Supplier Management Content

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profile update (suggestions) — taking the headaches out of profile maintenance that results in most profiles being out of date in a supplier management system shortly after they are created; market-based supplier intelligence that is more in line and reflective with reality — and not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

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

cloud solutions

In our last Spend Matters PRO brief, we introduced you to Tealbook, a five-year-old provider based out of Toronto (with an office in New York City) that is deploying a new platform for supplier information management (SIM) and discovery. Combining machine learning to accelerate data cleansing and gathering with a social media-like user experience to encourage collaborative supplier information management, Tealbook is gaining use cases and enterprise-class procurement customers that want to:

— Consolidate and better manage their supplier master data — aka the “I” (Information and Intelligence) in SIM.
— Discover and on-board new suppliers more effectively than 1) Google searches and 2) searches within proprietary supplier networks.
— Create a system of intelligence surrounding suppliers both internally (e.g., within a spend category team or project team) and externally through fully permissioned, community-based knowledge sharing.
— Quickly bring supplier diversity programs to target levels.

Part 1 of this brief provided an overview of Tealbook’s offering and a short selection requirements checklist that outlined the typical company for which Tealbook 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.

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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.

Tealbook: Vendor Introduction (Part 1) — Background and Solution Overview [PRO]

Procurement organizations today talk a big game about automating transactional processes so that they can focus on upstream value creation opportunities. The thinking goes like this: The biggest opportunities for procurement are not in squeezing diminishing savings out of the usual vendors year after year but in identifying and contracting with the most innovative suppliers that can enable exclusive competitive advantages. These include not only strategic sourcing efforts around major categories or products but also mutually beneficial relationship-based activities like supplier collaboration, development, innovation and risk mitigation.

Yet there are several obstacles to this shift in emphasis toward more strategic activities. One is remarkably simple: The majority of procurement organizations do not have a single, accurate record of all of their suppliers. Most of the vital information that would constitute a vendor master file is instead scattered across various silos, including ERP systems, dedicated P2P or S2P tools, homegrown tools, and proverbial three-ring binders. So before procurement can earnestly attempt to spend more time on higher-impact value creation opportunities, most organizations have a lot of work to do forming a baseline off which they can build stronger supplier management, discovery and development competencies. This baseline of supplier knowledge is not just about maintaining an accurate vendor master file to pay the bills, but also a hub for information to help build supplier intelligence and a private supplier network (albeit with some community-based elements) rather than any single commercial network/marketplace.

Helping organizations form this baseline is how Tealbook, a four-year-old provider based out of Toronto (with an office in New York City), is deploying its platform for supplier information management and discovery. Combining machine learning to accelerate data cleansing and gathering with a social media-like user experience to encourage collaborative supplier information management, Tealbook is gaining use cases with enterprise-level procurement organizations that want to consolidate their efforts in master data management (MDM), quickly bring their supplier diversity programs to target levels, and find new suppliers more effectively than a search on the open web allows, as well as expedite the supplier on-boarding process. And as it continues to bring more users and suppliers into its network, Tealbook generates insights that becomes increasingly valuable to its community (without ever sharing proprietary information between organizations).

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on Tealbook and its capabilities. The first part of this brief includes an overview of Tealbook’s offering and a short selection requirements checklist that outlines the typical company for which Tealbook might be a good fit. The second part of this brief provides a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a high-level SWOT analysis, and some market implications and takeaways.

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

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

As we have been repeating throughout this PRO Spend Matters’ AI series, AI is the reigning buzzword of the day in sourcing and procurement software. Supplier management is no exception. Just about every vendor out there trying to get an edge in the space is claiming to have AI, even if all they have is a pinch of RPA. That's why, in Part 1, we reviewed the technology ladder from RPA to "cognitive" — and insisted that while there is no true artificial intelligence out there today, we will start to see “assisted intelligence” and, later, “augmented intelligence” as the software gets more mature and more powerful.

And while we may not see true AI for decades, we do need assisted and augmented intelligence to efficiently and effectively do our jobs. As with supplier discovery, sometimes there is just too much supplier data to weed through to on-board, qualify, track and manage suppliers in an efficient and effective manner. It's really hampering our productivity.

But the right platforms will change all that. As per Part 1, the best platforms of today will:

— speed up and simplify on-boarding for us and our suppliers with auto-fill from databases, networks and third-party information sources.
— offer basic community supplier intelligence to provide quick, differentiating insights between suppliers with similar profiles but greatly differentiated capabilities.
— provide real-time performance insight and alerts to issues that need, or may soon need, attention from a real person versus just automated follow-ups with a supplier.


This is great, but it is not all they can do. We really need platforms that can be all they can be in order to truly take supplier management to the next level as an organizational practice ... versus a point-based endeavor with suppliers that we think are strategic or need our help.

The best platforms on the market today can also help with:

— automated issue identification — automated risk identification — automated resource assignment

And we will discuss each of these required capabilities in the rest of this article.

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

digital

In our last brief, we introduced you to Supply Hive, a provider based out of Chicago that is deploying a new platform for supplier performance management (SPM), specifically around simplifying the process of gathering and analyzing supplier performance reviews. Combining savvy UX/UI design and an apt use of natural language processing (NLP), SupplyHive has built a supplier performance review solution that addresses an acute set of pain points quickly, easily and relatively cheaply.

In effect, it has created what may be termed a “stupid simple” app for supplier management in a market where few vendors effectively address this requirement. Yet the biggest challenges that Supply Hive could face may have more to do with the highly varying levels of maturity that procurement organization demonstrate in support of supplier relationship management (SRM) than in the adoption of the technology itself.

The first part of this brief provided an overview of Supply Hive’s offering and a short selection requirements checklist that outlined the typical company for which Supply Hive might be a good fit. In this part, we provide a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, and some final conclusions and takeaways.

SupplyHive: Vendor Introduction (Part 1) — Background and Solution Overview [PRO]

The market for supplier relationship management and risk solutions is broad and fragmented. Procurement organizations have their choice of point solutions for single areas of the supplier management lifecycle, broader suites that provide SRM capability as one module among many, and consulting firms and service providers that offer technology as an add-on to engagements, to name a few options. As a rule, however, there is no single firm that provides a comprehensive solution to all components of supplier management. Instead, they tend to focus either on several related components (e.g., supplier information management, on-boarding and master data management) or specialize in a specific area, positioning their technology as a tailormade solution to a subset of SRM pain points faced by procurement organizations.

The latter strategy is how SupplyHive, a one-year-old vendor out of Chicago and San Francisco, has approached designing and marketing its software for supplier performance reviews. Aware that procurement organizations have handled this essential step in the supplier management process either through minimally supportive survey functionality in P2P and S2P suites or, more commonly, through enormous spreadsheets, SupplyHive set out to create a tool for evaluating employee satisfaction with indirect suppliers that could gather and analyze needed data about supplier performance while offering a streamlined, B2C-like consumer experience.

To oversimplify, it’s Yelp for suppliers.

But even with that seemingly simple concept, SupplyHive has managed, through savvy UX/UI design and an apt use of natural language processing (NLP), to build a supplier performance review solution that addresses an acute set of pain points quickly, easily and relatively cheaply — with clients such as Abbott and Sprint signing on as early adopters.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on SupplyHive and its capabilities. The brief includes an overview of SupplyHive’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.

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.

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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: The Day After Tomorrow [PRO]

In our initial entry of the series, AI in Supplier Discovery: Today, we discussed how the advancements in usability and computing power have made it possible for platforms to implement better and more powerful search algorithms that can actually make searches useful across wide supplier directories and networks. Then, in our last entry, AI in Supplier Discovery: Tomorrow, we discussed how the inclusion of advanced semantic processing, high dimensional (fingerprint) similarity clustering algorithms, range and "like" search algorithms, and machine learning that can improve the algorithms over time as humans identify "good" versus "bad" matches will allow even better, smarter, more useful searches to be performed in the days to come for the identification of the right suppliers for direct categories and services.

But is that the best we can hope for?

While that is all we can hope for tomorrow, we can hope for even more the day after that. More specifically, when we extend our event horizon out just a little bit further, we can predict that at some point in the future, supplier discovery systems are going to support innovative supplier discovery (based on performance, need and soft factors) and predictive smart search (based on upcoming projects, performance profiles and real-time community feedback).

5 Tips for Government Agencies, Suppliers to Communicate Better

In public procurement, government agencies tend to be tight-lipped when dealing with potential suppliers who are bidding on their contracts. That stems from being risk-averse, says Public Spend Forum, a sister site of ours that offers five tips for improving the communication between government agencies and suppliers. But what’s behind this friction between these groups that needs to be eased?