Analytics Content

10 Business Intelligence Trends: From Analytics Adoption to Explainable AI and Converging BI Platforms

“Business intelligence” has been a staple of an effective corporate entity long before computers appeared on the scene, but leaps in computing power, cloud storage and advances in data processing and visualization have allowed businesses to use their resources vastly more effectively. The advances in business intelligence (BI) also make it accessible to hundreds or thousands of workers throughout the business, instead of just a few dozen data scientists using specialized skills and software. Against that backdrop, Tableau outlines 10 BI developments to watch in its 2019 Business Intelligence Trends report.

Fairmarkit: Vendor Introduction, Analysis and SWOT (Part 1) — Background and Solution Overview [PRO]

Tail spend is a growing area of concern for procurement. Given the granular, dispersed and opaque nature of such spend, many organizations find the task of taming the tail daunting.

Purpose-built tools have long existed that adequately address strategic sourcing activities (e-sourcing) and route internal users to pre-approved catalog items (e-procurement), yet technology to support the 20% of spend that is not actively managed by procurement has comparatively lagged.

Instead, the answer for most procurement groups has been to either attack tail spend with a patchwork of variably effective methods (p-cards, marketplaces) or outsource the problem entirely, like to a BPO firm.

Yet neither of these methods is particularly attractive. With the patchwork approach, issues around risk and control are poorly addressed, and while routing purchases under a low threshold (e.g., $500) into a marketplace can satisfy the typical spot buy, this hardly represent a strategy around optimizing tail spend.

BPOs offer expertise and a “set-it-and-forget-it” mentality, but organizations often find that the process efficiencies that they had hoped to gain don’t materialize as promised.

Finding a third way between the patchwork and complete outsourcing is at the heart of how Fairmarkit, an upstart vendor out of Boston, is trying to solve the tail spend management problem.

By using machine learning to analyze purchasing patterns and vendor fit, Fairmarkit automates the RFQ process for variable purchases that fall in the roughly $500 to $250,000 range. In the process, it wants to challenge the status quo for how businesses think about tail spend, enabling procurement groups to automate bidding and analysis on low-value purchases so they can assign team members solely to strategic events. And Fairmarkit already has had success doing so, claiming an average of 6% to 12% cost savings with clients as varied as the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), Univision and Yeti.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on Fairmarkit and its capabilities. It includes an overview of Fairmarkit’s offering, a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a SWOT analysis and a selection requirements checklist for companies that might consider the provider.

The SpendHQ Customer Experience: What Makes It Great (Spend and Procurement Analytics SolutionMap Analysis)

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Editor’s note: This “What Makes It Great” column is normally reserved for SolutionMap Insider Subscribersbut SpendHQ has generously agreed to support access for readers who are not yet members.

Spend and procurement analytics solutions are fundamentally  designed for business users rather than IT organizations — or should be. Why? Because procurement is their master.

But all too often, IT-led business intelligence initiatives — or spend analytics solutions built on the premise of BI-centric reports rather than a design-centric philosophy around procurement and category management needs — end up becoming the vehicle by which an organization looks at its spend and supplier data. The result? Some of the most salient potential insights go unfound.

SpendHQ, a solution built “by procurement and for procurement users,” takes a different approach entirely to the spend analytics process and the presentation of spend and category intelligence. This is reflected in what its customers have to say about its solution and how their experience compares to users of more traditional, BI-centric spend analytics.

As of December 2018, the Spend Matters SolutionMap contains functional and customer satisfaction benchmarks on more than 50 providers within the procurement technology landscape. But where does SpendHQ stand out most and help “set the bar” in spend analytics from a customer-ratings perspective, and why should this matter for procurement and finance organizations?

Let’s delve into the SolutionMap benchmark to find out where SpendHQ is great, sharing both customer anecdotes and ratings.

“What Makes It Great” is a recurring column that shares insights from each quarterly SolutionMap report for SolutionMap Insider subscribers. Based on both our rigorous evaluation process and customer reference reviews, each brief offers quick facts on the provider, describes where it excels, provides hard data on where it beats the SolutionMap benchmark and concludes with a checklist for ideal customer scenarios in which procurement, finance and supply chain organizations should consider it.

Corcentric to Acquire Determine: Valuation, Transaction Overview, Customer Recommendations and Competitive Landscape Analysis (Part 2) [PRO]

low commodity prices

Corcentric’s pending acquisition of Determine will create one of the more unique procurement and finance solutions providers in the market. In addition, the transaction, upon closing, will firmly establish Corcentric as a software (SaaS/cloud platform) provider in the source-to-pay sector. But what are the implications for Corcentric’s and Determine’s customers and the broader competitive market?

Part 1 of this Spend Matters PRO brief provided an overview of the combination (by the numbers), an analysis of the transaction/valuation and our “elephant in the room” observations.

Today, we turn our attention to customer recommendations for Corcentric and Determine users and offer a perspective on the competitive landscape implications of the transaction.

In later PRO briefs, we will offer our view of Determine’s functional strengths and weaknesses in both the procure-to-pay (i.e., e-procurement and invoice-to-pay) and strategic procurement technologies (e.g., sourcing, CLM, etc.) areas.

Contract Visibility & Analytics: The Next ‘Must Have’ Solution for Procurement?

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I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the evolution of specialized contract analytics and visibility solutions of late. Seal Software was arguably the first provider to bring contract and spend visibility (see our coverage from 2017 here) elements together. And others have followed on the contract analytics side alone (with varying degrees of capability). The vendor landscape aside, contract visibility is not just the counterpart to spend visibility — it’s something different entirely. Yes, it’s a complement, an extension, to spend visibility. But I’m beginning to sense it’s a standalone area of value to procurement, especially when contract visibility extends past the structured paper that is contained within a CLM system alone (i.e., to “all” or as many contracts as possible). So the question I’d like to raise today — and toss out to the Spend Matters audience to debate — is whether contract visibility is the next “must have” solution for procurement.

Simple Steps to Improving Cash Flow: Hackett Looks at Working Capital Analytics

AnyData Solutions

Businesses of all types rely on cash, and managing cash flow is essential to determining the health of any company. Improving the quality of a company’s cash flow can pose challenges to those in charge, but some experts say cash flow management does not have to be too burdensome. According to a recent study by The Hackett Group, “Cash Analytics: How to Make Your Working Capital Metrics Work,” specific steps can be taken by those in leadership roles to improve their cash conversion cycle and working capital management.

An Introduction to Sourcing Business Intelligence (Part 3): Analytics and AI in a Sourcing Context [PRO]

In the third installment of this Spend Matters PRO series, we turn our attention to how traditional human intelligence and artificial intelligence intersect with sourcing business intelligence (BI), leading to a new type of cognitive procurement built on larger and larger data foundations.

We trace the evolution of select artificial intelligence (AI) applications in procurement that are generally available today and provide examples of models that are just becoming mainstream in select markets.

But most important, we show how it is possible to let a combination of off-the-shelf capabilities and “as a service” providers do the heavy lifting in the journey toward sourcing (business) intelligence and more broadly toward supply (business) intelligence.

How Technology Aids Visibility into the Supply Chain

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Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Graham Kelly, PrimeRevenue’s chief revenue officer.

Gone are the days when CFOs created value solely by spending time on traditional finance activities. Today’s finance executives are involved in a range of strategy-related activities that help set their companies apart in the digital economy.

According to a recent McKinsey Global Survey, this includes setting overall corporate strategy, devising pricing plans and collaborating on digitization, analytics and talent-management initiatives.

Winning in all these areas requires technology that delivers a massive amount of connected data. But, how do you compile and use data constructively to deliver transformative results?

2018 in Review: Top Strategic Procurement Technology Posts of the Year

As 2018 draws to a close, Spend Matters is looking back on the top stories of the year: leaps forward in technology, consequential acquisitions and more. As the main source of procurement solution intelligence for the market, we have our finger on the pulse on strategic procurement technology (SPT), which includes sourcing, supplier management, analytics and contract lifecycle management (CLM). Here are the biggest stories, according to reader interest, about strategic procurement tech in 2018, which demonstrate several trends about the state of the industry.

SourceDay Gets $6.5 Million Investment for Its Direct Spend Solution

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Procurement software provider SourceDay on Wednesday announced it has received $6.5 million in Series A funding from three capital venture firms. SourceDay said it has now raised $10.8 million since the 2015 launch of its software-as-a-service cloud platform, which automates direct spend management, purchase order management and supplier collaboration. The provider integrates its solution with ERP systems to reduce manual operations for suppliers and buyers, the statement said. The Austin, Texas-based company plans to focus on product development as well as expand its sales and marketing activity, it said.

Wax Digital: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Summary and Competitive Analysis [PRO]

We can count on two hands the number of independent source-to-pay providers left in the global market with sufficient breadth and depth of capabilities to fully earn the moniker of “suite provider.” Wax Digital is one of them. But don’t fret if you’ve not encountered them yet.

In Part One of this Vendor Snapshot, we introduced you to the firm — a source-to-pay provider from the UK that you may not be familiar with, especially since it has not yet participated in SolutionMap (although that changes this quarter). Then in Part Two, we dove in deep and examined, in detail, all of the strengths and weaknesses of this widely deployed source-to-pay platform that is just becoming known in North America.

Wax Digital is a particular provider to note among others, as it one of the few providers that offers a relatively complete, integrated, source-to-pay offering on one code base that is already used globally in over 100 countries. Maybe vendors tout “one platform” when in fact their solutions do not work as seamlessly together as claimed.

Now, today, in our third and final installment in this Vendor Snapshot series, we provide a SWOT overview of Wax Digital as a whole, a comparative and competitive market overview, and provide some final summary analysis and recommendations for organizations that might consider Wax Digital as a potential solution partner.

Q4 2018 Spend Analytics: Provider Scoring Summary

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This SolutionMap analyzes a select group of spend analytics providers. It includes coverage of spend analytics capabilities that encourages subscribers to “peel the onion” beyond cleansing, classification, enrichment and reporting capabilities alone. It is part of our Q4 2018 SolutionMap report series, also featuring sourcing, supplier management contract management, e-procurement and invoice-to-pay providers.