IoT, Digital and Artificial Intelligence. All in one, SourceNow

Traditionally, the role of the procurement function has predominantly been maintaining transactional relationships with suppliers. Historically, procurement staff spent most of their time in coordinating and collaborating between requesters and suppliers offline to ensure goods or services are delivered on time without compromising the quality. A good procurement function was often recognized and highlighted by several factors including but not limited to squeezing suppliers for price reduction and incorporating stringent policies and procedures to ensure self-acclaimed controls. None of this was measurable though until the evolution of electronic procurement platforms.

As businesses transformed and started implementing or “adopting” electronic procurement platforms to cater for both upstream and downstream procurement activities, the role of procurement within organisations matured from a support function to a growth function. Leading business realised that procurement plays a significant role in impacting the bottom line as well as managing and driving corporate social responsibilities, reputational risk, spend control, strategic partnering with suppliers and many more.

As businesses were going through this transformation journey, the electronic procurement platform providers ran into stiff competition of gaining richer market share. Thus, each provider focused on continuously offering extravagant capabilities to elevate its precedence and highlight “a one size fits all approach” in the marketplace. Sadly, many of those so-called innovative product features and capabilities are still not being utilized in the real world simply because of their irrelevance in procurement. Instead, this superiority contest amongst the providers has made it extremely difficult and risky to rollout electronic procurement platforms regardless the size of the organization. In addition, it has created newer challenges for today's CPOs and Sourcing Executives. One of these challenges are enabling and on-boarding “People” and “Suppliers” which requires significant investment of time and effort and high focus too; as it directly relates to the success or failure of the procurement agenda.

Many of the existing products in the market have solved the problem of the friction but while doing that they have added another kind of friction. This kind of friction involved over-creativity and adding features that confuse the users. The user experience is complicated and people often need extensive training to be able to start using those products. There has always been a need for a plug and play easy to use solution that small to medium sized businesses can leverage and profit from. The SourceNow team has worked that need out into a solution that resolves the issue of complicated products that cater to broader and often unnecessary procurement “needs”.

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By Michelle Wu 
CIO and VP of Digital Technology 
GE Power Services — Middle East & Africa