The Innovation Category

What You Don’t Know Can’t Help You: Why Crowdsourcing Is Alive and Growing

Crowdsourcing is obscure concept for many, but one that is also widely in use. Large organizations ranging from Coca-Cola and Starbucks to AstraZeneca and NASA are increasingly experimenting with the approach, finding solutions for everything from sweetener development to answers to citizen science projects. And they’re not the only ones. In fact, there is considerable evidence that even midsize organizations are using and benefiting from crowdsourcing, too. To bring contingent workforce and services category managers and sourcing practitioners up to speed on these developments, we recently published “Crowdsourcing: New Trends and Developments” (Part 1 and Part 2).

I’m Afraid I Can’t Source That, Dave: Artificial Intelligence in Strategic Sourcing

Last week marked the 50th anniversary of Stanley Kubrik’s “2001: A Space Odyssey.” One of the great scenes in this landmark movie is when astronauts Dave Bowman and Frank Poole chat “in private” about shutting down HAL 9000, the omnipresent, artificial intelligence-based control system. Unfortunately, HAL’s vision system is able to read Dave’s lips through a small window and learns the crew’s intentions. To protect itself and thereby its mission directive, HAL sets out to kill the astronauts. Although the complex automated reasoning that HAL uses in its attempt to snuff out Bowman and Poole is a bit beyond current AI implementations, the procurement process-specific applications of machine learning are becoming quite real.

Robotic Process Automation Adoption: Early Challenges and Lessons Learned

Despite early successes, mainstream organizations are not yet making use of robotic process automation (RPA) technology. This may soon change, according to Hackett Group analysts, who predict that RPA adoption rates will rise in the next two or three years. According to the Hackett Group research, executives across departments are interested in increasing RPA adoption, with finance and global business services (GBS) executives particularly enthusiastic. GBS executives believe that mainstream adoption of RPA will increase five-fold to more than 52% within two or three years, and finance executives predict that adoption rates will increase to 38%.

Getting Real with Artificial Intelligence in Procurement

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the hottest technology topic right now, and it’s certainly going to be the most disruptive business trend going forward. To be sure, there are other technology topics that are also hot right now. Blockchain, for example, will certainly be disruptive, but no CPOs I know are clamoring for distributed ledgers as a must-have enabler to meet their goals. But as big as AI will eventually be, it’s still overhyped right now, even within “cognitive procurement.”

Procurement Business Drivers and Considerations For Digital and E-Signatures [Plus+]

Digital and electronic signatures can play a significant role in accelerating procurement and supplier management processes, reducing cycle times and eliminating latency across a range of activities. They can also help create value in other areas, from organizational and vendor compliance to saving money. This Spend Matters PRO series exploring e-signatures and digital signatures provides a foundation for procurement organizations to understand, evaluate and implement these solutions to enable a variety of use cases, including contract implementation and contract lifecycle management. In this research brief, we explore the business drivers for digital and electronic signature usage as well as selection considerations when evaluating potential solution providers.

6 Enterprise Software UX Trends Affecting User Engagement and the Bottom Line

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Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Katherine James, Vice President of Sales for IFS in North America.

I see that businesses are increasingly realizing that UX correlates closely to user engagement. The implications of a successful user experience make it way more than just a satisfaction ranking. Increased workforce engagement is tied closely to improved performance, motivation and persistence, before we even get to effectiveness, time and cost savings, or the improved employer branding advanced UX applications give. All of this has to improve the bottom line. Here are six key trends that I see reshaping enterprise software UX.

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E-Sourcing is Dead, Long Live Intelligent Sourcing Systems

People familiar with e-sourcing often lament its lack of adoption and how others don’t understand the value it drives. This is missing the point: There’s a reason why adoption of e-sourcing is lower than expected and why sourcing managers often try to avoid e-sourcing. The main problem is that people see it as a crude implement, a sledgehammer that harms supplier relationships when they needed a surgical knife to be more precise and nuanced in their negotiations. But a new era is about to begin.

The 3 Tech Areas that Support a Digital Procurement Operating Model

The push for digital transformation is in full force this year, and procurement organizations have acknowledged that this digital wave will revolutionize their operating models. Case in point: over 80% of procurement groups believe that digital transformation will soon change the way they deliver services, as GEP reported in its 2018 Procurement Outlook. But there are still obstacles to embracing this transformation. Only 32% of procurement organizations currently have a procurement strategy in place, and just 25% say they have the necessary resources and competencies to execute a digital strategy. Bridging this gap between strategy and capability will require procurement to understand the essential technologies that underlie a digital operating model. To start, practitioners should get up to speed on the following three technology areas.

New Report Warns that More Affordable Artificial Intelligence May Be a Blow to Cybersecurity

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Artificial intelligence is becoming more affordable and available to different companies and industries. However, this also means more risks in the realms of digital, physical and political security, warns a new report co-written by a team of 26 AI researchers from prominent American and British universities and think tanks. There are a number of reasons AI can bring about a new level of risk. Most AI researchers believe that AI will exceed human performance in a wide range of tasks within the next 50 years — and if an AI system can lead to better farming practices, it can certainly also conduct more devastating cyberattacks. AI can allow for a greater degree of anonymity and distance for the human actor. And AI systems tend to be efficient and scalable.

The State of Procurement (Part 3): Solutions and Procurement Technology

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Jim Wetekamp is the former CEO of BravoSolution. In Part 1 of this series, he addressed the state of people in procurement, starting with the CPO, and in Part 2, he examined the state of the technology selection process.

“How is the technology space in procurement evolving?” A few months ago, I delivered a presentation and related article entitled, “What Procurement Needs.”  This overview focused on the key demands that procurement is seeking to fill to best serve their organizations and drive sustained value. Those needs for strategic, intelligent, integrated and holistic solutions are what are largely shaping the evolution of the procurement landscape today.

Coupa R20: Incremental Disruption in Action [PRO]

The Spend Matters analyst team recently spent some time going through a deep dive demo on Coupa R20 and found it to be a solid incremental product release. But in this brief, we wanted to discuss the “revolution through evolution” we saw in addition to the new product details that we cover. Coupa’s product releases are now running about three times per year, and it’s refreshing to see more than 500 clients quickly moving through these releases. Such is the promise of SaaS, right?

R20’s main improvements are focused on services procurement and community-based intelligence, which allows users to extract insights from the B2B data generated within the Coupa buyer and supplier base. The disruptive aspect of R20 is twofold: its attempt to tackle the big nut of services procurement with Services Maestro and its efforts to derive intelligence from its installed base through what it calls "community intelligence."

This last trend is really the most disruptive aspect of what’s happening in digital value chains. It changes the provider value proposition from serving up “empty apps” that process the data of a single customer enterprise to one that provides a collective intelligence derived and captured from mass adoption of cloud-based tools that generate the data used to drive key insights.

There are some potential risks that companies face, however, when platform providers attempt to monetize (directly or indirectly) proprietary commercial information between buyers and sellers. Just as Facebook is not really free to the users who themselves are the “product” sold to advertisers, there’s a similar effect happening with suppliers who can use business networks for free but whose data is aggregated and repackaged in ways they aren’t necessarily aware of.

In this Spend Matters PRO analysis, we explore these topics and more, as well as share our initial thoughts on some of the more interesting features in R20.

Preparedness for Data-Driven Procurement Lags Among Manufacturers, New Study Finds

The term “digital transformation” — whether applied to procurement or another field — is bandied around frequently, but as far as the average company is concerned, that transformation is still not in the near future. In a survey of more than 100 senior executives, LevaData found that although nearly all of them agree that data-driven procurement is critical to value creation, cost reduction and efficiency, only half think that their own procurement teams are ready to make use of predictive tools.