The Analytics Category

What To Expect from Best-in-Class Spend Analysis Technology and User Design (Part 4) [PRO]

spend analytics

There are doubtless readers who have kept up with this Spend Matters PRO series on the intersection of best-in-class spend analytics technology and user design and thought to themselves, “I wish my solution did that.” But the most important thing to remember is that data is about telling a story. The particular narrative you decide (and are able to tell) from the insight to come out of your spend analytics initiatives will either make procurement more valuable or leave it to toil in obscurity. Spend analysis is an enabler — nothing more — but a critical one at making procurement better at everything it does. Yes, the “geek effect” of the best technology and user design considerations can make solutions buyers for it cringe (if they don’t have it). But ultimately, spend analysis is not about “the kit,” as the British would say.

It is within this context that we can observe that many procurement organizations today are making due with spend analysis technologies which, while helpful when it comes to teeing up basic sourcing opportunities and tracking savings, are a key limiting factor in enabling procurement to do more as a function, putting data front and center at driving the analytics to inform strategy and action.

As we continue this series exploring all the elements of best-in-class spend analysis approaches, painting a composite view about what an ideal solution should deliver at the intersection of capability and usability, we turn our attention to what optimal components approaches include for integrated reporting (and report design), as well as the core elements of descriptive and predictive reporting. See also Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of this series.

What To Expect from Best-in-Class Spend Analysis Technology and User Design (Part 3) [PRO]

data analytics

Evaluating the merits of spend analysis solutions (by user role) is inherently complex given that a spend data analyst, a data management QA individual, teams, category managers, other procurement users and business stakeholders will interact with the application in different ways. An ideal solution for one user “type” may be unacceptable for another. For example, some groups will care deeply about granular data import/export capability while others will judge an entire solution by its reporting. Still others will marvel over the ability to classify or reclassify data in certain ways on the fly. But one commonality regardless of user role or interest for spend analysis is that the intersection of best-in-class technology with best-in-class user design is becoming inseparable. Form and function are both leading (and following) each other.

This Spend Matters PRO series explores how these areas can come together across a spend analysis application to transform how users interact with data and what they can do with it as a result. In the Part 1 of this series, we explored what separates out spend analysis dashboard approaches that are a distraction (at best) from those that are an invaluable component of an overall solution. In Part 2, we analyzed all of the nuances of optimal filter definition and dynamic cube views (and creation), including exploring what a truly flexible and dynamic filter capability consists of, as well as explaining the essential elements of formulaic and ranged dimension capability and real-time/scalable spend cubes (and why they matter, even for a typical user).

In this installment, we turn our attention to the intersection of the best technology and user design combinations covering optimal approaches to data import/export in different formats, “idiot-proof” data categorization system design and reclassification of data.

What To Expect from Best-in-Class Spend Analysis Technology and User Design (Part 2) [PRO]

Analytics

Like many other procurement technology enthusiasts, the co-authors of this report tend to put quite a bit of emphasis on just the spend classification components when considering spend analysis technology. But just as important as accurate spend classification is what one does with the data once it is available in a usable format. In the first installment in this series, we provided an insider look on what differentiates spend analysis dashboards that are a distraction (at best) from those that are an invaluable component of an overall solution.

As this Spend Matters PRO series on what separates out best-in-class spend analysis technology and user interface capabilities from the vendor pack continues, we turn our attention to the nuances of optimal filter definition and dynamic cube views (and creation). This includes exploring what a truly flexible and dynamic filter capability consists of, as well as explaining the essential elements of formulaic and ranged dimension capability and real-time/scalable spend cubes (and why they matter, even for a typical user).

What To Expect from Best-in-Class Spend Analysis Technology and User Design (Part 1) [PRO]

There seems to be a near universal playbook for spend analysis solution providers when it comes to positioning the capability they deliver. You’re not alone if you think many vendors sound interchangeable (despite claims of “enrichment accuracy” or dashboard superiority). To be candid, based on our survey of many solutions in this market as part of PRO Vendor Snapshot reviews and, more recently, our SolutionMap comparative analyses, a good many are. But they’re fungible in a way that is not necessarily negative, especially those that tend to rely more on services and less on technology to drive data management efforts.

Still, best-in-class technology and usability matter. And while we do not disagree that spend analysis must center on — and span the gamut of — spend data acquisition from disparate sources, data cleansing, data classification, data enrichment and data analytics via a BI/data presentation layer, the devil is truly in the details when it comes to what to look for in a best-in-class solution both from technology and user interface capabilities. As with e-sourcing (Part 1, Part 2), reverse auction capability (Part 1, Part 2) and sourcing optimization (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4), the gap that separates out top performing solutions from everyone else is getting wider, not narrower.

This multipart Spend Matters PRO series examines the components of spend analysis solution capabilities in the technology and user experience areas that represent best-in-class today — and the intersection of how emerging features and capability are interacting (and driving) an optimal user experience. In this first installment, we consider the optimal interactive spend analysis dashboard.

Predictive Analytics Named Top Priority in New Survey of Category Managers

While some customers may protest that corporations already have us under heavy surveillance — spinning the metaphorical straw that is our purchases, internet history, socioeconomic data and more into predictive analytics gold — a majority of companies said in a recent survey that they are behind in their use of technology to understand and predict consumer behavior. And they’re very much motivated to improve.

Jabil Launches InControl to Take Aim at Supply Chain Point Solutions

Manufacturing giant Jabil launched recently what it calls a supply chain decision support platform, pitting its cross-industry expertise as a contract manufacturer against the services offered by point solutions. Called InControl, the platform offers five applications that provide visibility, collaboration tools and diagnostics for supply chain professionals. The apps cover supply chain visibility, event risk, design for supply chain, risk management and supply chain diagnostics.

ICYMI: Data Analytics, the New Frontier for Workforce and Services Procurement

One of the hottest topics in procurement these days is data analytics (including big data, artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural language processing and algorithmic decisioning). Therefore, in case you missed it, we’re dusting off this primer on data analytics from mid-2016. It's still valid as ever and ready to read in one sitting.

Sievo: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths & Weaknesses [PRO]

data analytics

To get the full benefits of Sievo, a novel analytics and savings management/tracking provider that delivers value to both procurement and finance organizations, customers need to get their hands dirty in their data — which can be a good thing. In engaging Sievo, it is the involved customer that becomes intimate at a deeper level with their data to drive true spending intelligence, in contrast to working with many other spend analytics providers that take ownership, on an outsourced basis, of data stewardship to drive cleansing, enrichment and classification perspectives.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores Sievo’s strengths and weaknesses as a managed services provider, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should consider the firm to support the procurement of contingent workforce spend and broader services procurement categories. Part 1 of our analysis provided a company and detailed solution overview and a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering Sievo. The third part of this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

Sievo: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background & Solution Overview [PRO]

The market for spend analytics reminds us of the evolution of the coffee market. It was not so long ago that we largely had a maximum of four choices: drip, percolator and then regular or decaf (this was when no one cared about the provenance of “the beans”). Today, this choice has exploded, and coffee is, well, not just coffee anymore.

Spend analytics has evolved in just about as many directions as a barista can provide in terms of java choice at the local coffee shop. But not all approaches are created equal. In fact everything from underlying data acquisition, classification, enrichment and analytics can vary dramatically from solution to solution.

Sievo is one of the longest running, still independent spend analytics providers in the market today. Founded in 2003, Sievo long ago moved beyond basic spend analytics and centers much of its value proposition today on driving savings program measurement and management. How they do this is complex, requiring all of the basics of spend classification, analytics and more. In this research brief, we get into the weeds on the “what” and the “how” of Sievo. We promise: Sievo is unlikely any other provider you have seen in terms of both methodology and solution.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help buying organizations make informed decisions about whether they need a solution like Sievo to drive spend analytics programs or in addition to their current efforts. Part 1 of our analysis provides a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider Sievo. The rest of this multipart research brief covers product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analysis, user selection guides, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

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How To Avoid Fake Spend Under Management (SUM)

Supply Chain Fraud

Savings is the primary performance measure for procurement. These key savings measures must be qualified relative to the actual spend under management to have true value. A definition that directly supports the savings KPI, however, is not always present. This leads to the illusion that spend is under management when often it is not, thereby deteriorating the overall savings results.

“30 Under 30” Supply Chain Star Abhishek Dahiya on the Power of Predictive Analytics

The final Q&A in this series is with Abhishek Dahiya, a supply chain program manager and chief of staff for global materials at Dell. Dahiya studied computer science as an undergraduate, before pursuing an MBA with a concentration in supply chain management. He started out at Dell as a procurement intern and has two pieces of advice for interns who want to impress. Read on for what those are, as well as for Dahiya’s thoughts on the disruptive potential of predictive analytics and what supply chain professionals can learn from the popular Netflix show “Game of Thrones.”

BravoSolution Customer Conference Dispatch: All About the Data

data analytics

BravoSolution is one of dozens of providers that offer spend analysis today. But where it stands out from everyone else is on the front end (i.e., the analytics), not the back end (data classification and management) — and this is actually where procurement organizations usually get the most excited. Following the provider's customer event Friday, I sat down with two members of the BravoSolution analytics team to learn more about where they were headed — and also where they’ve been — in their analytics journey. They shared that BravoAdvantage 17 was really the “starting point” in BravoSolution’s latest analytics journey.