I had the opportunity to participate in a business update briefing with Kevin Potts, Vice President of Marketing / Product Management, and Laura Hunt, Director of Marketing of Emptoris, and from all appearances, this vendor is doing just fine.  For those not familiar with Emptoris, they are a significant player in strategic sourcing, supply and contract management software, and stumbled a bit in 2008 as a result of a patent litigation judgment brought about by prime competitor, Ariba.

Emptoris continues to demonstrate business growth in spite of the past economic recession, which is yet another evidence point that this technology remains as a key target for companies to reduce overall supply and services costs.  Emptoris had its best Q1 ever, with a bookings increase of 122%, securing close to 50 deals. Backlog was described as being an all-time high, and the company appears well positioned to take advantage of a business upturn.  What is more impressive is that business growth was evenly divided between North America and European sectors, and Asia-Pacific is now showing healthy growth.  The company’s aggressive thrust in Europe is beginning to yield customer wins, which has traditionally been a stronghold for SAP, and a first major deal was secured in South Africa.  The recent opening of a new sales and development office in mainland China is also expected to yield significant opportunities. At the time of our briefing, Emptoris CEO Patrick Quirk was participating in another one of his recent visits to that region.

Since the infusion of new capital from Marlin Equity Partners and a subsequent change in CEO leadership, Emptoris has placed a renewed emphasis on customer intimacy and responsiveness.  Customer services have been augmented, a new state-of-the-art customer support data-center has come online and there has been significant emphasis placed on responding to customer input needs for increased functionality and accelerated return-on-investment.  Of late, the senior executive team has been augmented with a vice president of customer loyalty, a new CFO, and a soon to be announced vice-president of engineering.

The company has now mapped out a five stage business release and value methodology to help customers get maximum benefits from the technology.  In my view, mapping overall technology deployment from the customer value viewpoint is a win-win proposition, and it is sometimes unfortunate that certain other software providers take a more unilateral view.

On a final note, I have noticed a strategic change in direction under Marlin leadership.  There is a more distinct emphasis on behind-the-firewall technology deployments vs. the software-as-a-service (SaaS) option.  My sense is that this strategy shift is motivated by a desire to compete more aggressively with Ariba, whose model is more SaaS and augmented services centric.   Larger firms with extensive worldwide enterprise software footprints such as SAP, Oracle and others still seek an on-premise option, and Emptoris is betting that this will continue.  An on-premise emphasis also allows Emptoris’ prime system integration partners, Accenture, IBM and Deloitte to drive more inbound channel license sales.

Emptoris will be hosting its annual Empower 2010 customer conference in September and I look forward to speaking directly with customers on their impressions and scorecard of the direction and responsiveness of Emptoris.

Bob Ferrari