the doctor Takes His Turn With the (Supply Management) Magic 8-Ball – Part II

As I said yesterday, everywhere you look, someone is summarizing the best of 2007 or making their predictions about the forthcoming year on a technology-by-technology or vendor-by-vendor basis. However, since the nature of futurism is that it’s virtually impossible to get the micro-level details correct, I’m instead asking the Magic 8-Ball what’s in store for a dozen vendors in the year ahead. I’ll continue to indicate whether or not I agree, but remind you that these will just be the doctor‘s best guesses. The only true way to see what the future holds is to wait for it to be revealed.

Question: Is this the year Enporion breaks out of the utility space with their e-Procurement offering?
 8-ball : As I see it, yes
Question: Will they get more than a handful of new customers outside of the utility space?
 8-ball : Ask again later
Question: Is this the year Enporion innovates a new solution that will finally grab them some attention?
 8-ball : Signs point to yes

I think, desperate for a solution that has actually been developed or improved upon in the past year, those companies not ready to adopt an open source solution like Coupa but that still want a new e-Procurement solution will finally take a closer look at Enporion. However, they have a history of being associated with the utility space, so unless they make a concerted, focussed effort to show that they have expanded beyond that space, it could take a while before potential customers see them as a general purpose procurement provider. As for innovation – this could be their year. They’ve been developing all their solutions in house for years, have adopted a process-driven visual model development platform solution that allows for rapid application development (once the platform is sufficiently mastered), and they have been working with some pretty big customers to try and develop fresh new applications. They’re definitely another company to add to the watch list.

Question: Is this the year i2 breaks back into the sourcing scene?
 8-ball : Reply hazy, try again
Question: Is there new AGILE platform strategy a good move?
 8-ball : Most likely

The fate of i2 is another toughie. We’re certainly well beyond the point where any company is going to spend millions of dollars on a multi-year engagement on the promise of a big payoff in the future when they’re hemorrhaging cash today. Thus, an AGILE strategy where a company can start small on a six figure budget to attack their biggest problems first is certainly going to make i2 more attractive to the marketplace. Plus, even though i2 can’t make them public (or at least can’t make them public, yet), I know they’ve gotten a couple of big wins under their belt in the past year and that they’re definitely ready to play in the manufacturing and industrial sectors.

Question: Now that Ariba has taken out Procuri, is this Iasta’s year to shine?
 8-ball : It is decidedly so
Question: Will Iasta continue to develop new offerings, as they did this year with Strategic Sourcing Decision Optimization?
 8-ball : Without a Doubt
Question: Will they become a serious competitor to Ariba and Emptoris?
 8-ball : Better not tell you now

Iasta has been essentially doubling its customer base and revenues for six years, offering new functionality every year since its inception, and has recently advanced beyond just being another suite vendor to a suite vendor with innovative best of breed offerings in two key areas – spend analysis and decision optimization. Plus, rumor has it they are tackling even harder problems in their efforts to become a truly innovative player in the space.
Question: Will get the growth they’re seeking in 2008?
 8-ball : Concentrate and ask again
Question: Will the Sourcing Parts Acquisition Pay off this year?
 8-ball : Most likely
Question: Will they breakout among companies looking to improve their China sourcing operations?
 8-ball : As I see it, yes

Let’s face it – new supplier discovery is hard, but a trustworthy service that has detailed information on potential suppliers along with buyer ratings can make it easier. This alone should insure that continues to grow. As for whether or not any new innovations from will help them, that’s a good question. Even though its free for buyers, there’s a big difference between a basic free sourcing solution and a best-of-breed enterprise solution. Although the free tools may help smaller companies, its likely that they won’t be enough for larger buyers.

Question: Will they ever get Fusion, now delayed until 2009, working?
 8-ball : Outlook not so good
Question: Will they have a competitive sourcing / procurement offering in the next two years?
 8-ball : Don’t count on it

I think the magic 8-ball is pretty close here. I don’t think they’ll have a competitive sourcing or procurement application this decade, but given the resources at their disposal, there’s a good chance they’ll eventually get Fusion working. I just wouldn’t count on it – and I definitely wouldn’t buy on promises alone.

Question: Will SAP pull it together this year?
 8-ball : Very doubtful
Question: Before the decade is over?
 8-ball : Cannot predict now
Question: Will they at least put some effort into updating and maintaining Frictionless until they pull SAP SRM together?
 8-ball : My sources say no.

The magic 8-ball might be on a streak here. SAP is another slow moving behemoth that is not likely to turn on a dime, or even the large hadron collider. It will likely be quite a while before they have a best of breed solution.

Question: Is the Vinimaya Network the future of Supplier Networks?
 8-ball : It is decidedly so
Question: Is this the year they breakout?
 8-ball : Reply hazy, try again

Vinimaya is a very innovative and progressive solution when compared to many of the other supplier networks out there. As such, they face the same issues BIQ is facing – a market that might not be ready to accept that there might be much better solutions than the solutions they are using today and give Vinimaya an honest evaluation. However, when the time comes that the majority of the market is ready to accept a next generation supplier network, it’s very likely that Vinimaya will be a major player.