“E-sourcing” emerged as a term in the 1990s as Freemarket and others developed solutions to enable organizations to negotiate online. The problem now is that sourcing, and especially strategic sourcing, encompasses more than what the traditional e-sourcing solutions supported. We are therefore introducing the term “e-sourcing execution” solutions that in our opinion more accurately reflects what these solutions do: support the tactical execution of sourcing. E-sourcing as a broader term can then be divided into the previously mentioned e-sourcing execution solutions but also “e-sourcing strategy” solutions. In the e-sourcing strategy solutions category, we include offerings for market analysis, opportunity identification, strategy formulation and category management.
The first sourcing and reverse auction solutions came to market all the way back in the 1990s. Since then many of the pioneers have disappeared, most through mergers and acquisitions, but some are still around, and a couple have even played the role of market consolidator. But more importantly there has been a flow of new vendors entering the market with slightly different approaches and views on how to improve adoption and performance over the years.
The scope of the solutions also has increased, and it’s almost impossible to find a vendor that supports only eRFX’s and reverse auctions today. Nearly everyone has added some supplier management and/or contract management capabilities. In many cases, these adjacent capabilities are basic, but as clients mature, they start looking for more functionality and the vendors have to evolve to meet new requirements.
This has resulted in a complex but highly competitive market with a mix of suite vendors and more specialized vendors — as well as experienced vendors alongside newer entrants focused on higher levels of automation through the use of advanced analytics and AI/machine learning technologies.
In this three-part Spend Matters PRO series, we will present our view of the competitors in the e-sourcing execution solution market in 2020 and define expected functionality and key trends, as well as listing and providing short descriptions of the key competitors — suite vendors and specialty providers.