A Conversation with Ketera

When I was down in the valley, I made a point to visit Santa Clara to catch up with Ketera, who recently announced their next generation spend analysis solution, which I’m not going to spend too much time talking about (even though they are getting a good reception and a lot of customers because of it).

I did get a chance to see it recently, and it’s quite good. It’s not the absolute best in any regard (automatic classification, reporting, flexibility, etc.), but the overall solution puts it in the short stack of solutions you should definately be including in your review process. They have a two-tier classifier, which starts off with what they call a high-confidence classifier (which, you guessed it, is based on the old GL Codes, Vendors, GL Codes and Vendors mapping) and a trio of lower-level lower confidence classifiers (that use various rules and external sources) to try and collectively get a high confidence match. Failing that, they have manual classification and a rules engine to automate the match in the future. They also have a tierd knowledge base: global, industry, and organization to allow for multi-level rules and classification. Their reporting solution is now based on MicroStrategy, which, besides giving you standard best of breed reports, allows a user to fairly easily build basic BI reports and drill down within current reports. And it’s on-demand. (So, in recap, they potentially have one of the best classifiers, one of the better reporting front-ends from a usability perspective, and it’s on-demand.)

My interest, and the focus of my California conversation was what they were doing with their e-Procurement, Invoice Management, and what they are doing to enable the Procure-to-Pay (P2P) cycle; their recent partnership agreement with Hyperion (which was just acquired by Oracle) and their progress towards delivering operational Business Intelligence capabilities; and their supplier enablement (and catalog hosting) services and solutions.

At the moment, their procurement solution is one of the better enterprise solutions out there – it’s usable and it interfaces with their Invoice Management Solution and Supplier Management Portal. They have a two-level checkout process, basic and advanced, since most organizational users will use the system ony once a month and need a simple solution, and they have integrated document management. Furthermore, a future release will include Hyperion reporting.

My rationale for this interest is that it appears that there are significantly fewer general-purpose e-Procurement solutions than general-purpose strategic sourcing solutions (even though there are a lot of niche offerings, especially in the Software-as-a-Service arena); even though there are a lot of Business Intelligence solutions and a lot of dashboard solutions, not many attempt to tie together operational metrics with their financial impacts; and even though there are a growing number of supplier management and supplier information management solution, not many support the quick enablement of a large number of suppliers and I wanted to know how close Ketera had come to achieving each of these goals. That’s why I was glad to hear that they were working on tieing in their invoice management and procurement solutions with their contract management solutions, that they were working on Hyperion integration, and that they have a few other surprises for the year ahead. After all, once you have this, you just add better integration with spend analysis, and you have a great start at an integrated procurement and sourcing application that would be a great solution for many underserviced mid-market firms.