The Technology Category

What To Expect from Best-in-Class Reverse Auction Technology and User Design (Part 1) [PRO]

Thus far in this Spend Matters PRO research series, we have explored how optimal user experience (UX) and advanced feature/function support have become inseparable when it comes to delivering best-of-breed e-sourcing capabilities (see What You Should Expect from Best-in-Class E-Sourcing User Experience and Functionality: Part 1 and Part 2). We pointed out, for example, that numerous specific elements must come together to drive strategic sourcing and RFX success for anything but the most basic strategic sourcing scenarios.

These capabilities that we covered include guided event creation, simplified template creation, clutter free role-based views, easy bulk file upload (and association), easy starting bid population, simplified bid validation and verification, and nuanced delegation approaches (for buyers and suppliers). When it comes to reverse auction capability and technology, however, this is just a necessary list of basic functionality for foundational support. It’s far from complete, as reverse auctions are really their own “sub-module” in their own right.

As our series continues, we explore how additional UX and technology/feature requirements come together to create best-in-class reverse auction technology. But let us first start this series with a warning: Few technology providers come close to touching all these core capabilities today. In this first installment, we define and explain the concepts of — and capability needed to support — powerful lot configuration (with formula-based pricing), extensive (reverse auction) format selection, deep parameterization capability and smart “multirepresentative” supplier views.

Online Work Platforms and Enterprises: Survival of the Fittest or the Fastest? [PRO]

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In this PRO research brief, we provide an analysis of the complex dynamics that characterize the online work platform technology market, in particular with respect to large enterprise adoption (or, to date, the lack thereof). We also examine some promising platform strategies/approaches that may promote platform business viability and, over time, more success in achieving large scale enterprise penetration. Finally, we discuss the implications of our analysis for both platform providers and enterprise buyers.

(Note: To avoid possible perception that we are making endorsements or recommendations in this brief, we forego references to specific platforms (platform providers are evaluated separately, in our Vendor Snapshot and SolutionMap series, with these strategies and approaches in mind.)

What You Should Expect from Best-in-Class E-Sourcing User Experience and Functionality (Part 2) [PRO]

E-sourcing technology is becoming increasingly defined by the user experience as much as the underlying functional and technical capability. But in the future — and we see this trend starting already with best-in-class capabilities — the combination of the user experience (i.e., design) and underlying technology solution components and feature/function capabilities will become increasingly intertwined and inseparable. This Spend Matters PRO series examines the intersection of what a best-in-class user experience and functionality capability means for e-sourcing solutions today and tomorrow.

In Part 1 of this series, we explored what capabilities and experience procurement organizations should expect from best-in-class guided event creation, clutter-free views and simplified template creation and management within e-sourcing solutions. In this installment, we turn our attention to how the world of best-in-class user experiences and underlying functional capability are coming together to support bulk upload/attachment association, starting bid population, bid validation and verification and procurement/supplier delegation for strategic sourcing, category management and auction/negotiation enablement. These are capabilities that buyers of these solutions should evaluate vendors on based on demonstrated capabilities, approach and planned releases, and they are capabilities that technology providers should continually strive to enhance.

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The Next Procurement Frontier? Reconciling Speed and Compliance

As the pace of business continues to accelerate, procurement has been recognized, and rightly so, as a fundamental business enabler and strategic function. Now it’s time for the next step. The priority of achieving sustainable cost reduction and reducing risk has met a new role: enabling agility. Considering the current hyper-competitive and fluctuating state of global business, the question procurement should be looking to answer is, How do you move fast while also remaining compliant?

What You Should Expect from Best-in-Class E-Sourcing User Experience and Functionality [PRO]

E-sourcing technologies have been around for two decades now. The authors have played various roles over the years in helping architect them, design them, configure them, select them and use them. Yet while today e-sourcing should be a mature and functionally rich technology out of the box, the reality is that there are still a number of offerings that don't have some of the most basic features you would have expected some years ago.

In contrast, other offerings continue to push the envelope in various areas of what the product can offer. In this two-part Spend Matters PRO brief, we outline what specific elements you should expect from best-in-class e-sourcing user experience and functional components. In the first installment, we cover how best-in-class solution designs feature guided event creation, clutter-free views and simplified template creation and management. As will soon become clear, it is impossible to separate a best-in-class user experience from underlying functional capability in many areas of strategic sourcing technology — the two are becoming increasingly yoked. Form following function. Or function following form. You decide!

The Salesforce.com of Bud: Putting Some SaaS into the Marijuana Supply Chain

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As we introduced in the first part of this series, marijuana purchasing managers have long been putting up with managing orders, inventory and supplier relationships the old way. Faxes, texts, emails, Excel spreadsheets and even corkboards littered with Post-It notes were all fair game. But it wasn’t helping the buyers at the dispensaries or retail shops advance strategically. Enter SaaS platforms to save the day.

The Future of the Procurement Technology User Experience (Part 2): Advanced Mobile and ‘Mission Control’ Dashboards [PRO]

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Does anyone remember how bad early procurement technology interfaces were? While there are some folks we can blame directly — for example, whoever designed SAP SRM’s original interfaces in earlier releases should be doomed to spend his retirement managing the search, requisition and approval process for the coffins of all of the licenses that were never used — the limitations of early UIs were mostly due to where technology was at the time. We are not just talking about the latest in “Amazon-esque shopping” or “type ahead” search capability, or minimizing the number of clicks required to perform a task, clever menu nesting, tab structures, integrated activities within “suites” that transcend being within a specific module and the better use of icons and colors. That’s so 2015. Rather, nearly all elements of the modern 2017 technology stack are starting to come together in a manner that is driving the start of a radical shift in creating more usable procurement technology overall. This is big. It’s much bigger than Coupa rising to fame (initially) by creating a UI that was vastly superior to Ariba at the time (not SAP Ariba today, mind you).

As we noted in an earlier installment of this series exploring “smart systems” and messaging, chat and collaboration (MCC), “Smart systems drive integrated guidance leveraging new "AI" techniques ... They do this by mixing semantic technology, sentiment analysis, key-phrase driven expert systems and other machine learning techniques with history to determine what the user is doing and what the user wants to do … [and] new approaches to MCC represent a new ‘layer’ of the user experience. Just as third-party analytics dashboards have become a standard ‘front end’ in many procurement suites for drilling into spend, supplier or modular based data, so too are these components becoming a standard addition to procurement technology applications. As with front-end analytics, they can either be developed internally (by a procurement software vendor) or they can be OEM’ed/licensed by a provider — as is often the case with analytics — and incorporated as a component of the product.”

Today, we turn our attention to advanced mobile enablement and “mission control” dashboards — two other components driving the next-generation procurement user experience in technology. In this research brief, we define these areas and their components, and provide practical use cases of how they are leveraged within technology.

MSP and VMS Providers: Are MSPs Effectively Leveraging Technology for Their Customers?

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Terri Gallagher, CEO of Gallagher and Consultants. 

Has the technology evolution driven MSP and VMS providers to a crossroads? VMS Technology seems to be evolving at a more rapid pace than MSP Solution offerings. We have the new technology and the old problem, but do we have the big ideas? How are MSPs leveraging technology beyond process and system automation, to expand talent supply chains, provide dynamic data and reporting, and elevating their customer’s contingent workforce management programs?

Strategic Technology Planning: A New Imperative for Contingent Workforce and Services Procurement (Part 1) [PRO]

For many years now, planning for CW/S technology has been largely tactical, focusing almost exclusively on the capabilities and effectiveness of one VMS solution or another. Technology planning at a strategic level has been rare in CW/S procurement functions, in main part because it has not been necessary in a relatively static technology and supply chain environment. Need a core contingent workforce technology to manage processes, compliance, risk and cost? Adopt a VMS (or work through your MSP to get one). Seeking a specialized category solution? Work with the business owner (e.g., legal, telecom, facilities) to engage a vendor that meets everyone’s needs.

But in recent years, many aspects of the environment in which CW/S procurement executes its mission have begun to change significantly. Under these conditions, strategic planning becomes necessary. Because technology is now and will be presenting CW/S procurement functions with new opportunities to add value to their organizations in a variety of ways, allocating time and resources to conducting strategic technology planning is now an imperative. In most cases, this will mean starting from scratch. But foregoing strategic technology planning opens CW/S procurement to missed opportunities, core mission failure and possibly disruption.

In short: procurement, HR and IT organizations — not to mention line of business owners — need to work together to create their own CW/S technology information architecture through a strategic technology planning process. In Part 1 of this series, we build the case for strategic technology planning and provide an overview of what strategic technology planning means for a CW/S procurement function. In Part 2, we flesh out a targeted approach to CW/S procurement strategic technology planning and practical approaches for implementation within an organization.

Making Sense of Dirty Data and Spend Classification Components: With Oracle and Others

Next week, I'm participating in a webinar, Oracle and Procurement Analytics: A Deep Dive Into Oracle’s Spend Analysis and Data-Driven Procurement Solutions, with the Data Intensity team. For those that do not know Data Intensity, the firm acquired Enrich in 2016. In various discussions with the Data Intensity team in preparation for the webinar I realized that Oracle has largely flown under the radar in spend analytics compared with many other procurement technology providers, especially independent specialist vendors. Still, Oracle has quietly built a solid set of capabilities in the spend classification area (and, more broadly, spend analytics).

Jabil Launches InControl to Take Aim at Supply Chain Point Solutions

Manufacturing giant Jabil launched recently what it calls a supply chain decision support platform, pitting its cross-industry expertise as a contract manufacturer against the services offered by point solutions. Called InControl, the platform offers five applications that provide visibility, collaboration tools and diagnostics for supply chain professionals. The apps cover supply chain visibility, event risk, design for supply chain, risk management and supply chain diagnostics.

A Closer Look SAP Fieldglass Live Insights, A New Market Intelligence-Based Decisioning Tool

In late April, we covered the introduction of SAP Fieldglass Live Insights, an analytical decision support capability that Fieldglass clients can use to make data-informed judgments prior to creating and releasing a requisition, as well as to analyze different sourcing strategies and scenarios. Since that time, we have had the opportunity to receive a demo of Live Insights and an update on launch progress.