Spend Data, AI and Machine Learning – Webinar and Paper Now Available

Next Tuesday at noon UK time we have our webinar with Paddy Lawton of Coupa Spend. Paddy was the founder and Chief Executive of UK-based Spend360, which Coupa bought recently, and is an expert on spend analytics, and the application of machine learning and AI to that field. I'm going to be quizzing him around the latest developments; he is always entertaining and engaging on these topics, and there will be time for you to put questions to him too.

The title of the (live) webinar is “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Your Spend Data* (*But Were Afraid to Ask)”  and we’re delighted to say that a briefing paper with exactly the same title is now available here to download.

In the paper, we look at six areas where spend analytics can already help procurement (and our organisations more widely), and comment on how current and future developments in technology (such as AI) are likely to improve further the benefits analytics can offer. Here is the introduction from the paper to give you a flavour, but please do download the whole document.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Your Spend Data  (But Were Afraid to Ask)


In this short briefing paper, we will look at some of the ways in which spend analytics can help organisations answer some of those tricky, complex, or even embarrassing questions relating to procurement expenditure.

The paper is named in honour of the very funny 1972 Woody Allen film and the rather more serious sex manual by Dr David Reuben, on which the film was very loosely based. But we are not really suggesting organisations are truly “afraid” of the points we make here, although in some cases there is a grain of truth in that proposition. But in many cases, the barriers to achieving value from spend data are more around the difficulty of extracting the right information that is needed, or perhaps a lack of understanding of what is possible through smart and creative use of the source data.

Systemised spend analysis has been around for at least 20 years now, going back to the Excel-based “spend cube”, often offered in the early days by consulting firms as a prelude to the cost-reduction programmes they sold to CFOs (chief finance officers) and sometimes CPOs (chief procurement officers)  so successfully. That graduated to more automated analysis that pulled third-party payments data from purchase to pay, invoicing and ERP systems, and tried to make sense of it through classification, analysis and reporting.

But the possibilities in terms of what is achievable are developing all the time, and artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are helping organisations to extract more useful information from that data. There will undoubtedly be more progress in this area and more opportunities, but users also need to beware of snake-oil sales people promising the machine-learning impossible.

So, in this paper, we will look at six interesting questions that relate to issues where spend analysis can already provide value, and which are likely to see further advances as the technology gets smarter, faster and more usable.

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