Catching Up With The Smart Cube – Part 1

We haven’t featured The Smart Cube since we last caught up with the firm some five years ago. We said then that it was a strong-growth firm and another good choice for CPOs to consider working with in terms of customised, outsourced procurement and supply chain research and analytics services. With the topic of ‘adding value that goes beyond savings’ high on the CPO’s agenda right now, we thought it a good time to get acquainted with how the firm’s proposition has evolved since then.

A bit of background - What’s in a name?

A rather nice story is that the co-founders, Gautam Singh and Omer Abdullah, first met at business school and went on to join A.T. Kearney in the procurement and transformation practice. Ten years later they joined their business and data expertise to set up The Smart Cube: accurately named for the smart intelligence it delivers to clients, and the cube, or cubical, from which it works to bring an integrated specialist team to customers, as opposed to outsourced labour.

At the time, 2003, the firm was focused on the challenges procurement was facing from the masses of data the digital world was producing. Mindful of the changes ahead, they created a new business approach to make sense of all this data for customers.

15 years later, the firm has a global footprint and is leading the market with long-term client relationships, working with one third of Fortune and FTSE 100 companies. Its research and analytics solutions cross many sectors, and its core deliverables address the needs of the businesses by providing market intelligence and analytics solutions to help them succeed, grow and gain a competitive edge. It does this by combining the power of technology, in the form of its knowledge-rich, organisational intelligence engine, Amplifi, with advanced analytics and the human intelligence of a team of sector and category specialist analysts to deliver smart decision-making support to clients.

Evolving with the market

Over the past five years, they have been busy broadening their scope. “As we were growing - and clients were clearly happy since the majority stay with us for the long term, reflected in our 90%+ YoY retention rate - the market was also growing, and evolving. We decided it was time to take a fresh look at ourselves, from the outside-in, to see how we could better perform to meet today’s needs of our clients,” Gautam told us. “This led to the restructuring and rebranding of the firm, with a greater focus on our core solutions, which have been significantly strengthened through technology and analytics. Our ‘go to market’ proposition is now stronger and better aligned to market needs. It’s all about delivering more value to our clients – not just by identifying savings, but by offering market insights that can help them deliver on their wider goals.”

How do they do that?

15 years of investment in the assets that allow them to produce intelligence on an accelerated basis, is the answer. This investment and development has led the firm to a position where they can apply data science and advanced analytics to procurement processes, using both external and internal data, and marrying them up to make recommendations for customers.

So in the area of category management, as an example, they use an intelligence-led approach to support the catman team, or manager, having analysed the spend, the buying patterns, the demand, and the suppliers, and marrying that intelligence with the market, the tech and the supply chain in that category. They then use this information to help influence scoping and formulating the strategy, taking it to market, tendering, supporting negotiations, post-award contract management, risk assessment and so on – the full journey.

Apart from the obvious benefit to clients of gaining a market edge, the research and analytics-related tasks carried out by The Smart Cube mean more time and resource availability for the business to focus on other, more strategic, tasks. Because the company has developed a deep expertise in executing this sort of intelligence, the quality is higher than firms could do for themselves, with deep category knowledge on a global basis.

And in Part 2 tomorrow we’ll see how they differentiate themselves.

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