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6 Ways to Leverage AI in Procurement Today

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Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the most hyped-up topics in business right now. Gartner has included a number of AI applications in their 2018 Hype Cycle for most important emerging technologies. To take matters further, Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai recently said he expects AI to become more important for humanity than even fire or electricity.

Almost every week we hear of new ways AI revolutionizing business practices, but where does this leave procurement? The good news is, if your procurement organization is ready for digital, it’s ready for AI. Here are six concrete ways you can get started.

Determine: What Makes It Great (Procure-to-Pay SolutionMap Analysis)

Determine offers a modular, adaptable procure-to-pay solution built on top of a powerful business rules engine and master data management platform.

Ideal for industries with unique processes and dynamic compliance requirements (e.g., healthcare, financial services), global firms with cross-border systems, and any organization that emphasizes total cost of ownership for software (inclusive for configuration, integration and deployment), Determine is a recommended fit for all five of Spend Matters’ Procure-to-Pay SolutionMap buying personas.

Determine has a substantial P2P user base in France and is adding customers in North America. Offering comparatively attractive pricing to both middle-market and Global 2000 organizations, Determine has capabilities that can also make it suitable for larger organizations with specialized procure-to-pay requirements.

As of September 2018, the Spend Matters SolutionMap contains functional and customer satisfaction benchmarks on more than 50 vendors within the procurement software market. But where does Determine stand out most in the competitive P2P sector, and why should this matter for procurement and finance organizations? Let’s dive into the P2P SolutionMap benchmark to find out where Determine is great.

“What Makes It Great” is a recurring column that shares insights from each quarterly SolutionMap report for SolutionMap Insider subscribers. Based on both our rigorous evaluation process and customer reference reviews, each brief offers quick facts on the provider, describes where it excels, provides hard data on where it beats the SolutionMap benchmark and concludes with a checklist for ideal customer scenarios in which procurement, finance and supply chain organizations should consider it.

Field Nation: What Makes It Great (Independent Contract Workers Analysis)

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Editor’s note: This “What Makes It Great” column is normally reserved for SolutionMap Insider Subscribers, but Field Nation has generously agreed to support access for readers who are not yet members.

Field Nation offers a specialized enterprise technology solution and online marketplace that enables the sourcing, dispatching management and payment of independent field tech contractors. The provider competes in the enterprise solution category that Spend Matters’ SolutionMap calls Independent Contract Workers (ICW), the most dynamic segment of the contingent and workforce and services (CW/S) procurement software market, which also includes the Temp Staffing (Vendor Management Systems/VMS) and Contract Services/Statement of Work solution segments.

Today’s ICW solutions have their roots in the so-called gig, freelance and peer-to-peer economies — the new world of platforms, like Uber and Airbnb, versus the established world of enterprise software applications inhabited for decades by the likes of SAP and Oracle. Field Nation is a specialized solution that supports organizations (mostly service management companies, in addition to value-added resellers and sometimes OEMs) that are responsible for installing and maintaining technology/equipment across geographically dispersed business locations of technology/equipment owners/lessees.

Field Nation’s clients typically maintain a W2-employee field installation and maintenance workforce, but — to an extent — supplement it by sourcing and engaging independent field tech contractors in different locations through Field Nation’s online marketplace platform. Field Nation has recently augmented its enterprise functionality and services, branded Field Nation ONE, which is also its blended workforce management software. And it has plans to expand its work/expertise categories beyond technology/equipment.

Where does that offering fit into the burgeoning ICW market? As of September 2018, Spend Matters’ SolutionMap contains functional and customer satisfaction benchmarks on more than 50 vendors within the procurement software market, including six providers in the ICW segment. To understand where Field Nation stands out most and helps set the bar for the ICW segment — and why should this matter for procurement and HR organizations — let’s delve into the SolutionMap benchmark and explore what makes Field Nation great.

“What Makes It Great” is a recurring column that shares insights from each quarterly SolutionMap report for SolutionMap Insider subscribers. Based on both our rigorous evaluation process and customer reference reviews, each brief offers quick facts on the provider, describes where it excels, provides hard data on where it beats the SolutionMap benchmark and concludes with a checklist for ideal customer scenarios in which procurement, finance and supply chain organizations should consider it.

Coupa Buys Aquiire, Adding to Its Lead in Catalog Search and Front-End Shopping Usability

Coupa is buying Aquiire, a provider of e-procurement software that brings notable capabilities in real-time search and catalog management, for an undisclosed sum, the company announced Monday. In purchasing Aquiire, Coupa gains not only additional modern front-end shopping capabilities (some might argue among the most advanced) but also a complement to the industry-leading catalog management technology it gained from acquiring Simeno in December 2017.

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10 Questions to Ask in a Purchase-to-Pay Demo

Sometimes cleverly crafted demos can gloss over important nuances or mask inadequacies, which can cause major problems later during implementation — and the dreaded scope creep. So, here are some areas that I recommend digging into and questions to ask during a purchase-to-pay demo. 

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Procurement Benchmarking in the Era of Big Data

Let’s be honest: most benchmark reports promise much but deliver little. They often start with good intentions but focus on high-level best practices or rely on survey questionnaires to gather their data. Benchmarks can take weeks or months to develop, and even then they are often discarded if they can’t give concrete action points to procurement. At the same time, we live in the era of big data. Perhaps you’ve heard that more data has been created in the last two years than all of the previous human history. As data becomes the oil of the fourth industrial revolution, why wouldn’t we put all this data into action?

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ROI, Today: Making the Near-Term Business Case for Spend Analytics

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Most varieties of procurement software deliver some form of return on investment. Whether it’s an e-procurement system that consolidates process costs or a sourcing tool that optimizes supplier selection, successful vendors can always point to clear ways their solutions deliver value, both immediately and in the future. When it comes to spend analytics, however, demonstrating ROI has proven more elusive. This is because dedicated spend analysis tools are often viewed as enablers to saving money through other methods, rather than a benefit in their own right. Yet while it is true that spend analytics deliver value by illuminating new savings opportunities, these tools can also be used to obtain tangible wins in their own right.

Why Procurement Must Prepare Today to Use Cognitive Software in 2050: Insights from LevaData’s 2018 Cognitive Sourcing Summit

digital

Just as it’s unlikely that most people will be regularly using self-driving cars any time before 30 years from now, procurement is probably not going to be widely using AI-based “cognitive” software within the next five or even 10 years. But that doesn’t mean organizations should sit around waiting for the technology to come to them. The talent, technology and operational strategies procurement leaders choose today will determine whether or not they are capable of using artificial intelligence-based software in the future. In fact, failing to prepare for the use of cognitive technology today could mean procurement is unable to use those tools even when they have become widely adopted, putting the business far behind its digitally mature competitors.

Debunking the Myths of Optical Character Recognition: What It Is and How It Affects Accounts Payable

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Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Justin Holden, vice president of sales, Yooz North America.

OCR: Another one of those technical buzzwords that we’re hearing a lot about these days. It’s of particular interest in fintech (another new buzzword that stands for “financial technology”) and even more specifically in accounts payable. But what is it? More important, what isn’t it? And how does it make a difference in the accounts payable (AP) workflow?

Has Blockchain Reached an ‘Inflection Point’? New Deloitte Research Measures Executive Attitudes

Now that the early hype around blockchain has died down, what do executives around the world really think about the distributed ledger technology that promises to transform everything from ingredient tracking to banking? To find out, researchers from Deloitte recently surveyed 1,053 senior executives in seven countries (Canada, China, France, Germany, Mexico, the U.K. and the U.S.) who are familiar with blockchain and with their companies’ blockchain investment plans. All respondents represent companies with at least $500 million in annual revenue.

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One (Direct Procurement) Tool Fit for All

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When considering indirect procurement departments, I often distinguish several tools used in parallel. But while this may be perfectly acceptable for the software providers, it is much less so for the users and company. Imagine the amount of effort for the administration of four separate tools, each different from the next — with their own supplier database and knowledge spread over multiple departments. The worst component of having four separate tools is there is no centralized flow, no process integration and different upgrades and training are required for each.

Hail to the Value Leaders: Saluting SolutionMap’s Best Performers in Q3 2018

The coveted top-right corner of each SolutionMap represents the best performers in each procurement software category. Labeled as Value Leaders, these companies demonstrate the best balance of customer satisfaction and technical capability as judged by the Spend Matters analyst team. For the Q3 2018 SolutionMap, released Tuesday with newly added vendors and debut maps for Contingent Workforce and Services, here are the Value Leaders across all categories.