The mid-1990’s was the heyday of flannel, AOL Instant Messenger, and enterprise applications focused on procurement and financial services. Today, flannel is still in, but spend related to procurement and sourcing has been sorely neglected.
Perhaps the flush of excitement over the early-adopted IT procurement and sourcing projects disincentivized market leaders from innovating quickly and efficiently, or perhaps the daunting prospect of migrating systems which have been in use for decades was too much to consider. It’s probably a mix of both. Need proof? Look no further than Cisco’s 2016 global data center workloads and compute instances by applications, which shows that ERP-related systems are both more likely to be traditional software and on-prem, more than any other workload within the enterprise.
Why can’t we all just get along?
During that first wave of mid-90s digitization, procurement and sourcing applications were often built and deployed as software point solutions, replacing what was previously either spreadsheet-based or proprietary.
Life went from bad to good and back to bad as businesses rejoiced over the multitude of software solutions, only to get mired in a tangle of siloed applications incapable of communicating with each other, prompting the recurring cry of “why can’t our systems just get along?”. While the thought of replacing a dozen applications with a single suite is incredibly appealing to IT managers in theory, it’s far more difficult, emotionally draining, and often futile in practice.
This is why we invested in Suplari.
Suplari is a data-driven insights platform for procurement, providing customers with a centralized view of spend across the entire enterprise by connecting the various data models of disparate legacy procurement and sourcing systems. As large consumers of multifaceted data, we at Two Sigma know firsthand how difficult it is to achieve proficiency in applying machine intelligence to data cleansing and normalization. With a unified view across applications, Suplari aims to:
(i) identify unapproved spend, enforce contract adherence, and flag suspicious transactions; and
(ii) understand ingested data and proactively identify opportunities for cost and risk reduction by surfacing actionable real-time insights to procurement managers.
As Suplari collects more data and serves and tests insights with its customers, we expect the product to learn to optimize enterprise spend across organizations in a material way and thus make significant improvements to its customers’ operational intelligence. We believe Suplari’s entrance to market is coming at a time when CFOs want direct line of sight for spend across the organization, and procurement managers are seeking ways to deliver this mandate through the optimized collection, processing, and intelligent application of both new and old spend-related datasets.
We think Suplari ultimately will provide many light-bulb moments where managers will finally begin to understand what their teams are actually trying to accomplish. This fits with a greater trend we are seeing across industries of using grand unified views of transaction-level data to understand user context and forecast intent.
But what about Customer Value?
Right. Customer Value! Suplari is a fraction of the cost of a full-scale ERP roll-out, and it doesn’t require any rip-and-replace from existing systems, making it both a cost-effective and easy way to aggregate spend. Meaning that, with a common view of procurement systems, Suplari’s customers should finally be able to say goodbye to Excel print outs, pivot tables, and frail macros, and say hello to all of the business leaders they’ll be working with across the organization in bringing intelligent data-driven spend insights into action. Hooray!
We’re excited to work with Niki, Jeff, and the Suplari team as they advance their mission to enable all of their customers to maximize operational intelligence, efficiency and effectiveness in order to focus on what’s really important — investing in growth, innovation, and people. Our Two Sigma community of data scientists, quantitative engineers, culture experts, and product specialists look forward to supporting Suplari as they forge ahead.