Daily Archives: March 26, 2014

MarketMaker4: A Great Foundation for Successful Sourcing in the Mid-Market

Our last post in our four-part series that posed the question as to what the key ingredients to a successful e-Sourcing strategy are ended with an introduction to Market Making and MarketMaker4, one of the newest arrivals to the e-Sourcing party. However, unlike a number of vendors that sprung up during the latter half of the last decade, their solution is more than another me-too sourcing platform with modules and features almost indistinguishable from the platform that came before.

MarketMaker4’s new and distinct platform is buit around 4-key solution elements:

  1. State-of-the-Art e-Sourcing Platform,
  2. Integrated Company Intelligence,
  3. Integrated Market Insights, and
  4. Market Making.

This is because MarketMaker4 believes that all of these components are vital to a successful sourcing event, and it is not alone in this belief. Despite the fact that the solution was only launched a few years ago, MarketMaker4 already has over 75 global clients! Not bad for a new e-Sourcing start-up that was bootstrapped by its founders until it was acquired by Xchanging last year, which, realizing its significant potential, intends to keep MarketMaker4 as a standalone holding.

MarketMaker4’s modern e-Sourcing Platform is focussed on e-Negotiation support and the core functionality is e-RFx, e-Auction, and Reporting, with all of the standard features you’d expect from such a platform plus a few enhancements compared to the base platforms of the noughts. The most significant of these are the matrix-style bidding, which allow bids to be placed across three dimensions (such as lot, item, and [ship-to] location) and analyzed across different metrics (best price, best price by lot, best total price, best total price by lot, best weighted price, best weighted price by lot, etc.), and the custom weighting formulas that allow a sourcing manager to create custom rankings that can take all elements of a supplier’s bid into account — base cost, transportation, turn-around times, etc. — and all elements of a buyer’s assessment — quality, reliability, brand value, etc. — into account when calculating a total cost of ownership or bid ranking, by item, lot, or auction.

The platform is easy to use and integrates wizard-like walk-throughs for setting up new events. If a user is setting up a (reverse) auction, it walks the user through general settings, matrix design, uploading file attachments, design of the pre-event RFI, initial supplier identification, bid invite creation, and event launch. Progress indicators are included on each step (so a user knows how much is left to do), and all settings are defaulted whenever possible — allowing small events to be setup in minutes. When designing an auction, users have full control over the time and time extension rules, post negotiation override settings, minimim bid increments, ceilings and floors, bid notifications, the matrix view, displayed graphs, and the amount of competitor information displayed (and whether or not it is masked). Creation time can be streamlined by starting with one of the built in auction topics for common categories or by copying an existing event (for a similar category or the same category the last time the event was run).

The integrated company intelligence, which builds on a D&B license for detailed company intelligence through the MarketMaker4 tool (and which will soon be augmented with additional data from Lexis Nexis), allows a company to search for new suppliers in the MM4 database that could meet their category and product needs and then view detailed data that includes company data, financial data, key employees / managers, and contact information. It’s like a supplier network on steroids, as not only do you have a large list of suppliers, but you have aggregated, researched, third-party data on the suppliers, which even includes corporate citizenship ratings (for the sustainability-focussed). It’s easy to use, and allows you to do competitor searches on any company, which makes it really quick to find potential sources of alternate supply to invite to a sourcing event.

The integrated market intelligence is a combination of market intelligence (like you would get from a Mintec or Denali subscription) augmented with category briefs, a currency heat map (that lets you quickly identify the relative strengths of different currencies and trends, as historical currency data is tracked by MM4), and market indicators. The commodity indices cover North American, South American, Western European, Middle Eastern, and Asian marketplaces and more are being added this year.

And, finally, as introduced in our last post in our four-part series that posed the question as to what the key ingredients to a successful e-Sourcing strategy, Market Making is 24/5 project support from an experienced sourcing professional who is an expert in the platform, and the sourcing process it supports, and who is always a quick chat or call away. These professionals, based in North America, Europe, and Asia, are always there and always able to help you in one of the thirteen*1 (13) languages that MarketMaker4 supports.* Furthermore, since an online negotiation tool is useless if suppliers don’t use it, your suppliers also have access to full MarketMaker4 support — at no charge — in addition to bidder training sessions and monthly seminars.

MarketMaker4, which started with a belief that it’s not just what to source, but who to source from (Company Intelligence), when to source it (Market Intelligence), and how to get it right (Market Making), held on to that belief until they built a solution that realized their vision of what modern e-Sourcing should be. And it works. Their customers’ average savings is north of 10%, even without decision optimization (which demonstrates the power of integrated and properly applied market insight) and their average number of e-Sourcing projects is more than three times what it was before their acquisition of MarketMaker4). MarketMaker4 is another great option in what was becoming a dwindling e-Sourcing marketplace with all of the recent solution provider acquisitions.

*1 MarketMaker4 currently supports English, Mandarin, Portuguese, Spanish, French, German, Japanese, Vietnamese, Italian, Polish, Russian, Turkish, and Korean. In addition, because the platform is a modern platform that supports the full Unicode character set, new languages can be added quickly.

*2 While MarketMaker is able to offer support in each of the 13 languages it supports in the product, not all languages are supported 24/5. 24/5 support is only available for English and any language specified in your solution contract.