IBM – A 2015 Spend Matters 50/50 Provider to Know

100 companies - 100 days

IBM is one of our 50 Providers to Know. We will be highlighting 100 companies (50 to Know, 50 to Watch) from our 2015 Spend Matters Almanac over the span of 100 days. Practitioners are encouraged to browse the categories listed in our Almanac to find the provider that best fits their needs.

IBM has been a venerable force on the procurement stage going back to its own original procurement transformation efforts well over a decade ago, which allowed it to build an “inside out” business process outsourcing (BPO) practice, one of the first in the sector. As we’ve noted before, “much of IBM's legacy in procurement owes to Gene Richter, whose centralized procurement leadership at IBM led to a much-needed PR turnaround for procurement as increasing numbers of companies modeled their own programs on the IBM model.”

A number of years ago, IBM acquired Emptoris, a sourcing and supplier management solution, and Big Blue continues to serve the market with this “upstream procurement” suite. IBM addresses the procure-to-pay (P2P) area through a partnership with Coupa today. But more interesting than these areas from an innovation perspective are some of the opportunities that IBM has to bring with the Watson predictive and artificial intelligence engine to the procurement world.

One possible application, which we noted in the past, is using Watson to “parse through unstructured data to drive a new level of supply risk management intelligence by taking ‘soft facts’ and information from Twitter, news feeds, social networks and other sources and lining these up against more traditional risk management data feeds (e.g., D&B, systems data, etc.) … Watson aggregates these soft facts up to the KPI level and then layers this information into the IBM Emptoris Supplier Lifecycle Management (SLM) solution. The result: a nearly n-tier reach into all of the facts or clues that may have an influence on supply risk scoring with a given supplier or supply chain outside of what has traditionally been used in the past to gauge performance.”

The potential for Watson is significant indeed — and this is just one scenario. Thanks to its continued investment in new areas such as this, as well as its legacy, IBM has earned a spot on the Spend Matters 50/50 Provider to Know list for 2015.

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