PRO or Plus Content

Ebury: Solution Overview (trade finance services for smaller global businesses) [PRO]

One of the biggest challenges for small- and medium-size enterprises trading globally has been the lack of access to the kind of financial services readily offered by banks to multinationals.

Today, businesses of any size can think and trade globally, but the services to support them may not be offered by their bank. A $100 million or $250 million business may have a few bank relationships. Smaller businesses may only have one bank relationship.

Your banker and other lenders may not be able to support you with the credit you need to conduct foreign exchange (FX), cross-border payments, payables finance and international collections.

This is a real challenge that businesses face.

International Trade Services has been at a very serious crossroad for many banks for several years — as significant staffing and regulatory issues continue to plague the business and technology investments need to be made but do not have a strong business case.

Outside of the large global and super-regional banks that offer trade finance, risk management services, international payments and other international services, many banks don’t have their own dedicated staff, technology or resources to offer a suite of international services to their customer base. While some of the larger banks offer outsourcing services to other banks, there is not a dedicated focus to help companies in the $50 million to $1 billion sales segment. The cost to serve and the capital to dedicate typically outweigh a dedicated effort to build capabilities.

There is a persistent message in the market that a large trade finance gap exists for small businesses. This coincides with surveys done by the Asian Development Bank and the International Chamber of Commerce who look at bank-reported rejection rates for trade finance transactions and estimate that the global trade finance gap remained large and stable at $1.5 trillion. The International Finance Corporation, part of the World Bank, estimates a US$4.7 trillion finance gap for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in emerging markets.

Ebury was started in 2009 to help small and medium business do cross-border trade. Ebury is able to bundle trade finance and risk management capabilities that are normally available only to larger enterprises of $1 billion+ and provide these kinds of services to smaller businesses. Ebury attempts to offer what large multinational banks offer to smaller companies.

Let’s take a look at the company and its solution.

The Contingent Workforce and Services (CW/S) Insider’s Hot List: July 2020 [Plus+]

Welcome to the July 2020 edition of Spend Matters Insider’s Hot List, a monthly look at the contingent workforce and services (CW/S) space that’s available to our 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 in the CW/S space.

In the last Hot List, we covered key events and developments that took place in May, a pivotal month in the COVID-19 crisis. Among those were the first damage-control numbers reflecting the dramatic cut earlier this year in contingent workforce jobs by organizations across the U.S.

June seemed to start with a high level of business optimism, and the Dow reached a peak of 27,572 on June 8. But by the end of the month, large parts of the country have started to reapply COVID-19 restrictions, and the economic recovery could be heading for its first major bump in what is going to be a long road.

In the CW/S space, there was a lot going on, which we’ll dig into now before heading into the Independence Day weekend.

Artificial intelligence levels show AI is not created equal. Do you know what the vendor is selling? [PRO]

Just like there are eight levels to analytics as mentioned in a recent Spend Matters PRO brief, artificial intelligence (AI) has various stages of the technology today — even though there is no such thing as true AI by any standard worth its technical weight.

But just because we don’t yet have true AI doesn’t mean today’s “AI” can’t help procurement improve its performance. We just need enough computational intelligence to allow software to do the tactical and non-value-added tasks that software should be able to perform with all of the modern computational power available to us. As long as the software can do the tasks as well as an average human expert the vast majority of the time (and kick up a request for help when it doesn't have enough information or when the probability it will outperform a human expert is less than the expert performing a task) that's more than good enough.

The reality is, for some basic tactical tasks, there are plenty of software options today (e.g., "intelligent" invoice processing). And even for some highly specialized tasks that we thought could never be done by a computer, we have software that can do it better, like early cancerous growth detection in MRIs and X-rays.

That being said, we also have a lot of software on the market that claims to be artificial intelligence but that is not even remotely close to what AI is today, let alone what useful software AI should be. For software to be classified as AI today, it must be capable of "artificial learning" and "evolving its models or codes" and improve over time.

So, in this PRO article, we are going to define the levels of AI that do exist today, and that may exist tomorrow. This will allow you to identify what truth there is to the claims that a vendor is making and whether the software will actually be capable of doing what you expect it to.

Not counting true AI, there are five levels of AI that are available today or will likely be available tomorrow:

  • Level 0: Applied Indirection
  • Level 1: Assisted Intelligence
  • Level 2: Augmented Intelligence
  • Level 3: Cognitive Intelligence
  • Level 4: Autonomous Intelligence

Let’s take a look at each group.

Spend Matters previews Everest Group’s contingent workforce management (CWM) best-practices study [PRO]

supplier network

The management consultant and research firm Everest Group recently conducted a survey to get a clearer picture of how well organizations manage their contingent workforces, what practices they have adopted and to what extent.

Spend Matters assisted in the survey design, and Everest Group completed the survey and analyzed the data using its Pinnacle Model framework. The firm will soon be publishing its Pinnacle Model report, “How Best-in-Class Organizations Manage Their Contingent Workforce.”

Earlier this year, Spend Matters and Everest Group joined forces to produce three online sessions based on the findings (video recordings are available for Part 1, Part 2, Part 3).

In this Spend Matters PRO brief that has been unlocked for our readers, we preview a subset of the survey results. The brief begins with a short explanation of Everest Group’s data methodology. It then discusses the five areas that provide a representative picture of and key insights into the current environment. The brief concludes with some of our thoughts on where things stand today — not so much for high-performing organizations, but for low-performing ones.

Tradeshift Pay overview: Connectivity as a bridge to finance [PRO]

Back in May 2018, Tradeshift announced Tradeshift Pay, and proclaimed it was the industry’s first end-to-end cloud platform for supply chain payments and finance, including blockchain-based financing. At that time, very few source-to-pay vendors had any type of payment offering. What those solutions provided was an approved payment request, which involved matching the invoice with documents (purchase orders, packing slips, etc.) and changing the payment status to approved for payment, or “OK-to-pay.” Once the approved payment reached its scheduled pay date, based on the specified payment terms, it was paid.

Some of the e-procurement vendors were developing payment punchout capabilities for catalog purchases, using a virtual card to pay suppliers. Almost no one had any money transmitter license, bulk payment capabilities, cross-border payments, digital wallets or other payment capabilities.

Now in 2020, the source-to-pay world has recognized that the payment gap needs to be closed. Offering capabilities around sourcing, e-procurement, AP automation, spend analytics and other important modules without providing the payment capabilities was not truly a source-to-pay, invoice-to-pay or procure-to-pay solution.

The question was how to do this. S2P, I2P, P2P and AP automation vendors (like Coupa, Tipalti, SAP Ariba) have taken different roadmaps.

In Tradeshift Pay’s case, the focus is providing a digital solution for buyer payments while providing sellers on the network early finance opportunities. The prime objective of the Tradeshift Cash solution is to help sellers get paid earlier for their invoices to address supply chain liquidity. Tradeshift built a solution that can get its network suppliers paid much faster — from an average of 30 to 45 days in the European Union and U.S. down to a couple of days.

Tradeshift Pay is built around invoice automation to get the invoice ready to be paid. But through the integration with Tradeshift Cash, sellers can now be paid before the invoice has been approved. Tradeshift has built a receivable finance solution that ties in their network transactions with their network and third -party data to provide receivables finance.

Let’s take a closer look at how Tradeshift Pay works.

Xeeva: Vendor Analysis (Part 3) — In-Depth Solution Overview [PRO]

PaaS

In this third and final part of our Spend Matters PRO Vendor Analysis of Xeeva, we provide a complete overview of each main module of the Xeeva offering, which covers most areas of an S2P suite. Part 1 of the series focused on solution strengths and weaknesses, and Part 2 focused on Xeeva’s competitors and the technology market that they’re in.

Today, we’ll look at Xeeva’s suite, which has four main components: spend analytics, data enrichment, sourcing, and procure-to-pay (P2P). These are powered by the XVA platform and the Xeeva Marketplace.

In this final section of our coverage, we will provide an overview of each of these modules, as well as the supplier information capabilities of the Xeeva Marketplace. Data enrichment is, in practice, an add-on to the analytics offering, so we will cover these together.

Xeeva: Vendor Analysis (Part 2) — SWOT, Competitors & Market Overview, Tech Selection Tips [PRO]

A competitive analysis on Xeeva is difficult because the source-to-pay provider doesn't just compete against the handful of players trying to bring machine learning and AI to the S2P space. It also takes on all of the traditional source-to-pay vendors who offer modern sourcing experiences, especially if they are augmented with market intelligence, best practices, community intelligence or other modern "guided" capabilities that can help a buyer make a better decision. That's basically what buyers are looking for and what AI-enabled or "cognitive" intelligence is supposed to deliver. So this essentially puts Xeeva head-to-head with the majority of the big S2P suite players that all have at least one of these capabilities.

However, we will do our best to analyze Xeeva’s competitors. In Part 2, we also will provide a SWOT assessment and an overview of the competitive landscape in which Xeeva plays.

In Part 1 of this Spend Matters PRO Vendor Analysis, we focused on Xeeva’s company details, a brief solution overview, and its solution’s strengths and weaknesses. In our third and final installment, we will provide a more in-depth overview of Xeeva’s platform capabilities.

Xeeva: Vendor Analysis (Part 1) — Company Background, Solution Strengths/Weaknesses [PRO]

SpendLead

The source-to-pay space is starting to get crowded. While it was only a dream a scant decade ago, with a couple of providers offering minimal S2C or P2P suites, in the last five years we've gone from just a few players to more than 10 that now compete with more or less complete S2P suites. One of these vendors is Xeeva.

Xeeva, although founded in 2014, is just now hitting the procurement scene because it launched with a very ambitious plan — AI-powered procurement that can, in certain categories, identify the best procurement opportunities and automatically execute on them. Basically, like LevaData, Xeeva wants to be one of the first players in the “cognitive procurement” domain and help you do your job, by doing more of the practical procurement process for you. But it takes time and patience to master your game if you are a sly wolf.

However, the areas in which the solution can do your work for you is limited to a select set of indirect categories where they have enough data to recommend a good decision. To determine if a buy is good, you need to know what the organization has been spending, what the current market — and negotiated — prices are now, what the organizational demand is projected to be, and if current prices coincide with what is expected based upon community intelligence.

To support this vision, Xeeva has built a nearly full S2P suite with sourcing, supplier information management (SIM), procurement, and, of course, deep AI-powered analytics technology.

In this Spend Matters PRO Vendor Analysis, we will debut a new order of information for the entire three-part series to better help readers who are doing tech selection. The strengths and weaknesses will now be in Part 1 instead of Part 2. The second installment will provide a company SWOT and a market analysis of competitors, which was typically in the last part. Now, Part 3 will be the detailed solution overview, giving readers interested in the vendor very specific details and capabilities.

Today’s focus on Xeeva will still provide company details and a brief solution overview — but it will mainly examine strengths and weaknesses. In Part 2, we will provide a SWOT assessment and an overview of the competitive landscape in which Xeeva plays. In our third and final installment, we will provide a more in-depth overview of Xeeva’s platform capabilities.

Teampay: Vendor Analysis — Solution Overview, Strengths/Weaknesses, Opportunities/Threats, Tech Selection Tips [PRO]

This year, remote work went from a reluctant experiment in the corporate world to an economic necessity. But the coronavirus pandemic-induced shift from the office to working from home was about more than shedding commutes and embracing video chat — it brought processes home too. Employees who relied on office-based tools and organizational infrastructure to work found themselves isolated and more dependent on technology than ever before.

Teampay, the subject of this one-part Spend Matters PRO Vendor Analysis, sees this as a rapid acceleration of current trends rather than a jarring disruption.

In the view of this New York City-based provider, spend management is slowly becoming more decentralized, thanks to more tech-savvy end users and the shift of purchasing behavior to increasingly services-based offerings (think martech software, concierge tablets and print/marketing as services).

This vision of purchasing de-emphasizes the role of a central procurement department in, for lack of a better descriptor, most tail spend, instead empowering employees to make their own buys — within certain designated limits — and even pay for them with automatically generated virtual cards.

In Teampay terms, this is distributed spend management, and it’s the future of buying. But how does the Teampay vision work in practice, and how does it stack up against more traditional P2P vendors?

Let’s take a look.

The basics of analytics: 8 levels — and the AI leverage [PRO]

Analytics is hot. In many organizations, analytics has gone from a "nice to have sometime in the future" to a "we need real-time, AI-backed predictive analytics yesterday to stem the flow of red."

But, as we've said before, not all analytics is created equal, and understanding what you are considering and what it can — and cannot — do is becoming more important than ever.

So in this Spend Matters PRO piece we're going to provide a short refresher on the levels of analytics — what they are, what to expect and what not to expect from each of them.

There are eight levels to analytics, and current solutions fall somewhere in the first seven. The majority offer functionality firmly contained in the first four levels, with only the minority truly offering full Level 5 functionality or higher.

We’ll also review some example functionality to help you understand what is, and isn't, out there and give you some guidance on how to compare the different platforms (and whether what a vendor is offering is sufficient for your organizational needs).

Extended Workforce Tracking Solutions: Can They Fill Your Gap in Visibility, Control? (Part 3) — Analyst Perspective [PRO]

LinkedIn ProFinder

Today, we’ll take a big-picture view of the sector for extended workforce tracking solutions, and we’ll offer some tech selection considerations.

Part 1 of this three-part Spend Matters PRO series outlined the three general types of potential solutions (VMS, FMS and EWS, extended workforce systems). And Part 2 presented overviews of three providers/solutions that gave concrete examples of those types.

The examples showed that there are solutions that offer capabilities that could enable extended workforce tracking and management for an organization. They also showed that solutions vary in different ways that will impact suitability/value of a solution for a given organization (e.g., whether an organization is using a particular enterprise solution like Beeline, SAP Fieldglass, WorkMarket; the extent of requirements for a mobile solution, etc.). From the standpoint of organizations thinking about their current options, it is a complicated and evolving solution space.

Part 3 will now close the series with an analyst perspective on the current state of extended workforce solutions and suggested considerations for business executives and practitioners seeking technology solutions for the comprehensive tracking/management of their extended workforces.

Extended Workforce Tracking Solutions: Can They Fill Your Gap in Visibility, Control? (Part 2) — A Look at 3 Providers [PRO]

SciQuest

In Part 1 of this three-part Spend Matters PRO series, we asserted that amid the COVID-19 crisis, some organizations may be focusing their attention on and gaining visibility into their external or extended workforces (comprised of temporary staffing workers, independent contract workers and service provider workers). Considering that business practitioners might be thinking about available options for enabling technology, Part 1 also examined the landscape of solutions that could potentially enable companies to track, gain visibility into and control their entire extended workforces.

The landscape was broken down into three general types of solutions:

  • VMS (related to or based on vendor management platforms)
  • FMS (based on freelancer management systems/direct sourcing solution platforms)
  • EWS (extended workforce system designed as a platform for managing all workers)

Part 2 of the series offers summary overviews of three providers that serve to illustrate one of the three types.

Part 3 will close the series with an analyst perspective on the current state of extended workforce solutions and suggested considerations for business executives and practitioners.

Three vendors have been chosen only to highlight the issues and give concrete examples of what’s in the market. Let’s look at the providers/solutions: Beeline, ADP’s WorkMarket and Utmost.