Futureproofing your S2P Strategy - Solution Ecosystem vs. Single Suite

In a joint webinar with Sievo, Forrester, and SirionLabs, we discussed what to consider when building your S2P strategy and what the value of a best-of-breed ecosystem of specialist solutions could do for your business.

It’s pretty obvious that quite a few new priorities have emerged in the market over recent years for procurement and finance professionals. These trends are driving changes in the technology that is used and really forcing organisations to significantly upgrade their technology.

Forrester believes that the future for business applications is a much more eclectic, multi-platform strategy as opposed to a single suite. Read on for a brief recap of the webinar and a high-level overview of the discussion.

Ecosystem versus single suite?

In the discussion, we found out that 51% of IT respondents thought that the business applications they were providing were of advanced capability, compared with only 30% or so of business professionals. That’s a pretty big discord when you think about it. It’s statistics like these that are driving a growth in specialist platforms that better serve the business users. Because at the end of the day, they’re the ones that need the business applications to work for them.

Because of this, the future source-to-pay (S2P) landscape is not another version of the end-to-end suite idea. It's actually an eclectic multi-platform strategy, that combines platforms with a specific domain and specific functionality. More so, it’s interesting that even though the main suite providers have grown and made acquisitions, they actually haven't grown their market share relative to the specialists.

The risk of multi-platform strategy with domain specialists, of course, is that you could end up with a very fragmented landscape trying to integrate multiple applications, even though they integrate much better now than how they used to. So, it's up to each organisation to find the “Goldilocks point”. This, of course, depends on how complex or centralised your organisation is.

It also depends on, to an extent, how advanced your operations already are. If you're very mature in certain sourcing areas, you're probably going to want specialist tools that power advanced sourcing. Where organisations just getting started may be able to get away with fewer platforms.

If we go back a couple of years, we've seen that these broader, end-to-end suites have been the go-to in the market. But with the increased demand for AI and other technologies, we’ve seen that it's hard for the suites to keep up.

Specialist applications & AI

There has been a lot of business innovation recently being driven by artificial intelligence (AI). Task automation and prioritising actions are just two examples.

For sourcing, AI helps in automating the life of skilled sourcing professionals. But the most interesting use cases of automation and AI are the instances that free up skilled people allowing them to focus on new priorities like ESG, other business-oriented initiatives, and further innovating their supply chain.

From an AP side, it's about using AI and automation to achieve touchless invoice processing. AI is one of those tools that is hugely helpful, especially when you're dealing with big datasets, because you can train systems to learn from that data.

Implementation of an S2P ecosystem

It’s a huge task if you’re looking to implement an entire end-to-end suite. You’re looking at a multi-year endeavor with inevitable bumps in the road and hefty up-front costs. Additionally, a lot will likely change during implementation, so by the end of the project, stakeholders as well as the context that you were originally working with may change drastically.

So, by using more of a specialist approach, you narrow down the scope to have fewer stakeholders, quicker time to value, and less overall risk.

Learn more about the value of ecosystems

Ready to learn more about ecosystems and the benefits they can provide? Check out this blog.

Global Business Director, Basware Master of Science, Industrial Management and Engineering A prominent technology analyst for most of his career, Magnus has deep expertise in strategic sourcing, procure-to-pay and other procurement software categories. He has a keen eye for identifying global opportunities and developing market strategies given his extensive knowledge of the landscape. Plus, his technical acumen is instrumental in crafting sales and marketing messaging and positioning. Prior to Basware, he was an analyst at Spend Matters, a global content community and hub for procurement, finance, treasury, and supply chain professionals, as well as Gartner, a leading research and advisory company. He started out in the early 2000s in direct materials procurement at AstraZeneca and worked in various procurement and strategic sourcing roles at Scandinavian Airlines, IBX, Atlas Copco Tools, Effective Sourcing AB and SAAB.