Sourcing - Premium Content

Artificial Intelligence in Sourcing: The Day After Tomorrow [PRO]

In Spend Matters’ last PRO article about AI in Sourcing, we reviewed some of the exciting capabilities that you will be able to expect in tomorrow's e-sourcing systems, where we define AI as “augmented intelligence” because, as we've repeatedly stated in our articles in this ongoing AI series, there is no true artificial intelligence in any enterprise technology today. In fact, there won't be anything close, at least on the open market, even tomorrow. But it will be closer tomorrow, and it will approach the point where it can be labeled augmented intelligence as it will allow you to make better, smarter, decisions — no matter how good and smart the decisions were that you made in the past.

In the last article, we discussed the following augmented intelligence capabilities in particular that will be part of tomorrow's e-sourcing platforms:



  • Event-based category alignment
  • Market-based sourcing strategy identification
  • Automatic strategic sourcing events
  • Suggested award scenarios

However, as great as event-based category alignment and market-based sourcing strategy identification will be, and as fantastic as automatic strategic sourcing events with suggested awards will be, there will be even better augmented intelligence capabilities in the e-sourcing platforms of the future. Specifically, the day after tomorrow, you will be able to expect the following seemingly magical capabilities:

  • SKU replacement
  • End-of-life (EOL) recommendations for products
  • Real-time strategy alignment
  • Auto-pause/extend

And more. But anything beyond these could be quite a ways out, so we will stick to these for now.

An Introduction to Sourcing Business Intelligence (Part 3): Analytics and AI in a Sourcing Context [PRO]

In the third installment of this Spend Matters PRO series, we turn our attention to how traditional human intelligence and artificial intelligence intersect with sourcing business intelligence (BI), leading to a new type of cognitive procurement built on larger and larger data foundations.

We trace the evolution of select artificial intelligence (AI) applications in procurement that are generally available today and provide examples of models that are just becoming mainstream in select markets.

But most important, we show how it is possible to let a combination of off-the-shelf capabilities and “as a service” providers do the heavy lifting in the journey toward sourcing (business) intelligence and more broadly toward supply (business) intelligence.

Artificial Intelligence in Sourcing Tomorrow (Part 1) [PRO]

In Spend Matters' last PRO article, Artificial Intelligence in Sourcing Today (The Situation Now), we overviewed some scenarios where you can find AI in e-sourcing platforms today, where we define AI as “assisted intelligence” because, as we've stated in this series about AI in modern sourcing and procurement technologies, there is no true artificial intelligence in any enterprise technology today. In fact, there is nothing close, at least not on the open market.

But we will be closer to artificial intelligence tomorrow, and in the near future, we may get to the point where the average market leading platform offers you augmented intelligence on a daily basis.

In our last article, we reviewed the common instances of the assisted intelligence technologies on the market today, namely: auto-fill, workflow automation, outlier identification and rule-based auto-award identification.

However, this is just the beginning of what you should have as a sourcing professional, especially considering what's coming in AI Tomorrow. For example, if you go back to our series in AI in Procurement Tomorrow, you know that soon you will have technologies to prevent overspend, buy on your behalf invisibly, buy automatically, identify opportunities while you sleep, identify new categories before you know of their existence and identify procurement methodologies for success.

But these improvements will spill over into the sourcing domain as well. In Tomorrowland, as a buyer, you will also have augmented intelligence technologies that will allow for:

* Event-Based Category Alignment — not just new category detection * Market-based Sourcing Strategy Identification — not just the right methodology for procurement * Automatic Strategic Sourcing Events — not just auto-buy from a catalog or contract * Suggested Award Scenarios — not just canned options

And it will make your buying life much more efficient. But how?

Artificial Intelligence in Sourcing Today (The Situation Now) [PRO]

Not that long ago we ran a six-part series on AI in Procurement (Today Part I and Part II; Tomorrow Part I, Part II, Part III; and The Day After Tomorrow). By the time we defined the levels of AI today, what will be possible in the future and just how far AI in procurement will take you, you probably thought that was all there was too it and were impatiently awaiting the day when your "best of breed" applications would catch up.

The reality is that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

When your platform provider (or, if necessary, your future platform provider) catches up and starts offering you modern capabilities, those capabilities should extend well beyond procurement and spill over into multiple areas of S2P, including sourcing.

So to whet your appetite about what should be coming next, and to make sure your provider knows that you know what should be coming next (and will be holding them accountable), in this series we're going to dive into the applications of AI in sourcing and discuss what is available today, what is coming tomorrow — and what is in your strategic buying future.

Strategic Sourcing’s Evolution: A Roadmap For Improvement (Part 2) [Plus +]

SciQuest

Editor's note: This is a refresh of our 2012 series on strategic sourcing's evolution over the last and next decade, which originally ran on Spend Matters PRO. Click here for Part 1 in this analysis.

In providing a more complete picture and set of working hypotheses in terms of where strategic sourcing is headed in the coming decade, we should first look at the practitioner view of where adoption and usage is headed. We’ve tracked well over 100 companies that are using advanced scenario building and/or optimization features today, for example in their strategic sourcing tool arsenal (monthly or more frequently) outside of just the transportation area for identifying optimal lane award scenarios.

Strategic Sourcing’s Evolution: A Roadmap For Improvement (Part 1) [Plus +]

As a level set on strategic sourcing enablement, tools-wise, most solutions approach the sourcing challenge the same way today as the best solutions did 10 years ago. On the one hand, the level of maturity is good (few, if any, truly bad solutions have survived in the marketplace – thankfully). But on the other hand, we can look at this and make the observation that the technology market for strategic sourcing has stagnated. There is hope, and we believe that change is starting to happen. In certain circles, it’s actually changing how companies think about the sourcing process overall. In other words, technology is serving as a foundation for new thinking and processes rather than purely as an enablement, data gathering or process automation tool.

Lost Sourcing Savings: Survey Data Suggest a Crisis (Part 3) [Plus +]

Editor's note: This Spend Matters Plus brief is a refresh of our 2013 series on sourcing strategies, which originally ran on Spend Matters PRO. Check out Part 1  and Part of this series first. 

If we were to point fingers at where technology can help companies drive implemented savings, five areas would rise to the top: demand aggregation, collaboration (internal and supplier), strategic sourcing (with an emphasis beyond driving to negotiated outcomes alone), analytics and architecture/information management. We won’t investigate the latter topic in this series because of the detailed analysis that our analyst team has already conducted. Yet in the other areas discussed, it’s worth exploring the different technology options, beginning with tools that support demand aggregation strategies.

Lost Sourcing Savings: Survey Data Suggest a Crisis (Part 2) [Plus +]

consultant

Editor's note: This Spend Matters Plus brief is a refresh of our 2013 series on sourcing strategies, which originally ran on Spend Matters PRO. Check out Part 1 of this series here

As much we like to jump to some “geek” answer to solve savings and supplier implementation challenges, hopefully you have realized by now that the right technologies alone will not get a procurement organization very far in overcoming the savings implementation hurdles. Indeed, the diversity of challenges surrounding implementing sourcing savings in both manufacturing and non-manufacturing environments run deep across functional and organizational DNA and capabilities. Tackling these first will enable procurement organizations to use the right set of technologies as a glue that binds all of the jigsaw pieces of the rest of the savings implementation equation permanently.

Lost Sourcing Savings: Survey Data Suggest a Crisis (Part 1) [Plus +]

Editor's note: This Spend Matters Plus brief is a refresh of our 2013 series on sourcing strategies, which originally ran on Spend Matters PRO.

During an ISM webinar highlighting how (and why) procurement organizations fail to implement sourcing savings, Spend Matters asked the audience (approximately 500 practitioners) a number of poll questions: Does your organization have a formal program to ensure that identified savings through sourcing and supplier management programs become implemented savings numbers? What percentage identified savings do you estimate that your organization successfully implements from sourcing and supplier management events and programs? This suggests a few key takeaways about sourcing generally.

Direct Material Sourcing and Supplier Management Platforms (Part 1) [Plus +]

In enabling basic strategic sourcing capability for indirect, services and basic direct materials spend, there are now a lot — and we mean it — of solid choices in the market. And it’s a space that’s getting more crowded everyday. Yet in comparison to the broader sourcing marketplace, the direct materials market is, unfortunately, given short shrift. There are potentially many reasons for this. First, it’s complex — there is not one category of solution. Second, the user for these tools is not always the same as one who might use a more generic sourcing toolset (at least not alone). And third, the processes that direct materials sourcing toolsets support are complicated because they are used not only across numerous internal functions (materials management, plant management, operations, supply chain, design/engineering, procurement, sales and operations planning, etc.), but span multiple tiers of suppliers.

In a three-part Spend Matters Plus series that will deliver a cursory attempt to segment this market, we’ll attempt to overcome the current lack of research in this area by providing a concrete segmentation of different technology categories and the capabilities within each. Today we’ll consider additional context and provide a high-level segmentation and explanation of tools (which we’ll flesh out and provide vendor short-lists for later in the analysis).

So You Want to Buy Strategic Sourcing? Key Differentiators to Consider [PRO]

In our previous installments of this series, we focused on some of the key differentiating aspects of contract management and spend analytics solutions. As you may recall, rather than focusing on the features and functions that most providers deliver, this series is focused on highlighting areas that pop up as differentiators in the eyes of the more progressive practitioner organizations that we speak with. The idea is to help separate the wheat from the chaff even though we don’t know what exact flavor of bread that you’re baking.

Within the sourcing area, we will also take some additional liberties by highlighting some key functionality that might perhaps better fall into an “extended sourcing” category that transcends just traditional sourcing strategy and execution. For example, project portfolio management, savings management, performance management, stakeholder management, and other processes clearly transcend just sourcing, but from a pragmatic “on the ground” standpoint, these are often prioritized by sourcing and category management teams. They are trying to drive short-term value while trying to scale their efforts with a form of knowledge management that will support their longer-term transformation outside of episodic sourcing events and into a more end-to-end lifecycle view of progressive category management.

There are also some provider-level differentiators that transcend software feature-function nuances, and we’ll highlight these as well. OK, let’s dive in.

Write Better RFPs: How to Get What You Want (and Need) From Suppliers [Plus +]

RFP

The typical business challenge when you go to market with an RFP centers on getting ideas for what is possible, and identifying suppliers that either already have these ideas or are willing to work with you toward that end. Targeted activities are often services or complex products where quality, service or the engineered final product will be different from each vendor responding. We've put together some fresh ideas to an old challenge: conveying your needs in ways that a supplier can relate to and that encourages them to put their best foot forward, with a proposal that goes beyond your wants and addresses your needs, as well.