In the first of our four-part blog series for the release of CPO Rising 2018: The Age of Intelligence, Andrew Bartolini of Ardent Partners introduced the State of the CPO. In Chapter 2, Julien Nadaud, Chief Product Officer at Determine explores the State of Procurement, and how data intelligence is shaping the future through a connected cloud ecosystem.
Historically, procurement departments relied on strategic sourcing applications to manage their purchasing projects, usually organized around cost saving and category management. Unfortunately, these savings were theoretical. That’s because of the amount of time that passed between the beginning of the project and the real application of negotiated prices — usually many months — when those prices were actually reflected in a compliant purchasing process.
From there, the evolution of technology led to the implementation of procure-to-pay solutions to make sure that negotiated prices are correctly applied throughout an organization, along with better control, visibility and time saving.
Now there is a big trend toward adding supply chain finance and dynamic discounting to the mix. Not only to optimize cash flow, but also achieve financial advantage during the payment process.
Intelligent procurement demands a smarter tech ecosystem.
At Determine, we also believe that better managing third-party information and performance, and including contract authoring and negotiation in the upstream process, shortens the time between price negotiation and execution. This adds a lot of new savings, while reducing risks and labor cost.
That’s why, ideally, procurement departments need a full source-to-pay suite to really generate more value and efficiency. But accelerating the entire process and managing more transactions, users and suppliers does not mean that intelligence is being correctly leveraged. Sure, a lot of data is being generated. However, performing effective analysis and making better decisions requires not only the right talent, but also the right tools to collect, process, visualize and assist in that data-to-intelligence transformation.
As Andrew Bartolini says in the CPO Rising 2018 report, achieving intelligent procurement requires more than just hiring smart people; it takes many iterations and accumulated experience. Ultimately, intelligent procurement is a combination of agility and collaboration, data collection and analysis, and smart processes .
This cannot be achieved with a single technology or solution, but only by leveraging an ecosystem of interconnected applications. On top of using best-in-class applications adapted to best-in-class procurement processes, it’s necessary to centralize and share information across the organization. That includes all supplier and associated procurement information, especially contracts.
The rules have changed.
But as more and more information is processed faster and faster, having the right procurement suite and procurement talent may not be enough. This is where big data associated with machine learning can move departments into the age of intelligence to create a culture of “intelligent procurement.” The power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is continuous learning from what works, and the ability to recommend or predict the best outcome of any new situation. It also replaces time-consuming tasks like spend classification, supplier matching and contract review, freeing up teams to focus on adding more value to the process.
As AI generates more and more innovation, expanding the capability of procurement suites by enabling third-party cloud application integration inside their platforms will be truly game changing. This is why Determine and Tradeshift, two platforms-as-a-service on the market, have developed an ecosystem of partner applications that can be leveraged within each respective suite. Connecting these two platforms — having Determine as an app inside Tradeshift or Tradeshift as an app inside of Determine — makes so much more than just sense, it makes intelligent procurement possible.
Now that innovation is driven principally by artificial intelligence, it is easy to understand how procurement organizations will become smarter in the years ahead. By relying not on one single provider, but on an open marketplace that brings disruptive applications to them, it accelerates achieving an optimized procurement process that normally takes years.
Once procurement departments realize they can be smarter by using the technology they need when they need it, without having to manage the complexity of integrating disparate applications together, it becomes possible to really enter into the age of intelligence.
In Chapter One: The State of the CPO, Andrew Bartolini explained how the rise of Big Data and powerful analytics is creating “procurement intelligence,” an area that will be one of the drivers to change the current paradigm of the procurement industry.
In Chapter Three: Procurement Performance, Kelly Barner of Buyers Meeting Point looks into the question of whether “spend under management” is still a representative performance metric for procurement, one that is able to reflect procurement’s financial contributions, strategic effectiveness, and operational priorities.
Check out our on-demand webinar with Dan Roehrs of Tradeshift and Andrew Bartolini, Managing Partner and Chief Research Officer of Ardent Partners, where we explore CPO Rising 2018 in the context of Increasing Intelligence with Smarter Platforms.