PRO Content

XTRM: Solution Overview (A payments focus on digital wallets, cross-border capabilities) [PRO]

Over the last year, there has been a huge investment by the payments community to create digital wallets for business customers to enable fast and cost-effective cross-border payment capabilities. These solutions are becoming popular with many money-movement companies. These providers are embedding wallet apps in their products so their customers can make global disbursements.

Wallets enable companies to manage multiple account balances globally and make disbursements to beneficiaries at any time. Having a multi-currency wallet enables disbursements to happen in the local currency of your beneficiaries. There are numerous business applications for the use of wallets. Some examples include:

  • Small- and medium-size businesses that make disbursements to global beneficiaries for rebates, incentive payments, referrals, etc.
  • A lead-generating company that needs to make referral payments globally.
  • A wealth manager that needs to make payouts in multiple currencies to depositors.
  • Independent contractors and sole proprietors who need to pay gig workers globally.

More and more solution providers are looking to provide the banking infrastructure and sub-ledger account management to hold money in wallets to supplant bank account-to-account transfers. B2B payment companies see wallets as a revenue opportunity. When money goes into a wallet, there may be additional foreign exchange (FX) conversions and transfers to beneficiary-owned bank accounts.

The payments provider XTRM has built a model around moving money between wallets and taking away the pain in cross-border B2B payments.

Making Sense of the Supply Risk Management Solution Landscape (Part 1) [PRO]

Enterprise risk has never been higher.

The COVID-19 crisis has been an accelerant to other enterprise risks, such as cyberthreats, employee health and safety, and most certainly, supply risks affecting suppliers in complex value chains. For procurement and supply professionals, managing this risk is challenging because they might not necessarily get credit for reducing supply risk that they do for reducing supply costs (spend), but risk certainly impacts them and their ability to help the business accomplish its goals.

Herein lies the good, the bad and the ugly. Supply risk management is a two-headed beast:

  • The ability to manage and mitigate RISK within the SUPPLY MANAGEMENT function (i.e., source-to-pay and broader value chain), including within the supplier management process
  • The SUPPLY-side aspect of enterprise RISK MANAGEMENT where enterprise risk and compliance (including to CSR/ESG goals) requirements get extended out to supply chains and third parties (e.g., suppliers!).

The “good” is the ability to extend and integrate enterprise risk/compliance out and back to the external partners that are woven into your business. Supply risk management is intrinsically linked with enterprise risk management by performing supplier risk management processes within the S2P process intrinsically as part-and-parcel of the TPRM (third-party risk management) process that sits within the top level ERM (enterprise risk management) and GRC (governance, risk and compliance) processes. Or put another way, if you’re going to reduce enterprise risk, you need to extend your risk management processes outside the four walls to your trading partners — and make sure that your internal stakeholders are aligned in that effort for business continuity planning (BCP).

As such, the “bad/ugly” aspect of poor alignment is the inability to execute these aligned processes given the fragmented terminologies, methodologies, regulations, stakeholders and solution providers/markets vying to help solve these issues.

We can’t delve into all the organizational issues here — e.g., the philosophical/religious battle of whether ERM or GRC is the best top-level methodology; or where sustainability best slots in; or who should own TPRM organizationally (GRC? Procurement? Both?) Regardless, when you start “connecting” the dots across (and within) these domains, you’ll see the potential linkages that are needed — and how many are lacking. For example, very few procurement organizations have helped establish a “single face to the supplier” via a supplier portal that integrates these various risk areas in IT, GRC, legal, etc. (i.e., beyond just a basic procurement/AP registration portal with some basic risk functionality). It’s a technical challenge and an organizational challenge.

We see many of our practitioner advisory clients struggle with how to unify all of these stakeholders and systems — and also just getting the funding needed to do so. They also struggle with what types of providers are appropriate to consider beyond the traditional silos or “lanes.”

In this Spend Matters PRO series, we’ll present a framework for supply risk management that not only is segmented to meet the objectives of supply-side professionals, but also integrates into the higher-level enterprise risk/GRC areas — and simultaneously reflect the current state of solution/services providers. This mega mashup market is messy because there’s a lot of provider overlap and also because of changing dynamics between SaaS solution areas — and because of changing provider market dynamics around content aggregation, analytics-derived intelligence (which is increasingly based on large communities of users and purpose-built machine learning algorithms), risk scoring methodologies and other areas.

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.

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.