Koray Köse, Chief Industry Officer at Everstream Analytics, speaks to us exclusively at DPW Amsterdam and discusses the importance of leading from the front in the supply chain

Everstream Analytics sets the global supply chain standard.

Through the application of AI and predictive analytics to its vast proprietary dataset, Everstream delivers the predictive insights and risk analytics businesses need for a smarter, more autonomous and sustainable supply chain. Everstream’s proven solution integrates with procurement, logistics and business continuity platforms generating the complete information, sharper analysis, and accurate predictions required to turn the supply chain into a business asset.

Koray Köse is a supply chain expert, futurist and multi-lingual thought leader, CPO, researcher, and published author. He specialises in working with CSCOs, CPOs, CIOs and other c-level executives while possessing more than 20 years of success in developing global supply chain and sourcing strategies, re-engineering and transforming business processes, and maximising financial resources. Köse is experienced in designing new business frameworks, risk and governance processes and deploying full-scale ERP and procure-to-pay systems to drive efficiencies through digital transformation. He is an expert in industries such as automotive, pharma, life sciences, IT, electronics and FMCG and has served as Chief Industry Officer at Everstream Analytics since June 2023.

Koray Köse, Chief Industry Officer, Everstream Analytics

World’s first Slave-Free Alliance

Recently, Everstream became the world’s first Slave-Free Alliance (SFA) validated modern slavery and forced labour technology provider. Everstream’s collaboration combines the firm’s multi-tier supplier discovery and AI-powered risk monitoring and analytics with SFA’s proprietary forced labour intelligence to expose unknown risks and protect global supply chains from modern slavery and exploitation.

“We’ve had issues in supply chain before, like conflict minerals for instance was a big topic,” Köse tells us. “Legislation came that was rather weak, where companies can say we can’t confirm nor deny that we have conflict minerals in our products. Modern slavery takes it to a whole different level. In essence, you may get import issues the moment that you might be suspicious, or the government import controls may say, ‘this comes from a specific region that has general exposure’. You basically have a disruption in your supply chain.

“If you forget about the business side, your business is actually promoting ethics that your own company in its statement and the way you live don’t align with and you didn’t know about it. So unknowingly you have actually incremented the issue that you are tackling on your own and within your environment. For us it was important to live up to the promise and look for an NGO that is impactful, has a mindset that is all about partnership and not blaming or shaming, it’s about changing the environment.”

Breaking down barriers

Around 50 million people worldwide are living in modern slavery. It remains a serious problem in nearly every region, with over 40% occurring in upper-middle to high-income countries. Due to the opacity and complexity of today’s global supply networks, companies are increasingly vulnerable to the risk of forced labour. According to a study cited by Slave-Free Alliance, 77% of companies expect to find modern slavery somewhere in their supply chain. Through this alliance, Everstream will actively contribute to enhancing capabilities and eradicating modern slavery and forced labour from global supply chains.

“We started that partnership to transfer our knowledge and also get insights from their end and understand what the upcoming issues were in the arenas of modern-day slavery that we should keep an eye on and how to help our clients to be informed and avoid getting exposed,” says Köse. “That’s where I started to talk with Hope for Justice and have collaborated with them during my time at Gartner as well. Then legislation is pushing the matter to the forefront of supply chain issues.

“Now, there is also financial impact and disruption and there’s the ability to do good and live up to the promise of your own vision and the way you want to conduct your business. Then I wanted to put our product to test and make sure that it lives up to the promise and if it doesn’t then we fix it. We went through a validation process and we got 90% plus accuracy in the feedback, which is important as it’s another confidence boost that we’re doing the right thing and we should continue on that path. We are the first world’s first validated modern-day slavery solution to tackle the issue – we’re very proud of that.”

The value of due diligence

In today’s fast-paced world, due diligence has become more important than ever. Companies must ensure they are generating the best value for money and that the product that they’re purchasing actually meets their needs. Köse believes companies almost have no choice in 2023.

“It’s an element that is not only preserving value, but it also creates it too,” he explains. “In the past it was more like a checkbox exercise that you conducted because everyone thought it was the right thing to do. Meanwhile, you had spillovers that you didn’t know about. It’s almost like what I don’t know, I don’t care. Since transparency requirements have been augmented significantly and the realisation of transparency as a value driver has dropped through Covid almost instantaneously in the c-level boardroom, compliance has become a value driver.

“It’s not just a checkbox exercise where you say that you are compliant. It is an affirmation of your product quality, brand and innovation that speaks to the customers and the choice they make. If you are concatenating beliefs and values to your product in that moment, you just have created a customer and that customer will be retained throughout the lifetime that you actually care about what they care about.”

HICX CEO Costas Xyloyiannis on why we should turn the spotlight toward the experience suppliers receive as they serve big manufacturing brands.

What’s clear from Deloitte’s Global Chief Procurement Officer Survey 2023 is that environmental and social governance (ESG) is now firmly on the corporate agenda. This year, it leapt right up the priority list, from seventh place to second.

Elevating ESG, however, is tough to deliver. In practice, it is hugely dependent upon good supplier data, which is notoriously hard to achieve and maintain. Exploring why turns the spotlight to its source: suppliers. So, do suppliers themselves cause brands to struggle with data? 

Supplier experience expert HICX’s CEO, Costas Xyloyiannis, says they do – but only reactively. Where we really should turn the spotlight, he believes, is toward the experience suppliers receive as they serve big manufacturing brands. 

Letting data live across teams will harm it

The way in which big brands work with suppliers creates too many entry points for their data. Each digital tool which employees use to engage suppliers is an opening. And by default, suppliers deposit their data in whichever tool they’re expected to use. 

For example, when working with a major brand, suppliers are expected to use different tools for placing orders, sending compliance surveys, assessing performance, and doing many other tasks. Furthermore, most employees across the business work with suppliers in some way. Each time the parties work together in one of these tools, it stores the supplier’s data. And when we step back and look at all the data across the brand, as a whole, it is very compromised.

When the master dataset is created this way, it gets peppered with duplicated, incomplete, and outdated entries. Regrettably, in this format, it misguides decisions – including those which shape ESG activity. 

The best team to own supplier data is overrun

Brands can reverse this weakness by addressing the data problem. But someone needs to do it. Despite so many teams contributing to and using supplier data, there is no one perfect owner for the job.

There is a function, however, which is closest. Procurement. As it already runs the relationship with suppliers, Chief Procurement Officers (CPOs) can probe adjacent issues – such as data. 

A consideration though, is that Procurement teams already have mandates, which they are stretched to deliver. Eating into the function’s bandwidth is the necessity to tackle inflation, demand surges, driver shortages, and other Covid-19-related issues. Also waiting for the function’s attention is digital transformation, an area in which it seriously lags. 

Put data at the heart of current strategies

Looking at Deloitte’s latest survey results, there is an opportunity for CPOs to work smart. There is a clear path for CPOs to fit the brand’s data goal at the heart of their two top strategies, “increasing supplier collaboration” and “investing in digital transformation.” Supporting this approach is in the interest – and arguably the responsibility – of all C-suite executives. 

How then can fellow executives get involved? First, we can help Procurement’s collaboration strategy by reforming how every employee sees suppliers. Too often, suppliers are just a means to save costs. And while saving costs is important, it’s not everything. Untypically, cost savings slipped off the podium in this year’s survey, into fourth place. This shift in focus – away from squeezing suppliers and towards collaborating with them – will bode well for brands that want to perform in ESG. But only if everyone in the organisation can adopt the mindset.

If they do, brands can offer suppliers a better experience which will encourage them to contribute to improving data. It is human nature to want to give back. Further, we learnt in a recent HICX survey that suppliers are 20% more likely to “go the extra mile” for brands they rate as customers of choice. Therefore, it’s likely that suppliers will want to participate.

But a willingness to hike data quality is not enough. In addition to company mindsets, brands must tackle a second obstacle: digital processes.

Redefine what it means to digitise

Next, we can help Procurement to revamp the tools through which everyone engages suppliers. We know that too many entry points pull down data quality. The opportunity, then, is to guide the way in which Procurement digitises so that the brand and function can gain control. Thinking about processes in this way is real digital transformation.

Today’s situation makes maintaining reliable data very hard. Any attempt to cleanse data is undermined by the inflow of new data from multiple sources. It’s like trying to clean the ocean. The rate at which new pollution enters the ocean outstrips most efforts to remove it. And in both cases, it makes sense to control the inflow. 

In a digital environment, this means fitting a solid data foundation. A data foundation, in practice, is a central repository with one front door that is monitored and through which all new data must come in. Master data can be sent to other tools. The rule however is that they can only borrow the data, and never alter it. Good data resides in this foundational repository, where it is looked after. 

A word of caution though: be aware of quick fixes. A deeper look at the “multiple entry points” situation reveals a deeper integration challenge. Established tools, such as source-to-pay suites through which Procurement and Finance work with suppliers, don’t always mix well with newer tools on the market. One remedy is to use established suites fitted with newer features. But this fails to address the data quality goal. It reminds me of the famous quote by Henry Ford: If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses. Using old suites fitted with new features is like using a faster horse. It’s a stopgap. Rather, let’s stop good data’s tendency to evade ESG leaders when they need it most. Let’s tackle underlying issues once and for all. 

Building for the future

Truly digitising, of course, gives suppliers a better experience too, which drives the collaboration goal—and sets in motion a virtuous cycle. 

Now, suppliers who once fed the ESG data problem can contribute to its solution. Leaders who help their CPOs to collaborate with suppliers and digitally transform, for the greater enterprise, can steer supplier behaviour and keep good data. And this, as we know, is the fuel to ESG success.

By Costas Xyloyiannis, CEO, HICX

Pauline Potter, Director of Procurement at Evri, discusses her firm’s drive to delivering sustainability and offering best-in-class solutions.

Today, Evri stands as the UK’s biggest dedicated parcel delivery firm and is armed with more than 18,000 couriers.

It has over 8,500 local one-stop ParcelShops and lockers and a growing network of best-in-class hubs and depots. Founded in 1974, Evri has undergone significant transformation over the years, most recently a successful rebrand with Hermes UK in March 2022. And overseeing the company’s procurement function is Pauline Potter. A Cornell University graduate in the US, Potter trained as an engineer before moving into consulting at KPMG and Efficio.

Indeed, setting the standard in procurement isn’t easy. It takes hard work, dedication and a drive to consistently deliver and meet customer demands, particularly in today’s world. However, to companies like Evri, they take challenges in their stride.

In our recent CPOstrategy Podcast, Pauline Potter, Director of Procurement at Evri, discusses her firm’s driving sustainability while at the same time delivering best-in-class solutions while maintaining its position as the UK’s biggest dedicated parcel delivery company.