We interviewed a series of business leaders from the procurement technology sector earlier this year about the key trends impacting the procurement and supply chain professions. Everyone we spoke to for our Insider report emphasized that supply chain risk and resilience have been the key areas of focus in 2020/1.
Franck Lheureux of Ivalua told us: “The increased focus on supply chain risk and resilience had moved direct spend to the top of the agenda for many companies across the various manufacturing verticals.”
“With planning made much more difficult by increased volatility, it’s very difficult for organisations to make predictions with any confidence. So with CFOs and CPOs facing the challenge of balancing costs versus supply chain resilience when making decisions about offshoring and nearshoring, the 20/80 model that often relies on a small number of large suppliers etcetera, there are significant risks impacting on production capability, cash flow and investment.”
Ivalua’s capability across these areas of spend and their ability to provide their customers with a single source of truth in their data has been vital in aiding the decision making as clients balance the variables in these complex equations. This is a key reason why Ivalua enjoyed a very successful year in 2020.
When people talk about events like Covid accelerating digital transformation, it’s examples like this where Ivalua has made a real difference across its customer base that should be celebrated across the market.
As one widely respected source from Coupa told us: “The industry needs strong competition as it pushes us all to get better and we respect the likes of Ivalua and Ariba for the part they play in that.” The focus on this area was echoed by many that we spoke to.
One consulting leader told us: “What we’ve seen in response to the Covid Pandemic is a much greater focus on managing supplier risk, particularly for those that were exposed by a reliance on business critical suppliers overseas.
Clearly the obvious example of that is those using international suppliers who had major problems earlier in 2020, but focusing on more local supply chains is also a factor for UK based organisations with concerns about the impact of Brexit.”
For solution providers able to offer greater visibility across the supply chain 2020 has seen the market move in their direction with increased demand for their services. Tealbook, a US based specialist providing a ‘Trusted Source of Supplier Data’ has experienced spectacular growth in 2020.
HICX founder Costas Xyloyiannis told his LinkedIn followers that the business had grown fivefold over the year. One of their hires was Steve Cobley, a hugely experienced sales specialist who has spent time at both Ivalua and Coupa.
Steve told us: “We saw companies realise just how vulnerable they are in their supply chains in 2020, particularly those in manufacturing sectors with international supplier bases. For example, if you are sourcing 60% of your materials from China and it effectively shuts down as it did in early 2020 that leaves you in a very difficult situation. That was an alarm call for a lot of organisations and the result of it is driving major transformation.”
In fact, Dun & Bradstreet found that five million companies, including 938 of the Fortune 1000, had tier two suppliers in the Wuhan region in China, where Covid first appeared. Steve Cobley continues: “As a result companies are looking at the diversification of their supplier communities as part of addressing how they mitigate against future global problems like the pandemic. They are also looking at how they get better information to help manage that situation.
For some companies, they may have already invested in cloud based procurement solutions which have helped them enormously but what if their production and planning systems are still on premise and key staff are home based? How do you get full visibility across your operations in that situation? So problems like this are driving the move to cloud, better interoperability between solutions and moving high onto the supply chain agenda alongside sustainability, visibility and risk management.”
There are many more who have told us similar stories. At the heart of all this is a reliance on accurate information to inform decision making. In very simple terms, those manufacturing businesses who have accurate supplier data have benefitted hugely from that in their response to what for many has been a crisis in their supply chains.
It’s clear that firms providing best of breed tools around supplier data saw a significant, in some cases drastic, increase in demand for their solutions in the second half of 2020 and this is driving more hiring in this particular niche of the procurement technology sector.
This article is an excerpt from our Spring 2021 Procurement & Spend Management Insider report.