PRO Content

Avetta and Browz to Merge: Facts, Figures, Solution & Market Overview (Part 1)  [PRO]

Avetta announced earlier today that it and Browz are merging. Together under the Avetta name, the two providers of supplier management and supply chain risk management will become one of the clear leaders in perhaps the most “under the radar” procurement solutions market. The general focus of these two providers is on supplier and contractor on-boarding, pre-qualification and virtual auditing in support of vendor compliance, environmental, health and safety, risk management and related initiatives. SaaS-based enablement is a component of what Avetta and Browz do, but the real value they bring is based on the network impact and scale economics focused on supplier/contractor intelligence they provide to buyers and suppliers alike on a many-to-many basis.

Avetta, Browz, ISNetworld, Achilles and other similar solution providers compete in this somewhat niche — though quite sizeable and rapidly growing — area of the supplier management and supply chain risk management worlds. While not as well-known as providers like Coupa, Jaggaer and Ivalua (let alone SAP Ariba and Oracle), these four providers — along with a handful of other vertical and geographic specific providers — represent one of the fastest growing $500 million+ procurement solutions markets (2018 revenue), one that the vast majority of procurement and supply chain organizations know quite little about the inner workings of.

For many Spend Matters readers, this really is the largest procurement solutions market you’ve never heard of.

Over the course of the coming weeks, this Spend Matters PRO series will explore the combination of Avetta and Browz and what it means for the market. It will also unpack this market segment and explain how it fits alongside supply chain risk management, supplier information management (SIM), supplier performance management, master data management and adjacent sub-components of the supplier management market. We’ll also provide an outlook for customers of these solutions and for the broader growth of this sector as well (which Avetta pegs at a $14 billion market potential based on a referenced study to McKinsey in a briefing with Spend Matters prior to the deal announcement).

Today, we will start with a quick overview of the Avetta and Browz deal itself (facts/figures, estimated revenues, rationale, analysis, etc.) based on a variety of sources. Part 1 also includes a brief history of both providers and an overview of the current state of this market. For this series, our reference inputs include an interview earlier this week with the CEO of Avetta, John Herr, and over a dozen of other interviews conducted in recent years, as well as existing Spend Matters research (see previous Spend Matters PRO coverage on Avetta: Introduction/Background, Strengths / Weaknesses and Competitive Analysis/Customer Recommendations).

Corcentric to Acquire Determine: Valuation, Transaction Overview, Customer Recommendations and Competitive Landscape Analysis (Part 2) [PRO]

low commodity prices

Corcentric’s pending acquisition of Determine will create one of the more unique procurement and finance solutions providers in the market. In addition, the transaction, upon closing, will firmly establish Corcentric as a software (SaaS/cloud platform) provider in the source-to-pay sector. But what are the implications for Corcentric’s and Determine’s customers and the broader competitive market?

Part 1 of this Spend Matters PRO brief provided an overview of the combination (by the numbers), an analysis of the transaction/valuation and our “elephant in the room” observations.

Today, we turn our attention to customer recommendations for Corcentric and Determine users and offer a perspective on the competitive landscape implications of the transaction.

In later PRO briefs, we will offer our view of Determine’s functional strengths and weaknesses in both the procure-to-pay (i.e., e-procurement and invoice-to-pay) and strategic procurement technologies (e.g., sourcing, CLM, etc.) areas.

Corcentric to Acquire Determine: Valuation, Transaction Overview, Customer Recommendations and Competitive Landscape Analysis (Part 1) [PRO]

Earlier this week, Corcentric — a provider focused at the intersection of accounts payable automation, order-to-cash, trade financing, procurement consulting and group purchasing organization (GPO) software and services — announced its most strategic software acquisition to date: Determine.

But what are the highlights of the transaction? How do the proposed terms of the combination address Determine’s balance sheet liabilities — and more important, what is our summary analysis of Corcentric + Determine?

In this two-part Spend Matters PRO brief, we will provide an overview of the combination (by the numbers), an analysis of the transaction/valuation, our “elephant in the room” observations, summary recommendations for Corcentric and Determine customers and an analysis of the competitive landscape implications of the transaction.

In later PRO research briefs, we will offer our perspective on Determine’s functional strengths and weaknesses in both the procure-to-pay (i.e., e-procurement and invoice-to-pay) and strategic procurement technologies (e.g., sourcing, CLM, etc.) areas and what these bring to Corcentric, and, with sufficient distribution (that they lack today, at least in North America), what they could bring to the broader source-to-pay market.

AI in Optimization Today [PRO]

SciQuest

As we continue our investigation into AI in source-to-pay technology, which started with our AI in Procurement series and continued with our AI in Sourcing series, we take a deeper dive into optimization. Primarily the focus is on strategic sourcing decision optimization, but we'll discuss related areas as well.

First, let’s recap the status quo to remind us of the reason for the existence of these AI briefings.

AI, or artificial intelligence, does not yet exist, especially in the strictest definition of the term. Computers are not intelligent, not even artificially. They can do more calculations than ever before. They can take advantage of more data than ever before. They can find significantly more correlations than ever before and compute, with better and better statistical reliability, which are just correlations and which are true cause and effect relationships. But they are still, when you get right down to it, as dumb as door knobs. Probability is not intelligence. But it is damn good guidance.

In sourcing, logistics and supply chain, we are primarily concerned with decision optimization. Read on to find out the latest developments and expectations.

The CPO’s Conundrum (Part 1B): How Outside-In Issues are Shaping the Course of Procurement [PRO]

As we noted in yesterday’s Spend Matters PRO article, if you were to ask a roomful of CPOs what was their top concern was, for this year or even the coming decade, chances are the majority would lead with cost management and supply assurance. And while this makes sense, supply assurance and cost reduction are just two of a host of broader issues that are being pushed to the front of mind for today’s CPOs. So we are dedicating a series to the broad scope of issues that the modern CPO must face, starting with an overview of how they break out in the common PESTLE framework. Yesterday we addressed the “PES” — Political, Economic and Social — and today we will address the “TLE” — Technological, Legal and Environmental.

The CPO’s Conundrum (Part 1A): How Outside-In Issues Are Shaping the Course of Procurement [PRO]

If you were to ask a roomful of CPOs what was their top concern was, for this year or even the coming decade, chances are the majority would lead with cost management and supply assurance.

This makes sense. Within the hierarchy of procurement value, providing the right goods and services at the right time and place, preferably at the right (or better) price, constitute a foundation without which organizations cannot function.

Because of this requirement to secure and manage supply markets, procurement’s value proposition to the business is ultimately defined by its ability to access and derive value from markets. This means procurement value, then, is driven heavily from an outside-in perspective. That value starts with assurance of supply, just as top-line growth and brand development are foundational to sales and marketing.

The problem, however, is that supply assurance and cost reduction are just two of a host of broader issues that are being pushed to the front of mind for today’s CPOs. Because the CPO must manage multiple changing supply markets, and because those supply markets are affected by numerous external forces over which the CPO — let alone the business or even some governments — has no ability to influence, the CPO’s agenda is in reality much broader than assuring supply and reducing costs.

This brings us to what we call the CPO’s conundrum: Procurement organizations are primarily measured by the C-suite on supply assurance and cost control, but the agenda that the outside world is setting for the CPO is far bigger than just that. How, then, can procurement leaders meet the agendas recognized and prioritized by management while also addressing the equally (or perhaps more) important agendas of the changing, external supply world?

This Spend Matters PRO series examines the roots and resulting challenges of the CPO’s conundrum. In this brief, the introduction to this series, we discuss the current items on the CPO agenda, as well as the outside-in forces that are most notably butting their way in.

In subsequent installments, we will analyze overarching issues on the new CPO agenda individually, including corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability, digital business strategy, political and economic instability, and regulatory risk.

Coupa Pay: Solution Review and Analysis [PRO]

Spend Matters has analyzed dozens of solutions that span procurement and payables processes. This includes procure-to-pay (P2P), invoice-to-pay (I2P) and accounts payable automation solutions. Yet while each of these technology areas extends transactional capability into payments to some extent, each solution targets this area in a different manner. Some of this has to do with the way individual vendors explain their value propositions to customers and have built products based on their unique vantage point. And in an upcoming series on Spend Matters PRO, we will analyze the ways various vendors make the case for their approach to B2B payments (one model/size does not fit all!)

Today, however, we look at one vendor which is continuing to extend its P2P and I2P software to payments: Coupa. The provider's rapidly evolving solution, Coupa Pay, is unique on multiple levels both for what components it combines and also because it follows Coupa’s “unified” approach – which we will explore in this research brief in more detail.

Coupa Pay targets the payment process in a unique manner, and the combination of payment mechanisms, such as virtual credit cards (v-cards) and early payments, can become more effective through adoption and scale, through such a unified approach that extends the capability of procurement and finance (AP) functions. For Coupa, specifically, this concept falls under the domain of its vision for full business spend management (BSM) which may sound like jargon on the surface, but has some real merit as you unravel the marketing behind it and get into the actual solution.

What’s perhaps most interesting about Coupa’s approach to payments in particular is that the provider has identified the payment process gaps where it can generate better value to the business, rather than just satisfy an operational activity such as payments to suppliers or the reimbursement of expenses to employees.

This Spend Matters PRO research brief explores Coupa Pay — what it is, how it works and where it stands out from competitors.

Outlaw: Vendor Introduction, Analysis and SWOT [PRO]

When people think contracts, they think lawyers. And when people think lawyers, they think semantics, tedium, inefficiency. It’s no surprise, then, that the contract management process at many businesses is perceived as lawyer-like: slow, plagued by error-prone review processes and more inclined to risk-aversion rather than to embracing the new or innovative. But these flaws are also the result of ill-suited tools to manage contracts.

The dominant preference among business users for applications like Microsoft Word and email for the facilitation of contract authoring, review and negotiation is in no small way a reason why contract management processes can feel so archaic.

These applications are general-purpose tools that fail to address the complexity and the importance of contracts to a business. Yet contract management processes have largely been designed to fit to these tools, rather than the other way around.

Reimagining what the contract management process should be is the approach that Outlaw, a nearly two-year-old vendor based in Brooklyn, New York, has taken to designing its software-as-a-service solution.

The founders, both former consultants, were all too familiar with the headaches of contract drafting and approval, which inspired them to design a new contract solution around how they would want to create, negotiate and sign agreements. In doing so, they hope to bring an outsider’s perspective to contract management, rebuilding the process from the ground up so that it can be easier, faster and more enjoyable.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on Outlaw and its capabilities. The brief includes an overview of Outlaw’s offering, a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a SWOT analysis and a selection requirements checklist for companies that might consider the provider.

Are Organizations Using More of the Independent Workforce? [PRO]

talent management

Several years into the gig economy hype cycle, much has happened and many questions remain unanswered (the least of which is: “What are we talking about?”). A handful of survey-based studies — using different population definitions, methodologies and time intervals, — have focused on the population of people in the U.S. engaging in some kind of full- or part-time alternative work arrangement, temp work, freelancing and/or independent contract work. The result, not surprisingly, has been widely varying estimates of population size and rate of change.

But trying to answer questions about the independent workforce population may be missing the point. A more relevant and important set of questions for procurement and HR practitioners in organizations may be: Have organizations been sourcing and engaging more workers in non-traditional work arrangements? Why or why not? And so on. To get at some of these questions, we have surveyed a panel of executives of contingent workforce technology solution and service providers and analyzed the results.

Artificial Intelligence in Sourcing: The Day After Tomorrow [PRO]

In Spend Matters’ last PRO article about AI in Sourcing, we reviewed some of the exciting capabilities that you will be able to expect in tomorrow's e-sourcing systems, where we define AI as “augmented intelligence” because, as we've repeatedly stated in our articles in this ongoing AI series, there is no true artificial intelligence in any enterprise technology today. In fact, there won't be anything close, at least on the open market, even tomorrow. But it will be closer tomorrow, and it will approach the point where it can be labeled augmented intelligence as it will allow you to make better, smarter, decisions — no matter how good and smart the decisions were that you made in the past.

In the last article, we discussed the following augmented intelligence capabilities in particular that will be part of tomorrow's e-sourcing platforms:



  • Event-based category alignment
  • Market-based sourcing strategy identification
  • Automatic strategic sourcing events
  • Suggested award scenarios

However, as great as event-based category alignment and market-based sourcing strategy identification will be, and as fantastic as automatic strategic sourcing events with suggested awards will be, there will be even better augmented intelligence capabilities in the e-sourcing platforms of the future. Specifically, the day after tomorrow, you will be able to expect the following seemingly magical capabilities:

  • SKU replacement
  • End-of-life (EOL) recommendations for products
  • Real-time strategy alignment
  • Auto-pause/extend

And more. But anything beyond these could be quite a ways out, so we will stick to these for now.

Field Nation: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Summary and Competitive Analysis [PRO]

Field Nation — as discussed in this Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot Part 1 and Part 2 — provides an online marketplace and an enterprise solution that enables companies and their managers to conduct “on-demand” sourcing, engagement, dispatch, management and payment of IT field services contractors, services providers and even their own company employees. Today, Field Nation still largely plays in the narrow/niche of online marketplace/work execution solution segment of IT field contractors/providers (what might be considered a niche, duopoly market where it competes against WorkMarket, now an ADP company). But it has recently launched its broader, enterprise-level Field Nation ONE solution, which implies a considerably wider competitive context. If one expands the potential market to include larger, enterprise-level field service management (“FSM”) solutions (or further, to address other on-demand, on-site project work categories), the addressable market would be much larger and the industry competitive landscape and dynamics would be significantly different.

Part 1 provided a company and detailed solution overview, as well as a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering Field Nation. Part 2 discussed Spend Matters’ perspective on solution strengths and weaknesses along with a rating of UI/UX for firms considering solution options. In our third and final installment, we provide a SWOT overview of Field Nation as a whole, a high-level, comparative competitive analysis, key fit criteria and, lastly, brief commentary and suggestions for organizations that might consider Field Nation as a potential solution partner.

Coupa CLM: Vendor Snapshot Update [PRO]

Coupa is a full suite provider of source-to-pay (S2P) applications (which Coupa calls Business Spend Management), but we’ve not yet included a formal analysis of its contract lifecycle management (CLM) application other than our ongoing coverage within the SolutionMap framework.

Coupa is a bit of a conundrum because, relative to its competitors, it has some unique functionality that no other competitor possesses, but at the same time, the provider is also missing a core aspect of CLM functionality that its primary competitors already have.

As Spend Matters’ Q4 2018 Contract Lifecycle Management SolutionMap indicates, Coupa does well with customer scoring across its various CLM personas, but it lags in its solution score due to the aforementioned functionality gap that we’ll explore later in this piece. Coupa acquired a small Canadian CLM startup named Contractually in 2016 that had some nice collaborative redlining functionality (and written within Ruby on Rails framework like Coupa), and that form of “collaboration” (i.e., technical collaboration between buyers and suppliers on the Coupa user interface) is supported as well by basic MS-Word integration.

Coupa doesn’t really try to differentiate itself as a best-of-breed stand-alone CLM application provider though (and certainly not beyond the bounds of S2P to support enterprise CLM functionality across all contracts), and the contract is really treated as the core commercial system of record that is at the heart of an S2P suite. It focuses on integrating the contract into all of the other elements of this suite, especially with its focus on operationalizing contracts via transactional P2P execution, including enforcement of buying/paying against contracts, and tying the spend back to contracts and budgeting (aka spend planning and control).

This Spend Matter Vendor Snapshot Update reviews its solution, Coupa Contract Management, and highlights the good, the not-so-good and the potential of its current product.