Nora Huovila of Sievo – Thoughts on the London Weather and Data Handling

Spend Matters – and our readers I’m sure – offers a warm welcome to the wonderful city of London to Nora Huovila, the new Head of Business Development, UK, from Finnish software firm Sievo. Although Sammeli Sammalkorpi has been making regular visits to the UK, she is the firm’s first full-time UK-based executive, with responsibility for business development here and, at the moment at least, some US responsibilities too. (See our review of Sammalkorpi CIPS Conference presentation here).

Sievo offers software that majors on spend analytics and savings measurement, analysis and forecasting. The product enables users to look at price changes for instance and separate out factors such as currency, demand, specification and get down to understanding “real” commercial and procurement drivers. As we have said many times over the years, in that “savings” area, it is one of very few serious and effective products available in this field.

Anyway, I had the chance to meet her for a (pretty sober) lunch at the excellent Bedford and Strand wine bar, one of my favourites, the other day. And of course in typical Spend Matters investigative journalist fashion, I went straight in with the key question – how are you finding London?

“Is it always as windy as this? And it seems cold, the temperature is higher than Helsinki but I feel colder.” That’s the famous British damp, I explained. It always makes it feel colder than the thermometer suggests.

“And everyone apologises all the time. They are very considerate. I bump into someone in the supermarket, they say sorry!” That’s the famous British politeness, I explain. Or passive /aggressiveness if you’re less positive. But talking of supermarkets: “The ready meals are amazing! So much choice – we don’t have that in Finland.”

So there you go – we don’t know how lucky we are, with our politeness and amazing ready meals! Huovila is sharing accommodation with a very old friend of hers from Finland who also works in London, and “it is quite strange, but after only a couple of weeks I do feel very much at home here.”

On a more serious note, she has been at Sievo for three years, starting in the operations team, working on customer implementations – she is a software and industrial engineer by training, so she’s more of a technical person by background than a sales type. She certainly does not come over as a very sales-y person (and that is a compliment!). Given that background, what does she think makes Sievo stand out?

“It all starts with our classification engine, data categorisation and the process that enables us to handle and manage the spend data. Those strengths then give the opportunity to really measure procurement performance, look at realistic savings, and predict spend levels. Making data useful, that is the key to what we do.”

We still see Sievo as the leaders in the savings and performance measurement software area, and if you really want to explain, validate and indeed predict savings and spend, then it really is a powerful tool. If you want a chat to Huovila, or perhaps a demo, then she’s available at - and is happy to meet in London rather than Helsinki, despite the cold and wind!

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