Is it the case that Spend Matters Most?

As per my Noteworthy last week, Iasta is about to release it’s new Spend Analysis platform SmartAnalytics, Emptoris, building on it’s acquisitions of Zeborg and diCarta, just released the new version of its enterprise suite with its new and improved Spend Analysis Solution, and earlier this year Procuri consumed TrueSource to offer TotalAnalytics – and Zycus is gaining ground everyday. It looks like the time has finally come for the big spend analysis vendors. And none too soon. After all, how can you identify your ripest targets for strategic sourcing without understanding your spend? And as Jason points out over on spend matters, spend visibility and analytics applications can become an invaluable solution for tactical everyday procurement activities as well as areas that are truly strategic on the board level. It’s definitely a growth area for the eSourcing vendors – especially the on-demand ones.

But is it ready for prime-time? Not only are some of these offerings new and relatively unproven in the field, but they also require a level of sophistication well beyond your simple RFXs and reverse auctions that are still the mainstay of many eSourcing users. And I know there are still many individuals that believe a centralized ERP will give you the spend visibility you need to do proper spend analysis – which is not the case, and you should check out Tim’s response in the comments to Jason’s post for a real world example as to why.

In most cases, I know the solutions are there. Zycus is one of the only remaining pure players and has a very attractive offering based on its success stories alone. Zycus has amassed numerous wins over its seven year history and Procuri has successfully integrated TotalAnalytics to amass some success stories of their own. As noted in Spend Matters, Consider the case of a pharmaceutical company — who will go unnamed — which has used TotalAnalytics to help quantify and accelerate procurement cost savings synergies in three multi-billion dollar acquisitions. This company has used the solution’s capabilities to define and track over 60 category management programs, enabling them to leverage spend and rationalize suppliers across acquired and existing divisions. This leaves us with Emptoris and Iasta.

Iasta‘s solution makes the cut since they based it on one of the most powerful on-demand spend analysis engines available, integrated it into their platform, and extended the out of the box reporting capabilities available. I’ll have more to say after the formal release, which is forthcoming in the very near future.

Emptoris has also had some big wins, and has had their eSourcing suite with their initial spend analysis solution ranked #1 by Forrester in Q4 of 2005. So they are definitely a real player, but I’m a little concerned if their new solution is ready for prime time from a usability perspective. It is probably the most aggressive spend analysis offering on the marketplace today, with a new Spend Data Classifier, a new Real Time Spend Classifier, new import / export facilities, and a slew of add-ons for government watch list, credit score, and diversity rating integration, among other features. Now I know that Emptoris knows their stuff, it’s a challenge to find a question on an Emptoris product or capability that Kevin (Potts) cannot answer and Avner (Schneur) is absolutely correct when he says that with accurate and granular spend visibility, companies can gain greater control over and impact on their bottom line through improved sourcing and supply and contract management – and they have already delivered significant results. But when your average eSourcing user is still daunted by basic spend classification and decision optimization (just look at the recent Purchasing Survey), I wonder if they are going to be able to digest Emptoris’ new offering, especially considering Emptoris is still a traditional installed behind-the-firewall application where you only get maximum value from maximum deployment? I know it looks great in a power point presentation, but it can be hard to hide that much underlying complexity. If you’ve seen it in action, used it, or have your own take, please feel free to leave a comment. If you want more on the release, here is what Purchasing and S&DC Executive had to say.