Author Archives: Jason Busch



About Jason Busch

Jason is the founder of Azul Partners and co-founder of Spend Matters. He spends most of his time contributing to building Spend Matters SolutionMap. But he divides the rest of his waking hours between research, writing, due diligence analysis, corporate finance advisory and mentoring dozens of firms and procurement organizations in the industry. Prior to Azul Partners, Jason got his on-the-job education in procurement technology working at FreeMarkets for five years in a variety of roles. Before that, he started his career in consulting and merchant banking. Jason holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. Current investment disclosures: Azul Partners, Inc., Koble, Inc., Public Spend Forum, LLC, RJSL Group LLC, Sigaria Ltd., Spendata LLC, and Spend Matters Europe Ltd.


Coupa to Acquire Exari: What Type of CLM Solution Is Coupa Getting? (Part 1)

Coupa just announced that it intends to acquire Exari, a leading provider of contract lifecycle management (CLM) solutions. Terms of the deal were not provided, but with Exari having almost 150 employees, it’s not unreasonable that the private firm would have over $30 million in revenues and a deal size valued at just over nine figures. Contract management is a red-hot space right now, and Coupa has a very strategic need for this product. Spend Matters believes that this acquisition is a very smart hand-in-glove acquisition even though it’ll require some alterations to truly fit properly.

Coupa currently has a basic contracting module as part of its “Business Spend Management” application suite within the source-to-pay market, but it was missing two critical aspects of modern CLM that are major strengths for Exari. On a product functionality basis, Exari is one of the very top performers in Spend Matters’ CLM rankings on SolutionMap, and it “ticks all the right boxes” for a best-of-breed CLM performer. It’s also unique in its knowledge-based approach to deep contract modeling rather than just straight AI and machine learning based on contract text analytics.

CLM is also not a one-size-fits-all proposition, and the market landscape depends heavily on many factors. Some providers are much more oriented toward the sell-side — e.g., CPQ-oriented providers such as Apttus or SpringCLM (recently acquired by DocuSign). Some are focused on the mass market with usability being a key focus (e.g., Concord, Outlaw, PandaDoc, etc.). And even within large enterprises looking at firms like Exari, Icertis, Agiloft, SirionLabs, and others, they differ in their requirements as to whether they want “deep” functionality, maximum configurability, ease-of-integration, attractiveness to many functions (e.g., the legal department), and/or being part of a larger application suite.

So, what is Coupa getting with Exari? What types of organizations are the best fit for this solution and the combined solution of Coupa and Exari? Is Exari a solution optimized for legal, procurement or both? And what will Coupa need to do to integrate Exari since this acquisition is not some simple bolt-on, but rather, a core platform component? Finally, what is the impact of this acquisition on the S2P and CLM markets?

This Spend Matters PRO quick take analysis provides insight for Coupa customers and the broader market on specifically what the provider is acquiring. Unlike past acquisitions, we believe Exari represents the greatest stretch away from its core economic buyer (at least historically). Find out why.

For an introduction to Exari, we encourage you to read our Spend Matters PRO review: Introduction & Solution Overview, Strengths/Weakness and Market/Competitive Analysis.

SAP Ariba Sourcing: How It Compares Today and What’s Coming Tomorrow (Part 1: Benchmark Performance, Product Roadmap)

future

The strategic sourcing or e-sourcing technology market — we simply call it “Sourcing” in SolutionMap — has undergone significant transformation and bifurcation in recent years. On the one hand, disruption has come from simplicity and ease of use (e.g., Bonfire, Keelvar, Market Dojo, Scout RFP, etc.). And on the other hand, it has come from significant advances in functional capabilities in various areas (e.g., Coupa, GEP, Ivalua, Jaggaer, SynerTrade and Wax Digital, among others).

SAP Ariba, one of the stalwarts of the Sourcing world for over two decades (if you count the acquisition of FreeMarkets), remains a frequent competitor on a global basis today. But how does SAP Ariba compare to others in the market on a functional basis based on its current offering? And what is coming for SAP Ariba Sourcing tomorrow?

Part 1 of this Spend Matters PRO analysis provides insight into SAP’s relative strengths and weaknesses today (based on our Q1 2019 SolutionMap release) and shares what we learned from the SAP Ariba Live event this month on an overall roadmap basis. Part 2 will provide additional insight into the new SAP Ariba Sourcing user experience as well as analysis, commentary and customer recommendations based on SAP Ariba’s Sourcing roadmap overall.

SAP Fieldglass Takes Center Stage at SAP Ariba Live (Part 2) — Product Roadmap Insight + Procurement & HR Recommendations

At SAP Ariba Live last week, SAP Fieldglass played a key role not only on the main stage, but in over a dozen breakout sessions. From our research at the event, it is clear that SAP intends to bring these two offerings much closer together in the quarters and years to come.

This Spend Matters PRO brief provides insight into what we learned around the combined product roadmap, including the persona-driven approaches SAP Fieldglass and SAP Ariba are taking to integration scenarios.

Finally, we provide concrete recommendations to two stakeholder groups (Procurement and Human Capital Management executives) in terms of how they should think about the combination of SAP Ariba and SAP Fieldglass and the role they should take in selecting the best fit solutions for their current and emerging needs. 

Artificial Intelligence Meets Payables and Dynamic Discounting: Oracle Cloud Vendor Snapshot Update (Part 3)

In recent years, Oracle has transformed itself from the inside out, from a procurement solutions perspective, putting its full force behind building a suite of applications designed for the cloud — rather than behind the firewall.

It has reinforced this product development and go-to-market effort with strong incentives to existing customers to migrate from E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft and JD Edwards to its Cloud solutions line. And it has successfully been targeting new procurement customers — some of which do not have an Oracle back-end.

This Spend Matters PRO research brief provides a recap and summary of Oracle’s Cloud procurement applications, shares insight into roadmap direction for the suite and explores recent investments in artificial intelligence and other enabling technologies. Organizations wanting a primer on Oracle Procurement Cloud can read our Vendor Snapshot series: Background/Solution Overview, Strengths/Weaknesses and Summary, and Competitive Overview/Recommendations.

Artificial Intelligence Meets Payables and Dynamic Discounting: Oracle Cloud Vendor Snapshot Update (Part 2)

digital business transformation

With its new Intelligent Payment Discounts solution, Oracle is bridging the worlds of procurement and finance together in a unique way that unifies procurement, accounts payable and core financials.

In Part 1 of this research brief, we offered a detailed overview of this new, AI-based solution, providing an introduction to its different components for organizations that might consider it.

In today’s installment, we will conclude our analysis, exploring Oracle Intelligent Payment Discounts’ strengths and weaknesses related to other early payment solutions, either as an extension of invoice-to-pay or on a standalone trade-financing basis — and provide a user requirements checklist to help companies prioritize if the solution is the right fit for them.

Our analysis includes a perspective on the advantage that Oracle has in selling this solution compared to other early payment and financing solutions (e.g., C2FO, Prime Revenue, Taulia, etc.) and procure-to-pay/invoice-to-pay (e.g., Basware, Coupa, Ivalua, SAP Ariba, etc.) outside of feature/function capability alone based on its unified architecture with Oracle Cloud Financials. That is, for companies migrating, upgrading or switching to Oracle Cloud — not those on legacy E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft or JD Edwards solutions.

SAP Ariba Live (Part 1): SAP Fieldglass Integration, the Ariba Network and Other Topics & Analysis

Accenture

For the industry analysts in attendance, SAP Ariba Live 2019 kicked off Monday in Austin, Texas, with a candid Q&A session with Barry Padgett, president of SAP Ariba and SAP Fieldglass; Darren Koch, chief product officer of SAP Ariba; and Vish Baliga, chief technology officer of SAP Fieldglass. During the session, Padgett, Koch and Baliga shared the latest from SAP in terms of numbers growth and SAP Fieldglass’ integration into a common business unit with SAP Ariba, among other topics.

Many of these themes were echoed throughout the 100-plus breakout (and mainstage) sessions that took place Tuesday and Wednesday, including multiple sessions on the SAP Fieldglass integration as well as the Ariba network, among other topics.

This Spend Matters PRO live report provides insight into these updates from the public sessions and what’s driving them. It also includes an analysis and key takeaways from our first 24 hours at SAP Ariba Live. In subsequent briefs, we will explore these and other topics in more detail.

Artificial Intelligence Meets Payables and Dynamic Discounting: Oracle Cloud Vendor Snapshot Update (Part 1)

At the recent Oracle Modern Business Experience event, artificial intelligence figured prominently in many of the mainstage and breakout sessions. Not surprisingly, AI is working its way into Oracle’s procurement suite of cloud capabilities.

Oracle’s investments in AI are centered across several areas leveraging a range of underlying algorithmic approaches (e.g., semantic analysis, neural nets, deep learning, etc.) that individually or collectively serve to enable different business use cases centered on what Oracle calls pattern recognition, smart recognition and smart prediction.

Within its procurement suite of cloud solutions, Oracle has released two AI-driven applications: intelligent supplier categorization (think spend classification) and intelligent payment discounts.

This two-part Spend Matters PRO research brief provides an introduction to the intelligent payment discounting module. For an introduction to the Oracle Procurement Cloud, see our previous Vendor Snapshot coverage (Overview and Introduction, Strengths / Weaknesses and Recommendations/Competitive Alternatives) and Comparative SolutionMap ratings as part of SolutionMap for Q1 2019 for E-Procurement, Invoice-to-Pay and Procure-to-Pay.

Part 1 of this research brief provides a description of capabilities and review of the solution itself — what it does, how it works and how AI makes it effective. Part 2 explores the strengths and weaknesses of the solution and provides customer recommendations.

The Killer Procurement Technology Application: Stupid Simple

Like a lot of my colleagues on the analyst team at Azul Partners, I’m prone to overcomplicate things rather than take the easy way out. Big, hairy, audacious concepts (and technologies) fascinate me far more than what I’ve come to call the “Stupid Simple” ones. But it is this latter group that has far greater appeal in the mass markets and, from a technology purchasing and adoption standpoint, the Stupid Simples tend to be the rocket ships from an initial growth perspective. What do Stupid Simple concepts and companies have in common? I’ve created a running list.

Why ERP Does Not Suck Anymore for Procurement Technology*

It’s time to truly write off the ERP past with two of the top ERP providers.

SAP Ariba has doubled-down not only on core capability packaged approaches to accelerate adoption — and in the case of SAP Ariba, performs at the top of many of the SolutionMap functional rankings — but also next generation technology. For example, artificial intelligence to guide users down specific paths. Moreover, SAP Ariba is one of the top performing procurement technology suite vendors overall in SolutionMap.

And Oracle, with its investments in Cloud/Fusion, provides one of the best Deep-persona Procure-to-Pay (E-Procurement + Invoice-to-Pay) functional solutions in the market based on the latest SolutionMap benchmark — at least for companies also migrating their Oracle back-end to Cloud financials. Its platform-level investments in AI, blockchain and other areas are real — and are showing up in use cases that cascade across supply chain, finance and purchasing. The solution has capabilities for geeks and pragmatists alike.

After EcoVadis’ Sustain 2019: Product Strategy, Roadmap and Prospect/Customer Analysis (Part 3)

EcoVadis, which provides vendor ratings and scorecarding for sustainability and broader CSR metrics as a component of an integrated “many-to-many” supplier network and platform, has an aggressive product roadmap to expand how users interact with and leverage the supplier intelligence, which is at the very core of its value proposition.

Today, in this final installment in this Spend Matters’ PRO series based on our analysis from the EcoVadis Sustain 2019 customer event, we turn our attention to the future direction of where EcoVadis is expanding its capabilities. We also include customer/prospect recommendations.

In previous Spend Matters PRO coverage on EcoVadis, we offered a recap and update on the provider’s most recent capabilities and solution footprint — and an analysis of where EcoVadis fits in the broader supplier management and supply chain risk management landscape.

After EcoVadis’ Sustain 2019: How Its Offering Fits With Supplier Management, Risk Management Solutions (Part 2)

supply risk

Last week, I represented the Spend Matters analyst team at EcoVadis’ Sustain 2019 customer event in Paris. In between lessons on sustainable supply chains, vendor CSR ratings and French labor unions I never knew existed — thank goodness for British Airways when the Eurostar shuts down because a handful of customs workers at Gare du Nord decided to protest Brexit by striking — I had the chance to learn about the latest enhancements to the EcoVadis platform.

In Part 1 of this Spend Matters PRO research series, we shared some of the most recent capabilities that EcoVadis has embedded in its sustainability and ratings supplier management platform. Today, we turn our attention to explaining how EcoVadis fits in the broader supplier management and risk solutions landscape. (Hint: It is a complement to other solutions, but not a replacement for them, at least not yet.)

We will conclude our series with a look at the EcoVadis solutions roadmap and landscape in the coming weeks with specific recommendations on what it means for current and future customers who are likely to also make investments in adjacent solution areas and need to think about the architectural “fit” of all these components together. But to answer that question, we first need to explore where EcoVadis sits today in the broader supplier management and supply/supply chain risk management technology and solutions universe?

This Spend Matters PRO research brief provides insight into all of the components that comprise the supplier management and supplier/supply chain risk management sectors. It then attempts to place EcoVadis, a sustainability and CSR specialist in vendor ratings and management, in the context of these two highly complex solutions markets. Our analysis includes detailed functional and requirements for each of these solution types.

Oracle’s Modern Business Experience Event: What’s On Our Mind This Week

Spend Matters analyst Xavier Olivera and I are attending Oracle’s Modern Business Experience event this week in Las Vegas. Procurement is well represented as a component of supply chain, with over 30 breakout sessions and other activities catering to purchasing, supply management and spend management-related areas. In addition, there are numerous sessions on blockchain, the internet of things (IoT) and related subjects that overlap with procurement.

We’ll attempt to cover as much as we can from the event this week and next. But here are some questions that we have on our mind as the festivities kick into high gear: