Adding Fuel to e-Procurement Engine

SAQQARA tackles supplier enablement with service to automate catalog creation

San Jose, CA  April 29, 2002  With technology analysts asserting that content management and supplier enablement remain the biggest technical challenges to e-procurement, product content and catalog management specialist SAQQARA Systems today took a stab at addressing this pain point by offering a solution it said will rapidly increase the amount of useable catalog content for e-procurement implementations.

Also today, SAQQARA and e-procurement pioneer Ariba announced an alliance to bring the latter's enterprise spend management solutions to joint customers.

SAQQARA said its Catalog Management Service (CMS) for e-Procurement can lower the cost of acquiring, transforming and managing supplier content for e-procurement systems, thereby helping to improve a company's return on investment (ROI) in electronic purchasing solutions.

"For many organizations, the full benefit of online procurement is far from realized due to inaccessible or poorly-organized catalog data," said Bradley Albright, CEO at SAQQARA. The problem is that, on the one hand, supplier content has been too difficult to get into an e-procurement system, while, on the other hand, end users within companies have found the content too difficult to use, prompting them to resort to phone and fax rather than adopt the companies' automated purchasing systems.

In fact, technology consultancy AMR Research has pointed to supplier enablement and content management as key technical challenges to e-procurement. "As frustrations run high with the lack of supplier participation in many corporate e-procurement projects, product content management has come to the fore as a crucial function of e-commerce," said AMR Senior Analyst Louis Columbus.

The analyst added that while successful product content management requires services and software, both suppliers and buyers have been waiting for solutions that offer each side of the buy-sell equation an attractive value proposition. The challenge, Albright said, has been coming up with the right solution that can "add fuel to the e-procurement engine."

"Buyers want speed, control and usability over the content," suggested Albright. "Meanwhile, suppliers want to preserve their specific product branding and avoid the effort and expense of tailoring catalog content to satisfy the unique needs of each of their customers."

SAQQARA said its CMS solution can meet these requirements. By offering CMS, SAQQARA creates, hosts and manages a private, customized, Web-based catalog solution for each customer. "CMS enables the supplier universe quickly while giving the buyer full control over what end users see in an environment that maximizes user adoption," asserted Albright.

CMS uses SAQQARA's CommerceSuite and ContentWorks technologies to automate the product content management process, accelerating the process of bringing suppliers into an e-procurement system, according to the solution provider. SAQQARA said CMS is able to reduce the source-to-publish timeline from months to weeks or even days, and the update process from days to minutes.

The solution includes a rules-based processing engine and auto-execution, which the provider said enables the speedy transformation and classification of data. Filtering rules eliminate unwanted content at the commodity, family, stock keeping unit (SKU) or attribute level, while the solution's workflow enables review and approval of content before a catalog goes live.

SAQQARA said suppliers can send them their product data in any of a variety of formats for aggregation into a catalog, making it easier for suppliers to comply with buyers' requests to e-enable their product content. SAQQARA also touted the solution's ability to integrate multiple supplier catalogs into a unified catalog for product search and comparison across suppliers and CMS' capability to model product relationships by informing the user of possible upgrades, repair parts and maintenance lists.

The provider charges an annual management fee for the solution on a per supplier basis, regardless of the number of SKUs the supplier offers. The per-supplier cost begins at $11,500.

Meanwhile, SAQQARA and Ariba today announced that joint customers are now able take advantage of out-of-the-box integration between Ariba's Spend Management solutions and the CMS solution.

Thanks to this alliance, the partners say, e-procurement managers will be able to quickly get catalog-ready content that is customized to their requirements into their Ariba Spend Management applications.

"By working with SAQQARA we can provide our customers with integrated and tested technologies that address specific areas within their overall enterprise spend management initiatives," said Priscilla Hung, director of global alliances for Ariba.