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LevaData: Vendor Analysis, 2020 update (Part 2) — Detailed Module Overview, SWOT, LevaData Competitors, Summary

LevaData

In Part 1 we re-introduced you to LevaData, a unique provider in the direct sourcing and procurement space that brings a distinctive mashup of analytics, should-cost modeling, constraint-based optimization, and risk insight to direct (bill-of-material based) sourcing —  particularly in the electronics supply chain.

It was, and still is, one of a small set of vendors pushing "cognitive" procurement technology, and while there is a lot of significantly advanced technology under the hood of LevaData’s solution, no vendor truly is there yet. However, the goal of technology is to augment our intelligence, not replace it, so there is no need for technology to actually be cognitive if it gets close enough and solves the problems the user needs it to solve.

Founded by veterans of the Cisco procurement and supply chain organization to close a number of gaps they saw in analytics, sourcing and supply management platforms around supply availability, accurate cost information and potential risk, they've made great strides since that day seven years ago, building a solution that solves the majority of the critical problems in the electronics supply chain, especially in the high-tech sector.

As indicated in our last part, not only does LevaData’s solution now revolve around three distinct offerings — Cost Optimizer, New Product Accelerator and Risk Navigator — but the distinct strengths it brings to the table has no peer across all its offerings and only a few in each. And those offerings that it does have each come with unique strengths that can be quite valuable.

In Part 2 of this Spend Matters PRO, we’ll examine the solution modules in detail, offer a SWOT analysis, check out LevaData’s competitors (like SAP Ariba or Ivalua in procurement technology, Sievo in the analytics market, and vendors in other market sectors) and close with a summary analysis.

LevaData: Vendor Analysis, 2020 update (Part 1) — Direct Materials Solution Overview, Strengths/Weaknesses, Tech Selection Tips

direct materials LevaData

When Spend Matters covered LevaData three years ago, we noted that outside of core ERP and supply chain planning systems, the technology market for direct materials procurement and sourcing was almost too nascent to even be considered fragmented. And, we're sorry to say that not much has changed. The existing players are more mature, but start-ups are few and far between, and pretty much any player of note in 2020 existed in 2017.

Direct solutions tend to fall into the following categories:

  • Suites that have acquired direct sourcing and/or procurement capabilities (like Ivalua, that acquired DirectWorks, and Jaggaer, that acquired Pool4Tool)
  • Specialized niche players like Allocation (that have been doing custom sourcing and SIM for 20 years) and Procurence (that have extremely specialized supplier management capabilities)
  • New players like Xeeva and LevaData that are trying to bring "cognitive" capabilities to direct procurement, making use of big data to provide deeper insights than their peers

When we first covered LevaData in 2017, we noted it was an emerging technology provider that had capability spanning direct material procurement and cost analytics, bill of materials level spend visibility, market/commodity intelligence, and sourcing. We also noted it was one of the first entrants into the "cognitive" sourcing space that offered a platform that leveraged artificial intelligence (AI) capability to make both part- and component-level sourcing recommendations, especially in the electronics industry where LevaData has the majority of its customers (and products in its database).

Since then, it has become more established and added deeper capability in sourcing, analytics, and prescriptive cost management and reduction. LevaData also has significantly increased the (community) intelligence it offers in the electronics supply chain, and it refactored its solution into three primary offerings: Cost Optimizer, New Product Accelerator and Supply Risk Navigator.

In this new two-part series, we will cover each of these modules as well as provide an overview of the common core capabilities these modules are based on.

But first, let's give a brief introduction to LevaData for new readers.

Latest Procurement Technology Not Adopted Very Fast, LevaData Finds

Procurement executives may understand how key technologies like data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) can significantly improve their processes, but they don’t always turn that understanding into actionable adoption of those tools, according to a recent webinar on LevaData’s Cognitive Sourcing Study.

LevaData: Vendor Analysis (Part 3) — Competitive and Summary Analysis

SciQuest

LevaData is a provider that challenges the traditional notion of “modules” in the procurement technology sector. In combining supply chain visibility, market data and benchmarks, community analytics, optimization, forecasting, AI techniques and strategic sourcing capability, LevaData is positioning itself as the first “cognitive sourcing” provider. While focused primarily today on select industries and categories, its goal is to become both a single source of truth and core enablement technology for broader direct materials sourcing. Today, LevaData’s solution blends integrated market intelligence, analytics and sourcing components in a single platform, primarily serving customers in the electronics/high tech manufacturing sector. While more mature in certain areas and less in others, the combined product set is not like anything else we have seen or analyzed in the market.

This final installment of our multipart Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot series covering LevaData offers a SWOT analysis, competitive assessment and comparison with other related vendors targeting direct materials procurement. 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 LevaData.

LevaData: Vendor Analysis (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses

Quick, what would a mashup of an analytics, market intelligence and an optimization-backed advanced sourcing platform look like for direct materials procurement? It would need to feature at least the basics of line-level spend analytics and reporting, and, for manufacturers, ideally offer deeper bill of materials insight into sub-tier materials, parts and component data. It would have to provide market-based insights into relative total cost, as well as integrated access to external market data feeds to enable benchmarking. And it would need to feature sourcing capability that factors into account both internal and supply chain costs, constraints and business requirements in recommendations and decision-making.

In other words, it would look something like LevaData, a manufacturing-centric procurement technology vendor that offers an integrated set of capabilities that is different from anything else we have reviewed in the market. This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores LevaData’s strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should consider the provider. The first installment of our analysis provided a company and solution overview and a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering the provider. Part 3 will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

LevaData: Vendor Analysis (Part 1) — Background and Solution Overview

Outside of core ERP and supply chain planning systems, the technology market for direct materials procurement and sourcing is almost too nascent to even be considered fragmented. While many software firms claim they power direct materials procurement solutions needs, the reality is that most end up “kludging” off-the-shelf solutions based on existing, distinct modules for manufacturing. Yet new direct materials solutions are emerging that blur the line of modules, product classification and underlying technology in a not so dissimilar way that the adoption of their solutions also blurs the line from a user perspective between design engineering, procurement, quality and operations and supply chain.  

LevaData is one such emerging technology provider that has capability spanning direct materials procurement and cost analytics, bill of materials-level spend visibility, market/commodity intelligence and sourcing (optimization). It is one of the first entrants into the “cognitive sourcing” space, offering a platform that leverages artificial intelligence (AI) capability to make both part- and component-level sourcing recommendations, especially in the electronics industry, where LevaData has a statistically relevant number of customers and products in its database. Having recently raised $5 million in Series A funding in August 2017, LevaData appears ready to move beyond its initial 20 customers.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations make informed decisions about LevaData’s solution offering. 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 LevaData in the procurement technology area. The rest of this research brief covers product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analyses, and evaluation and selection considerations.