Procurement and big data

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It comes as no surprise that the procurement function is using big data to drive digital change. According to a recent survey (
cpo-survey-2018) of over 650 leaders in procurement, supply chain and finance from Europe and North America, 72 percent of respondents stated big data and predictive analytics as one of the top five priorities for their organisations. These organisations are investing heavily in technologies that, beyond cost savings and automation, can help to drive business innovation and  sustainability. While 83% of surveyed procurement leaders think that digital transformation will impact procurement, supply chain and finance, only 5% of respondents have highly automated systems and processes in place within the function. However, the outlook is positive as 63% of participants think automation is important and have automation on the road map.

Quality over quantity

Whilst the volume of data is important, the reality is that what matters the most is the quality of data. Businesses now enjoy greater access to data about their suppliers and customers but turning the data into actionable insights and providing prescriptive guidance to buyers can be challenging. Analytics, insights and master data quality are the largest inhibitors for the procurement function efficiency.

One of the key challenges for the procurement function is to access unstructured data in form of spreadsheets, digital documents and email inboxes. Turning these into a digital format allows for data to be analysed and has the potential to reveal remarkable insights leading to innovation as digitalisation of data means that information can be processed intelligently and accurately.

Connecting people and information

AI technology combined with human knowledge is the mandatory combination to an effective classification and segmentation process and ensures businesses are able to quickly collate, visualise and action insights from existing data sources. Connecting people and information guided by intelligent procurement systems can fundamentally change how companies buy and sell and can open up broad visibility into the interconnected operations of buyers and suppliers. This also means reduced operational uncertainty as businesses will be able to prevent bottlenecks in the supply chain before they arise. In the long term, procurement professionals will also be able to increasingly focus on strategic priorities as automated procurement solutions can take over their day to-day tactical activities.

4C has recently launched a suite of easy to integrate AI based procurement and supply chain solutions, combining machine learning with the in-depth expertise of our subject matter experts. Through these solutions we are able to process collect, cleanse, classify and analyse data in order to decrease procurement costs, improve efficiency, and monitor compliance. The tailored solution supports and leverages ever-evolving algorithms to highlight real-time cost saving opportunities and is paired with a suite of proprietary tools, which track and support the delivery of subsequent initiatives.

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