Some of you might say the e-Sourcing space is too crowded. And that certainly was the case in the mid-zeroes — platforms here, platforms there, platforms platforms everywhere. But then came the acquisition frenzy where mid-sized players swallowed smaller players and start-ups before getting swallowed up in turn by the dominant players who, in the last couple of years, themselves were swallowed up by the massive enterprise software providers. As a result, there is an opportunity, especially in the NA (North American) market for a couple of new players – provided, of course, that such players bring new and innovative solutions to the table (that address the needs of a considerable market segment).
As a result, even though the EU (European Union) vendors are starting to enter the sourcing market in a big(ger) way in NA, there is still an opportunity for someone new if they go about it the right way. So, despite the fact that many thought the market almost dead at the end of the zeroes, it was not completely crazy that a small team of e-Sourcing market veterans, including Mr. Alan Buxton who was the CTO of of Trading Partners back in their heyday, decided in 2011 to start a brand new e-Sourcing software start-up and build a new solution from scratch.
Two years later, MarketMaker4 is a strong offering for the mid-market that needs a new, modern, e-Sourcing solution. In particular, those mid-market companies that are late to the e-Sourcing game, those that are still relying on third parties to manage their sourcing events and are ready to bring those events in house, those that are trying to use ERP sourcing solutions, and those stuck on platforms that, due to acquisition, are stuck in integration limbo and haven’t been upgraded in a while.
So what is MarketMaker4? It’s a four-part sourcing solution that consists of:
- A modern e-Negotiation platform
with a best of breed e-Auction and RFX solution
- with a built in supplier discovery engine
built on the entire D&B database which is augmented with your own supplier database
- and market data indices that span commodities and currencies
that let a buyer know current prices, historical trends, and relative market conditions (when the data is available)
- that is augmented with real-time product and sourcing support 24/7/365
through online chat that connects all of the global support representatives around the world that are currently online.
The MarketMaker4 founders, who were involved in the space for over a decade and who worked for both software providers and services providers learned the following:
- While some companies will start with services to get going, these companies will eventually decide that pay per drink is expensive and look for software.
- The companies switching from services to software will typically select a best-of-breed software provider with little or no services or support beyond the product. As a result, due to limited sourcing and product knowledge on the in-house buying team, the product typically gets under-utilized and the company fails to achieve the ROI they expected.
- When the license expires, the company will typically revert back to a pay-per-drink, but limited to high-value categories, or put its faith in a good e-Procurement system, that will reduce maverick buying and, hopefully, with limited RFX capability, lead to better buying habits.
- But even if the company moves to a modern e-Procurement system, the company will typically have little insight into current prices or suppliers that they aren’t already buying from.
As a result, the team decided what was really needed for these types of companies was:
- An e-Sourcing solution that was easy to use by the average buyer,
- augmented with real-time support and guidance as new buyers get up to speed,
- integrated with market index and currency index data (that could be linked into cost models), displayed in easy to understand graphical representations, that the buyer could use to understand current prices and likely trends, and
- extended with a huge database of potential suppliers.
And that’s what they built. And in each component, they added some innovation to the mix.
- The e-Auction product, which consumerizes the enterprise capability, is one of the most powerful on the market, with one of the most sophisticated, but yet easy to understand at a glance, interfaces out there.
- While chat-based, they chose to build a support solution that connects all of their services and support personnel around the world who are currently available rather than use a call-center model. (And as they were just acquired by Xchanging, one of the big players in the Procurement market who are leaving MarketMaker4 as a stand-alone product and company, they now have a large network of support personnel around the world who speak multiple languages and can support their customers in their native language.)
- Their market index solution is linked into the RFX/Auction module so that the buyer can see current component / raw material prices if there is a market index and can see current currency values as well as trends over the last year for every currency a supplier might bid in.
- And they were the first e-Sourcing platform to integrate with D&B for the purposes of supplier discovery. Up until they did, most integrations were for risk data or data enrichment. As a result of their partnership and early efforts, they have one of the more powerful integrations and in addition to being able to search on name, location, etc. they can also filter on a variety of dimensions, including risk, size, diversity, etc. that even D&B can not filter on through their API.
MarketMaker4‘s e-Auction product and supplier discovery products in particular are quite innovative, and SI will dive into them in more detail in the new year.