Big data is somewhat of a buzzword with businesses of late; it is essentially the huge collection of complex data that companies can use to their benefit.

It’s been called “the next frontier for innovation, competition, and productivity” http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/business_technology/big_data_the_next_frontier_for_innovation and a recent Gartner report found that 42% surveyed worldwide had already invested in big-data technology or were planning to do so.

Undoubtedly, big data can offer a great competitive advantage in being able to accurately forecast market trends and demand, which for procurement functions has its obvious advantages. The insights brought about by big data can help businesses optimize operations, mitigate risks, and capture new revenues if used effectively, however the problem many businesses face is in trusting the data they have. Putting enough faith in information to make business-changing decisions is where the benefits will be widely felt.

The collection, management and analysis of such large amounts of data is nigh on impossible without some form of software though. And it’s the software that allows data to be managed and cleansed effectively, improving data integrity and instilling that much needed trust.

Solutions that can effectively and comprehensively consolidate and connect supplier data across an organisation are fast becoming a primary investment for procurement functions. IBM’s Institute for Business Value (IBV) 2013 study found that CPOs consider supplier information management as a top investment priority, they specifically want technologies that provide a global view of suppliers and solutions that help facilitate procurement analytics.

The same study also found a strong correlation between being a top performing procurement organisation and effectively leveraging technology: 94% of top performing companies are highly effective in their use of procurement technologies.

Big data may be a key trend for businesses in 2014, but it’s important to consider the technology that is needed to effectively utilise the information gathered. With such volumes of data having the right reporting tools is essential. This is why procurement software is of such value.

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