Supply Analytics Will Become Routine, Predictive: Accenture

supplier network

You won’t get any debate from us that supply analytics must form a key basis of future procurement technology investment. But whether supply analytics, as Accenture defines it in its recent report, Procurement’s Next Frontier – The Future Will Give Rise to an Organization of One, becomes as routine as the authors argue is open to debate. A lot will have to happen to make the following vision a reality:

The Supply Analytics apps will bring together
 a wide variety of data and, through a standard dashboard, will enable both procurement and business users to interpret analytics to solve specific problems or answer questions. Big Data will be a key component of the Supply Analytics apps, bringing in information from outside sources such as the Industrial Internet of Things … Crucially, Supply Analytics apps will no longer simply provide information and insights. They will mature to a point at which, via cognitive computing capabilities, they can recommend decisions and opportunities for procurement to capitalize on (such as supply optimization and savings opportunities).

With this advanced vision for supply analytics, Accenture is actually distilling a number of complex concepts into one. Consider:

  • Spend analysis tools that have capabilities around data acquisition, cleansing, classification and enrichment will need to come together with supplier management solutions that track granular supplier details – with a new reporting layer on top of both.
  • Big data solutions capable of crunching through massive data sets as well as  unstructured external data will need to integrate with the combined spend analytics/supplier management system described above.
  • Systems will need to get predictive and proactive – riding up from the rear of the peloton to leading a breakaway off the front.
  • Multi-tier visibility and enablement will likely be essential for such areas as “supply optimization.”
  • Tools will need to be able to respond to plain text questions.
  • Procurement applications will need to leverage the Internet of Things including data provided by suppliers – e.g., Grainger managing a kiosk within a plant – in new ways.

Accenture’s supply analytics vision is complicated and daring. It’s also going to prove, perhaps, the most challenging tech vision suggested in the paper to realize. We’ll explain why in a follow-up to this post.

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