Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of attending iValua’s biennial user conference, “iValua: On Air” in Paris. Now in its 13th year, iValua is a French-based solution provider with a full source-to-pay suite with some very interesing prospects in the market and a great chance to really take off in 2014. In fact, iValua is at or near the top of our list of our solution providers to watch in 2014.
Lights, Camera, Action….. and iValua was ready to put on a show. To start, the venue and the setting were sublime (Disclosure: I have a huge soft spot for Paris) and the level of production was quite impressive and MC’d by host extraordinaire and iValua CMO, Gérard Dahan. Gérard, who I’ve known for many years, deserves special mention for keeping the show lively and upbeat and for basically putting the entire conference on his back. I’ve never seen a host do so much during the course of an event and balance it with such grace, good spirits, and humor (and perhaps to remind us that he is an industry ‘rock star,’ I counted no fewer than four different changes in dress for Gérard during the show).
The day was quite a whirlwind for the audience and included great product update information, market research, skits, best practices, and client case studies. The show also had a strong injection of humor and there were several interactive quizzes and contests to keep the audience fully engaged.
Gérard began the show by re-introducing iValua to the audience. Gérard noted that iValua now has 120 clients located in 20 countries. iValua also has 97 employees and expects 2013 revenues to grow to more than 13 million euros. He also noted that growth in 2013 will be more than 50%, with the US and German regions growing fastest for the company. Our US-based readers will recognize the names of iValua’s new US customer wins and all readers will recognize the names of iValua’s oldest and largest customers (basically every big French conglomerate including Michelin, Valeo, and Covea).
That set the stage figuratively and literally for iValua’s founder and CEO, David Khuat-Duy to come out and present a detailed discussion of the main enhancements of the new product suite, iValua Buyer 8, which was recently released. What was clear from the presentation is that despite not being a household name, iValua has invested significantly over years to developing a comprehensive suite. David says that iValua delivers one major release every two years and a minor release every 8 months. David also noted that Buyer 8 included more than 800 enhancements with a higher-level emphasis on maintaining a full suite mentality, keeping the suite on a single code line (which is rare in our industry), and emphasizing ease of use, scalability, and configurability across the suite David then walked us through the different areas that emphasized purchasing intelligence, eSourcing, contracts and catalogs, Procure-to-Pay, and SRM. I won’t drill down into the weeds of this presentation but rather will summarize it by saying that iValua offers a very broad solution suite and that the enhancements are typical of those found in the mature products in this space. I was impressed by the comprehensive approach that David and his staff have taken to this release.
Humor played a big role at the event as iValua used each transition between presentations to introduce a series of self-produced skits that mixed video and live stage performances of iValua staff pretending to work for the fictitious company, Viva Print. Each skit began with a challenge caused by a lack of automation that was ultimately solved by the deployment of a specific iValua product. The skits were a fun and creative way to introduce the audience (that included prospects and customers who could expand their current footprints) to the different modules in the suite and the core value that companies derive from the use of a specific iValua module by play-acting real world scenarios.
iValua’s large customers had a nice showing at the event, delivering interesting case studies (including Whirlpool which we’ll discuss in an article next week) or sitting in on roundtable discussions or being interviewed by the event host. From my perspective, it was a great reminder that while iValua’s customers are predominantly French, they are also some of the largest and most complex companies in the world. There’s a saying in our industry that many US-based providers in the space have not done well in France because French procurement people only like to buy from other French people. I think that may be oversimplifying it and I’d say that it may be just as likely that French procurement people only like to buy high quality solutions from other French people.
I believe that iValua’s event this week indicates that this company is poised and equipped to move to the next level in this market and that it will come to symbolize a significant point in the company’s maturity where it begins to fully transition to becoming a global competitor for modular and suite deals in procurement and supply management. We will certainly be watching.