From risk management to real-time trendspotting, Big Data is injecting unprecedented speed, agility, and visibility into the procurement process.

Every company in the 2020s is a data company — just like every organisation in the 2010s was a software company.

This presumably goes all the way back to when every company was a sharp rocks and oxen firm. For the modern enterprise, identifying how the technology du jour empowers successful organisations in your industry and harnessing it for your own ends is just as vital to success today as it was for the Egyptians in 3,500 B.C. to figure out as quickly as possible where the Sumerians were getting all those cool, new, super shiny and sharp new rocks.

Nowhere is this more true than in the procurement sector. A place where harnessing Big Data can drive new efficiencies, improve resilience and agility in the face of disruption. This is done all while helping procurement teams understand their business in real-time.

However, this doesn’t mean that Big Data analytics adoption has been simple, easy, or without risk. The disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted most of a company’s value chain is dependent on external third parties.  There’s only so much you can get done without engaging with organisations up or down your value stream.

Procurement teams can typically find themselves managing expenses accounting for about 50% of a business’ revenue — sometimes overseeing spend in the billions of dollars. Procurement’s ability to maintain and navigate increasingly complex networks of relationships can be hugely enhanced by the power of analytics. However, adopting the wrong analytics platform, feeding it the wrong information, and drawing the wrong conclusions can be disastrous.

By gathering data from both internal and external sources, then analysing it with the appropriate tools, procurement teams have the capacity to create powerful insights in less time than ever before.

Combining environmental information (weather patterns, crop cycles, raw materials pricings, political unrest, etc.) with rich data generated within a company’s operations, mean that procurement teams using Big Data analytics have a significant leg up when it comes to predicting trends, finding favourable prices for buying, and sourcing inventory from a diverse network of suppliers so as not to place undue stress on their partner network. Reduced costs don’t hurt matters, either.

By Harry Menear

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