Plus or PRO Content

Artificial Intelligence Meets Payables and Dynamic Discounting: Oracle Cloud Vendor Snapshot Update (Part 2) [PRO]

digital business transformation

With its new Intelligent Payment Discounts solution, Oracle is bridging the worlds of procurement and finance together in a unique way that unifies procurement, accounts payable and core financials.

In Part 1 of this research brief, we offered a detailed overview of this new, AI-based solution, providing an introduction to its different components for organizations that might consider it.

In today’s installment, we will conclude our analysis, exploring Oracle Intelligent Payment Discounts’ strengths and weaknesses related to other early payment solutions, either as an extension of invoice-to-pay or on a standalone trade-financing basis — and provide a user requirements checklist to help companies prioritize if the solution is the right fit for them.

Our analysis includes a perspective on the advantage that Oracle has in selling this solution compared to other early payment and financing solutions (e.g., C2FO, Prime Revenue, Taulia, etc.) and procure-to-pay/invoice-to-pay (e.g., Basware, Coupa, Ivalua, SAP Ariba, etc.) outside of feature/function capability alone based on its unified architecture with Oracle Cloud Financials. That is, for companies migrating, upgrading or switching to Oracle Cloud — not those on legacy E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft or JD Edwards solutions.

E-Invoicing: What it Takes to Get to World Class [Plus+]

e-invoicing

In this Spend Matters Plus series, we explore what makes run-of-the-mill electronic invoicing (e-invoicing) implementations different from those that are transformative and capable of aligning procurement and accounts payable (A/P) with broader business outcomes and metrics. In this analysis, we delve into topics that are important for procurement and A/P teams to discuss with their solution providers — and prospective providers — to enable a world-class e-invoicing deployment on their terms.

As part of this research brief, we first consider the corporate and public perspective on initiatives (aimed at the private sector), both of which involve differing goals, albeit with the need of the individual company deploying capabilities to keep in mind various sets of requirements regardless. In part, depending on jurisdiction, this dual “master” requirement — the business and government — is something that makes e-invoicing quite unique in the area of procurement technology. Next, we include a list of 10 key elements to diagnose the quality of an e-invoicing deployment and how providers stack up, as well as key e-invoicing questions to evaluate your performance and implementation, trends and value-add services that select e-invoicing providers are addressing. Finally, we provide an e-invoicing architecture framework to construct, deploy and manage a set of enabling capabilities based on your specific requirements.

SAP Ariba Live (Part 1): SAP Fieldglass Integration, the Ariba Network and Other Topics & Analysis [PRO]

Accenture

For the industry analysts in attendance, SAP Ariba Live 2019 kicked off Monday in Austin, Texas, with a candid Q&A session with Barry Padgett, president of SAP Ariba and SAP Fieldglass; Darren Koch, chief product officer of SAP Ariba; and Vish Baliga, chief technology officer of SAP Fieldglass. During the session, Padgett, Koch and Baliga shared the latest from SAP in terms of numbers growth and SAP Fieldglass’ integration into a common business unit with SAP Ariba, among other topics.

Many of these themes were echoed throughout the 100-plus breakout (and mainstage) sessions that took place Tuesday and Wednesday, including multiple sessions on the SAP Fieldglass integration as well as the Ariba network, among other topics.

This Spend Matters PRO live report provides insight into these updates from the public sessions and what’s driving them. It also includes an analysis and key takeaways from our first 24 hours at SAP Ariba Live. In subsequent briefs, we will explore these and other topics in more detail.

Artificial Intelligence Meets Payables and Dynamic Discounting: Oracle Cloud Vendor Snapshot Update (Part 1) [PRO]

At the recent Oracle Modern Business Experience event, artificial intelligence figured prominently in many of the mainstage and breakout sessions. Not surprisingly, AI is working its way into Oracle’s procurement suite of cloud capabilities.

Oracle’s investments in AI are centered across several areas leveraging a range of underlying algorithmic approaches (e.g., semantic analysis, neural nets, deep learning, etc.) that individually or collectively serve to enable different business use cases centered on what Oracle calls pattern recognition, smart recognition and smart prediction.

Within its procurement suite of cloud solutions, Oracle has released two AI-driven applications: intelligent supplier categorization (think spend classification) and intelligent payment discounts.

This two-part Spend Matters PRO research brief provides an introduction to the intelligent payment discounting module. For an introduction to the Oracle Procurement Cloud, see our previous Vendor Snapshot coverage (Overview and Introduction, Strengths / Weaknesses and Recommendations/Competitive Alternatives) and Comparative SolutionMap ratings as part of SolutionMap for Q1 2019 for E-Procurement, Invoice-to-Pay and Procure-to-Pay.

Part 1 of this research brief provides a description of capabilities and review of the solution itself — what it does, how it works and how AI makes it effective. Part 2 explores the strengths and weaknesses of the solution and provides customer recommendations.

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).

The Contingent Workforce and Services (CW/S) Insider’s Hot List: April 2019 [Plus+]

Welcome to the April 2019 edition of Spend Matters Insider’s Hot List, a monthly look at the contingent workforce and services (CW/S) space that’s available to PLUS and PRO subscribers. For those new to the Hot List, each edition covers the prior month’s important or interesting technology and innovation developments in the CW/S space.

In March, a warming trend continued throughout the industry — and particularly in the work intermediation platform space, with new M&A, innovation and solutions appearing and one major player not paying attention and stepping in something (I hate when that happens). Read about Contently, Figure Eight, Freelancer.com, Topcoder and more.

Sustainability, Environmental Stewardship and CSR: The CPO’s Outside-In Agenda (Part 2B) [PRO]

sustainable supply chain

In our last article in this Spend Matters PRO series, we focused on several pressing issues that are shaping procurement from the outside in, yet chief procurement officers are primarily still concerned with issues set by an inside-out agenda — that is, cost-cutting and supply assurance targets mandated by upper management. However, our PESTLE analysis of factors shaping the modern CPO agenda identified broad outside-in trends that an organization needs to consider if it wants to truly tap and manage the opportunities (and risks) offered by external supply markets. (Read the CPO’s Conundrum: Parts 1A and 1B.)

Nowhere is this more readily apparent than with the topic of sustainability and environmental stewardship, the focus of today’s brief. The environment is an inseparable component of any business. It forms the platform layer off which all goods and services are produced, and cannot be ignored. And the difference between effective and sustainable management and ineffective and unsustainable management, as pointed out in yesterday’s article, is shocking. Not only would investments in environmental sustainability focussed companies over the past two decades doubled an average rate of return, but millennials will pay a (small) premium for sustainably (and ethically) sourced products and you are ensuring that you will have raw material supply for years (and decades to come).

Sustainability, Environmental Stewardship and CSR: The CPO’s Outside-In Agenda (Part 2A) [PRO]

leading cross-functional teams

In this first installment of this Spend Matters PRO series (see Part 1A and Part 1B), we noted that a number of pressing issues are shaping procurement from the outside in, yet chief procurement officers (CPOs) are primarily still concerned with issues set by an inside-out agenda — that is, cost cutting and supply assurance targets mandated by upper management. Our PESTLE analysis of factors shaping the modern CPO agenda identified broad trends like economic instability, globalization, changing digital business strategies and the need to address corporate social responsibility (CSR) as areas that procurement organizations need to consider if they want to truly tap and manage the opportunities (and risks) offered by external supply markets.

Perhaps nowhere is this more readily apparent than with the topic of sustainability and environmental stewardship, the focus of today’s brief. The environment is an inseparable component of any business. It forms the platform layer off which all goods and services are produced, and, more fundamentally, the resulting ecosystem services from which humans benefit create the foundations for our species’ survival and quality of life. Due to multiple ongoing trends, however, the environment is changing, as are the ways that consumers, investors and governments think about our relationship to the environment.

Accordingly, Part 2 of this series on the CPO’s Conundrum examines the outside-in drivers pushing sustainability and environmental stewardship higher on the procurement agenda. It also explores recent examples of how businesses are integrating these issues into their supply management strategies, while simultaneously addressing them in balance with traditional procurement objectives, such as category management, supply base alignment and demand shaping.

Microsoft 365 Freelance Toolkit: Retooling How Enterprises Work (Part 2) [PRO]

In Part 2 of this three-part series, we shift our focus from the examination of what the Microsoft 365 freelance toolkit is and how it emerged with a broader work innovation initiative at Microsoft to the major role of Microsoft’s procurement organization in the process from the very beginning to the present.

In Part 1, we focused on the “customer zero” approach to the development of the Microsoft 365 freelance toolkit within Microsoft over the last 18 months. We also discussed the research, ideation and strategy process that started six to eight months earlier involving a number of key stakeholder groups/experts, including procurement, HR, legal and strategy in addition to the Microsoft 365 Product Content Group, led by Paul Estes.

We noted that this broader process was as much a cross-functional, organizational innovation journey into the future of work as it was a product journey motivated by the need to understand what the future of work would mean for Microsoft 365 products.

Over the past several years, Spend Matters has been researching to what extent — and how — larger enterprises have been adopting digital work platforms (such as freelancer marketplaces, crowd-based services platforms, etc.) as a way to source certain kinds of talent for suitable types of assignments.

We have also been focused on how services procurement/contingent workforce managers have been approaching (or could approach) these new sources on behalf of their organizations (see, for example, “How Procurement Can Participate in Platform Sourcing Initiatives: There Are More Ways Than One — Part 1 and Part 2”).

Based on our discussion with Chad Nesland, director of strategic sourcing at Microsoft, we now look at how procurement, starting two years ago, participated in Microsoft’s gig economy/work innovation initiative that, six months later, led to a supplier-partnership relationship with Upwork Enterprise and the subsequent development of the freelancer toolkit delivered to Microsoft 365 clients last December.

Microsoft 365 Freelance Toolkit: Retooling How Enterprises Work (Part 1) [PRO]

The extent to which large enterprises are using independent contract workers, including online freelancers, has been a Spend Matters’ research interest for several years now. That interest has included the “what” and the “how” of what has been happening (including procurement’s role in the process).

In December 2018, when we covered Upwork’s partnership with Microsoft on the launch of the Microsoft 365 freelance toolkit, we recognized the event as one more step in the gradual alignment of enterprises and online freelancer marketplaces. But we barely skimmed the surface of what this toolkit actually is, how it came to be at Microsoft and how it could help other enterprises and their employees.

At that time, we reported that the Microsoft 365 freelance toolkit builds on Microsoft clients’ “existing technology investments and provides tools, templates and best practices that help enterprises launch, execute and manage freelance programs at scale.” And technology-wise, the toolkit consists of “built-in product features and integrations with Microsoft Power BI, Teams, SharePoint and Flow” that “guide enterprises through the freelance engagement process.”

This Spend Matters PRO series will take a closer look at the Microsoft 365 freelance toolkit, clarifying what it actually is, how it emerged and took shape, almost spontaneously, as a part of a bottom-up yet multidisciplinary process (which included HR, legal and even procurement as key players). The series will share insights into this two-year process based on our discussions with key managers at Microsoft and Upwork.

In Part 1, we draw on our discussion with Paul Estes, the Gig Economy strategy lead at Microsoft and the product lead of the Microsoft 365 freelance tool kit initiative. In Part 2, we talk with Chad Nesland, Microsoft’s director of strategic sourcing and the procurement lead in the initiative. And in Part 3, we incorporate our discussion with Eric Gilpin of Upwork Enterprise, Microsoft’s launch partner. We wrap up with our overall analysis of the Microsoft 365 freelance toolkit journey and potential implications for other large enterprises and their procurement organizations.

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.

After EcoVadis’ Sustain 2019: Product Strategy, Roadmap and Prospect/Customer Analysis (Part 3) [PRO]

EcoVadis, which provides vendor ratings and scorecarding for sustainability and broader CSR metrics as a component of an integrated “many-to-many” supplier network and platform, has an aggressive product roadmap to expand how users interact with and leverage the supplier intelligence, which is at the very core of its value proposition.

Today, in this final installment in this Spend Matters’ PRO series based on our analysis from the EcoVadis Sustain 2019 customer event, we turn our attention to the future direction of where EcoVadis is expanding its capabilities. We also include customer/prospect recommendations.

In previous Spend Matters PRO coverage on EcoVadis, we offered a recap and update on the provider’s most recent capabilities and solution footprint — and an analysis of where EcoVadis fits in the broader supplier management and supply chain risk management landscape.