But I believe the best hints to date about how embedded analytics will ultimately transform broader procurement applications into knowledge platforms and intelligence-driven decision support tools most certainly starts and ends with what a number of VMS providers are up to in the contingent procurement area. By showing, for example, comparative cycle times, rates, vendor performance, and other information in the context of workflow as well as in a user portal/front-page, the entire experience of using a toolset to manage a process or drive to a specific outcome -- from a multi-million dollar sourcing decision to a $65 PC or notebook peripheral purchase -- changes. No longer is a tool just about driving process adherence, enforcing standardization, etc. Rather, the tool itself becomes an indispensible knowledge asset that makes its users smarter, not just more efficient.
Just as consumers feel better about making a purchase on Amazon knowing the vendor and product reviews of other users and the fact that we've steered ourselves towards a group of related items to buy based on what other users have bundled in the past, the idea of providing pricing and supplier intelligence behind a purchase is nothing new. But the trick is putting the information in the context of a typical mundane use case. Even users who don't know how to manipulate a pivot table and think SAS is only an airline end up making better, everyday decisions in this type of environment. So five years from now, when everyone in procurement uses analytics and market intelligence without even knowing it, Spend Management technology enthusiasts like us will all look back on early use cases for embedded analytics in services procurement and ask ourselves: how did our teams function before this level of insight was at their fingertips?
- Jason Busch