ⓘ Configure, price and quote

                                     

ⓘ Configure, price and quote

Configure, price quote software is a term used in the business-to-business industry to describe software systems that help sellers quote complex and configurable products. An example could be a maker of heavy trucks. If the customer chooses a certain chassis, the choice of engines may be limited, because certain engines might not fit a certain chassis. Given a certain choice of engine, the choice of trailer may be limited, and so on. If the product is highly configurable, the user may face combinatorial explosion, which means the rapid growth of the complexity of a problem. Thus a configuration engine is employed to alleviate this problem.

                                     

1. Configuration engines

The "configure" in CPQ deals with the complex challenges of combining components and parts into a more viable product.

There are three main approaches used to alleviate the problem of combinatorial explosion:

  • Constraint satisfaction engines: These engines were developed in the 1980s and 1990s. They can handle the full set of configuration rules to alleviate the problem of combinatorial explosion but can be complex and difficult to maintain as rules have to be written to accommodate the intended use.
  • Rule-based truth-maintenance systems: These systems were the first generation of configuration engines, launched in the 1970s based on research results in artificial intelligence going back to the 1960s.
  • Compile-based configurators: These configurators build upon constraint-based engines and research in Binary Decision Diagrams. This approach compiles all possible combinations in a single distributable file and is agnostic to how rules are expressed by the author. This enables businesses to import rules from legacy systems and handle increasingly more complex sets of rules and constraints tied to increasingly more customizable products. The concept of configuration lifecycle management CLM, of which CPQ is a component, describes how compile-based configuration can further be leveraged to address most of the problems related to product configuration for business employing mass customization.
                                     

2. Industry

The CPQ industry has many vendors offering CPQ solutions. Some vendors focus more on one of the components in a CPQ solution, so that for example a price optimization provider may integrate their pricing software with another providers configuration engine - and vice versa.

The IT research and advisory firm Gartner estimated that the CPQ market was $570 million in 2015, representing a 20 percent year-on-year growth from 2014. Of that $570 million, cloud-based CPQ revenue was $157 million that same year. In 2018 Gartner estimates CPQ revenue at $1.2 billion, up 12% year over year, with almost all the growth related to cloud-based offerings. They project the CPQ market to increase 15% annually through 2020.