April 20, 2023

Esker, the long road to Source to Pay

By Patrick Chabannes

One year on, what are the impacts of Esker’s acquisition of MarketDojo, the giant of Invoice to Pay and Order to Cash? What are the principles of this collaboration? A conversation with Emmanuel Olivier, WW COO of the Lyon-based publisher.

Patrick: What is the spirit behind Esker’s growth?

Emmanuel Olivier:  is developing a vision of the common good, positive sum growth. We believe that economic growth cannot be achieved at the expense of others, from our employees, our customers, our customers’ suppliers and even the planet. 

Our platform is part of this vision, or dare I say culture. When we acquired 51% of MarketDojo, it was clear, and you relayed it in your January 2022 article, that we had defined four years of transition during which both companies would continue to operate under their brand while offering the other’s products in their territories to ensure that we create positive growth. And if you’d like to take five minutes, let’s listen to this introductory video. 

Patrick: What are your growth targets in terms of solutions and markets for the Esker brand?

Emmanuel: In terms of solutions, we favor a roadmap conducted with our customers and our vision of collaboration with the various stakeholders. For example, we are continuing to develop the eProcurement part of the business with enhancements in catalogs, search UX and purchase requests management.

But the engine of our growth and investment remains eInvoicing, with its increasingly complex and mandatory regulatory environment around the world. 

When we deploy eInvoicing internationally, I’m thinking of one customer in particular with 55 countries involved, we have to take into account the following double complexity: the short interval between the publication of the rules and the implementation deadline and sometimes, as in the case of Spain, the piling up of these rules between the State and the Provinces or, as in Brazil or India, between the Federal State and the States or provinces. All of this represents significant investments in terms of resources, skills and user experience.

We are developing the Supply Chain Finance module with partners because it is in line to our values of positive sum growth. Didn’t Supply Chain Finance allow our customer Chantiers de l’Atlantique to allow their suppliers to finance their customer debt to help them get through the crisis? This is very important for us.

Patrick: In this context and vision, how is the integration of Market Dojo, this excellent Source to Contract onDemand solution, going?

Emmanuel: As we said before, we have chosen to keep both brands and to integrate MarketDojo gradually, both for the teams and for the solutions. You should remember that MarketDojo is an OnDemand solution, available everywhere in the world, with no implementation effort. The team is therefore small, 27 people in the UK compared to our 1,000 employees. 

In June, we started an integration of our accounting and finance systems. At the same time, we have developed commercial coordination that has opened up the American market with many deals signed across the Atlantic, a strong territory of opportunity for the Esker brand. And we were surprised to see the increase in customer demand in Asia. It’s an exciting opening that we are watching closely.

As for the integration between the Esker and MarketDojo platforms, we chose to develop business scenarios, business processes linking Source to Contract to Procure to Pay. 

By proceeding in this gentle manner, we are not burdening the small MarketDojo team by ensuring that it retains its commercial and product dynamics within a broader vision. We must not forget that opportunities have increased since ScanMarket, Market Dojo’s natural competitor in the S2C OnDemand market, was absorbed by UNIT4

Patrick: If I may be so bold, I hear the progressive development of Esker P2P and integration with Market Dojo. But, your roadmap seems to me to be lacking in aggressiveness in a market that is looking for Procure to Pay, Supplier Relationship Management, Supplier Networks solutions…

Emmanuel: We are enjoying strong growth in the Invoice to Pay and Order to Cash segments. And it’s true that our position leads us to projects led by Finance or Accounting. Of course, the development of our Procurement (eProcurement) part is never fast enough, but in the eyes of our clients it is enough to accompany them from eInvoicing to Procurement to Pay and then to Source to Pay. 

Understand that the big names in Procure to Pay are very far from the user experience that we promote and the functional depth of eInvoicing. I’m sure that this observation is shared by Basware or ITSoft, our friendly competitors.

You are right to raise the question of the Supplier Network. This is an important subject that has been on our R&D agenda for some time and on which we must focus more closely because it can be of benefit to all parties, starting with the thousands of Esker Supplier users.

Patrick: One last question or rather an observation. Wouldn’t your Source to Pay vision lead the various publishers specializing in Source to Contract and eProcurement to turn to an eInvoicing partner, given the regulatory complexities we have discussed? Aren’t you afraid that these publishers will choose one of your competitors, thus increasing the competition?

Emmanuel: Our vision, shared with the major analysts, is to offer an End to End Source to Pay experience to enable organizations to be more efficient, for employees to focus on value-added tasks and to extend digitalization to Suppliers. You may have noticed that Gartner named us a Visionary for the second year in a row.

It’s true that we don’t have any agreements with the vendors you mention. But we remain open to discussions because collaborations are always possible.

Thanks Emmanuel.

Lectori salutem, Patrick