Basware Acquires Procserve – Interview with Esa Tihilä, Basware CEO

As we reported last week, Finnish eProcurement and e-invoicing firm Basware announced an agreed acquisition of UK eProcurement firm Procserve. We had the chance to speak to Esa Tihilä, the CEO of Basware, on the day it was announced, and ask him a few questions about the acquisition. The full interview is here for our Spend Matters Plus and PRO members (available at a very reasonable subscription!)

But a couple of highlights from his remarks. Firstly, it sounds like Procserve staff have nothing to worry about. Tihilä was very clear that the products and the businesses are very complementary, there is very little overlap and this is an acquisition for growth, not rationalisation and cost cutting. So there seems little danger of staff cutbacks here.

Secondly, he sees a big opportunity for promoting a wider range of products into Procserve’s existing client base. That will include e-invoicing, without a doubt, particularly given the EU mandating the use of that process across the EU. And finally, Procserve and Basware’s existing “Commerce Networks” are likely to be integrated, which will take Basware further towards their goal of having the largest such network in the world. Mind you, SAP/Ariba and Coupa might both have something to say about that.

As we said last week, this looks like a good move for everyone involved. However, there is no guarantee that Basware will find this cross and up selling opportunity easy. Even enthusiastic users of Procserve’s marketplace functionality may well use it currently alongside other P2P, invoicing and sourcing tools, so extending the use of Procserve / Basware won’t be a no-brainer for such organisations.

On the other hand, it certainly puts the firm in a much stronger position against Coupa, Ariba, Proactis, Wax Digital and others if buyers want that end-to-end transactional management. And the eInvoicing market is getting ever more competitive, with ERP players heavily involved, , specialists like Tungsten and Tradeshift, Oxygen in the local authority world, Taulia ... etc!

The other interesting angle is the Basware relationship with BravoSolution, market leaders in UK public sector eSourcing (and another firm actually for whom Procserve would arguably have made an interesting acquisition). The two firms have been working together for a couple of years where clients want eProcurement and strong sourcing / analytics capability.

Now Basware / Procserve will still not compete strongly in Bravo’s real sweet spot (sourcing, contract management, analytics), so will this move bring the firms closer together and develop more partnership opportunities? Or might a stronger marketing presence in the UK for Basware start to tread on some BravoSolution toes? We’ll watch that dynamic with interest too.

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