement, invoice-to-pay, etc.) rather than more as primary entry points to customers.

Yet after being acquired by Accel-KKR last year, SciQuest has started an accelerated strategic and marketing transformation process that is uniting its disparate suite elements. Today’s Spend Matters Plus analysis provides an introduction to SciQuest for procurement organizations looking to understand whether they should consider adding the provider to their shortlists for consideration, as well as competitive alternatives.

Why It’s Important to Evaluate Your Cloud Applications Constantly

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Eric Christopher, CEO of Zylo.

While “setting and forgetting” may be a concept that works in some areas of business, the world of cloud applications is certainly not one of those. In fact, it’s critical that those who are in the thick of tech advancements for their organizations, such as IT procurement, constantly evaluate the cloud applications utilized across the enterprise. Due to this team’s unique access and insight into their organization’s technology infrastructure, conducting a monthly evaluation is a best practice.

Supplier Networks and P2P: The Benefits of Direct Connectivity for Suppliers

In this last installment, I will focus on the risks of insufficient connectivity, the benefits of doing it properly and why it is worthwhile for suppliers to invest time and resources to stay connected in the most automated means possible.

For organizations that still use their ERP as their only (or primary) system to process all procurement, invoicing and payments activities, typical document exchange and communication methods are done either by paper, fax or email (some firms may also have EDI technologies or web services in place — to interact with select suppliers). Although these forms of communication have been used for years, they are insufficient today, as they introduce significant risks to the buyer/supplier connectivity process.

Bunker: A New Platform Innovates Business Insurance for Self-Employed/Gig Workers

The emergence and expansion of the so-called gig-economy (the non-employee, project and task-based segment of the labor market) has opened up challenges for both businesses and workers.

Businesses previously vigilant about the classification and other compliance risks that come with self-employed, 1099s/independent contractors (ICs) are now faced with the dilemma of how to work with the growing population of much-needed talent that prefers self-employment and independence. And self-employed workers and micro-businesses are also facing the challenge of how to “make independence work” without the “support services” that employees never have to think about.

Platforms, Networks and Suppliers: Concepts and Benefits

What is a network? What is a platform? Technology providers often confuse customers with these terms. But it is important that procurement and AP organizations become comfortable with the terminology.

A network concept centers on supplier connectivity that joins buyers with suppliers. It can provide value in areas such as supplier management, catalog management, e-invoicing automation, payment automation, financing options and sourcing effectiveness while also offering value-add services for enhancing or simplifying these processes.

Coupa: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Commentary and Summary Analysis [PRO]

At its current rate of expansion, Coupa will cross the 500-customer threshold in the first half of 2017. There are numerous areas to which to credit its continued ascent, including a spend under management growth rate that is nearly mirroring revenue growth — a metric that shows the rapid manner in which customers are implementing and scaling Coupa implementations relative to first generation procure-to-pay (P2P) solutions. Coupa’s metrics-centric approach to measurable business value is an extension of its own culture, including an emphasis on rapid solution development based on listening to customers and creating accountability for results.

While Coupa is not an ideal fit for all procurement technology requirements, it has become the new benchmark by which other e-procurement and spend management technology suite vendors must measure themselves, or at least in comparison and differentiation. In many ways, Coupa’s recent initial public offering (IPO) represents the first of a new generation of providers assuming a leadership position in the market. From a competitive perspective, this suggests Coupa has moved from the hunter to the hunted, although its competition remains fragmented, with the exception of SAP Ariba, which it encounters most in shortlist and evaluation considerations.

This third and final installment of this Spend Matters Vendor Snapshot covering Coupa provides an objective SWOT analysis of Coupa and offers a competitive segmentation analysis and comparison. It also includes recommended shortlist candidates as alternative vendors to Coupa and offers provider selection guidance. Finally, it provides summary analysis and recommendations for companies considering Coupa. Part 1 provided an in-depth look at Coupa as a firm and its specific solutions, and Part 2 gave a detailed analysis of solution strengths and weaknesses and a review of the product’s user experience.

Managed Services and Connectivity Vs. Software and Networks

Evaluating a comprehensive business solution can be tricky, especially when the organization is evaluating just software capabilities — which is to say “features and functionalities” — but the provider brings more than this alone. For example, it can be difficult to do apples-to-apples sourcing comparisons when considering the types of value-added services that a solution provider can offer (by itself or a third party) to complement or strengthen its own technological solution.

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

Coupa is gaining traction among spend management technology suite customers who want a streamlined deployment effort, a simplified user experience and the ability to capture, manage and influence indirect spend as a primary consideration as well as those businesses looking to augment purchasing with additional capabilities (e.g., invoicing) that are easy for end users. Compared with peers, intercepting users when they need to purchase something and processing spend of all types is where Coupa excels as a buying front-end for companies, which is different than just offering an e-procurement application — a key point we explore in this vendor snapshot series.

P2P is still very much a part of the Coupa experience. When it comes to corporate purchasing, Coupa focuses on delivering an “Amazon-like” experience for users. (Spend Matters would actually suggest that it delivers a better corporate buying experience than Amazon as a buying front-end, at least Amazon Business.) But as with other e-procurement providers, it brings a hidden back office component that provides procurement and finance organizations with significant compliance controls, oversight and related capabilities to manage and even guide buyers down specific paths (e.g., procuring a given item from a preferred supplier, and within budget) while making the overall buying experience almost as painless as shopping on a consumer site.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores Coupa’s product strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide if they should shortlist the vendor. It also offers a critique (pros/cons) of the user interface. Later in this multi-part series we will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

Coupa: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background & Solution Overview [PRO]

There are many perspectives on Coupa. These range from those who believe that the vendor has single-handedly transformed the world of spend management through building a truly unified suite that is 100% cloud-native, atoning for the over-customization, product and user interface sins of those that came before, to those who think that Coupa has expanded too quickly and is doomed to repeat mistakes others have made in the past. This vendor snapshot on Coupa is not about perspectives. It aims to be the first to review Coupa’s technology and modules in the context of what they actually do today and how they are differentiated — or not — from others.

The majority of technology analysts no longer prioritize reviewing procurement technology (product demonstrations, production sites, etc.) due to methodology or time constraints in evaluating vendors. The Spend Matters research team has collectively spent hundreds of hours looking at Coupa’s products and talking to partners and customers in the past 12 months. We have also comparatively analyzed Coupa and its competitors for a range of constituents including procurement and finance organizations, for suppliers participating in supplier network ecosystems, and for consultants and systems integrators.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help buying organizations, suppliers and partners make informed decisions on Coupa’s procure-to-pay (P2P) and broader source-to-contract capabilities, inclusive of inventory management and travel and expense (T&E). 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 Coupa in the procurement technology area. The rest of this multi-part research brief covers product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analysis, user selection guides, insider evaluation and selection considerations.

Automating Contract Creation, Without Help from Legal: Test-Driving LISA (Part 1)

In the midst of our ongoing research on how AI is changing contract management, we encountered an intriguing tool that allows users to create an NDA from scratch — without a lawyer.

Created by AI Tech Support Ltd. and powered by Neota Logic, LISA (Legal Intelligence Support Assistant) “has been programmed to help you and ‘the other side’ (the receiver) find a commercially sensible middle ground for your NDA.” Instead of the usual back and forth over small points, led by biased human lawyers, LISA allows you hash out an agreement fairly quickly (10–15 minutes) through a web app.

Agiloft: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Commentary and Summary Analysis [PRO]

The contract lifecycle management (CLM) technology market is highly fragmented today, with customers having significant choice between broad-based suite and independent vendors. Within this mix of full lifecycle solutions — from analytics to authoring to compliance — there are also specialized providers that stand out for unique capabilities, specialization or unique technology approaches to CLM. One CLM provider that is differentiated from other options — owing both to its business rules and business process management (BPM) foundation and to its adjacent capability in asset management and related areas — is Agiloft.

This third and final installment of this Spend Matters Vendor Snapshot covering Agiloft provides an objective SWOT analysis of the provider and offers a competitive segmentation analysis and comparison. It also includes recommended shortlist candidates as substitute providers to Agiloft and provider selection guidance. Finally, it provides summary analysis and recommendations for companies that can best take advantage of Agiloft’s capabilities. Part 1 of this series provided an in-depth look at Agiloft as a company and its specific solutions, and Part 2 gave a detailed analysis of solution strengths and weaknesses and a review of the user experience.