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SynerTrade Paris: The Digital Procurement Revolution is Calling!

09/24/2019 By

Last week, at the same time the new Digital Procurement Workshop was happening in Amsterdam, SynerTrade was holding its annual Digital Procurement Summit in Paris (at the Pavillion Royal, with the pre-conference tour and dinner at the Centre Pompidou — obviously to make the point that, while there is an Art to Procurement*, in today’s digital world, you need to take a more modern approach to achieve success). And while the event might have flown under the radar with all the other events going on this month, it certainly over-delivered.

(* One of SynerTrade’s primary competitors will definitely attest there is an Art to Procurement, given that it held its event earlier this year at the Carousel de Louvre!)

The event was still relatively small compared to the events of some of SynerTrade’s competitors, but the room was packed for what was a very special event — as it was not only an event that was designed to look forward (with a theme designed to have participants looking 20 years in the future, see my article on Sourcing Innovation for more details), but an event that was a held on the day of SynerTrade’s 20th anniversary — an achievement very few vendors in this space can claim, especially when you consider SynerTrade is still a standalone company that has never grown by acquisition.

The event was very European in nature, which is a good thing. Many North American events these days tend to be too drawn out relative to the content that the events bring, spend too much time on demos of functionality that only a few people there want to see, or pack the schedule so tight that customers (and potential customers) don’t have enough time to talk to each other, the vendor partners, the analysts and thought leaders that the vendor flies in, or the SynerTrade team members they need to meet one-on-one (unless they skip one or more potentially valuable sessions). SynerTrade didn’t make any of these mistakes — it kept the daily presentation schedule to five packed hours (by filtering out all the noise and making sure all the presenters got right to the point), kept demos to new functionality that could be generally useful across the board (like their new configurable automation tool), made sure there was ample time to network and talk before, during and after the event — and ensured that those who needed demos could get one-on-one demos of key functionality interesting only to them.

Furthermore, SynerTrade made sure to focus the event around bringing knowledge and best practices that its (potential) customers could use and not on their product or service improvements. In fact, it spent more time showcasing partner capabilities, which it has made an effort to natively embed in the SynerTrade platform, than SynerTrade’s own platform capabilities. This is key as this means that not only does SynerTrade realize, but SynerTrade also admits, that no one vendor can do it all or be an expert in everything and the best approach is to use best-of-breed partners for key capabilities that require deep IP (intellectual property), specialized coding, or a broad reach, especially when the required capabilities are somewhat tangential to core S2P (source-to-pay) process or only needed by select clients.

The vendors it has integrated, and the subset of vendors SynerTrade picked to showcase, weren’t random. Believing that the future of S2P is going to revolve around a platform that simplifies procurement (especially for tail spend) while simultaneously improving compliance, automating tactical processes, and enabling conversational analytics (that make it easy for a user to get the information they need without needing to have a deep analytics skill set), SynerTrade showcased its deep integration with Amazon Business, Bureau van Dyke (for not just supplier information and risk scores but also for deep relationship modeling across companies and individuals to detect potential exposure to sanctions or political personnel), Axys (for customized automation bots for the SynerTrade platform using the SynerTrade automation API and/or Marvin), and Qlik (and their Qlik-bot integration).

And while this isn’t everything a company will need to succeed in tomorrow’s digital procurement world, these are all key elements. Tail spend is maverick spend gone wild in most companies, and the market pressures brought by Amazon Business are a great start to getting the spend in line with the market for (indirect) goods and services that are produced by multiple vendors and easily sourced from a marketplace. Compliance is becoming even more difficult, and management of compliance ever more important as a single regulatory compliance breach can result in large fines, seized and destroyed products, or brand black-eyes that can be almost impossible to recover from. Despite the ever-increasing importance of analytics in our big-data world, math and analytics skills among the average North American graduate are still declining, which makes easy analytics key for the average enterprise user. And we likely won’t ever see the day when procurement departments aren’t under-resourced and over-taxed to get better and better results, especially with recessions looming around the globe thanks to the new trade wars, so simplicity is going to win out in the end.

Plus, a next generation digital enterprise will also need better:

  • cost modeling and prediction (and guess what, SynerTrade has an integration to EasyKost for that, and while it’s not all encompassing, it’s one of the best point-based solutions on the market for what it was designed to do),
  • sustainability and CSR (corporate social responsibility) data (and they have an integration to EcoVadis for that),
  • optimization for what-if scenarios (which SynerTrade has had built-in support for over a decade — and while its out-of-the-box built-in models may not be as extensive as peers that have been more focused, their core capability is more than enough for 80%+ of scenarios and the foundations are there for continual improvement as needed),
  • contextual document analysis to extract relevant metadata about entities from contracts, news, specs, etc. (and here they can use Marvin to automatically identify and extract metadata and potentially relevant documents that can be sent to an external semantic/sentiment analysis service for processing)
  • automated buying (and their API allows their guided buying to be automated with Marvin and their API once certain rules are defined, and Axys has already built custom bots that can do this in certain situations)
  • across-the-board potential issue escalation (which no vendor has mastered, but at least they are integrating with key partners and on a path to eventually get there)

SynerTrade has clearly taken to heart what is needed in a platform to support tomorrow’s practitioners — and, more importantly, realized that while SynerTrade can’t do it all itself, it could work closely with partners to allow your organization to do it all. Also please note that although SynerTrade can do quite a lot, it also has some weaknesses and threats. We refer you back to our three-part PRO series on SynerTrade last winter for a deep-dive into their platform: Part 1Background and Solution OverviewPart 2Product Strengths and Weaknesses, and Part 3Summary and Competitive Analysis to remind yourself of just how much SynerTrade can do in areas such as direct sourcing, optimization, analytics and automation.

It’s one of the first S2P vendors that have begun to transform its suite into a platform that can integrate best-of-breed solutions and provide the holistic solution that its current, and future, customers will need and that will continue to compete for years to come.

And most importantly, SynerTrade knows from experience that revolutions don’t happen overnight — revolutions take years, and sometimes decades, and SynerTrade has demonstrated it is prepared to go the distance. SynerTrade is truly one of the gems of the source-to-pay space.

¡Vive la Revolution! Now queue Queensryche!