Big Data and Procurement

Published April 2014

Everyone is talking about Big Data and procurement and here at Claritum we’re looking at:
  • How can you measure what you don’t know
  • Why tracking cost data can drive down purchase costs
  • Value of big data and how to manage high volumes of metrics
  • Why you need top end tech to do this and more
Naturally there are many factors to consider in this debate.

Data volumes and ‘Hyperscale’ businesses

A recent McKinsey article looked at hyperscale in the volumes of data being produced by companies such as Alibaba, the world’s largest eCommerce market, which facilitated 254 million orders in one day. Whilst not every business produces data of this amount, many procurement and finance departments are still surprised by the amount of information their systems handle. And worryingly when you consider how many purchasing processes are still manual how can businesses get to grips with their costs and then make savings?

Cost pressures

It is vital to track cost savings as every big business recognises that cost reductions remain a big part of the purchasing agenda. Many forward-thinking executives are finding innovative ways to address cost management and it’s important to make sure that they deliver long-term gain. One thing is for certain though – the time for talking is over and the time to act is now. Tableau made a very good point in their recent whitepaper on Big Data – ‘Start the ball rolling’…. It sounds obvious right? Their point continues – ‘The last tip could be the most important: Just do it. Just jump in and follow the other six steps. Big data’s already at your doorstep, if not inside. Go for results now.” Tableau also quote a leading bank for context: “I can answer things within a business meeting at the speed we’re going at now,” says Peter Gilks of Barclays. “Before, we were talking a day or two turnaround per question. Now I can sit with my laptop in a meeting and answer questions on 20 million rows of data basically on the fly.”

Integration and innovation

Companies can leverage existing best practice and look at creative solutions for technology, especially cloud based software that is straightforward to implement, flexible in scope and has broad capabilities. Technology has advanced to allow for real-time reporting on a vast scale. It is vital to look at your supply chain as a whole, then evaluate needs and opportunities from end to end, to identify strategic opportunities for efficiency. And it goes without saying that businesses need to move from manual to automation wherever possible.

What’s next for big data and procurement?

Having powerful, real time data at your fingertips is invaluable for businesses today and don’t underestimate this. Surprisingly in a recent study less than a quarter of businesses saw data as a ‘strategic’ asset. If you take this back to our original point earlier about Alibaba procurement, departments that don’t act and ignore data monitoring opportunities could be wasting money and losing out on cost saving opportunities. This is where Claritum reporting could help your organisation. Claritum is a cloud-based spend management platform and one of the benefits of using the system is shown in a case study where Claritum helped a global pharmaceuticals company to make between 10%-40% savings. So to find our more about how Claritum could save your business money click here for a demo of our system.