Continuing my 2010 resolution to write more about the subset of solution providers that are making (and/or will make) the greatest impact within the Global 2000 I’ll pick up today’s conversation with another list of 10 solution providers to watch in 2010 – this time, I’ve turned my sights on accounts payable technology. ePayables, is the umbrella term I introduced in early 2007 (subscription required) to describe solutions that automate any aspect of the Accounts Payable process. I like the term because the ePayables landscape is a very diverse and complex and benefits from the use of a broad term – and, the name is catching on.

  1. Ariba – Ariba, a leader in spend/supply management has become a leader in ePayables, making it one of the very few solution providers that can support almost the entire source-to-settle process (payment/settlement can be facilitated but is not performed within its solution). Ariba has leveraged its Supplier Network and a host of supply chain finance capabilities and partners to build a robust ecosystem conducive to accounts payable automation and take a big role in this market.
  2. Basware – Basware, one of the other few solution providers that can support almost the entire source-to-settle process, has a large customer base with strong roots in Northern Europe. Basware’s plan is to focus more intently on the US in 2010 and build on the strong foundation it has established in Europe including Germany and the UK. They focus on the CFO and the CPO and the intersection of their departments (a key area of my research and personal interest) and have grown to become one of the largest and most established ePayables solution providers in the world.
  3. Bottomline Technologies Bottomline Technologies offers a wide-range of solutions that enables it to serve more than 9,000 customers. In the payables realm, Bottomline specializes in delivering solutions that enable payment and settlement of an invoice and more recently has developed solutions that manage the initial parts of the accounts payable process.  Its primary payables business (payment/settlement) received a huge boost when it acquired Bank of America’s PayMode network last September. I’ll revisit another time why this deal makes sense for Bank of America, but many, myself included, see this acquisition taking Bottomline to the next level in the electronic payments space. I am delivering a webinar on February 23 to discuss this opportunity and electronic payments in more detail. I will post a registration link when it becomes available.
  4. Brainware – Brainware’s Distiller product attacks the first piece of the accounts payable puzzle (invoice receipt) with its OCR (optical character recognition) and ”intelligent data capture” capabilities which convert scanned invoices into a usable electronic format. As I discussed in a report which can be accessed here (free with registration), the solution was a great fit for Mayo Clinic’s A/P team that deals with a percentage of non-PO invoices. Brainware may also have an opportunity to replace other OCR solutions that are currently embedded as a private-label within some larger players in the space.
  5. Direct Insite – Direct Insite, is a small, yet longstanding-player in financial value chain and offers its SaaS solutions to address accounts receivable and e-payables processing. DI has several notably large and progressive A/P departments that provide validation for its consideration and have helped it begin to build a bigger presence in the industry.
  6. Kofax – Kofax’ acquisition of 170 Systems in September 2009 rivals Marlin Equity’s acquisition of Emptoris as 2009’s “best buy” of a company in the global supply management space (based on revenue multiples and potential upside). 170 Systems’ workflow solutions, as well as its geographic focus, are complementary to Swiss-founded Kofax’ capture solutions. Once the solutions are integrated into a single invoice receipt and workflow offering (expected in Q1 2010), Kofax will have stronger footing against traditional competitors and a near-term opportunity to up-sell into its customer base. I am presenting at this Kofax webinar next month.
  7. Metafile – Metafile and its Metaviewer solution is one of the best-kept secrets in the ePayables space and has experienced solid growth in recent years based upon its traction in the healthcare, manufacturing, and public sectors. I expect the team to build on its success in these segments and expand into other targeted markets in 2010.
  8. SciQuest, Puridiom, and Verian Technologies – Okay, so I am cheating here by listing three companies that have been longstanding and successful (if not large) eProcurement providers. In recent years, each has developed a payables solution to become a full-fledged P2P provider. I am sitting on a panel at SciQuest’s NextLevel conference in two weeks and will report more on SciQuest then. A discussion about Puridiom will follow in a few days when it makes another visit on another “10 for 2010” list.
  9. SunGard – SunGard may be better known for its public sector and higher education solutions but it has acquired its way into becoming a real financial solutions powerhouse. Like Bottomline above, SunGard’s ePayables strength has been its focus on payment and settlement solutions and an ability to cover the last mile of the source-to-settle process, but it has over time built up a much broader set of capabilities to manage the earlier parts of the accounts payable process. SunGard’s positioning gives promise to strong growth and make it an attractive potential partner for other ePayables providers who lack a payments solution.
  10. US Bank PowerTrack – Very few large financial institutions are adept at selling technology solutions to the enterprise. PowerTrack is an exception. Their B2B payments network can have a broad application but it has been their focus on complex categories such as utilities, transportation, and telecom that have driven its success to date. Syncada, their revamped payments network launched last summer in association with Visa, seeks to become a (possibly the) standard payment platform by lining up other financial institutions use Syncada as the platform behind their own integrated invoice-processing and related financial services. This is no small aspiration.

I believe that the source-to-settle process should be managed as a single holistic process and what happens in accounts payable shouldn’t have to stay in accounts payable. The CPO should be aligned with A/P, so I will continue to look at accounts payable and its relationship with procurement on the pages of CPO Rising.

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