Supplier Information Management Content

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

suppliers

With this brief we begin the next installment of our series on the application of artificial intelligence (AI) to various source-to-pay technologies. Previous entries focused on AI in procurement (Today, Part 1 and Part 2; Tomorrow, Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3; and The Day After Tomorrow), AI in sourcing (Today; Tomorrow, Part 1 and Part 2; and The Day After Tomorrow), AI in sourcing optimization (Today; Tomorrow; and The Day After Tomorrow, Part 1 and Part 2) and AI in supplier discovery (Today, Tomorrow and The Day After Tomorrow).

Following the path from supplier discovery and selection is the topic of our current series, supplier management. As with each preceding entry, the aim is to define what is available with AI(-like) technology and what will be possible tomorrow. And just as the best platforms for supplier discovery are starting to use machine learning and RPA, so too are the best supplier management platforms — but we're getting ahead of ourselves.

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Putting the ‘Relationship’ Back in SRM

contingent workforce

At ConnXus, we’ve worked with countless buyers and suppliers — ranging from global fortune 500s to small and diverse businesses. One of the biggest opportunities we consistently see between buyers and suppliers in the B2B space is the ability to boost supplier relationship management (SRM). Successful SRM is a pivotal milestone in maximizing the value of your supply chain. Developing relationships with your suppliers can help foster collaboration, drive innovation and impact your bottom line.

AI in Supplier Discovery: Tomorrow [PRO]

interest rates

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.

Sustainability and Supplier Data: EcoVadis, Healthcare Firms Share Information for ‘Responsible Health Initiative’

healthcare

The issue of sustainability has increasingly become a topic that has the power to unite industries in which peers might otherwise find themselves in fierce competition. According to EcoVadis, industry concerns about sustainability have made supplier data, which was once considered proprietary, become a shared resource for creating impact and cross-company value. EcoVadis and three health and pharmaceutical companies — GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Teva, Takeda — this year announced the launch of the Responsible Health Initiative (RHI).

What the Heck are Companies Buying When They Purchase Accounts Payable Technology?

Spend Matters recently ran two surveys (one to procurement/finance practitioners and one to technology providers) in preparation for the launch of the Spend Matters Accounts Payable Automation SolutionMap later in 2019. Many of our questions focused on how users and providers define the bounds of AP automation solutions since there is often a disconnect even within the vendor community — let alone the user community. Accounts payable technology covers many business areas, so the market for the solutions is confusing. It's hard to compare them apples to apples.

Avetta, Browz to Merge: Placing Avetta in the Context of Broader Supplier Management and Risk Management Solutions (Part 3) [PRO]

How does Avetta — and its peers, including ISnetworld and Achilles — fit into the broader supplier management and supply/supply chain risk management technology and solutions universe? This Spend Matters PRO research brief provides insight into all of the components that comprise the supplier management and supplier/supply chain risk management sectors. It then attempts to place Avetta in the context of these two, highly complex solutions markets.

Our analysis includes detailed functional and requirements for each of these areas. Just coming up to speed on our analysis of the merger of Avetta and Browz? See our initial Spend Matters PRO Coverage: Avetta, Browz to Merge: Facts, Figures, Solution & Market Overview (Part 1) and Avetta, Browz to Merge: History and the Growth of Community-Oriented, Network Models (Part 2).

Before placing Avetta (and its peers) in the context of these two solution areas, it is essential to create a level-set definition of each. There is often significant overlap between supplier management solutions and supplier/supply chain risk management solutions, both in capability and in terms of the “what” companies are buying. But in short, here’s what they comprise and how they differ.

Avetta and Browz to Merge: Facts, Figures, Solution & Market Overview (Part 1)  [PRO]

Avetta announced earlier today that it and Browz are merging. Together under the Avetta name, the two providers of supplier management and supply chain risk management will become one of the clear leaders in perhaps the most “under the radar” procurement solutions market. The general focus of these two providers is on supplier and contractor on-boarding, pre-qualification and virtual auditing in support of vendor compliance, environmental, health and safety, risk management and related initiatives. SaaS-based enablement is a component of what Avetta and Browz do, but the real value they bring is based on the network impact and scale economics focused on supplier/contractor intelligence they provide to buyers and suppliers alike on a many-to-many basis.

Avetta, Browz, ISNetworld, Achilles and other similar solution providers compete in this somewhat niche — though quite sizeable and rapidly growing — area of the supplier management and supply chain risk management worlds. While not as well-known as providers like Coupa, Jaggaer and Ivalua (let alone SAP Ariba and Oracle), these four providers — along with a handful of other vertical and geographic specific providers — represent one of the fastest growing $500 million+ procurement solutions markets (2018 revenue), one that the vast majority of procurement and supply chain organizations know quite little about the inner workings of.

For many Spend Matters readers, this really is the largest procurement solutions market you’ve never heard of.

Over the course of the coming weeks, this Spend Matters PRO series will explore the combination of Avetta and Browz and what it means for the market. It will also unpack this market segment and explain how it fits alongside supply chain risk management, supplier information management (SIM), supplier performance management, master data management and adjacent sub-components of the supplier management market. We’ll also provide an outlook for customers of these solutions and for the broader growth of this sector as well (which Avetta pegs at a $14 billion market potential based on a referenced study to McKinsey in a briefing with Spend Matters prior to the deal announcement).

Today, we will start with a quick overview of the Avetta and Browz deal itself (facts/figures, estimated revenues, rationale, analysis, etc.) based on a variety of sources. Part 1 also includes a brief history of both providers and an overview of the current state of this market. For this series, our reference inputs include an interview earlier this week with the CEO of Avetta, John Herr, and over a dozen of other interviews conducted in recent years, as well as existing Spend Matters research (see previous Spend Matters PRO coverage on Avetta: Introduction/Background, Strengths / Weaknesses and Competitive Analysis/Customer Recommendations).

Using Technology to Develop Strategic Supplier Relationships

In Efficio's recent survey — “Procurement 2025: Is digital transformation driving more effective procurement?” — around two-thirds (64%) of respondents agreed that strategic supplier relationships will become increasingly important as companies look to achieve their future objectives — yet only half (52%) have formally selected their strategic suppliers. This gap indicates that while there is consensus on the value of the strategic supplier relationship, many companies have yet to define what a strategic supplier truly looks like for their organization, much less how technology can help to develop these relationships.

Has Off-Platform Lending’s Time Finally Arrived?

Now, digital B2B lenders can use fast data to scour thousands of individual data points — to instantly create a dynamic credit limit for companies that work on a particular supplier portal but only have a small percentage of receivables running through it. By having an off-platform model, this company can fund as many invoices as they want until they reach their credit limit. Virtually every supplier can be funded — only those in bankruptcy or on government watch lists are ineligible. This new form of B2B lending marries two core competencies.

Streamlining Supplier Management to Scale Globally: A Case Study of Geosyntec Consultants and AdaptOne

MRO as a service

Geosyntec Consultants, an engineering and consulting firm, needed to upgrade its supplier management system so it could streamline and improve its business. The Florida company works with public and private sector clients across the U.S., Canada, Malaysia and the U.K. It employs more than 1,200 consultants (engineers, scientists, technical personnel) and manages more than 8,300 suppliers, many of which require stringent safety certifications and compliance requirements that come from their clients.

As Geosyntec expanded its practice, it looked for a supplier management solution that could streamline its manual and disjointed processes, all while maintaining needed organizational accountability. Find out what it learned in the process and how it made its choice: AdaptOne.

ConnXus Envisions a Next-Generation Supplier Network With myConnXion: Vendor Snapshot Update [PRO]

supplier management

ConnXus has grown in less than a decade from a specialized supplier diversity compliance tracking service to a notable provider of supplier relationship management solutions.

As Spend Matters’ Q4 2018 Supplier Relationship Management and Risk SolutionMap indicates, ConnXus offers mid- to top-tier functionality for capabilities including supplier performance management, risk management, configurability and services — making it a recommended fit for all five supplier management personas and a Value Leader in two personas: Nimble and Turn-Key. The Mason, Ohio-based solution provider has driven these results primarily by supporting procurement organizations in their efforts to identify, qualify and introduce the right suppliers, including the right diversity suppliers, into global supply chains.

Recently, however, ConnXus expanded the scope of its offering with the introduction of myConnXion, a platform that connects buyers and suppliers into a single network where both sides can create, edit and share their profiles with anyone (even users outside of the network). While myConnXion may appear to be an incremental evolution for ConnXus, filling in some of the core supplier information and master data management functional gaps that handicap it relative to other providers, the new platform is also more than that. Going forward, myConnXion will be the foundation for ConnXus to pursue all future innovations, including ambitions for a global e-sourcing capability and blockchain-based compliance tracking.

This Spend Matter Vendor Snapshot Update reviews ConnXus’ new myConnXion platform and explains why it’s more than just another supplier network concept for procurement organizations looking to tackle supplier diversity tracking. It is an addendum to our previous review and analysis of ConnXus.

Supplier Management: Dozens of Markets in One (Market Introduction) [PRO]

supplier management

The supplier management technology and services market is one of the broadest, most complex and mysterious to those who try to make sense of it — and take advantage of the many solutions that it offers. Spend Matters tracks well over 100 providers in this market, and they fall into more than a dozen individual areas. Some vendors and services firms offer solutions that address multiple components, but not a single provider comes close to offering a comprehensive solution.

This Spend Matters PRO Research brief explains and segments the supplier management market into five solution categories: core supplier process and data enablement; supplier and supply chain risk; community/network; supplier and worker/contractor; and disruptive enablement.