SalesTech Star

SalesTechStar Interview with Matt Hugo, Head of Sales at ORO

Matt Hugo, Head of Sales at ORO chats about the growth of procurement platforms in this quick catch-up:


Welcome to this SalesTechStar chat Matt, tell us about the key highlights from your B2B tech journey and more about your role at ORO…

I was exposed to B2B tech early in my career as a consultant at Ernst & Young, where I saw disruption beginning to occur with the emergence of e-marketplaces to drive efficiencies and savings across industry verticals. I left consulting to explore this emerging tech, but after the dot-com bust, these B2B consortiums never actualized their potential. At the same time, Ariba had just acquired FreeMarkets, and I opted to pursue an opportunity as I felt Ariba’s technology combined with the world-class sourcing services of FreeMarkets would be the future of B2B tech.

Though there has been the evolution to the cloud and emergence and success of other providers like Coupa, which argue higher adoption rates due to better user experiences, core B2B technology really has not evolved over the last 25 years. Providers have either organically built or acquired solutions to compete with Ariba’s full source-to-pay platform.

At the core of all of these platforms is the focus on “indirect spend management,” or forcing enterprise-wide usage of catalogs or contracts to achieve negotiated cost savings. This made sense in an era of procurement centralization.

However, since these platforms were architected a quarter-century ago, I have witnessed the procurement function and their charter shift and, as a result, their technology needs have grown far beyond just achieving cost savings. Today’s chief procurement officers (CPOs) talk more about the role of “protecting and serving” the business instead of spend management. Today, the additional regulations, explosion of different SaaS systems used by stakeholder departments, and corporate compliance checks have dramatically increased the complexity of working with suppliers. Add to this the modern employee expectation to move fast and have visibility. This is a lot of pressure on procurement teams, resulting in increased friction between the business and its procurement department, and low Net Promoter Scores (NPSs) for procurement teams.

The reality is, from my experience, there will always be unaddressed, business-driven spending where the suppliers may be known and the business needs to quickly purchase a good or service. Maybe it is for a new product being built, an important conference coming up, or a need for a particular software. Spending weeks to onboard a new supplier is simply untenable, and the black hole of information causes major frustrations with the business.

So for me, this is the opportunity. And this is why I chose to join ORO and build out our sales team as I believe the vision, existing product, and the deep procurement DNA of our leadership team have the best chance to solve this problem. And most importantly, ORO did not force companies to perform open heart surgery and replace their legacy back-end P2P systems. It sits on top and can actually drive further spend and achieve further compliance and savings for the company. In an era where increasing the top line is challenging, selling a solution that results in direct reduction to the bottom line is incredibly compelling.

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Tell us more about ORO and how it’s evolved over the years, we’d love to hear about the recent funding and what’s in store…

One exciting area where ORO is evolving is our ability to address bespoke customer use cases via its self-driving workflow and native integration platform. Take bank fraud, for example. One customer had a significant pain point in this area as they had an entire callback team dedicated to validating supplier bank details for vendor payments. ORO was able to take this process, which was previously in a ticketing system and internal documentation, and configure the entire workflow while ensuring enforceable compliance. This is far beyond simple spend approvals or task assignments. The workflow easily integrates multiple external and internal data sources to create a fraud risk score. And based on the score, the platform auto-approves or routes to a queue that requires the callback. The potential is boundless. Whatever manual processes a company has in finance or procurement and whatever disparate systems they have that they want to unify, ORO can orchestrate all via its Smart Procurement Workflows.

As you probably saw, ORO has secured $25 million in Series A funding. We are investing heavily in our product to build deep workflows that make working with suppliers easier, especially around ensuring the best possible user experience for stakeholders including suppliers. That is an area where we feel we are unrivaled but want to continue to advance. For example, marketing automation companies and CRM solutions have always had next-gen capabilities in this area. Why can’t procurement? Stay tuned on this front!

How are enterprise procurement and supplier management platforms evolving in today’s market: a few thoughts on the in-demand features/capabilities that are redefining need for these tools?

To me, procurement platforms today are all commoditized. They all do the same thing. It’s now come down to, “Is it better for a button to be blue vs. the competition’s red button?” In short: Application beauty is in the eye of the beholder. At SpendConnect last month, I saw some impressive investments that SAP Ariba is making in its UX. Is it better than Coupa or Ivalua? In my opinion, that’s debatable.

Moreover, I think one thing we can all agree on is the battle of Best of Breed vs. Suite is over. You even see SAP halting investment in its contract solution and instead making an investment in the best-of-breed provider Icertis, which is now the company’s go-forward contract provider.

I believe the future is all about uniting these disparate best-of-breed applications under a common workflow. Let business users buy what is best for them. And let that solution tie it all together for them while providing the ultimate end state: visibility to all stakeholders – and without requiring significant, additional IT time and resource investment.

How do you feel this segment is set to shape up over the next few years?

I believe we are entering a new frontier where the procurement systems of old become more and more synonymous with back-end ERP systems. Intake will be a buzzword that increases in pitch, but the game-changer will be a system that can solve for broken processes, inefficiencies, visibility and compliance, and better help the CPO “Protect and Serve” their business.

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A few thoughts on the future of B2B sales/B2B tech before we wrap up?

Data and automation are, of course, the key to sales success and we are witnessing a massive transformation in these spaces. The more accurate and granular technographics, intent, organizational hierarchies, and other elements of this nature become, the more confident a seller can be in both assessing propensities to buy as well as crafting the most compelling sales messaging. Access to this data becomes a major competitive advantage. Moreover, a company that is better enabled to capture sales intelligence from its sales calls and arm salespeople with the best possible responses not only expedites onboarding, sales acumen, and overall sales success, but as these tools become more real-time, will also help to mold even entry-level sales associates into best-in-class sales professionals. Imagine being prompted in real-time during a sales call with the right thing to say at the right time. Talk about sales automation!

In the near term, I also see outbound becoming more and more automated as robotic process automation (RPA) sales tools begin to facilitate all digital communications. Unifying all of this into a real-time single-pane view for sellers will be key, and workflowing a best-in-class sales process augmented with sales intelligence will upskill any salesforce. In short, data and automation are completely transforming sales. Exciting times!

Oro Labs Company Profile: Valuation & Investors | PitchBook

ORO is a software startup that’s reimagining enterprise procurement and supplier management. Its modern enterprise software platform helps orchestrate end-to-end procurement across teams to dramatically improve traditional procurement operations by taming the chaotic enterprise spending on business-critical purchases and supplier engagements. ORO’s Smart Procurement Workflows help organizations increase business agility by making it easy for employees to start, manage and build supplier relationships.

ORO is founded by the former product leaders of SAP Ariba (Sudhir Bhojwani, Lalitha Rajagopalan and Yuan Tung). The company is on a mission to use its team’s 40+ years of collective procurement tech experience to make things faster and better for all users and groups. ORO believes modern companies need agility and speed in procurement and the supply chain. This will not only help companies achieve compliance but can have a direct impact on the top line.

Matt Hugo is a sales executive who has had a front-row seat in the evolution of B2B commerce and procurement. Matt specializes in helping executives with responsibilities in supply chain, procurement, sourcing, and finance deliver significant operational and financial benefits to their organizations.

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