The Sourcing Category

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On Scanmarket sale, co-founder Ole Nielsen says goal was ‘staying true to our mission’

contingent workforce

After Scanmarket announced last week that it had sold its e-sourcing business to an equity partner, co-founder Ole Nielsen spoke with Spend Matters UK/Europe Editor Nancy Clinton.

In a Q&A, Nielsen touches on the 1999 origins of the company (making one of the first online B2B marketplaces), he delves into the reasons behind the sale and displays the personal attention to detail that has made the sourcing provider known for its ease of use.

“We were more concerned with staying true to our mission of getting the right fit,” he says. “That’s why we chose to partner with Verdane; they were like-minded in our business plan and direction of the company.”

Artificial Intelligence in Sourcing Tomorrow (Part 2) [PRO]

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In this Spend Matters PRO series on AI in Sourcing, we began our discussion of some situations where you will find AI in e-sourcing platforms, where AI is defined as “augmented intelligence” (because, as we have discussed in prior articles, there is no true artificial intelligence in enterprise platforms today and there won't be tomorrow either). AI is a buzzword, not a reality. But we don't need true AI to achieve software that can radically increase our productivity. Reaching augmented intelligence will add multiples to our productivity and savings.

In our last post, AI in Sourcing Tomorrow (Part 1), we discussed how the sourcing platforms of tomorrow will offer event-based category alignment functionality as well as market-based sourcing strategy identification. Together, these augmented intelligence features will not only save you a lot of time and effort in the identification and conducting of a proper sourcing event, but will also maximize your chances of success with the strategies that you follow.

It will be a magnificent start to the sourcing process. But it won't stop there. Because it can't stop there.

As per our article on AI in Sourcing Today, there's a lot of manual effort involved in a sourcing event. And the platforms of tomorrow will integrate workflow automation and auto-fill to handle a lot of the drudgery that will be required in any sourcing project.

However, just including workflow automation and auto-fill isn't getting you to sourcing utopia, where you’re getting maximum return for minimum effort. Something more is needed. How much more? Let's read on to find out.

Scanmarket Sells the Strategic Sourcing Vendor to Verdane

Global Risk Management Solutions (GRMS)

Scanmarket, a strategic e-sourcing provider, announced it has sold a 90% stake in its source-to-contract (S2C) company to private equity firm Verdane. The founders of Scanmarket, CEO Betina Nygaard and CCO Ole Nielsen, will retain a 10% share and continue to lead development at the Denmark-based software firm, according to the announcement. Spend Matters lead analyst Michael Lamoureux said the company has “a lot of potential, and a track record to back it up.”

Freelancers and Fintech — Follow the Money

Companies’ use of freelancers has become a hot topic of discussion as well as a source of considerable confusion among contingent workforce professionals and other human capital personnel in procurement and HR over the past several years.

It is a chaotic discourse. But there does seem to be something of a consensus that the number of individuals performing some type of at least “part-time” freelance or short gig-work has been materially increasing.

While there has been discussion of various potential drivers of this trend (e.g., business cycle, technology, personal income sufficiency, etc.), less attention has been paid to the state of ICW payments and financial services as a potential driver of ICW supply-side growth. And this is the case, despite that multiple surveys of workers have shown that payments is one of the top problems (along with development of new business and securing health insurance) that is gating ready-and-willing workers’ propensity to engage in part-time or full-time independent contract work.

But despite the lagging attention in the industry, market forces have been at work on solving the problem of payment and financial limitations that may be constraining the growth of part- and full-time independent work being performed. Developments in this particular area have become visible over the last year, as we will discuss in this article.

Artificial Intelligence in Sourcing Tomorrow (Part 1) [PRO]

In Spend Matters' last PRO article, Artificial Intelligence in Sourcing Today (The Situation Now), we overviewed some scenarios where you can find AI in e-sourcing platforms today, where we define AI as “assisted intelligence” because, as we've stated in this series about AI in modern sourcing and procurement technologies, there is no true artificial intelligence in any enterprise technology today. In fact, there is nothing close, at least not on the open market.

But we will be closer to artificial intelligence tomorrow, and in the near future, we may get to the point where the average market leading platform offers you augmented intelligence on a daily basis.

In our last article, we reviewed the common instances of the assisted intelligence technologies on the market today, namely: auto-fill, workflow automation, outlier identification and rule-based auto-award identification.

However, this is just the beginning of what you should have as a sourcing professional, especially considering what's coming in AI Tomorrow. For example, if you go back to our series in AI in Procurement Tomorrow, you know that soon you will have technologies to prevent overspend, buy on your behalf invisibly, buy automatically, identify opportunities while you sleep, identify new categories before you know of their existence and identify procurement methodologies for success.

But these improvements will spill over into the sourcing domain as well. In Tomorrowland, as a buyer, you will also have augmented intelligence technologies that will allow for:

* Event-Based Category Alignment — not just new category detection * Market-based Sourcing Strategy Identification — not just the right methodology for procurement * Automatic Strategic Sourcing Events — not just auto-buy from a catalog or contract * Suggested Award Scenarios — not just canned options

And it will make your buying life much more efficient. But how?

Artificial Intelligence in Sourcing Today (The Situation Now) [PRO]

Not that long ago we ran a six-part series on AI in Procurement (Today Part I and Part II; Tomorrow Part I, Part II, Part III; and The Day After Tomorrow). By the time we defined the levels of AI today, what will be possible in the future and just how far AI in procurement will take you, you probably thought that was all there was too it and were impatiently awaiting the day when your "best of breed" applications would catch up.

The reality is that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

When your platform provider (or, if necessary, your future platform provider) catches up and starts offering you modern capabilities, those capabilities should extend well beyond procurement and spill over into multiple areas of S2P, including sourcing.

So to whet your appetite about what should be coming next, and to make sure your provider knows that you know what should be coming next (and will be holding them accountable), in this series we're going to dive into the applications of AI in sourcing and discuss what is available today, what is coming tomorrow — and what is in your strategic buying future.

TenderEasy: Vendor Introduction, Analysis and SWOT [PRO]

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Despite the current tide of populism, the growing globalization of businesses and, thus, corporate supply chains is a trend no procurement organization can ignore.

Alongside this push into new markets for both sales and production comes a need to more effectively procure transportation because moving commodities or finished goods between facilities, like factories or distribution centers, and their final destinations has become more complex. Add to this a litany of procurement-specific obstacles to effective freight sourcing and management — from a dearth of qualified internal resources to sparse, inaccurate data about freight spend — and the challenge becomes even more daunting.

This combination of logistics category complexity and insufficient procurement capability to manage it is what originally gave rise to the sourcing optimization solutions that most North American organizations are familiar with.

Trade Extensions (now Coupa Sourcing Optimization), CombineNet (now Jaggaer Advanced Sourcing Optimization) and Keelvar (one of the few independent sourcing vendors that currently supports bid optimization) all got their starts enabling logistics procurement across thousands of lanes. As they grew, however, each of these vendors evolved their solutions to support additional categories beyond freight, enabling larger and more complex scenarios while leaving other elements of the transportation equation (like execution) to other technology providers.

TenderEasy, a 14-year-old firm that launched its SaaS solution for freight procurement in 2012, has taken the opposite approach. Rather than expand its sourcing optimization capabilities beyond logistics, TenderEasy has doubled down on freight, positioning itself as the entry point to a broader transportation management ecosystem. It committed to this strategy in 2018 when it became part of the Alpega Group, a global logistics software company that offers end-to-end solutions for transport needs, including not only freight sourcing but also access to freight exchanges and transportation management systems.

Leveraging this network of transportation solutions, Stockholm-based TenderEasy is hoping to bring its Europe-centric expertise across the Atlantic — the company already counts Heinz, adidas Group and British American Tobacco (BAT) as clients — taking on incumbent sourcing optimization vendors in the process.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on TenderEasy and its capabilities. It includes an overview of TenderEasy’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.

North America, Europe Include Top Business Performers in Anti-Corruption Efforts

As companies become increasingly aware of their own corporate social responsibility (CSR) obligations, various watchdog groups are beginning to take stock of these indicators. While some companies might look the other way as conflict gold passes through their supply chains, others might be making efforts to do positive things with their power, such as donating to charitable causes. In a new EcoVadis study, “The Fight Against Corruption: Insights Into Ethical Performance in Global Supply Chains,” the company considers the issue of corruption and how prepared companies are to address it.

The Contingent Workforce and Services (CW/S) Insider’s Hot List: January 2019 (Special Focus Edition on Services) [Plus+]

Welcome to the January 2019 edition of Spend Matters’ monthly feature “The Contingent Workforce and Services (CW/S) Insider’s Hot List,” available to PLUS and PRO subscribers. For those new to the Hot List, each edition covers the prior month’s important or interesting technology and innovation developments within the CW/S space, where change may be accelerating or at least becoming more pervasive.

This edition also marks the first 12 months of Hot List coverage, launched in the February 2018 inaugural edition (and covering January 2018). Our goal was to show that under the surface of the obtuse, clinical label of “contingent workforce and services” (CW/S) was a hotbed of technologically driven innovation. We sought to set the record straight, perhaps turn a few heads (maybe even provoke a double-take) and possibly prevent some unwary practitioners from getting burned. Hopefully we have fulfilled our promise.

To mark the first anniversary of the Hot List series, this month we will leave the usual format behind and seek a glimpse of the CW/S elephant in the room: complex services spend.

The real features of this spend category have (strangely enough) been obscured in the shadow cast by contingent workforce. And while there has been lots of talk about SOW spend in the CW/S world, in reality, that’s been a little bit like lighting a match in the dark to survey the full enormity of the elephant (possibly only seeing a foot or a tusk).

With that, we will now begin our safari, turn our searchlight toward the relatively unexplored territory of services spend and wrestle with questions like: What is it? How is it being addressed in different sectors? Is there a pattern emerging that may mean more and more effective ways for businesses to source and manage complex services?

Strategic Sourcing’s Evolution: A Roadmap For Improvement (Part 2) [Plus+]

SciQuest

Editor's note: This is a refresh of our 2012 series on strategic sourcing's evolution over the last and next decade, which originally ran on Spend Matters PRO. Click here for Part 1 in this analysis.

In providing a more complete picture and set of working hypotheses in terms of where strategic sourcing is headed in the coming decade, we should first look at the practitioner view of where adoption and usage is headed. We’ve tracked well over 100 companies that are using advanced scenario building and/or optimization features today, for example in their strategic sourcing tool arsenal (monthly or more frequently) outside of just the transportation area for identifying optimal lane award scenarios.

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.