Are BoB’s Days Numbered?

Today Jaggaer, formerly SciQuest, announced their merger with Pool4Tool, the world leader in direct (materials) sourcing (procurement) with the most extensive direct procurement suite and one of the largest manufacturer client bases in the Supply Management world. Hot on the heels of Coupa’s recent acquisitions of Spend 360 and Trade Extensions, Jaggaer appears to have rekindled the old SciQuest motto of buy it, don’t build it (as they acquired AECsoft for Supplier Information Management, Upside Software for Contract Management, Spend Radar for Spend Analysis, and CombineNet for advanced sourcing and decision optimization) as they haven’t really built anything new since they built their basic e-Procurement solution (originally for the Government and Education Sectors) last decade. Add the BravoSolution acquisition of Puridiom, the acquisitions of b-pack and Iasta by Selectica in the creation of Determine, and we are now in the situation where 6 of the top 9 Source-to-Pay providers got where they were through (multiple) acquisitions. [The big 9 Source-to-Pay providers that were invited to SpendMatters upcoming Strategic Sourcing Solution Maps are SAP Ariba, BravoSolution, Coupa (Trade Extensions), Determine, GEP, iValua, Jaggaer (Pool4Tool), Synertrade, and Zycus. All but Ivalua, Synertrade, and Zycus have acquired major BoB players as part of their growth.]

The BoB pool is shrinking rapidly. [Only 6 BoB providers were deemed critical enough for the first round of the SpendMatters Sourcing Solution Maps: Bonfire, EC Sourcing, Keelvar, Market Dojo, ScanMarket, and ScoutRFP. ScanMarket is already being used by Basware as their Sourcing portal and will likely be acquired in days to come, ScoutRFP is backed by VCs looking for a big exit, and Keelvar is the last BoB optimization-backed sourcing platform on the market. This list could shrink by half within a year.] This begs the obvious question, are BoB’s days numbered?

Let’s start by asking why are BoB providers being gobbled up like thanksgiving turkeys in meat-loving America? The answer lies in the fact that many older executives still believe that you can’t go wrong buying IBM, which, today, translates into you can’t go wrong buying from the biggest company in the space. So now all the big companies are trying to get bigger so that not only can they be the biggest game on the block, but also be big enough to not be crossed off the list as too risky. It won’t be long before any big procurement company wanting to be a big source-to-pay company merges or acquires the above (and any of the best-of-breed sourcing wanting to be a best-of-breed source-to-pay does the same).

It won’t be long before only a handful of BoB providers among the ones listed (and among the BoB invited to the initial SpendMatters e-Procurement Solution Maps) remain. But does this mean it’s the end for BoB?

Not necessarily. While larger mid-size and large enterprises will continue their quest for one-stop-shop solutions, mid-size enterprises will not be able to afford the increasingly large price-tags that these end-to-end suites (with all their bells and whistles) come with. As a result, while the current class of BoB providers will continue to shrink over the next year or so (as the M&A cycle peaks again), a new slate of best of breed providers will crop up to serve the mid-market, which is still a bit of a blue ocean as 40% of these companies still don’t have a solution at all!

So while it looks like BoBs days are numbered, BoB will rise again. (And then, a few years later, the M&A cycle will begin anew.)

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