Last Thursday, the 30 NBA teams spent an evening drafting the top college and international prospects in the world of basketball. Teams draft in reverse order of how they finished the preceding year, so losing teams that draft wisely have a chance to quickly turn their teams around. Drafting the right player can potentially impact a team’s fortunes for a decade or more. Likewise, making the wrong selection can keep a team down for many years. When left to their own devices, the NBA executives prove year after year that the NBA draft is a crapshoot, for every “no-brainer” first round selection like Tim Duncan or LeBron James (who both went #1 overall and have seven championship rings and 24 All-Star appearances between them), there’s a Greg Oden or Kwame Brown (who both went #1 overall and will never make an all-star team or play an important role on a championship team). Even the so-called “draft experts” frequently get it wrong, typically because they work at the big industry shops which means that their analysis is forced to address the least-common denominator elements in a market. This results in research that by design and intent is very broad, very general, and absolutely unable to consider any nuance or specific team needs or budgetary requirements (this is a common, perhaps universal, problem when cookie cutter analysis is applied to nuanced areas or topics like investment decisions, cars, and enterprise technology).
In many ways, selecting the right supply management solution(s) is like the NBA Draft. There are published reports and there are experts and there is coverage of the market (As our loyal readers know, Ardent Partners does all three of these things and we believe we compare favorably to others both large and small in the market). And, just like the NBA draft, decisions are high-profile and have a lasting impact – selecting the right solution can drive a multi-year transformation, just as selecting the wrong solution can drive a procurement or P2P team directly into a ditch and cause a few heads to roll.
This brings us to our first annual CPO Rising Hot Tech Prospect list where we introduce and analyze the hot new prospects in the supply management technology market for 2014. Before we begin, let’s answer the big question – What’s the criteria for selecting a new prospect? [Sidebar: please feel free to direct any additional questions to me or editor@] First, the emphasis here is on “new” when we use the term prospect; as such, established providers who have been successfully selling their solutions for years are not eligible (they were drafted years ago and are seasoned veterans if we are to continue the NBA analogy). Second, like the top picks in this year’s NBA draft, the members of our “CPO Rising Class of 2014” have had their early successes and are now ready for the big leagues (literally). The solutions provided by each Class of 2014 member vary, but what unifies them is that, over the past 12-18 months, each has arrived or graduated fully into the competitive supply management enterprise technology market (Note: There is context in the evaluation as our analyst team has been following each of these providers since their earliest days). What also unifies this year’s draft class is that we believe that each prospect is worthy of your consideration when you run your next supply management tech RFPs and select your supply management solutions. Ladies and gentlemen, your CPO Rising Hot Tech Prospect: Class of 2014.
CPO Rising Hot Tech Prospect (2014) – Ivalua
Prospect “Bio”: Founded in Paris in 2000, Ivalua is a provider of a supply management solution suite that includes Purchasing Intelligence (or Spend Analysis), eSourcing, Contracts & Catalogs, Expense Reports, Supplier Information Management, and a set of Procure-to-Pay (eProcurement and eInvoicing) solutions. Ivalua offers its solutions installed or in the cloud and has seen big growth in its cloud business the past two years. Ivalua reports that it has 120 customers and 116 employees with offices in France, the U.S., Germany, Italy, and Canada.
Ardent Partners’ Analysis: Just as every NBA draft has a few established international stars selected in the first round, Ivalua is the international representative in this year’s class. Ivalua has proven itself and its mature suite with many large, complex deployments at huge multinationals like EDF, Orange, Valeo, and Thales (all huge corporations that are not particularly well known in the U.S.). Ivalua’s strength lies in its “downstream” solutions particularly its eProcurement offering; but after what appears to be a new, recent strategy taken with its strategic sourcing (or “upstream”) solutions, Ivalua has become much more competitive in “full suite” deals. After a decade plus of success in France and Europe, Ivalua decided to enter the U.S. market several years ago. It took a few years, but IValua hit its stride in North America in 2013 with highly-competitive wins at Fannie Mae and Select Medical Corp as well as deals at Whirlpool, AIMCO, and with several public agencies in Canada. Ivalua is on a winning streak that it believes can extend well beyond 2014. We agree and welcome them as the first member of CPO Rising’s Hot Tech Prospect Class of 2014.