New solution providers – Ivalua take on the giants of procurement software

This week we're going to have a series of five posts about "new" solutions providers. I say "new" with the commas because they in truth range from the genuinely young and new, to the longer-established but not previously featured by us. Today we have an example of the latter category - a well established firm, but one that will we suspect be new to many of our readers. And I hope we don't have to point out that keeping up with interesting and relevant technology developments and firms is an essential part of any procurement practitioner's job these days. If you don't do that, someone else will. And they might just be after your job.


There is no shortage of procurement software firms who have succeeded in one or two European countries but struggled to achieve that break though into being a truly international - never mind global - business. But the pattern of success is not always predictable - so you might find a firm that is successful in the Nordics and UK, and another that does well on the Iberian peninsula and eastern Europe, for instance. It may depend simply on where the firm has placed effort, or other factors may come into play that aren’t obvious.

One interesting example is Ivalua . Although they have French origins, they've been featured more by my colleagues in the US than here, simply because they have built a significant business in North America. Along with a strong base in France and some continental European countries,  that has made them one of the strongest firms in the broad spend management platform market – certainly,   84% revenue growth in Q1 of 2014, with some major new client wins such as IBP, Sagemcom, Pierre & Vacances, Total MS, and Thales looks impressive. As they claim:

“Targeting global medium to large size companies, Ivalua has successfully implemented more than150 projects worldwide, across 12 different sectors, and is used daily by 150,000 users and 500,000 suppliers from more than 70 countries in 15 different languages”.

But they have had little real presence in the UK until recently, and I'm ashamed to say we maybe haven't lived up to our "Spend Matters UK/Europe" label in this case – we haven’t looked at them closely here until now.

However, the firm is expanding further, and the UK is high on the priority list, so that’s our excuse to start remedying that failure! Ivalua has recently appointed Steve Cobley as their UK Sales Director, indicating greater focus on the UK market. Cobley is an experienced procurement sales and business development guy who knows the industry well, and this is a good chance for him to really make his mark and for Ivalua  to start making waves this side of la Manche.

I haven't yet had the full product demo of the solution, but it's a suite with very  broad source to pay capability – analytics, sourcing, purchase to pay, contract and supplier management, catalogues ... pretty much anything core to procurement you could imagine.

Jason Busch at Spend Matters US considers Ivalua a serious option in the suite sector, and is generally very complementary about the product generally. Reading what my Spend Matters colleagues in the US have said about the firm and the product, it is a “platform” rather than a suite, and is capable of “truly remarkable levels of configuration”, appealing to clients who have complex requirements yet want to standardise on a single platform.

Indeed, much of Ivalua business has come when they're up against major and broad providers such as SAP / Ariba, and they are clearly an option to consider for either first time investors in this type of solution, or buyers looking to make second generation investments to refresh and upgrade their platform. Anyway, we’ll have more when we’ve seen the product; in the meantime, good luck to Steve Cobley as well.

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