Procurement Systems & Architecture Content

Confessions of an RPA Salesperson

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Doug Hudgeon, a business automation expert. 

Earlier this month, HFS Research, the company who brought robotic process automation (RPA) to the world's attention, pronounced RPA as dead.

This will create headwinds for RPA salespeople. To help counter that, I've put together this playbook.

Before we dive into the playbook, keep in mind that, even though RPA is fading, companies are still talking about automation. They still want to do it, so a sale is there for the taking. If you execute the following plays well, they'll do it using your RPA software.

AI in Supplier Management: The Day After Tomorrow [PRO]

digital business transformation

In Spend Matters’ last pair of articles for the PRO series AI in Supplier Management, we reviewed some of the exciting capabilities that you will be able to expect in tomorrow's supplier management platforms, where we define AI, for the purposes of this article, as “augmented intelligence” because, as we've stated in our AI series, there is no true AI in any enterprise technology today.

In our initial entries of the series, we discussed how the advancements in usability and computing power have made it possible for platforms to implement better and more powerful guided on-boarding mechanisms that can allow a supplier to on-board from existing profiles more quickly and efficiently than ever before. We also discussed how embedded community intelligence will help you make better supplier selections, better performance monitoring will help you keep on top of performance problems before they lead to disruptions, KPI monitoring will identify a range of issues, risk monitoring will identify risks as soon as they come to pass, and resource assignment will be automated for common project tasks.

In our follow-up entries, we indicated that each of these capabilities would be improved with automated reasoning and machine learning technologies. Profiles would be automatically maintained. Community supplier intelligence will be augmented with supplier intelligence. Relationship status will be monitored in real time across all purchases and projects. When issues arise, corrective action plans will be automatically created. When risks are identified, mitigation plans will be automatically created. When resources are needed for more critical projects, they will be re-assigned, and projects realigned, in real time.

But is this the best we can hope for?

When we extend our event horizon out further into the future, we can predict that, at some point, industry-leading supplier management platforms are going to support:

— Supplier future state predictions
— Category-based supplier rebalancing
— Supply chain rebalancing
— Real-time order rebalancing

Promena: Vendor Introduction (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses [PRO]

contingent workforce

In our last Spend Matters PRO post, we introduced you to Promena, an 18-year-old provider based out of Istanbul that is deploying a platform for strategic sourcing, supplier management and e-procurement. Operated under the umbrella of Zer, a procurement BPO firm that itself is a subsidiary of Turkey’s largest industrial conglomerate, Koç Holding, Promena has a solution with a long history of development and some relatively mature functionality despite its lower name recognition in the global procurement technology market. And while its newest modules are still finding their footing amid a rapidly changing sector, the solution overall offers a strong baseline off which Promena could expand it functional footprint.

Part 1 of this brief provided an overview of Promena’s offering and a short selection requirements checklist that outlined the typical company for which Promena might be a good fit. In Part 2, we provide a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a high-level SWOT analysis, and some final conclusions and takeaways.

AI in Supplier Management: Tomorrow (Part 2) [PRO]

complex sourcing

In Part 1 of AI in Supplier Management: Tomorrow, we began our discussion of some of the AI-enabled capabilities that you can expect to find in tomorrow's supplier management platforms, where we define AI as assisted intelligence (because, as we have discussed, there is no true artificial intelligence in enterprise platforms today and there won't be tomorrow either). AI is a buzzword, not a reality. But we don't need true AI to achieve software that can radically increase our productivity. Reaching assisted intelligence will add multiples to our efficiency and effectiveness.

In our last article, we discussed how tomorrow's supplier management platforms will offer smart, automatic, supplier profile update (suggestions) — taking the headaches out of profile maintenance that results in most profiles being out of date in a supplier management system shortly after they are created; market-based supplier intelligence that is more in line and reflective with reality — and not just the experience of an anomalous customer subset; and real-time relationship monitoring that paints a relatively full picture of the relationship, not just a point-based performance picture.

So what else will tomorrow's platforms do to help you focus more on the strategic side of supplier management? Let’s look at the next three areas:

— Automated resolution plan creation, monitoring and adjustment
— Automated risk mitigation strategy identification
— Optimized real-time resource re-alignment

Shiftgig Changes Course — What Can We Learn? (Part 2): A Talk with CEO Rick Bowman [PRO]

Spend Matters recently had the opportunity to talk with Shiftgig CEO Rick Bowman, who joined Shiftgig as its CTO in mid-2017 before becoming CEO in July 2018. Since then, he has led the company through the launch of Deploy, its technology platform, and the recent deals with Headway and LCG, discussed in Part 1. For this Part 2 Q&A, Bowman provided his refreshing insider perspective on what has been happening at Shiftgig and what it means for the business. Part 3 will conclude with our analyst commentary on Shiftgig’s strategic shift in the broader context of the evolving contingent workforce technology solution and intermediation space.

Exploring Basware’s Recent Product Enhancements: Something for AP and Procurement (Part 1) [PRO]

In April, Basware held its Customer Connect user event in Chicago. During a mainstage talk and break-out sessions, the procure-to-pay provider highlighted a number of recent enhancements and product roadmap areas, including the continued incorporation of artificial intelligence (AI) throughout its product line. Based on these presentations and recent Spend Matters SolutionMap RFI analysis, this three-part Spend Matters PRO brief highlights selected recent product enhancements as well as what Basware has in store for AP and procurement customers in the quarters to come based on its product roadmap. It also provides deeper insight into how Basware is embedding AI across its procure-to-pay solutions.

The following enhancements are covered and analyzed (with key takeaways included) in this research brief:

— Approval Confidence Scoring/Index
— Committed Spend
— SmartPDF (Basware’s version of InvoiceSmash/Cloudscan)
— Payment Plan Compliance
— Intelligent Order Aggregation

Sponsored Article

Unconditional Procurement with Cybersecurity

In the global supply chain landscape, threats to cybersecurity are increasing exponentially. Fortune 500 companies have seen sensitive information exposed because hackers have targeted their vendors and business partners, which are organizations that might not be as secure as their corporate buyers. Every supplier and business partner becomes an added risk.

Working with global companies large and small, one of the biggest opportunities that I’ve observed is managing multi-tier suppliers and mitigating risk. We can support all of our suppliers through secured technology and the principle of “unconditional procurement.” What does that mean? By “unconditional,” I mean an unrestricted approach to procurement.

AI in Supplier Management: Tomorrow (Part 1) [PRO]

In our last pair of Spend Matters PRO articles about AI in supplier management today, Part 1 and Part 2, we overviewed some situations where you can find AI in e-sourcing platforms today, where we define AI as “assisted intelligence” because, as we've stated in our series about AI, there is no true artificial intelligence in any enterprise technology today. In fact, there is nothing close, at least not on the open marketplace.

But when we get to the point where we have an augmented intelligence solution that can help us not only monitor supplier performance (across a community), automatically identify issues and risks, and even help us with automated resource — and asset — assignment but can also help us identify automated corrective action resolution plans, risk mitigation strategies, and real-time relationship monitoring and resource re-alignment, they start to approach augmented intelligence and become quite useful to us indeed.

In this article, we are going to discuss the AI-enabled functionality that we expect to see in the leading supply management platforms tomorrow. We will continue our pattern and start by defining what we expect to see, how it will likely work, and then give some hints of the technology platform that will underlie it.

Tomorrow, we expect that the leading supplier management platform will also have the following capabilities:

— Smart information selection and auto profile updates
— Market-based supplier intelligence
— Real-time relationship monitoring
— Automated resolution plan creation, monitoring and adjustment
— Automated risk mitigation strategy identification
— Optimized real-time resource re-alignment

Ivalua NOW 2019 Chicago: Next Procurement Megavendor Steps Out of the Shadows

After attending Ivalua NOW 2019 in Chicago this week, the conference solidified in my curmudgeonly mind that Ivalua will be the next break-out vendor, following on the heels of SAP Ariba and Coupa (on a software/SaaS revenue basis, at least).

Ivalua is like the tortoise in the race with the hare, but in this case, the tortoise has been putting on roller-skates and building a jet pack into its upgraded shell (161 upgrades to be exact). And the firm’s stats prove the point.

SAP Ariba Sourcing: How Does it Compare Today and What is Coming Tomorrow (Part 2: Playing the Scout Card) [PRO]

Procurement organizations previously embraced complexity in tools to enable both event sourcing and category management processes. Now, the tide has turned. Solutions that are best-in-class from a user-experience perspective, but may lack advanced features (e.g., sourcing optimization, the most capability/depth for RFP/RFI/auction support, full opportunity analysis like should-cost modeling, full project management, comprehensive integrated supplier and risk management, etc.) are increasingly winning the day — sometimes even replacing solutions that offer deeper functional capability.

Simply put, this is what I term the Scout phenomena (but in all fairness to Scout, the provider, is aggressively building out capabilities in areas that it has lagged in for our SolutionMap benchmarking tool).

In the forthcoming new releases of its sourcing product, SAP Ariba has not just co-opted Scout’s playbook. It has built on it. By masking complexity and prioritizing usability not just as a primary, but the top objective, forthcoming “SAP Ariba Sourcing” releases represent a fundamental replatforming that will put casual, business and procurement users at the center of a vastly improved and consumerized UX.

In Part 2 of the Spend Matters PRO research series providing analysis of the SAP Ariba Sourcing solution, we offer insight into the new user experience as well as analysis, commentary and customer recommendations based on SAP Ariba’s planned release schedule featuring the new UI/UX. Part 1 provided insight into SAP’s relative strengths and weaknesses today (based on the Q1 2019 SolutionMap release) and shared what we learned last month at the SAP Ariba Live event on an overall roadmap basis for the sourcing product line.

Ivalua NOW 2019 Chicago: ‘We have this ambitious vision,’ CEO says of new release, roadmap

Ivalua CEO David Khuat-Duy on Tuesday kicked off the procurement solution provider’s customer event, Ivalua NOW 2019 Chicago, with an eye toward maintaining its dedication to serving customers, discussing its latest release and shedding light on its plans for the future.

“We have this long-term strategy of building a very big company with a fantastic product that we can offer to the market. And this is our vision,” Khuat-Duy said. “We don't have a short-term vision, like exiting or doing something different. We have this ambitious vision.”

Shifting to Digitization from Manual Sourcing Processes Isn’t Easy — Unless You Use Bonfire

For procurement project managers looking to overcome manual processes and engage stakeholders, digitizing your sourcing workflows can be a mammoth task.

It’s more than just using digital files like PDFs, Excel spreadsheets and email. Although they are a step in the right direction, those tools are not true digitization. Digitization is really about making a workflow that’s easier for people to use while saving time and money. It involves putting all the documents in a central, accessible source and making the whole process more collaborative with people across your company and with vendors.

Bonfire, a cloud-based provider of strategic sourcing and contract and performance management, knows your pain because it has already solved those problems.