Five Organisations Leading in Digital Transformation

This summer, The Hackett Group named the winners of its 2019 Digital Awards, which spotlight companies that are on the cutting edge of digital transformation, including smart automation, robotic process automation (RPA), cognitive computing and advanced analytics.

Nic Walden, UK Procurement Programme Leader at The Hackett Group, identifies five firms that came out on top.

Innovative businesses continue to use disruptive digital technologies to take great strides forward in terms of efficiency, effectiveness and experience. The Hackett Group’s 2019 Key Issues research shows that the number one rated major improvement programme for procurement teams across all sectors is to make major technology platform investments, with selected use of new and emerging tools such as robotic process automation (RPA), cognitive automation, and advanced analytics.

Many companies are still at the pilot stage with their digital transformation efforts. But others, such as the winners and finalists of The Hackett Group’s 2019 Digital Awards, have managed to implement mature, large-scale projects that are delivering additional value in ways such as cutting costs, discovering new opportunities, and freeing up talent from thousands of hours of admin work.

Drawing on The Hackett Group’s experience of working with businesses to accelerate digital transformation in procurement, here are five companies we believe are currently leading in this area.


The Vodafone Group issues around 800,000 purchases orders per year, and receives 5 million invoices. To eliminate inefficiencies in its massive purchasing operations, Vodafone built a SCM Control Centre to bring full transparency into how the procurement process is actually functioning. The SCM Control Centre can uncover hidden inefficiencies in less than 10 seconds, enabling more than 600 members of Vodafone’s supply chain management (SCM) team to rapidly understand emerging issues. It also enables improved efficiency and compliance levels through advanced analytics, AI and predictive modelling capabilities.


Shell’s goal was to create and leverage a common, cloud-based data science platform and the associated digital capabilities to fill its “data science skills gap” and solve a multitude of business questions, from rightsizing inventory to improving the supply chain, and from predictive maintenance to optimising operations in downstream manufacturing units.

Initial results have been impressive. Shell now uses predictive analytics to optimise the ordering, storage and utilisation of pieces of spare part inventory for onshore/offshore oil rigs-ranging from well heads to pipeline parts. The project has delivered millions of dollars in benefits and paid for itself in under 4 weeks. Similarly, Shell is using machine learning to predict trips or failure events on critical equipment such as valves and compressors. Leveraging the same core technology set, the team was able to deliver multimillion-dollar benefits in the first few weeks after deployment.


The key outcome of Bayer’s digitalisation journey is to make things simpler and faster. An automated prediction platform was developed to leverage statistics and provide independent cross-functional coverage with a lowered total cost of operations. The platform extends Bayer’s business analytics capabilities from descriptive to state-of-the-art predictive analytics – all developed in-house.

The solution has been integrated with the enterprise business data warehouse infrastructure, and has significantly improved the speed and accuracy of forecasting and scenario-based planning. Combined with external cost reductions, the solution enables significant efficiencies and improvements in forecast accuracy, which in turn will help improve inventory positions and product availability.


With more than 300 disparate legacy systems, databases and applications, business processes for sales orders remained fragmented within IBM. The result was a lot of manual, repetitive tasks that limited the ability of 8,000 order-to-cash practitioners to spend their time on higher-value activities and tasks.

To address this issue, an Automation Centre of Excellence was created to establish a digital workforce to perform mundane tasks, so that the focus could shift to increasing speed, quality, and on being truly client-centric. The effort has already delivered 360,000 hours in productivity improvements in order-to-cash across the Americas, Asia, and EMEA.

In turn this has generated additional data, which provides better insight on processes and work issues – enabling more intelligent workflows that can be targeted with multiple automation technologies such as RPA, chat and cognitive automation.


HP is leveraging RPA, machine learning and natural language processing to automate special pricing, a strategic element of its global sales engine. This new digital approach has improved the time to quote, accuracy of the quote and significantly increases the likelihood of the quote being converted to an order.

To date, the solution has been successfully deployed across three countries and is seeing strong success rates for the end-to-end robotics solution and the natural language processing output. HP is anticipating improved accuracy and faster turnaround times in the deal pricing quotation process as the solution is introduced to more countries.


At the Hackett Group, we increasingly see the reinforcing impact of the ‘3As’ – automation, analytics and artificial intelligence. While they come from different directions – automation is anchored in process optimisation, analytics has grown out of data science and artificial intelligence is driven by computer science techniques such as machine learning – these three digital levers are being pulled by company initiatives simultaneously and not in isolation, to achieve the biggest possible returns from their digital programmes.

Significantly, and as these case studies show, an increasing number of companies are using these rapidly implemented, cost-effective and disruptive approaches to drive wider business outcomes not just in terms of efficiency and cost reduction, but also to trigger higher impact business outcomes such as reduced spend, accelerated sales and improved retention. The orchestration of automation, analytics and artificial intelligence will be an increasingly vital capability for procurement and digital business in future.

Complimentary research - World-Class Procurement: Redefining Performance in a Digital Era – can be requested here.

If you are considering making technology platform investments, don’t forget that Spend Matters SolutionMap can help you shortlist your set of potential providers.

Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of Spend Matters


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