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Procurement Technology

AI in Procurement: The Day After Tomorrow [PRO]

SciQuest

Spend Matters has been exploring the state of artificial intelligence in procurement. Before we look into the future, let’s see where we’re at now. We started with AI in Procurement Today (Part 1 and Part 2), which was followed by AI in Procurement Tomorrow (Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3). This leads one to ask, what comes next? A number of vendors are already working on the tomorrow features and a few even have some in beta.

We aren't going to look too far into future because we want to stick to capabilities you should see in the next decade. So here’s a representative list of some of the more common features coming down the pipe. You should expect to see:

  • Tail spend elimination
  • Guided procurement
  • Performance improvement

AI in Procurement Tomorrow (Part 3): Category Wizards Will Save Time, Add Strategic Muscle [PRO]

In this series, Spend Matters delves into the status of artificial intelligence, with a focus on how AI can improve the sourcing and procuring process. Today the technology is really “assisted intelligence,” which was detailed in our precursor series: AI in Procurement Today, Part 1 and Part 2). The technology of tomorrow promises the “augmented intelligence” that we are discussing in this series, as some vendors already have limited beta capabilities. In the first two articles, we discussed how tomorrow's systems are going to help considerably with overspend protection and how "ninjabots" can crunch data on buying and automatic opportunity identification. In this article, we'll consider “category wizards” and how they can put a halt to manual tasks — like defining/assessing categories and choosing the best procurement process — thereby adding strategic prowess for even the lowest of buyers.

AI In Procurement Tomorrow (Part 2): Ninjabots and Augmented Intelligence [PRO]

In this series we are discussing artificial intelligence, with AI touted by many a salesperson. Virtually every vendor is claiming AI, even though it’s a stretch to promote having a fully functioning model. However, if you are willing to settle for “assisted intelligence,” that AI exists today (as per our precursor series that you can read here: AI in Procurement Today, Part 1 and Part 2), and it won't be long before we have the “augmented intelligence” that we are discussing in this series, as some vendors already have limited beta capabilities (that are typically restricted to a subset of categories) in many of these areas. In our last article, we discussed how tomorrow's systems are going to help considerably with overspend protection. In today's article, we'll consider “ninjabots” and dive into invisible buying, automatic buying and automatic opportunity identification.

AI in Procurement Tomorrow (Part 1): Recap and Overspend Prevention Examples [PRO]

As we highlighted in our earlier series on AI in Procurement Today (see Part 1 and Part 2), artificial intelligence is the buzzword — or, more precisely, the buzz acronym — du jour in procurement software. Virtually every vendor these days is either claiming to have AI or to be working on it, even if all the vendor has, or is working on, is robotic process automation (RPA).

Whether your vendor has AI or not, however, is not the most pressing question. Because AI is coming, possibly faster than you think. Moreover, if you don't adopt (at least the precursor) technology today, your procurement organization may be left in the dust tomorrow.

So You Want to Build a B2B Marketplace: 8 Business Scenarios & Case Examples (Part 2) [PRO]

Just what is a B2B marketplace and, most important, why would you, as a procurement organization or distribution/business intermediary, want to build one? This Spend Matters PRO series provides insight into these and other questions. Part 1 and today’s installment begin by segmenting the market into (and defining) eight business scenarios they can enable that go beyond standard procure-to-pay or storefront/e-commerce enablement, which include “private” and “public” marketplace models.

Thus far, we have explored four models: Digital Trading Company (“buy/sell” models), Extended Bill of Material Orchestration, Group Purchasing Organization (GPO) and Distributor “Value Add.” Today, we turn our attention to four additional B2B marketplace concepts: Procure-to-Pay (P2P) Innovator, New Business Intermediary, Industry Captain and Supply Chain Steward.

For each of the eight areas we provide a summary description of the marketplace concept, technologies (off-the-shelf) that can enable it, selected vendor shortlists, best-fit industries that it can support and best-fit spend categories (if applicable). Later installments in the series will provider deeper insight into the following: what you’ll need to build one, technology vendors to consider capable of providing marketplace technology/infrastructure (based on SolutionMap benchmark data), and whether a marketplace, for procurement organizations, is a substitute (or not) for traditional cloud-based source-to-pay applications.

Spend Matters is involved in technology strategy and RFI projects for organizations building — or evaluating building — marketplaces using “off-the-shelf” technologies. Contact us to learn more.

AI in Procurement Today (Part 2): 6 Applications in P2P [PRO]

As we discussed in Part 1 of this series, AI is the reigning buzzword of the day in procurement software. Just about every enterprise vendor out there claims to have AI, even if all they have is RPA. To help procurement organizations get up to speed, we reviewed the definition of each of the technologies in the “cognitive” stack — RPA, ML, AR, AI and cognitive — and discussed how some (but definitely not all) platforms are making use of these emerging technologies to make procurement faster, better and more productive than ever before.

Specifically, in Part 1 we discussed how the right application of these assistive technologies today can give you a platform that provides true automation, smart auto-reorder of MRO/retail stock and enhanced mobile support. We also noted that there were just a few of the applications that were available. Today, we review three more capabilities that a best-of-breed procurement platform should provide to take your (tactical) procurement to the next level.

AI In Procurement Today (Part 1): Definitions and 6 Applications in P2P [PRO]

AI is the buzzword — or, more precisely, the buzz acronym — du jour in procurement software. Just about every vendor claims its applications have artificial intelligence, even though many have only basic forms of robotic process automation (RPA) or, at best, automated reasoning systems enhanced by machine learning.

But whether or not a vendor has capabilities that constitute true AI is not the ultimate question procurement needs to answer. Rather, procurement must ask what currently available systems can do today, how those systems can be used to automate and improve standard processes, and how today’s technology can prepare organizations to adopt true “cognitive” systems when they become available. Because real AI is coming. And if procurement fails to adopt the precursor technologies available today, laggard organizations risk being left in the dust by those that do.

This Spend Matters PRO series explores use cases for artificial intelligence in procurement, today and in the near future. It begins by defining, in plain terms, what AI is, which technologies fall under its umbrella and how they relate to procurement. We then identify six of the best mainstream applications of AI in procurement and explain how each can be applied to the procure-to-pay cycle. Future installments will examine applications of AI beyond P2P, including sourcing, spend analytics and supplier management.

Direct Material Sourcing and Supplier Management Platforms (Part 2) [Plus +]

In the first installment of this series, I introduced six distinct platform areas that manufacturers are making investments in as part of core efforts to drive more successful savings, efficiency, compliance, collaboration and supplier engagement programs. The first, design/engineering and sourcing enablement solutions, represents a new class of direct materials e-sourcing toolsets that attempt to accomplish numerous objectives. Why are all of these areas so essential, especially in concert together? This Spend Matters Plus analysis examines why.

Program Management: The Missing Link in Procurement Technology Modules and Suites (Part 10: E-Procurement Components, Continued) [PRO]

In this series, we have been discussing the glue that binds together different areas of procurement workflow: the overall program management of both individual tasks and collective activities across the source-to-pay continuum, along with the technology components that support this end-to-end perspective. As a whole, this Spend Matters PRO series provides deep insight into what effective program management technology capabilities encapsulate from a design, platform and functional perspective.

We started this series by exploring design principles on which effective program management technology is based across the source-to-pay continuum. We then provided insights into the building blocks of effective program management technology components including best-of-breed project management, performance management, program compliance, program collaboration and other areas. We then highlighted specific examples of category management requirements and supplier management requirements before our series wrap-up with e-procurement and broader P2P.

In our last article (Part 9 — E-Procurement Components), we defined the P2P program counterparts to the sourcing-centric programs and began a deep dive into the platform components required to support the programs covered in our last entry. In this final installment on P2P, we conclude the platform components required to support modern procurement programs.

Program Management: The Missing Link in Procurement Technology Modules and Suites (Part 9: E-Procurement Components) [PRO]

BuyerQuest

In these articles on program management, we have been discussing the glue that binds together different areas of procurement workflow: the overall program management of both individual tasks and collective activities across the source-to-pay (S2P) continuum. This Spend Matters PRO series, as a whole, provides deep insight into what effective program management technology capabilities encapsulate from a design, platform and functional perspective.

We started this broad series by exploring design principles on which effective program management technology is based within source-to-pay. We then provided insights into the building blocks of effective program management technology components today, including best-of-breed project management, performance management, program compliance and program collaboration. We also dove into category management requirements and supplier management requirements before beginning to wrap up the series with e-procurement (and broader P2P).

In our last article, an introduction to e-procurement programs, we defined the P2P program counterparts to the sourcing programs. In this, the first of our final two entries in the series, we begin a deep dive into the platform components required to support these procurement programs covered in our last entry.

Program Management: The Missing Link in Procurement Technology Modules and Suites (Part 6 — An Introduction to SRM Programs) [PRO]

Global Risk Management Solutions

In our last set of posts, we addressed the basic requirements for any organization that wants to stand up a modern application to support sourcing programs that not only have a great user experience but are also backed by deep analytics. We went from basic program management requirements all the way to those that might seem near impossible to the average provider. We assure you they are not, although the chances of many providers meeting them are improbable, as we are requiring big leaps in typical back-office platform functionality.

But this is absolutely necessary. When people say that the creative process is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration, the corollary is that for the average procurement professional, business processes are 10% strategic and 90% tactical. Not a good use of a highly educated individual's time. The tables have to be flipped so that strategic personnel can truly do strategic functions, not spend their days wrangling spend data, searching for new suppliers, assembling supplier qualification documents or doing manual contract review.

Changing this is not easy, especially because of the wide variety of programs that an SRM manager needs to implement. To crystalize the need for such extensive capabilities, we discuss some typical projects and how the technology-enabled experience needs to change for each SRM program.

LexisNexis Entity Insight: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses [PRO]

LexisNexis Entity Insight (LNEI) is a modern, “self-service” supplier management solution that the global data/market intelligence giant built to satisfy increasingly surging market demand for all things supplier risk management. Designed as a cost-effective, off-the-shelf solution, LNEI helps procurement, finance and supply chain organizations manage risk across their own supply networks, regardless of how nested or complex.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores LNEI’s strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should consider the provider. Part 1 of our analysis provided a company and detailed solution overview, as well as a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering LNEI. The third part of this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.