Zycus Horizon – Coffee Republic Success Story and Zycus Spills the Beans on Exciting New Developments

It’s been a week of great events in our S2P ‘vendor sphere.’

I spent Monday and Tuesday of last week at the Zycus Horizon event in Budapest with my colleague, senior analyst and industry expert, Michael Lamoureux. What a city! And what a venue for the event at the New York Palace Hotel in Budapest. It had a warm, welcoming feel to it from the outset, with museum-based entertainment to boot.

In all, I counted around 250-300 attendees from across Europe, a mixture of customers, partners and prospects, eager to share their experiences of working with the Zycus team and platform, including those who were current customers and looking to augment their Zycus presence across their S2P suite.

Monday morning kicked off with a great session ‘Startup Forever’ from Sahar Hashemi, co-founder of Coffee Republic. It really was a personal tale of the trials and tribulations of swapping careers from law to founding a coffee chain in the UK, with no experience in coffee or retail. This proved an essence of the success she and her co-founding brother enjoyed as she pressed home her most useful piece of advice ‘the importance of being clueless,’ having no experience proved to be their biggest advantage as they were uncontaminated by any set way of doing things in the coffee house ways.

A personal journey to success from having to move back in with her Mum to save money, being turned down by 26 banks for a loan, making only £200 a day for the first 6 months of opening the first coffee house, to home baking muffins as there was no viable supplier, made an inspiring story of becoming ‘an overnight success in 15 years.’ To hear that Starbucks were rejected by over 200 banks before being granted investment was something, but to learn that James Dyson made 5,126 prototypes before the 5,127th worked, was a reminder of the effort it takes not to accept rejection if you believe in yourself.

A few tips along the way were affirming rather than revealing: ‘perfection is the enemy of innovation;’ create zero distance between you, your suppliers and your customers; you’re all partners. Bootstrapping creates extreme resourcefulness. A positive start to the Horizon event in any case, before we got into more detail on the technology itself.

Next on the main stage was the CEO of Zycus himself, Aatish Dedhia. Under the heading AI powered procurement: pioneer to leader. The 40 minutes with Aatish gave a potted history of Zycus and their journey to enhancing their platform over 20 years. Aatish loves the detail, he loves the tech and is driven by that and customer feedback. He’s a modest gentleman who, with a dedicated team alongside him, is taking his company on a great journey, taking on the big names in the S2P world … and not only holding his own, but thriving. Impressive in itself that Zycus has been on the S2P landscape for over 20 years and continues to trade as a privately held organisation.

Bear in mind that Zycus is in a select group of only a few firms that cover the whole source-to-pay landscape -- to remain privately owned and be liberated to choose their own path with significant input from their customer base is perhaps what keeps their employee retention rate seemingly strong. In speaking with Director of Product Management, Kanishka Ghosh, a S2P ally of mine when we were both in the Oracle ecosystem, he’s been with Zycus for nine years now and a major pull for him is being able to take customer feedback and turn that into functional improvements within a short timeline compared with organisations that have to go through much more time-consuming and priority-based approval processes.

Zycus’ growth is 100% organic, based on one core platform which is a real selling point from a customer perspective in that there’s no integration of data from multiple systems to harmonise and no user interface differences to blend. Perhaps this helps explain a 20% growth in Zycus’ revenue in 2018. That said, we’re told that a new UI will be released to all customers across the suite by March/April 2020, making the suite even more user-friendly and simple to navigate.

In the background, Zycus have been working on an ambitious project to build their suite on an AI base, under the banner ‘Merlin AI Studio.’  The AI base will enable Zycus, its partners and customers to develop their own Bots according to their needs across the whole process. Together with selected customers, Zycus is making significant progress in two areas in particular, an Invoice Bot and a Contracts Bot. There’s a lot of excitement within the Zycus community about this significant step forward in AI terms; we haven’t see a demo of it yet, but when there is more news we look forward to bringing it to you.

A development specific to the transportation industry is their product, iLOGIX, which makes highly complex route planning much more efficient. Proving very popular with their customers in Europe, their customer, Heineken, was given as an example. A route planning process which would have taken days to complete, now takes minutes. So there’s some great developments to look forward to from Zycus in the coming months. But what about their customers? Read that in part 2 tomorrow.

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