ProcureTechSTARS with Gregor Stühler, CEO and Founder of scoutbee, the provider of smarter supplier discovery and AI driven insights.
During the session, Gregor shared his thoughts on digital enablers, strategic procurement, authenticity, first mover advantages, submarines and Duolingo…
1. What’s scoutbee‘s mission and USP?
For scoutbee‘s USP, we want to be the digital enabler when it comes to strategic procurement. Strategic procurement is about setting the procurement strategy, identifying procurement or sourcing opportunities internally, and then it’s about finding externally or internally the right suppliers to execute on that. On top of that, we want to learn from this process, adapt our strategy and apply learning, insight, foresight, and then action.
Still too often today, strategies are created in an Excel sheet, then probably discussed in a PowerPoint, and then the action is always the same: either you are engaging with an existing supplier or you are engaging with a new supplier. That’s about it.
Back in the day, this engagement with a new supplier was always extremely untransparent, until today, nobody knows where the suppliers are coming from. They are found at tradeshows and Google search for example. We are enabling companies to meaningfully discover the right suppliers around the globe and give them all the data points they need to trigger or support a decision towards the supplier. There are typical data points the purchaser would also collate and generate such as revenue, sustainability metrics, customer relationships and certifications. That’s also why we want to provide a strategic procurement platform, because
2. What have been the most significant milestones on the scoutbee journey so far?
I’m particularly proud of scoutbee for 3 reasons. Already in 2015, scoutbee as a company saw the need for a data driven product for a procurement community that was in strong need of digitalization — companies just didn’t work like that back then. At first, we were not taken seriously, and we were fighting back against windmills, and I’m very proud that we proved the case for digital procurement solutions.
Then there was the next milestone, where we were actually able to close major clients such as Volkswagen and Unilever that became the first movers in this area and are taking data driven strategic procurement seriously.
The third milestone occurred over the past year in particular, we’ve positioned scoutbee with the resources, including 76million dollars in funding, an expert team, and ambitious roadmap to be able to execute fully to meet the digital strategic procurement needs of now and the future.
3. You mentioned Volkswagen and Unilever. What do you look for in the perfect customer and what do they look for in you?
For us, it’s important that the companies we are working with are looking beyond savings and are focusing on sustainability and innovation, that they do not see procurement as a sweatshop, but rather the value driver for companies. I am proud to say that we are walking side by side with these companies. In general, our customers have a certain size where global procurement is strategically relevant for them — where the supply network or supply chain plays a critical role.
4. What are the foundations of a great team?
Authenticity, so people know their colleagues always have good intentions, so there’s no hidden agenda; no politics happening and that you are actually authentic with that.
We strive to create win-win situations, both internally and with our clients. As long as you have this set up, I think you can scale a company successfully and enjoyably.
5. As we emerge from COVID what will you be doing differently?
Internally, we will definitely embrace hybrid work more thanks to Zoom and remote working. Nevertheless, we do see the benefit of having people together as a team in the office. We will also make sure that we are communicating more proactively, instead of relying on coffee chat and hallway talks and so on which doesn’t usually reach everyone in the company. We are always embracing relationships, we always have been, and we will make sure that we are connecting passion and profession; I think that won’t change post COVID, at least from my perspective.
Externally, COVID was a pivotal moment, because the procurement community realised how important supply chain resilience is and how limited supplier options have a horrible impact on supply chains. In 2019, many were still focusing on generating hard savings, and pursuing the cheapest option.
I recently read a study, measuring an event and the proximity of a disaster in their supply chain, and the willingness to do multi sourcing. When disasters happen, the multi sourcing trend goes through the roof by almost 70% and the further you move on from this single event, the less companies actually use multi-sourcing.
Now, we proactively help customers to understand how much of a positive impact multi-location sourcing has compared to a single-source/single-country strategy.
The other idea is that companies thought that by implementing risk management or risk analytics solutions, they did something for event risk management but in my mind, the plan is not predictable. No one could have predicted the Suez Canal disruption — the only thing that risk analytics can do for you is to let you know a day earlier. By having a proactive procurement strategy and finding the right suppliers in the right locations and making sure that you either have a lot of stock at hand, or a plan or an option when disruption events occur — this is how long term resilience is built.
6. As a ‘strategic procurement platform’, how much are you going to use your data to help shape supply chains proactively, as opposed to reactively?
That’s exactly what we try to do because we want to position ourselves at the centre of strategic procurement. It’s particularly important that we get the right data points from our own data resources, suppliers, ERP and third-party data providers. Every company is different — we want to be good at it and support our clients by acquiring this data in a meaningful manner and help them make proactive decisions, so we can defer that data to insight, to foresight, to actually following that action. That is the proactive versus reactive part.
7. What is the trajectory for scoutbee in the future and what will be most important to achieve it?
It is very broad and ambitious, but
We will try to be as industry agnostic as possible, but on the other side as we start to manage this change on our system, this means that companies can start connecting suppliers to the spend. That’s probably the responsibility of larger OEMs’ approach, where they are directed to the right supplier. We are proactively providing solutions that are helping companies to manage their spend, by using our system in more meaningful ways so they can use data insights to make more proactive decisions.
8. How are you doing good for the planet?
I hope we are already doing a lot, but we aim to do even more in the future by empowering companies to take greener decisions.
For example, we had companies shipping 10,000 tonnes of a certain resource from Brazil to India, and we helped them source locally instead. So in many cases by simply removing the need for unnecessary shipping, we have offset significant CO2 consumption for the next decade!
If you compare this to the former setup of a purchaser having two suppliers at hand, they would always tend to pick the cheaper one. When they have 10–15 suppliers to choose from, other features including sustainability and location play a big part, which drives them towards choosing sustainability over price.
We ensure we integrate the right and honest sustainability data points into our system to drive the decision making process and not meaningless ‘greenwashing’. Today, it’s challenging for a purchaser to measure how sustainable a supplier choice really is. You need a lot of different data points; again with this data transparency, we can ensure that the right data points are attained at the right moment so that sustainability can be automatically reflected upon.
INSTANT GREGOR INSPIRATION
1. What is your favourite book or blog and why?
I’m quite an avid reader. My favourite book is ‘Turn the Ship Around! A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders’ by L. David Marquet.
It’s a story about a submarine captain. Even though the military involves drills, processes, etc, it’s also very much about people and operating a submarine is somewhat of a drastic or more dramatic example to operating a business. The book is about how a completely dysfunctional team can be turned into a high performance team with clear roles and responsibilities, shared values and a common goal in place.
2. Who is your favourite inspirational leader and why?
I don’t really have one in particular, but I really admire Bill Gates, because of his broad expertise and his strive to understand things before speaking about it.
On the other side, I also think leaders have to stay authentic so I’m gracefully stealing from others. I am following at least 15–20 different leaders from leaders in Klarna to Spotify, but also from SAP and I think everybody has to find their own style.
3. What is your favourite app or piece of technology?
According to my phone, first and foremost is Gmail. In second place was Duolingo!
I think it’s a good way to use time breaks very efficiently while learning a new language, and somewhat also helps you to shift the mind to a completely unrelated topic for the very moment to refresh the mind. I really enjoy it — I’m currently learning Spanish and Italian!
4. What’s your favourite way to celebrate a success?
I never celebrate by myself, but I enjoy hosting, so if I can bring the team together, I try to make sure that everybody is catered to and having a good time. Seeing others having a good time and celebrating with me while not having to take care of anything else is the way I like it.
5. What is your favourite cocktail?
I don’t drink cocktails, I prefer to stick with wine now and then. I don’t mind an Italian red wine, but in fact there are some very good wines from scoutbee’s founding region in Germany, too.
1. First mover digital advantage exists for both vendors and for buyers.
2. Strategic procurement platforms can provide hindsight, insight and foresight.
3. Make sure that the right data points are attained to have all relevant insights into your existing supply base.
4. Creating the environment for more choice (of suppliers) allows companies to broaden their selection criteria beyond just cost, and creates more sustainability and resilience
5. Leaders should stay authentic and find their own style.
6. Always embrace relationships, to make sure that you are connecting passion and profession.
scoutbee delivers an AI-driven supplier discovery and insights platform for procurement teams. With insights from the best up-to-date market data, buyers can make smarter decisions, faster. Enhanced supplier landscape visibility allows teams to make strategic gains in areas such as resilience, sustainability, cost, innovation and quality.
Founded in Germany by procurement experts, scoutbee’s customers include companies such as Audi, Siemens, Unilever, Kärcher, Linde, Heidelberg and SEW Eurodrive. scoutbee has offices in Germany and USA.
Our industry is moving forward faster and faster, empowered by innovative, progressive digital procurement solutions created and led by inspiring teams. ProcureTechSTARS are the digital procurement company CEOs and Founders that are leading the change, they are entrepreneurs, engineers and architects collaborating to transform procurement and the enterprise. In an open conversation with these leaders Lance Younger will be discussing the highs and lows of building the future now, the challenges they’ve faced, their perspective on accelerators and hot topics, and what keeps getting them up in the morning (and keeps them up at night).