BravoSolution Customer Conference Dispatch: All About the Data

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I spent a few hours earlier today at the tail end of BravoSolution’s customer event (BravoAdvantage Customer Form), which was held in my backyard. Don’t tell anyone I confused the Westin downtown with the Westin at O’Hare — but that’s another story.

My Colleague Nick Heinzmann was also at the event, and will be writing up some of his takeaways from speaking to a number of procurement organizations who were in attendance. Look for his learnings next week. But I thought I’d get a jump on a topic that I look to BravoSolution for advice on quite a bit: analytics.

BravoSolution is one of dozens of providers that offer spend analysis today. But where it stands out from everyone else is on the front end (i.e., the analytics), not the back end (data classification and management) — and this is actually where procurement organizations usually get the most excited.

After the event, I sat down with two members of the BravoSolution analytics team to learn more about where they were headed — and also where they’ve been — in their analytics journey. They shared that BravoAdvantage 17 was really the “starting point” in BravoSolution’s latest analytics journey.

The Goal: Molding Data and Analytics to the User

As BravoSolution looks at analytics, it sees a central goal as providing not just a “spend analytics” module but rather individual and integrated views into different datasets (which currently, in the BravoAdvantage suite, includes spend, supplier, RFX/auction, projects, supplier performance and contract data available in the analytics module) either overall or on a specialized category basis. These views can then serve as a persona-driven front-end tailored by role, user and context to different BravoAdvantage modules (or third-party applications if integrated as part of the deployment process).

Of course, these “views” can also stand on their own, as well (as a module), even for specialized spend areas. For example, I had the chance to look at a specific analytics environment BravoSolution created for a customer to manage freelancer and independent contractor (IC) spend — an area of particular interest to Spend Matters. This analytics dashboard did not drill into the BravoAdvantage suite — BravoSolution does not support freelancer sourcing and transactional procurement activities — unlike other category specific front-ends we’ve seen, nor was it integrated into a freelancer management system such as Upwork or WorkMarket. But it was powerful, and the native analytics were designed for procurement to drive savings, compliance and performance outcomes rather than for HR.

It’s Tableau, Stupid

Seeing is believing (ideally live) with how BravoSolution makes all these front ends happen today using Tableau as the BI configurator and centerpiece.

There’s an art to this data architecture stuff. Other vendors have not cracked it at the same level. Of course, the irony is that perhaps BravoSolution's most differentiated component today that procurement cares about is not even its native code (despite the strengths of its suite, which we reviewed in depth on Spend Matters PRO here, here and here). Rather, it’s Tableau.

If you haven’t gotten a demo, ask for one. (I’ve asked for screenshots we can share on it). It’s different than others in execution, even though it may sound the same on paper.

So why can’t others do this in the same manner? No doubt they will. Eventually.

By Then…

Of course, BravoSolution realizes this. But it’s thinking ahead to an analytics future already.

Looking into 2018 and beyond, BravoSolution’s philosophy ultimately comes down to a long-term vision of “empowering users in a world where analytics is never fixed.” Data sets are always changing. Requirements are evolving. Goals are shifting. And activities are never quite the same. The question BravoSolution wants to ultimately solve in this world is how can one mold an analytics front-end not just to a specific job in procurement (or the business) but how can that front-end dynamically adopt (and even predict) user needs on the fly?

BravoSolution admits it is not there yet. But it keeps this vision in mind as it looks ahead at its analytics roadmap. And the current analytics product roadmap is certainly not shabby. It calls for “what if” scenario dashboards, predictive dashboards and increased support of real-time analytics for sourcing and sourcing optimization events with the goals to enable procurement users to have a “greater ability to find savings and predict cost drivers,” to gain “more insight to traditionally find data” and to have “more analytics when you need them.”

Stay tuned for more coverage from the BravoAdvantage Customer Forum next week. Unfortunately, it will be in prose (maybe with a framework or two).

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