New Compass Research: The Future of Spend Visibility and Analytics — Three Scenarios For Adoption

In my first real job out of graduate school, I spent much of my day analyzing structured and unstructured information to come up with potential scenarios for companies, industries and markets. The firm I worked for specialized in what's known among corporate strategy-types as "scenario planning." This type of scenario modeling work differentiates from purely data-driven financial and supply chain forecasting exercises by introducing qualitative inputs as well as enabling participants in the exercise to have a say, and in fact participate in the outcome and analysis that results. I've always found scenario approaches for conceiving where the future may take us to be a useful exercise, and one that can be accomplished in surprisingly pragmatic ways with actionable output. Moreover, scenarios can help inspire those who either participate in their creation or review the resulting materials. In our latest Spend Matters Compass research brief, The Future of Procurement Analytics and Content -- Three Scenarios For Company Adoption, we've attempted to bring alive multiple scenarios for where analytics and embedded content will take procurement in the future based upon technology that is available is today.

This paper concludes the Spend Matters 2010 Compass series: Spend Visibility and Beyond -- Analytics Broader Role in Procurement and Supply Chain (we'll launch our 2011/2012 research in this area later in the year). Other papers in the series can be downloaded here:

In this latest paper, we begin by looking at some of the limitations of current mindsets and approaches to spend visibility and procurement analytics, noting that the biggest limiting factor for how companies use procurement analytics is often not underlying software limitations -- or knowing who to turn to. Rather, it's using one's imagination to conceive what's possible through procurement analytics and then working backwards to make what might appear a long-term vision into a shorter-term reality.

Following this introduction, the paper presents three experiential scenarios that we hope will provide companies with multiple visions for what advanced procurement analytics can enable using off-the-shelf capabilities today. In the first scenario, what we term "Embedded Functional Enablement," we ask readers when it comes to cost savings and related strategies, to stop and think about not what they do for business stakeholders, but what business stakeholders could be doing for them (a curious twist, eh?) The technologies you deploy in the context will look very -- and we mean very -- different from what you've prioritized in the past. And from a procurement analytics emphasis, the solution environment will perhaps look the most different of all of the source-to-pay technology areas.

The second scenario we present, "Making Better Procurement Transparent on the Front Lines of the Business," outlines how analytics and information can empower frontline users, often on a transparent basis, in their everyday activities. And the third scenario, "Enabling the Power User to Drive Transformational Analysis," takes a look at what can happen when we put the maximum spend analytics horsepower in the right, able and expert hands.

Whether you're looking for ideas to take procurement analytics, spend analysis and spend/supply content and insight further in your company or are sketching out the early stages of a deployment plan and need to get other stakeholders excited about the possibilities, we're certain that this latest Compass brief will leave you with a number of ideas to put into practice today while outlining a visions and roadmap for what's possible tomorrow. You can download The Future of Procurement Analytics and Content -- Three Scenarios For Company Adoption for free today on the Spend Matters site.

- Jason Busch

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