Innovation Content

Tradeshift Innovation Summit in London: A Few Takeaways

Brexit

Last week, I attended Tradeshift's new “Innovation Summit” series in London. It was a short event, lasting only an afternoon, and obviously one intended to test the waters to the receptiveness of both the format and the location, but an interesting one nonetheless.

From a vision perspective, Tradeshift is almost dead-on in terms of what the platform of the future has to look like, and from a marketing perspective, it makes perfect sense. But when there are still a large number of organizations using Excel and email, and a larger number still who remain on first-generation best-of-breed procurement applications, it's hard to sell a true “Procurement 3.0” solution approach when the majority of the world hasn't even caught on to “Procurement 2.0” solutions.

Microsoft 365 Freelance Toolkit: Retooling How Enterprises Work (Part 3) [PRO]

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this four-part Spend Matters PRO series, we wrote about how the Microsoft 365 freelance toolkit emerged and continues to evolve at Microsoft (based on our interviews with Microsoft managers who are central to the initiative). We now shift our perspective to the contingent workforce industry innovator Upwork Enterprise, Microsoft’s launch partner for the freelance toolkit.

In Part 3, based on discussions with Eric Gilpin, SVP of Upwork Enterprise, we look at the Microsoft 365 freelance toolkit from Upwork’s perspective and examine Upwork’s role as a partner and key participant in the process as well as what the partnership means for Upwork itself. Part 4 will include an analyst perspective on the freelance toolkit, the Microsoft-Upwork partnership and what it may indicate for services procurement practitioners.

The Contingent Workforce and Services (CW/S) Insider’s Hot List: April 2019 [Plus+]

Welcome to the April 2019 edition of Spend Matters Insider’s Hot List, a monthly look at the contingent workforce and services (CW/S) space that’s available to PLUS and PRO subscribers. For those new to the Hot List, each edition covers the prior month’s important or interesting technology and innovation developments in the CW/S space.

In March, a warming trend continued throughout the industry — and particularly in the work intermediation platform space, with new M&A, innovation and solutions appearing and one major player not paying attention and stepping in something (I hate when that happens). Read about Contently, Figure Eight, Freelancer.com, Topcoder and more.

UX, Blockchain, IoT: The Future of Procurement Technology Unfolds at BearingPoint Speakers’ Series

Imagine ordering a replacement part with your camera, or having your IoT devices order supplies themselves, or just telling your chatbot assistant to assess and restock your inventory while you work on another project. Those digital-assisted feats aren’t futuristic. They’re already happening — but we’ll be seeing more uses of them in procurement as the digital transformation continues to evolve, according to speakers last week at a daylong discussion called Digital Procurement: Beyond the IT Landscape. Subjects ranged from blockchain and the internet of things (IoT) to process mining and best practices for digital implementation.

AI in Supplier Discovery: Tomorrow [PRO]

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In Spend Matters’ last PRO article for the AI in Supplier Discovery series, we overviewed some situations where you can find it today, or at least functionality that looked like it was enabled by artificial intelligence (even if it was not), and set ourselves up for a discussion of true AI that is going to creep into supplier discovery platforms tomorrow.

However, when we say true AI, we mean the definition of AI as “assisted intelligence,” because there is no true artificial intelligence out there and probably won't be for a very long time (with some futurists conjecturing it will be 2060 before machines are as smart as the dumbest of us). Note that we don't even mean “augmented intelligence,” as even though the platforms will augment your knowledge, it will still be up to you to make the right, intelligent, decisions tomorrow. (And maybe the day after that, but that is a subject for our next article.)

In our last article, we reviewed the capabilities of the leading discovery platforms today, which mainly revolved around:

  • Smart search
  • Community intelligence

...and the intersection of both.

We discussed how the improvements in computing power and web-usability made it possible for platforms to implement better and more powerful search algorithms that actually made searches useful across wide supplier directories and networks; how community intelligence allowed an organization to quickly narrow potential supplier pools down to reasonable sizes; and how the intersection allowed for the definition of "like" searches that could not be done before now.

But as of today, those "like" searches are still pretty high level. And they are best at finding suppliers that provide finished products and services that can be well-defined and compared to other suppliers that provide similar finished products and services. In fact, most systems with "like" searches are for the identification of suppliers for indirect. Not direct. (And not services either.)

But that is going to change tomorrow. Tomorrow, supplier discovery systems are going to support:

  • deep capability match that uses bill of materials, production requirements and other deep factors to support supplier search for direct suppliers
  • resource capability match that can identify needed skill sets, knowledge and related attributes for services suppliers

And we'll finally have smart supplier search for all. But how will it happen? And what will it look like? Let's explore.

Latest Procurement Technology Not Adopted Very Fast, LevaData Finds

Procurement executives may understand how key technologies like data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) can significantly improve their processes, but they don’t always turn that understanding into actionable adoption of those tools, according to a recent webinar on LevaData’s Cognitive Sourcing Study.

AI in Supplier Discovery: Today [PRO]

With this briefing on supplier discovery, we continue our series on AI in various source-to-pay technologies, which we started with AI in Procurement (Today Part 1 and Part 2, Tomorrow Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3, and The Day After Tomorrow) and continued with our recent series on AI in Sourcing (Today, Tomorrow Part 1 and Part 2, and The Day After Tomorrow) and AI in Sourcing Optimization (Today, Tomorrow and The Day After Tomorrow Part 1 and Part 2). The goal of this series is to define what is available with AI today, what will be possible tomorrow, and where the future may take us.

But first we must remind you of the status quo: Artificial intelligence does not yet exist, in the strictest definition of the term.

However, if you define AI as "assisted intelligence" (systems that can automate repetitive and standardized tasks performed by humans) or "augmented intelligence" (systems that can learn from humans and their data to provide insights that lead to, or recommend, better decisions), then there are technologies out there today that meet that need.

Today, the mainstream applications of AI in supplier discovery (which are, sadly, few and far between) generally fall into two categories, which themselves have limited functionality, but, there is still some functionality and it is a beginning.

10 Business Intelligence Trends: From Analytics Adoption to Explainable AI and Converging BI Platforms

“Business intelligence” has been a staple of an effective corporate entity long before computers appeared on the scene, but leaps in computing power, cloud storage and advances in data processing and visualization have allowed businesses to use their resources vastly more effectively. The advances in business intelligence (BI) also make it accessible to hundreds or thousands of workers throughout the business, instead of just a few dozen data scientists using specialized skills and software. Against that backdrop, Tableau outlines 10 BI developments to watch in its 2019 Business Intelligence Trends report.

The Future of Procurement is Mobile — Here’s Why

SciQuest

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Aman Mann, CEO of Procurify.

Even though procurement is actually evolving, it’s still playing catch-up. E-procurement was surely a step in the right direction, but in its current state, it’s still fundamentally flawed. On-boarding suppliers that have their products incorrectly catalogued for instance is still a common headache, and then there’s the considerable amount of time wasted on approval chains.

But what if it was more efficient?

Currently, there are only a few mobile procurement solutions on the market, but they’re slowly changing specific tasks in the procurement process, such as automating purchase orders.

AI in Sourcing Optimization: The Day After Tomorrow (Part 1) [PRO]

In the first article of this Spend Matters PRO series, we recounted the story of AI in optimization today, or, more accurately, the lack of artificial intelligence in optimization today. While AI in its most base form of "assisted intelligence" is readily available in many modern procurement and sourcing platforms, as evidenced in our previous two series on AI in Sourcing and Procurement, it has not yet creeped into optimization.

But that doesn't mean that AI will not creep into sourcing optimization tomorrow. While we may not see AI creep into any of the current platforms on the market (for different reasons for each vendor), that certainly doesn't mean that the next vendor to bring an optimization solution to the market won't learn from the oversights of their predecessors. In fact, in looking to get an edge over the existing, established platforms, it will assuredly be the case that tomorrow's optimization platforms will not only have a greater focus on UX and automation, but on AI.

Now, as per our last article, AI won't be embedded in the optimization engine — because that has to be powered by mathematically algorithms that have been rigorously proven to be sound (no errors, ever) and complete (will examine every solution and find the best one guaranteed) and given that most "AI" today (in the assisted and augmented intelligence category, because there is no true AI) runs on statistical or probabilistic machine learning algorithms, they just don't make the cut. (Although they can be paired with sound and complete MILP algorithms based on simplex or interior point to find faster starting solutions to difficult problems.)

But what about the day after tomorrow? What will we see then?

Enabling the Living Contract: A Q&A with Icertis’ Co-Founder, CTO Monish Darda

Will procurement settle for merely a digital upgrade to contract management, or will it seize the opportunity to reimagine what contracts can be altogether? As Spend Matters framed it in our previous article in this series, the question comes down to a distinction between “smart” contracts and “live” contracts. To help organizations see the possibilities, we sat down with enterprise CLM provider Icertis’ co-founder and CTO, Monish Darda, for a Q&A exploring the live contracting concept, along with active use cases and a projection of what the future holds for contract management technology.

Growing Customer Expectations: Will Digital Supply Chains Save The Day?

E-commerce and the rapidly growing digital supply chain capabilities of brick-and-mortar and online retailers have made a massive impact on customer preferences and expectations while shopping, according to the Deloitte report “The Customer-Driven Supply Chain.” Today, customers expect integrated systems that allow them to check stock across multiple retail outlets, that guarantee curbside pickup or two-day delivery, with customization options in person or online — all with complete accuracy and available in real time. Digital transformation drives these changes in consumer preferences while providing the means to accommodate a customer-centric shopping experience at the supply chain level, but with just 8% of supply chain executives responding that their organizations are prepared for such a comprehensive system, are these customer dreams a supply chain nightmare for retailers and manufacturers alike?