Technology Content

2019’s global hurricane season to be active, DHL Resilience360 reports about supply chain risks and safeguards

supply chain disruption

Severe weather poses one of the greatest threats and the least predictable risks to global supply chains within our modern globalized economy. The summer hurricane season is a particularly problematic time because nearly half the planet, and a majority of the production capacity for many industries, are located in areas routinely struck by catastrophic weather — East Asia, the Northern Indian Ocean, and the Southeast and Gulf coasts of the United States.

DHL Resilience360 recently released Stormy Weather Ahead: A Global Outlook on the 2019 Season to compile information about the impacts that even small storms can have and discuss the short- and long-term implications of these systems on existing supply chains. And learn ways to mitigate that risk.

Mastercard Track: A Gateway to a New Kind of B2B Ecosystem (Part 1) — Vendor Introduction and Solution Overview [PRO]

B2B payments represent a significant opportunity for payments providers. Within the U.S. alone, Deloitte research suggests that B2B payments are expected to reach $23.1 trillion by 2020, following a 5.8% CAGR since 2014, with large enterprises accounting for more than 60% of all transaction volume. Financial institutions, however, have placed comparatively less emphasis on the B2B space in favor of B2C transactions, which in spite of their smaller relative total size present less complexity in terms of technological and process problems to solve. Yet this is beginning to change. Banks, payment providers and other institutions are doubling down on the opportunities in B2B, and some are even starting to get their foot in the door by offering software targeted toward procurement organizations. For example, Mastercard has been rolling out its new Track solution in partnership with major banks and P2P and S2P suite providers and via public demonstrations at vendor conferences like Basware Connect and Ivalua NOW. Following the integration of Track’s payment capabilities with Singapore’s Networked Trade Platform (NTP) last year, Mastercard is getting its procurement technology start in, of all things, supplier master data and risk management. This may seem like an odd fit, especially when there are other technology providers offering similar — or in some cases, far more sophisticated — tools for managing supplier data and tracking third-party risk. As many B2B “old timers” know, banks and payment networks (Mastercard included) have been trying to insert themselves into P2P processes for nearly 20 years, and the results have been a failure every time, because they were always about funneling the transactions to their payment networks in order to charge suppliers 2% to 3% processing fees. This relegated these initial efforts to tail spend and highlighted how they couldn’t add value to the broader S2P process.

But we think this solution from Mastercard actually has huge potential and will likely be a market disruptor. Why? Well, from a practitioner standpoint, what would you think of a vendor who took all your supplier master data and then ran it through its “magic engine” and then showed you all the duplicates and supplier risk warning flags — and they did this on a freemium basis? That should catch your attention. And it should catch the competitive attention of D&B, LexisNexis, supplier networks, supplier risk/intelligence providers, supplier discovery tools and others that play in this space, as well as the partnering attention of S2P application providers that want an instant supplier network partner that can do more than process low-dollar transactions on a payment network.

Mastercard is just starting the first act of a longer, platform-based play, and the question today is simple: Is this “priceless” MDM and supplier risk solution worth a look? The answer is a resounding “Yes!” Because unlike other services in the space, Track takes the long view, supporting Mastercard’s aspiration to enable and connect into a global B2B ecosystem of multiple services, from business identity and risk management to payment facilitation and trade finance. And while we expect many of Track’s initial capabilities and partner offerings to evolve over time — what Mastercard has been publicly demonstrating over the past several months is more of a minimum viable product than a fully matured and battle-tested solution — the first cut is worthy of a deeper dive.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on Mastercard Track and its initial capabilities. Part 1 includes an introduction of Mastercard’s offering and a breakdown what the solution can (and can’t) currently do. Part 2 will provide a SWOT analysis and our key recommendations to interested parties (procurement organizations, technology providers, supporting services providers) evaluating Track as encountered through partner P2P or S2P providers.

Procurement Information Architecture and B2B Connectivity: Intel takes RosettaNet into the Future (Part 2) [Plus+]

Editor's note: This is a refresh of our 2014 series on RosettaNet and B2B connectivity, which originally ran on Spend Matters PRO. Read Part 1 here

One of the more curious aspects of the Intel Israel Nipendo implementation (tied into Intel’s RosettaNet standard deployment) for supplier connectivity is that the system realizes a greater percentage of “straight-through processing” (i.e., no human intervention from the PO creation through to supplier payment) than a traditional RosettaNet implementation. The platform provides an innovative and automated pre-validation service that uses a self-service “training” capability, allowing the trading partners themselves to establish the business validation rules and other key system behavior that ensures smooth downstream processing. Read on for discussion of local requirements and a list of key takeaways.

Where’s the Beef? A Lesson for Sourcing, Procurement

This post asking “Where’s the Beef?” isn’t about the beef supply chain, or the purity of the beef that you source, but yet another post about the pitch. We’re latching onto Wendy’s classic catchphrase because its message is easy to remember and one that you should never, ever forget! Especially when you are being sold something that sounds better than it is, or what you are being sold is better than what you expect from the organization providing it.

Why must we talk about this again and again? Because it’s too easy to get suckered into a deal that is too good to be true or without substance.

Commodities Roundup: Chinese Steel Prices, Housing Starts and Aluminum Premiums

For the buyers and category managers out there, especially those of you deep in the weeds of buying and managing commodities, here’s a quick rundown of news and thoughts from particular commodity markets. MetalMiner, a sister site of ours, scours the landscape for news that matters. This week: Chinese steel prices, housing starts and aluminum premiums.

Freelancer Management Systems: How Companies Can Find and Retain Independent Contractors via Direct Sourcing

As technology changes the work landscape, as companies seek more specifically skilled workers and as those workers push for non-traditional work arrangements, companies need to find effective ways to meet those changes. Direct sourcing is emerging as a viable, practical option to fill on-demand and other staffing needs.

When used alongside traditional hiring methods, including third-party staffing firms, direct sourcing allows companies to find and hire previously untapped independent contractors.

For decades companies have relied on staffing firms, managed service providers (MSPs), and other internal HR or procurement processes to handle their hiring, so how can they successfully integrate new technologies and methods? A readily available and reliable choice is to enlist a third-party technology provider that specializes in freelancer management systems technology (FMS). This technology can be integrated into an existing vendor management system, allowing companies to glean data from all sources to support the entire contractor management program.

Accrualify: Vendor Introduction (Part 3) — SWOT, Competitive Placement and Customer Recommendations [PRO]

Accrualify is a new breed of finance-oriented solution that targets a range of procurement and payables processes. It is one of a handful of vendors that, especially within the middle market, can offer solutions that solve the needs of finance and procurement organizations directly. While Accrualify’s AP automation and procurement capabilities are not as robust as some, the overall package and approach could present a more attractive use case for nimble solution buyers with specific requirements in mind.

In Part 3 of Spend Matters’ PRO series examining Accrualify, we turn our attention to placing the provider in a competitive context of a new breed of solutions targeting finance and procurement, offer a strengths/weaknesses/opportunities/threats (SWOT) framework and conclude with recommendations for potential customers. (See Part 1 for an introduction to the provider as well as Part 2 for its solution strengths and weaknesses.)

Tradeshift’s customer reviews are in the new SolutionMap Customer Insights report

This week’s SolutionMap Customer Insights report focuses on customer reviews of Tradeshift, which is known for its marketplace service, global invoice processing, payment capabilities and financing support. Tradeshift’s applicable SolutionMap categories for this report are in E-Procurement, Invoice-to-Pay and Procure-to-Pay.

NPI: Provider Introduction, Summary and SWOT [PRO]

In a world where everything is rapidly digitizing and moving to a services-based delivery model, there is perhaps no category more difficult for businesses to manage than IT services. The more operations move to the cloud and businesses rely on major IT services providers like Microsoft, SAP and Oracle to get work done, those in charge of IT sourcing, whether that be procurement, IT or a dedicated team in a center of excellence, are encountering a higher volume of IT services purchases, more complex offerings and pricing structures to negotiate, and more risk inherent in making the wrong choice. And with worldwide IT spend projected to reach $3.8 trillion by the end of 2019, all of these issues are only expected to build on themselves.

Helping manage this situation is exactly what NPI, a consulting firm based in Atlanta, does for IT sourcing organizations. Founded in 2003, NPI helps businesses identify and eliminate overspending on IT purchases, as well as provides vendor-specific intelligence on a range of topics, including risk reduction efforts, licensing program optimization and negotiation playbooks. Its services span subscription pricing intelligence to renewal process advisory and IT sourcing transformation consulting, and the firm counts businesses as varied as Morgan Stanley, the Social Security Administration, Denver Health and Norfolk Southern as clients.

This Spend Matters PRO Provider Introduction offers an overview of NPI, including quick facts on the provider. The brief also has an introduction to each of NPI’s six business lines, an overall SWOT analysis comparing it to other procurement consultancies and a selection checklist for companies that may consider the provider.

Workers’ Digital Skills Gap a Key Challenge for Businesses, The Hackett Group Says

Digital transformation has and will continue to have far-reaching consequences in manufacturing, purchasing, compliance, advertising and just about every other function in the business world. Another function to add to the list, according to the April 2019 Hackett Group study, will be hiring and training of existing and incoming employees.

The Next-Generation Talent Profile: How Will You Fill the Digital Skills Gap focuses on how the procurement function in particular will need to train and improve their existing workforce, because the demand for skills and knowledge like strategic thinking, smart automation, social media, creativity and innovation, and process excellence will far exceed supply over the next three to four years. The Hackett Group notes that research by the World Economic Forum indicates that more than 50% of existing workers will need to be reskilled or upskilled by 2022.

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Customize your internal payment processing needs with ‘Pay by Invoice’ at Amazon Business

No two businesses are alike. Each one has their own goals, internal policies and procedures. At Amazon Business we obsess around the differences in our customers, and how we can best support their internal procurement, reconciliation and payment teams to streamline their procure-to-pay processes. To do this, Amazon Business is helping innovate on behalf of its customers by offering a customizable invoicing payment method for businesses of all sizes and industries — Pay by Invoice.

Pay by Invoice allows eligible customers the option to buy now and pay later with payment terms and a purchasing line offered on Amazon Business.

Amazon Business believes a trusted invoicing experience enables worry-free purchasing — and we do this by making invoicing configurable, accessible and dependable for customers. Pay by Invoice provides Amazon Business customers access to millions of suppliers, with the convenience of using a single configurable invoicing solution to purchase. The vision of Pay by Invoice was to put businesses back in the driver’s seat. No need to change internal policies to work with a supplier or have separate negotiated terms with each individual supplier. With Pay by Invoice, the customer chooses what works for them.

Accrualify: Vendor Introduction (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses [PRO]

In our initial research brief on Accrualify, we introduced the four-year-old provider based out of San Mateo, California. The upstart procurement and finance technology vendor offers a unique set of technology capabilities to manage specific components of the invoice-to-pay cycle, as well as adjacent areas like basic requisitioning and broader accruals management.

The first part of this brief provided an overview of Accrualify’s offering and a short selection requirements checklist that outlined the typical company for which Accrualify might be a good fit. In today’s installment (Part 2), we provide a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, exploring Accrualify’s “positives” and “negatives.”