As per our post yesterday, the new “cognitive” buzzword is getting a lot of people interested in modern Sourcing and Procurement technology, and that’s a good thing, except when it isn’t. (How can it now be? Not all providers truly offer cognitive capabilities, not all are equal among those that do, and not all are right for your organization.)
And unless you truly understand what cognitive sourcing can do, when it should be used, what technologies you need to power it, and how to properly apply it, the answer is no cognitive sourcing is right for you.
In yesterday’s post, we noted that there were five (deep) technology requirements that a cognitive sourcing platform had to meet to have any hope of truly being cognitive and zeroed in the optimization requirement to indicate that before you even think about getting cognitive you better acquire, and master, strategic sourcing decision optimization because you can’t really properly apply what you don’t really understand, and the vast majority of organizations don’t really have a clue what this is because they don’t have it.
But optimization is not the only area that the average Procurement organization doesn’t have a good grip on. Spend Analytics is another area. Most organizations that have “spend analytics” solutions really have first generation “spend reporting” solutions that are nothing more than a set of canned reports and a few mildly alterable report templates that are customized to certain categories or segments of the supply bases. That’s not analytics.
Regular readers of Sourcing Innovation know that true analytics is the ability to create your own cubes, derive your own dimensions, define your own (pivotable, filterable) reports, and drill across data elements until you find opportunities that cannot be exposed by a canned report. (See the Spend Analysis archives for over a decade of great insights.)
Next generation cognitive systems find opportunities by doing more than just running a set of canned reports on a monthly basis and looking at trends. They are regularly running running variations of dozens, if not hundreds, of analytics on purchase data against deep should cost models populated by ever changing commodity and market costs feeds and looking for variations and emerging trends that could signify potential opportunities as they emerge.
But to understand what’s an emerging opportunity vs. a blip and what is small enough to allow automated platforms to procure and big enough to justify a deep strategic sourcing event or second look at the market, you need to understand just what analytics can do and how to best apply the insight gained from, and the capabilities provided by, a modern cognitive platform — and that requires hands-on experience.
So get a modern spend analytics solution and get your hands dirty in the data. Then maybe, someday soon, you can think about getting cognitive.