Trade Extensions — Brainstorming How to Accelerate the Adoption of Sourcing Optimization

Trade Extensions

At the Trade Extensions customer event today in Chicago, a number of attendees, myself included, voiced their opinion on how to tailor sourcing optimization technology to meet their future needs and to drive adoption. Since Trade Extensions is on the cutting edge of sourcing optimization, as are many of its customers, the suggestions were fascinating indeed.

Curiously, many thoughts center on areas around the technology rather than the core solution itself. Taken together, I believe the thoughts below point to the future of where sourcing technology is headed, which centers as much on people as systems.

Ideas included:

  • Simplifying the experience for non power-users at least for reporting and on the front-end to show the broader organization the power of optimization and to get them involved in decision making (e.g., cost of specific constraints)
  • Dynamic global/geo analysis including to support global logistics and global procurement, including a user interface to support visibility into risk and activities
  • Greater connectivity (API-based) to back-end systems to enable the pull and push of information dynamically, including gathering information for sourcing events and populating bid results and award decisions
  • Decision guidance — using the power of artificial intelligence and reduced computing processing costs to have the application suggest constraints and scenarios that it has “pre-run” rather than requiring users to add individual constraints to see the impact of various considerations
  • Sharing best practices between users, including additional categories beyond logistics that sourcing optimization can be applied. Also providing targeted general best practices, such as how to provide market feedback across different dimensions to suppliers for maximum effect when general guidelines for highly complex multi-round or, in the future, dynamic events are not yet established as they are with areas like reverse auctions

Between these and other ideas that were shared, it seems we can group recommendations to drive sourcing optimization uptake into a few key categories. First, create a simplified front-end for typically stakeholder interaction outside of events, or to view event data. In other words, mask or constrain the complexity and show off what is possible to as many people as possible! Second, deepen integration between procurement/sourcing systems and back-end systems, such as ERP or transportation management. And third, tie programs more broadly to such areas as category management, supply chain risk management and even top-line/bottom-line linkages.

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