Plus or PRO Content

ConnXus brings its ‘Smart’ approach to supplier discovery with new SmartSearch product [PRO]

supplier network

The supplier relationship experts at ConnXus on Wednesday announced the launch of SmartSearch, a new supplier discovery capability based on business intelligence that enables granular search across category, geographic and diversity criteria for millions of validated global vendor records.

SmartSearch takes advantage of ConnXus’ database of 22 million global suppliers to help buying organizations quickly identify potential suppliers that fit not only basic sourcing requirements but also various additional criteria, including diversity status and risk. It also bolsters the navigability of myConnXion, ConnXus’ open-ended supplier network, allowing ConnXus users to access richly maintained supplier profiles of current and potential partners as part of supplier discovery.

With SmartSearch, ConnXus is continuing to break further outside of its initial niche in the supplier diversity space, using its strengths in supplier master data management to power supplier discovery and sourcing efforts. This comes at a critical time for the Mason, Ohio-based vendor, which is defining its long-term vision alongside competitors Tealbook, Mastercard and others as they all attempt to define just what a next-generation supplier network looks like.

This SpendMatters PRO brief will look at ConnXus’ background and growing product footprint, like myConnXion that launched about a year ago; will provide an overview of SmartSearch; and will offer key takeaways about how this is an incremental release but an important one. SmartSearch is a key addition of usability for clients to get to all of the valuable supplier data available through ConnXus.

Medius buying Wax Digital: Customer recommendations after the deal [PRO]

M&A can sometimes be a threat to customer value. Even in the best situations, acquisitions can introduce uncertainty for customers in terms of pricing, support and related areas. And in the worst, M&A can put actual and implied contractual terms and supplier obligations (if not expectations) at risk come renewal time — and even threaten the underlying reasons for why a technology was selected in the first place. For customers, skepticism in vendor M&A is always better than the alternative. But we look at the combination of Medius and Wax Digital from a slightly different lens, as the combination under the backing of a growth-oriented private equity owner joins together two organizations that could, for a variety of reasons, bring benefits to customers with less potential for downside risk than many M&A transactions.

Regardless, the informed customer — the one that has every intent on getting the most out of their technology supplier after it is acquired or merged with another entity — will always invest the time to understand a combination from an objective lens, how it may benefit them above and beyond the current commercial relationship that is in place and their true BATNA (best alternative to negotiated agreement) for all current and potential engagement elements. Such insight, even if a transaction like Medius-Wax appears to benefit them on the surface, will always pay dividends, and will put procurement and finance buyers in the driver’s seat to make the best decisions for them.

This Spend Matters PRO analysis provides recommendations for customers of Wax Digital and Medius. If you are new to our coverage of the transaction, we recommend starting first with our free site coverage: here and here. Spend Matters Nexus subscribers (those within the M&A ecosystem including sponsors, CEOs, boards and corporate development leaders) can also read our deeper analysis of the combination here:

* Part 1: Company Backgrounds, Product Strengths/Weaknesses, Deal Rationale
* Part 2: Wax strengths, customers, integration considerations
* Part 3: Strategy and competitive landscape analysis for AP automation and invoice-to-pay.
* Part 4: Strategy and competitive landscape analysis for procurement and ERP vendors

We encourage all subscribers to reach out to us to understand how this and other transactions may impact where they sit in the market.

Disclosure: Azul Partners served as an adviser to Marlin Equity in the Wax-Medius transaction.

The Contingent Workforce and Services (CW/S) Insider’s Hot List: December 2019 [Plus+]

Welcome to the December 2019 edition of Spend Matters Insider’s Hot List, a monthly look at the contingent workforce and services (CW/S) space that’s available to our PLUS and PRO subscribers. For those new to the Hot List, each edition covers the prior month’s important or interesting technology and innovation developments in the CW/S space.

As we head into December and the holiday season, we look back on the developments in November: Small service providers now ‘Open for Business’ on LinkedIn; Is the job board Indeed going gig?; Fiverr grows topline, not bottom; crowdsource testing; and news about financial services for freelancers.

5 tips: So, why do you want to invest in procurement technology? (Part 1) [PRO]

The procurement technology market has grown increasingly complex over the last several years, with specialist providers competing with broader suites. In my first post for Spend Matters, over on the UK/Europe, site I provided five recommendations to consider before investing in procurement technology

Companies need to make sure to find the right solution and vendor for them and make sure to get the best value out of the investment.

These recommendations are:

* Identify business objectives
* Don’t try to do everything at once
* Focus on the basics first
* Select a solution and vendor that meets your requirements
* Review and redesign processes, and perhaps even your organization, as part of preparation and implementation

In the coming weeks I will dive into these in more detail for this Spend Matters PRO series.

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

FM Global Resilience Index

Besides the likes of “mega” players like Amazon Business, is there a market for marketplaces? When Tradeshift embarked on its journey to create a platform between organizations in 2010, it had to believe such a need would eventually become mainstream, otherwise its vision and reality would fail to intersect. Fortunately for those that backed Tradeshift’s initial hypothesis, less than a decade since launching, more companies — not just early adopters — are becoming aware of what a platform concept can deliver beyond business applications.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot Update adds to last year’s Tradeshift strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement and finance organizations decide whether they should consider the provider from both an applications and marketplace/platform perspective. Look for updates on global support, the AI-assistant Ada, analytics, channel/systems integration partner networks, and customer value.

Part 1 of our analysis provided a company and detailed solution overview centered on Tradeshift’s business applications, as well as a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering the provider. The third part of this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

An inside look: Premier Inc. acquires Medpricer, a purchased services procurement solution [PRO]

healthcare

Let’s take a closer look at the Premier Inc. acquisition of Medpricer announced recently. For this Spend Matters PRO brief, we talked with leaders of both firms to get further insight into the acquisition and what it means. We also offer some reasons why this development is significant for procurement practitioners. Premier Inc., a $1.2 billion diversified healthcare improvement company, has acquired Medpricer, an innovative solution provider focused on the management of the enormous and largely unmanaged “purchased services” category of spend within hospitals and healthcare systems.

Premier bought Medpricer for $35 million and expects the acquisition to be modestly accretive in 2020. The company has stated that Medpricer will continue to operate as an independent unit and brand, and will remain GPO neutral, while augmenting Premier’s own technology and analytics capabilities. Medpricer’s CEO will continue to lead the business as part of Premier’s Supply Chain Services segment.

Headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, Premier describes itself as “a leading healthcare improvement company, uniting an alliance of more than 4,000 U.S. hospitals and health systems and approximately 175,000 other providers and organizations to transform healthcare.” The company leverages integrated data and analytics, collaboratives, supply chain solutions, and consulting and other services to promote "better care and outcomes at a lower cost.” It also collaborates with members “to co-develop long-term innovations that reinvent and improve the way care is delivered to patients nationwide.”

“Medpricer’s spend management platform,” the company has noted, “uses artificial intelligence to validate, compare and onboard purchased services suppliers; track and measure spend by category, supplier and facility; benchmark contracts terms to ensure competitive rates; set and manage specific savings targets; and manage contract compliance.” It was also noted that purchased services — which “often fall outside the scope of national group purchasing contracts” — are estimated to “account for up to 30% of a typical healthcare provider’s non-labor expenses, and represent a total addressable acute care market of approximately $160 billion.”

Premier told Spend Matters that “Medpricer is an important component of its evolving cost management strategy and is an integral next step in our continuing expansion toward a fully integrated purchased services platform.” Premier also noted that it has the “ability to fund and materially accelerate the development of Medpricer’s offerings.”

Spend Matters recently posed some questions to Premier. We received written answers and also had an opportunity to talk with Premier’s Senior Vice President of Supply Chain, David Hargraves, and Medpricer’s President and CEO, Chris Gormley.

Sourcing and Engaging the Independent/Freelance Workforce — An Emerging Ecosystem? (Part 4) [PRO]

IQNavigator

In Part 4 of this five-part Spend Matters PRO series on the emerging independent contract worker (ICW) digital ecosystem, we will examine “worker-facing services.” These are services designed and offered to independent workers by providers, many of which may not have existed five years ago.

Part 1 of this series discussed the size, growth and constitution of the ICW population in the U.S. (it cuts across many types of work/workers: freelance creatives to construction workers, Uber drivers to truck drivers, etc.). Part 2 of the series examined the extent to which a digital ecosystem has been forming to provide enterprises with the required capabilities to source, manage and maximize the value of this ICW population. In Part 3, we described (and represented graphically) the different components of the emerging digital ecosystem today (see the ecosystem graphic below).

Part 4 looks at the extent to which a part of the ICW digital ecosystem is forming to provide ICWs (and incorporated microbusinesses) with the access to the opportunity pathways and the support/services (the worker-facing services) that they require to function as viable “operators.” It provides an overview of the service and service provider landscape and concludes with some comments leading into Part 5.

What’s the Price: Vendor Introduction (Part 2 — Product Strengths and Weaknesses) [PRO]

In our last brief we introduced you to What’s the Price, a five-year-old Dutch vendor that offers should-cost modeling tools for supplier negotiations. Born out of the frustrations of two procurement professionals who wanted to get faster, more accurate price estimates to counteract supplier quotes, WTP makes smart use of publicly available big data to drastically cut the time and effort in building should-cost models. The solution is notably easy to use and provides a lot of guidance for users along the way, allowing WTP to get organizations up and running with just a two-hour training session. But as with all younger solution providers, there areas for growth, as well, including a few opportunities that could further support WTP’s preference for a self-service deployment approach.

Part 1 of this brief provided some background on What’s the Price and an overview of its offering. In Part 2, we provide a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a high-level SWOT analysis and a short selection requirements checklist that outlines the typical company for which WTP might be a good fit. We also give some final conclusions and takeaways.

What’s the Price: Vendor Introduction (Part 1 — Background and Solution Overview) [PRO]

Successful supplier negotiations begin long before a category manager sits down at the negotiating table, physical or virtual. Effectively sourcing a product or component requires an understanding of the fundamentals driving a category, the competitive dynamics in a given industry, and a negotiation strategy based on realistic prices or savings that procurement hopes to attain.

But more often than not, determining how much something should cost — that is, what procurement should realistically pay for goods or services — is a process supported more by guesswork than by data science. And building such models can be time-consuming: Cost engineers creating clean-sheet calculations of a product’s likely cost often take weeks before coming back with an estimate.

What’s the Price, in contrast, can deliver an estimated price in less than five minutes — for any category, industry or product.

That may sound a bit like magic, and from an end user’s perspective, it can feel that way. But beneath the hood, WTP, a five-year-old Dutch vendor founded by two former senior procurement professionals, relies on a straightforward approach, underpinned by a smart application of big data.

WTP aggregates prices and cost drivers across hundreds of thousands of mostly public data sources to produce top-down estimates for commodity prices, industry cost structures and product cost models. The result is a fast and reasonably accurate expected market price that procurement can use to set the stage in supplier negotiations, putting the buy side on stronger footing against price increases or “black box” quotes from sales reps.

Part 1 of this Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers an overview of What’s the Price and its capabilities. Part 2 includes a look at WTP’s product strengths and weaknesses, a company SWOT analysis, and a selection requirements checklist for those that might consider the provider.

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

Tradeshift is a cloud platform that connects buyers and suppliers with the goal of digitizing supply chain relationships, processes and information, while also enabling everyday procure-to-pay activities. Its capabilities span the buying of goods and services through to financing and payment — and significant capability in between, especially in the invoice-to-pay area.

In addition to providing its own procure-to-pay modules, Tradeshift offers an open integration framework that allows other technology firms (and customers) to integrate and/or development third-party apps, primarily centered on supplier connectivity, transaction enablement and collaboration. Tradeshift can even integrate alternative procure-to-pay providers in cases where specific enabling capability is desired.

This three-part Spend Matters PRO analysis provides an update on Tradeshift capabilities, both as a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) provider and as an e-procurement and invoice-to-pay technology vendor.

The updates since last year's review include information about real-time collaboration; a single sign-on; centralized access to POs, invoices, etc.; an AI-assisted chatbot named Ada; buying topics about GPOs and direct materials; global support; and new sections on payments/trade financing, analytics, services, integration and technology like blockchain.

The PRO analysis is designed to provide facts and expert analysis to help procurement and finance organizations make informed decisions about whether they should consider Tradeshift for both traditional “in-the-box” procure-to-pay requirements as well as unique marketplace/platform-type digital initiatives.

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 Tradeshift as a complement to other procurement and finance solutions. The remaining parts of this research brief will cover product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analyses, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

Givewith: Vendor Introduction (Background, Solution Overview, SWOT, Checklist) [PRO]

wind power

Givewith and SAP Ariba announced a partnership today for Givewith to integrate with Ariba’s sourcing module so companies can find nonprofit groups that can help improve the companies' corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability efforts.

In this Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction, let’s see what Givewith’s solution has to offer and why it’s important now.

Consumers, investors and governments are pushing businesses to consider the larger social impact of their operations. And corporations, for their part, are starting to evaluate the ways they can respond. The August 2019 Business Roundtable restatement on the purpose of a corporation is one prominent example, in which multiple CEOs affirmed that a company’s mission should include not only increasing shareholder value but also betterment of customers, employees, suppliers and communities.

Such declarations are noble on paper, but they also have profit-focused incentives behind them. ESG ratings (environmental, social and governance) are becoming more relevant in investor decisions, so corporations are finding investments in programs for sustainability and CSR are now required to attract funding. Similarly, a strong corporate responsibility vision and track-record of action on social issues is becoming a selling point with consumers, as well as a reason for those consumers to consider working for (and remaining employed at) those businesses.

So where does procurement fit into all of this? According to the thinking behind Givewith, B2B transactions represent a major opportunity to generate funding for nonprofit programs. If procurement can recommend a slate of potential CSR or sustainability initiatives to fund during an RFI (or, if a supplier can do the same when constructing a bid response, to create a unique selling point), the business can use existing sourcing processes to yield operational and social impacts.

It’s a unique concept in the B2B space, and one that Givewith aims to scale quickly via its major initial partnership: A prebuilt integration directly into SAP Ariba’s sourcing module.

This Vendor Introduction offers a deep look at Givewith and its capabilities. It includes an overview of Givewith’s B2B offering (Givewith Enterprise), a SWOT analysis and a selection requirements checklist for companies that might consider the provider.

Procurement Technology, Consulting Pricing Trends and Negotiation Strategies – The Times They Are a-Changin’ (Part 1) [Plus+]

Editor's note: This is a refresh of our 2012 series on solution provider pricing trends and negotiation strategies, which originally ran on Spend Matters PRO.

This 4-part series will provide a look at software provider and management consulting pricing trends and negotiation strategies within the procurement and operations area. It provides insight to buying organizations that may be helpful in negotiating with vendors such as Ariba, SAP, Oracle, Emptoris, Zycus and others, as well as recommendations for how best to engage with consultancies for price and value in the current environment.