IBM’s Dan Carrell on Procurement’s Big Data Opportunity: GPTS 2016

Dan Carrell IBM

Aside from the U.S. government and Wal-Mart, we’d be hard pressed to point out another organization with similar massive procurement spend as IBM. At #ProcureTech2016 this morning, IBM’s Vice President of Global Procurement Dan Carrell gave a splendid talk on how IBM is transforming its own operations through cognitive procurement.

The annual IBM facts and procurement figures that Dan shared boggle the typical procurement organization mind:

  • 15,000 suppliers managed (after decades of rationalization efforts)
  • 22,000 sourcing events
  • $50 billion in spend managed
  • 148,000 active contracts (buy side); “hundreds of thousands” on the sell side
  • 740,000 purchase orders

Beyond the procurement technology basics (e.g., implementing P2P systems and processes to get to 90% “hands free orders” and 90% electronic invoices in 2016), Dan and his team are leveraging IBM’s Watson technology in numerous ways, including making procurement easier to do business with (both for those within the function and the rest of the business).

Here are few quotes from Dan’s talk:

  • On deploying a new Watson-based solution without a mandate: “Within 30 days, we had more than 1,300 users using [a new tool]. It’s not because we pushed hard and made them used it. They found it. They loved it.”
  • On the litmus test for procurement technology: “Is it easier to use procurement than not?”
  • On creating a virtuous procurement cycle of engagement with the business: “Is there an outcome that says they want to come back for more?
  • On the journey of procurement big data: “You go from a trusted source of data to analytics to cognitive. It’s a journey. Data analytics is foundational.”
  • On automating procurement and changing the role of the procurement professional: “My goal and intention is to take all of the analysis — the tactical, the administrative — off the procurement professional's desk to deliver a different outcome and engage with the business. Let’s focus efforts on strategic procurement and get out of the rest of it.”

Thanks to Dan for an exceptional talk at #ProcureTech2016 and sharing where IBM is not only today, but where it is headed in the future using Watson and other technologies.

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