Procurement Systems & Architecture Content

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.

CRO-to-CRO Video Series: Episode 3 Peels Back the Digital Procurement Platform Onion

So you’ve decided your procurement function needs to “go digital” with its software solution needs.

But where to begin? How do you buy this stuff?

“You start with having your business challenges in mind,” says Michel Janssen, one half of the "CRO-to-CRO" discussion pairing we've been spotlighting with a series of videos over the last couple of weeks.

Recently, Janssen — chief research guru of Everest Group, a research and management consulting firm based in Dallas, Texas — had a chance to sit down with his  former colleague Pierre Mitchell, chief research officer of Spend Matters.

In Episode 3 of this video series, the two CROs share a comprehensive framework they call a digital capability platform, which paints a holistic picture for prospective buyers. Ultimately, through this framework, Janssen and Mitchell uncover what is available to buy (point solution or suite?), how a buyer can bundle solutions and/or capabilities, and who owns — or should own — the responsibility for digital decision making.

CRO-to-CRO Video Series: Episode 2 Explores the Evolving Role of Procurement

Procurement has come a long way from the 1980s, when it was simply a transactional function, up until today, when talk of artificial intelligence, blockchain, RPA, process mining and rapid self-service are all the rage.

Recently, Pierre Mitchell, chief research officer of Spend Matters, had a chance to sit down with his old friend and former colleague Michel Janssen, chief research guru of Everest Group, a research and management consulting firm based in Dallas, Texas.

In this second episode of their video series, watch as both CROs explore how the role of procurement has changed over the years, from buying at the lowest price, to total cost of ownership, to ever more complex layers of risk mitigation & value creation — and what it all has to do with "Minority Report."

From Watch to Know in 2019: State of Flux Focuses on User Experience in SRM

Each year, some companies on Spend Matters’ 50 Providers to Know list and the list of 50 to Watch honorees here in the Spend Matters Almanac push themselves beyond simply a standout performance. They earn the recognition that they are not only bringing innovation into procurement organizations but also leading the charge to change the way we do business for the better. These are the providers who shifted from Watch to Know in 2019, like State of Flux.

To learn more about these providers, we reached out to a few such cases in our 2019 50/50 lists, asking how they’ve changed over the years and what differentiates them from the competition. Today’s Q&A features State of Flux Chairman Alan Day.

Sourceit: Vendor Introduction, Analysis and SWOT [PRO]

Marketing procurement can be a touchy subject for businesses. This critical category can make or break a company’s ability to attract new customers, yet it is rarely managed in an efficient, effective manner — at least as a procurement professional would define it.

Within most businesses, marketing procurement is plagued by poor corporate governance, uncompetitive sourcing practices and unfocused project management, frequently leading to cost overruns and delivery delays. This in turn leads to a strained relationship between marketing departments and their peers in procurement, who find it difficult to overcome their seemingly incompatible goals. The problem is so bad and so distinct to this particular category that it practically begs for a niche technology solution to address it.

This is precisely the inspiration behind Sourceit, a four-year-old provider of sourcing and e-procurement tools for marketing services. Born out of a homegrown print sourcing solution at Finsbury Green, an Australian printer and managed services provider, Sourceit market and catalog offers a targeted set of capabilities that illustrate a deep understanding of the common hurdles of marketing procurement as it applies to print technology. The technology was spun out of Finsbury Green in 2015 as a standalone SaaS platform, then over the past four years has expanded from Australia into the UK, Canada, Brazil and, as of 2017, the U.S., under a reseller model in each market.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on Sourceit's capabilities. The brief includes an overview of “sourceit market” and “sourceit catalog” applications, a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a SWOT analysis and a selection requirements checklist for companies that might consider the provider.

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.

Simplify Workforce: Vendor Introduction, Analysis and SWOT [PRO]

Because of recent M&A consolidation and multiple external drivers, the market for vendor management system (VMS) solutions has become fairly complex. Competing vendors have been absorbed or combined, draining the field of vendor choices that can be applied in a wide number of scenarios. Concurrently, businesses have shifted away from their focus on temporary staffing labor to a rising emphasis on statement of work (SOW) spend, while also exploring new talent engagement models that increase program complexity, to include the exploratory enterprise adoption of the “gig economy” in the form of independent contractors. Add in the typical challenges of effectively operating a temporary staffing program — from cost control issues to quality maintenance and the management of intermediaries like MSPs — and it’s easy to see why procurement organizations are finding the old paradigm for VMS solutions is no longer holding up.

Going against the grain of complexity is a newer VMS provider that incorporates simplicity (i.e., ease of use) into its name — and its solution. Founded in 2016, Simplify Workforce provides an end-to-end SaaS solution for managing the extended workforce.

The Jersey City, New Jersey-based provider enables this through separate modules for contingent workforce (or in our SolutionMap classification, Temp Staffing) and statement of work (Contracted Services/SOW), with an emphasis on configurability, adaptability and ease of use that has typically eluded past VMS solutions. In doing so, Simplify Workforce aims to address the long-underserved middle market — specifically, businesses with annual contingent workforce spend of $1 million to $100 million — with the ability to scale up or down on spend easily, with a VMS and SOW solution that can solve the majority of daily contingent workforce challenges without overwhelming users, implementation teams and budgets with unnecessary complexity.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on Simplify Workforce and its capabilities. The brief includes an overview of Simplify Workforce’s offering, a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a SWOT analysis and a selection requirements checklist for companies that might consider the provider.

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3 Ways to Tell a Story from Your Procurement Data with Amazon Business

data

Procurement leaders want their purchasing decisions to be driven by lessons and insights gained from their organization’s order history data. Gone are the days where the post-purchase data was used only for accounting and reconciliation purposes.

With thousands of employees buying on Amazon Business, procurement organizations realize that they can do more with this data. However, to tell a story from their procurement data, organizations will need to invest in business intelligence (BI) engineers, data scientists and dedicated teams of IT personnel. Machine learning (ML) continues to be just a buzzword for these professionals, as they do not yet see the benefits of ML in their everyday decision-making.

The Amazon Business Analytics portal provides the tabular order history data by various pivots, including orders, refunds and reconciliation reports. While this acts as a good mechanism to look up specific details about an order, customers told us that they spend multiple hours each month to understand the data and gain insights into the spend patterns of their organization. Customers heavily relied on the CSV download feature to continue to their analysis. They essentially needed to gain BI from their data.

To help solve this problem, we partnered with Amazon QuickSight to bring BI to organizations’ Amazon Business order data.