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Why Is Digital Transformation a Debate

Procurement executives keep hearing the generic conversation and reading article upon article about “digital transformation” and why they should implement massive change in their organization. Here is why you need to implement one complete solution rather than best of breed.

As corporations embark on the road to digital transformation - most working towards complete automation from within the procurement processes - executives are put to the test evaluating technology solutions that are best for their specific organization. There are always opinions on how organizations should be piecing together their technology tools to further advance their teams. Society tends to follow processes without understanding what the process is for, but data-driven procurement is critical to value creation, no one can argue that. We must leverage the benefits of digitizing our processes for automation, efficiency, and better cost savings by being able to run more activity and more events. So why does it seem that every article, presentation, or conference focuses so heavily on digital transformation? What is the social impact of a digital transformation? Why is this influencing our depiction of selecting one single solution or a combination of several solutions? Our ability now to get the data for our supply chain?

Our newfound digital culture is exploratory; it is adaptive; it is customizable. It operates at speed and focuses on customer experience. As procurement professionals need to re-evaluate technology every few years, it seems that just as frequently we see a report that states “best of breed is the way to do it”, followed by “everyone should have one complete solution.” But what is the right answer for you?

The best innovations combine technology and human behavior. Technology in all reality is all about human psychology. What does the human want, need, desire, fall in love with even. And our procurement technology is no different than our use of our smartphones and tablets, from which we seem to never be separated. Buying a Source to Contract solution is like buying that digital camera, iPod, GPS, phone, or computer and making them all work together, simultaneously. In today’s society, people have nearly a hundred total apps on their mobile device, but traditionally only use a handful on a daily basis. Why is that? As consumers, technology doesn’t matter, it’s what we do with technology that matters. When looking at your procurement transformation, the question does not lie in whether you select “best of breed” or “complete suite” but rather what innovations you need to advance your business. Is it a combination of several technology partners in order to complete each piece of the pie, or all of the desired solutions that work together simultaneously under one roof?

As humans we like all-encompassing centers of data, a one-stop shop if you will, or in this case a hub of procurement knowledge. Just as we ask hotel concierges or Uber drivers or restaurant servers for recommendations when visiting a new city, we expect this individual who lives in this city that we are visiting to know every square inch of the town, every restaurant, all entertainment; but in the end it seems we will always come back to Yelp or Google Maps to figure out what is near no matter the review. This is what’s happening in procurement technology right now. We expect certain individuals, or individual technology providers to give us the world, but we will always come back to our aggregate of data, our procurement hub of knowledge.

 

Why does end-to-end get a bad rap?

When some Source to Pay (S2P) players don’t have the capability or the functionality that customers or the market desires, they have to acquire a company in order to complete their offering. This also creates integration struggles as these organizations typically have overlap of solutions, creating the internal battle of which solutions stay and which go. While these same companies are having an issue integrating internally, how are they supposed to deploy with a new customer and their plethora of current tools? This answer is one that absolutely gives other S2P providers a bad rap: that it costs way too much and takes way too long.

I think an important factor for us to acknowledge is that suites have not always been the option. When we look to the beginning of procurement technology, some 20 years ago, procurement technology providers truly specialized in one component such as sourcing, or contract management. As any industry or market grows, some organizations took advantage of the opportunity to be the “end-to-end” offering to fulfill all of your procurement needs. This was not the case, and it was only after many organizations advancing one after another, pushing the envelope.

When tying together maybe some 8-10 different “best of breed” solutions, upgrades and integrations also can be painful. This typically means deployments are done by consultants or third parties who don’t know their software well enough.

 

Whether you currently have procurement technology or have none, why should you choose an end-to-end suite?

An end-to-end suite is a solution. It is not a product or single software solution, but a solution for your entire procurement and purchasing processes. Integrate with your ERP system(s) and any other technology you, finance, legal, HR, or operations currently use. With user experience more important than ever, and B2B software now being judged as if it were B2C software, this really means the users are the new decision makers.

World class organizations drive more with less, and even more when there is clearer visibility in one complete tool. Most commonly in S2P solutions, is deploying in waves, similar to if organizations were in fact buying best of breed. Synertrade is happy to help a procurement department begin their journey with a few critical modules, such as spend analytics, sourcing, or supplier management, to achieve an immediate ROI and value. As the team and shareholders begin to use the tool and see direct results, by selecting one complete end-to-end tool for the entire upstream and downstream, then it becomes as simple as turning the knobs from here on out. When selecting best of breed, imagine having to start the RFP process over and over again for each S2P module? Synertrade can open the doors to more applications in waves instead of having to begin a new RFP process for the next “best of breed” module. We make the transition easy no matter what the environment is.

 

So, why Synertrade?

A true end-to-end solution is built on simplicity. When focusing on simplicity and user adoption, this makes the platform to not become shelf ware, because people want to use the tool. A procurement hub of knowledge is a basis for helping to build those complex RFx, achieve a defined supplier database, and streamline purchasing. The days of selling software are long gone, especially in procurement where workflows are essential and we have shifted from cost savings, to focusing on value, to customer centric. We are not here to sell you software and “hope” you use it. 

Your procurement partner should be a broker of information, data-driven. You can have whatever data you want at your fingertips, and you get this data every day, fresh, with one system.

 

Download our white paper Artificial Intelligence & Predictive Procurement: The Future of Digitalization in Procurement

About the author

Brenton Walton

Brenton Walton, Head of Business Development & Marketing, Synertrade North America

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