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The Market Speaks: Procurement practitioner requirements and the tech vendor response — The Classification Guru

08/23/2023 By


Spend Matters constantly updates its understanding of the state of the procurement tech market via RFIs for our SolutionMap dataset, vendor interviews, global event attendance and product demos with the aim of keeping tech-selection decision makers ahead of market trends. But we also endeavor to grow our understanding of the wants and needs of the customers using that tech – the practitioners.

In one series of interviews this summer and through to the end of the year, we are talking to vendors about what their customers really want from them and how they are proposing to address those needs. In a second one, we are talking to the end users about their expectations and requirements.

This week we spoke with Mistress of Data, Susan Walsh, founder of The Classification Guru (TCG).

What are the challenges and asks of your customers?

My clients and prospects mainly come to me when they have a problem to solve, and it usually involves messy data. It’s not getting any better, and in the six years I’ve had my business, I’ve seen demand increase. There are issues with companies having multiple systems, with no visibility across them, and mergers and acquisitions only make it worse. They can’t even report on what they spend with a single supplier, let alone what they are buying from them, and it’s an issue.

We provide them with a supplier normalization and classification service, plus build a customized taxonomy if required. We’re finding clients moving away from an off-the-shelf solution like the UNSPSC and getting a taxonomy built to suit the needs of their business. We can then also map this to the UNSPSC for systems like Coupa and others that use it. This means the client gets exactly what they need in terms of detailed classification that also works with other systems. And because of this customized taxonomy, it means automated classification won’t work well until it’s been manually classified/checked by someone like our team, ready for training and learning by the AI and then used by the spend analytics tools out there.

Are you witnessing a shift in demand towards more ESG and supply chain risk capabilities?

Hugely. And to source the information that the clients are looking for, they need clean, accurate supplier data to be able to use the tech and software available that provides this information. Over the last 12 to 18 months I’ve seen many more discussions around this topic amongst clients and at sessions at events. I can only see this growing in the future, it’s a very complex area, but at the root of it is clean data. By getting this right, you are reducing the risk of fraud, fines or reputational damage.

What is TCG doing to address these customer challenges?

The most effective and sustainable solution is for companies to know, manage and maintain their own data. This involves education, training and commitment, prevention is better than cure. In reality however this is difficult, particularly for larger organizations that need outside help, but what they can do is be familiar with their data and challenge their third-party suppliers who manage their data by reviewing their work regularly and challenging them to make sure they get it right first time.

Many thanks to TCG. We’ll be talking to more vendors next week – check back in then.

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The Market Speaks
Big Data