Author Archives: Michael Lamoureux



Artificial intelligence levels show AI is not created equal. Do you know what the vendor is selling?

Just like there are eight levels to analytics as mentioned in a recent Spend Matters PRO brief, artificial intelligence (AI) has various stages of the technology today — even though there is no such thing as true AI by any standard worth its technical weight.

But just because we don’t yet have true AI doesn’t mean today’s “AI” can’t help procurement improve its performance. We just need enough computational intelligence to allow software to do the tactical and non-value-added tasks that software should be able to perform with all of the modern computational power available to us. As long as the software can do the tasks as well as an average human expert the vast majority of the time (and kick up a request for help when it doesn't have enough information or when the probability it will outperform a human expert is less than the expert performing a task) that's more than good enough.

The reality is, for some basic tactical tasks, there are plenty of software options today (e.g., "intelligent" invoice processing). And even for some highly specialized tasks that we thought could never be done by a computer, we have software that can do it better, like early cancerous growth detection in MRIs and X-rays.

That being said, we also have a lot of software on the market that claims to be artificial intelligence but that is not even remotely close to what AI is today, let alone what useful software AI should be. For software to be classified as AI today, it must be capable of "artificial learning" and "evolving its models or codes" and improve over time.

So, in this PRO article, we are going to define the levels of AI that do exist today, and that may exist tomorrow. This will allow you to identify what truth there is to the claims that a vendor is making and whether the software will actually be capable of doing what you expect it to.

Not counting true AI, there are five levels of AI that are available today or will likely be available tomorrow:

  • Level 0: Applied Indirection
  • Level 1: Assisted Intelligence
  • Level 2: Augmented Intelligence
  • Level 3: Cognitive Intelligence
  • Level 4: Autonomous Intelligence

Let’s take a look at each group.

Xeeva: Vendor Analysis (Part 3) — In-Depth Solution Overview

PaaS

In this third and final part of our Spend Matters PRO Vendor Analysis of Xeeva, we provide a complete overview of each main module of the Xeeva offering, which covers most areas of an S2P suite. Part 1 of the series focused on solution strengths and weaknesses, and Part 2 focused on Xeeva’s competitors and the technology market that they’re in.

Today, we’ll look at Xeeva’s suite, which has four main components: spend analytics, data enrichment, sourcing, and procure-to-pay (P2P). These are powered by the XVA platform and the Xeeva Marketplace.

In this final section of our coverage, we will provide an overview of each of these modules, as well as the supplier information capabilities of the Xeeva Marketplace. Data enrichment is, in practice, an add-on to the analytics offering, so we will cover these together.

Xeeva: Vendor Analysis (Part 2) — SWOT, Competitors & Market Overview, Tech Selection Tips

A competitive analysis on Xeeva is difficult because the source-to-pay provider doesn't just compete against the handful of players trying to bring machine learning and AI to the S2P space. It also takes on all of the traditional source-to-pay vendors who offer modern sourcing experiences, especially if they are augmented with market intelligence, best practices, community intelligence or other modern "guided" capabilities that can help a buyer make a better decision. That's basically what buyers are looking for and what AI-enabled or "cognitive" intelligence is supposed to deliver. So this essentially puts Xeeva head-to-head with the majority of the big S2P suite players that all have at least one of these capabilities.

However, we will do our best to analyze Xeeva’s competitors. In Part 2, we also will provide a SWOT assessment and an overview of the competitive landscape in which Xeeva plays.

In Part 1 of this Spend Matters PRO Vendor Analysis, we focused on Xeeva’s company details, a brief solution overview, and its solution’s strengths and weaknesses. In our third and final installment, we will provide a more in-depth overview of Xeeva’s platform capabilities.

Xeeva: Vendor Analysis (Part 1) — Company Background, Solution Strengths/Weaknesses

SpendLead

The source-to-pay space is starting to get crowded. While it was only a dream a scant decade ago, with a couple of providers offering minimal S2C or P2P suites, in the last five years we've gone from just a few players to more than 10 that now compete with more or less complete S2P suites. One of these vendors is Xeeva.

Xeeva, although founded in 2014, is just now hitting the procurement scene because it launched with a very ambitious plan — AI-powered procurement that can, in certain categories, identify the best procurement opportunities and automatically execute on them. Basically, like LevaData, Xeeva wants to be one of the first players in the “cognitive procurement” domain and help you do your job, by doing more of the practical procurement process for you. But it takes time and patience to master your game if you are a sly wolf.

However, the areas in which the solution can do your work for you is limited to a select set of indirect categories where they have enough data to recommend a good decision. To determine if a buy is good, you need to know what the organization has been spending, what the current market — and negotiated — prices are now, what the organizational demand is projected to be, and if current prices coincide with what is expected based upon community intelligence.

To support this vision, Xeeva has built a nearly full S2P suite with sourcing, supplier information management (SIM), procurement, and, of course, deep AI-powered analytics technology.

In this Spend Matters PRO Vendor Analysis, we will debut a new order of information for the entire three-part series to better help readers who are doing tech selection. The strengths and weaknesses will now be in Part 1 instead of Part 2. The second installment will provide a company SWOT and a market analysis of competitors, which was typically in the last part. Now, Part 3 will be the detailed solution overview, giving readers interested in the vendor very specific details and capabilities.

Today’s focus on Xeeva will still provide company details and a brief solution overview — but it will mainly examine strengths and weaknesses. In Part 2, we will provide a SWOT assessment and an overview of the competitive landscape in which Xeeva plays. In our third and final installment, we will provide a more in-depth overview of Xeeva’s platform capabilities.

The basics of analytics: 8 levels — and the AI leverage

Analytics is hot. In many organizations, analytics has gone from a "nice to have sometime in the future" to a "we need real-time, AI-backed predictive analytics yesterday to stem the flow of red."

But, as we've said before, not all analytics is created equal, and understanding what you are considering and what it can — and cannot — do is becoming more important than ever.

So in this Spend Matters PRO piece we're going to provide a short refresher on the levels of analytics — what they are, what to expect and what not to expect from each of them.

There are eight levels to analytics, and current solutions fall somewhere in the first seven. The majority offer functionality firmly contained in the first four levels, with only the minority truly offering full Level 5 functionality or higher.

We’ll also review some example functionality to help you understand what is, and isn't, out there and give you some guidance on how to compare the different platforms (and whether what a vendor is offering is sufficient for your organizational needs).

AnyData Solutions: Vendor Analysis 2020 Update (Part 3) — SWOT, Competitor Comparisons, Tech Selection Tips

AnyData Solutions competes in a fragmented market for spend analytics. Yet unlike many of its peers, it is not a common procurement vendor name. But with better awareness, it could be a strong analytics competitor globally, especially considering how the solution packs a powerful one-two functional and pricing punch.

From a functional standpoint, AnyData’s rapid visual development framework can enable customers to go beyond spend analysis use cases to create custom, domain-specific analytics solutions (e.g., analytics-centric contract lifecycle management and supplier performance management reporting and capability). Combined with AnyData’s low-cost pricing models (a fraction of the cost of other solutions under most scenarios), it should make the solution a shortlist candidate for just about any size organization needing a spend analytics platform that wants the option to move beyond the basics.

This third and final installment of this Spend Matters PRO Vendor Analysis provides an objective SWOT analysis of AnyData and looks at its competitors and the market they inhabit. It also includes recommended shortlist candidates as alternative vendors to AnyData, and offers provider selection guidance. Finally, it provides summary analysis and recommendations for companies considering AnyData. Part 1 provided an in-depth look at AnyData as a firm and its solution overview. Part 2 offered a detailed analysis of its solution strengths and weaknesses.

AnyData Solutions: Vendor Analysis 2020 Update (Part 2) — Product Strengths & Weaknesses

InnoCentive

Part 2 of this Spend Matters PRO Vendor Analysis update explores the strengths and weaknesses of AnyData’s spend analytics and contract management solution, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations and other customers decide whether AnyData is the right fit for their needs.

Since our 2017 review, AnyData has added a strength: metric definition and management. And it improved on old strengths, like rapid configuration and ease of use. Also its visualization engine is sharper, faster and more configurable by the end user. Areas for improvement include more marketing and industry customization. We’ll discuss all of these and more later.

As we indicated in Part 1, AnyData Solutions is not just a stand-alone spend analytics toolset that includes “the basics.” Rather, it is a stand-alone platform for capturing, managing, sharing and collaborating on structured datasets of any type — which can come from flat files, spreadsheets, databases, live API feeds, documents scanned by OCR and just about any data source you can think of.

As an end-to-end analytics platform, AnyData is quite different from other approaches to spend analytics on the market today. On many levels, AnyData is closer to the data-centric heritage of BIQ, or the newer Spendata solution (founded by a BIQ co-Founder), as it is fundamentally a self-service analytics solution, compared with the vast majority of spend analytics providers, which prefer to handle cleansing and classification activities “as a service,” even if they offer to sell the classification engine separately (which rarely happens).

The first installment of this three-part series provided a company and solution overview and a recommended fit list of criteria for firms considering AnyData. Part 3 will offer a company SWOT analysis, a look at AnyData’s competitors and a user selection guide.

AnyData Solutions: Vendor Analysis 2020 Update (Part 1) — Background, Solution Overview, Tech Selection Tips

AnyData Solutions, founded seven years ago, is yet another spend analytics vendor with strong capabilities, even some unique ones — but it’s not just a spend analytics vendor, as it offers contract management capabilities and bases its platform on a no-code rapid AI-enabled visual development environment (VIDE). But like many analytics startups hailing from the UK (including Rosslyn Data Technologies, Spend360 that was acquired by Coupa and Spikes Cavell that was acquired by Xchanging and is now DXC Technologies), it has been undercapitalized from the start. As a result, AnyData has not invested in the type of sales and marketing efforts necessary to make it a household name. It also has lacked the channel and business development prowess of DXC Technologies (Spikes Cavell) and Spend360 (Coupa) that helped drive significant yet behind-the-scenes growth and resulted in their eventual acquisitions.

Perhaps most important, as previously chronicled by Spend Matters (see: Exploring the Customer Experience of a Spend Analytics Provider that Should be on Your Shortlist), AnyData’s broad claim around the delivery of powerful analytics is not the typical smoke-and-mirrors marketing that many vendors put forth. Our analysis, backed up by deep SolutionMap analysis, finds that it does deliver a true end-to-end analytics platform (unlike just about every other spend analysis solution) that is extensible across functions, industries and different use cases both inside and outside of procurement (as the VIDE can be used to configure broad-based analytics support).

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Analysis, updated since our 2017 review, provides facts and expert insights to help procurement organizations make informed decisions about AnyData Solutions and whether its capabilities are a fit for their needs. Part 1 of our analysis provides an updated company background and a detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider AnyData in the procurement technology and solutions area. The remaining parts of this research brief will cover product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analyses, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

Ivalua NOW 2020 (dispatch 2): La licorne française va directement pour la route moins fréquentée

The Ivalua NOW 2020 conference began today online because the coronavirus disruption canceled two other in-person events. During the event, Ivalua announced that it currently has at least nine major enhancements in the development queue, with (the beginnings of) seven major enhancements being planned for the next two releases. (It's OK, it's not all in French.)

Ivalua NOW 2020 dispatch: The unicorn and its quest for the One Platform

FM Global Resilience Index

The Ivalua NOW 2020 conference began today online because the coronavirus disruption canceled two other in-person events. Still, a lot of speakers are scheduled for the two-day event. CEO David Khuat-Duy kicked it off Tuesday, and Chief Product Officer Pascal Bensoussan outlined the Ivalua vision for 2020-21 that highlighted Ivalua’s plans for Procurement Domination ... err ... enhanced customer success over the next two years.

Surviving the coronavirus crisis for the self-employed or COVID-19 disenfranchised (Part 3)

In our previous two installments in this coronavirus series for small-business owners, we noted how two general categories of business have been hit hard by the coronavirus shutdown: services and non-essential products. We focused on how those businesses not selling products will be especially hard-hit and have to be creative with e-commerce, social media and other online tools to have any chance of survival in some cases. We also noted that these businesses would not be able to maintain staff levels and would be contributing even more to the COVID-19 disenfranchised workers as time went on.

The shelter-in-place emergency measures mean less shopping or spending money on a meal or a night on the town — so a large number of people are out of work.

Surviving the coronavirus crisis for physical small businesses: Saving services providers (Part 2)

As we made clear in Part 1, two general categories of business have been hit hard by the coronavirus shutdown: services and non-essential products. Your business is likely already online to some degree — but now's the time to go all in on e-commerce and reach your customers via social media or other virtual means. For physical shops that sell goods, we addressed ways that you can boost sales by going online.

Today we are going to address services, which is a tougher category as some businesses, regrettably, won't survive, and others will only scrape by with massive layoffs, and then only if they can still partially operate. However, this doesn't mean that the owners or disenfranchised workers can't either find alternate means of employment/self-employment or set themselves up to bounce back in the future.