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Data Analytics, Suppliers, ERPs, Oh My!

An odd boating analogy….

Joshua Self June 30, 2017

There are many things I hear often; “What’s your availability this week?”, “Am I on mute? Can you hear me now……….?”, “Hey dad, I’m hungry.” and “Data Analytics”. That’s gobbledygook for “find a problem, fix a problem”. As it pertains to eProcurement, what that almost ubiquitously means is: “How much did we spend?”, “Who did we spend it with?”, “What did we spend it on” and “Did we pay the right price?”.

So, how do buying institutions figure that out? Or perhaps more accurately how do they make figuring that out, as simple as possible. The generally accepted answer is that they deploy some sort of ERP; an Ariba, Epicor, GHX, Coupa, Birchstreet, GEP, ESM, etc. Then, and this part really matters, they need to get their suppliers enabled. This is often referred to as Supplier Enablement. That phrase basically means they want to shop from suppliers (aka punchout), send electronic purchase orders to suppliers (ePO) and receive electronic invoices from suppliers (eInvoicing); all THROUGH the buyer’s ERP platform.

That last part that, that’s the real gotchya’. That’s the part where all these 1000’s of suppliers and their 1000’s of platforms have to send data back and forth to the buyer’s ERP. Eeek! EDI here, oagXML here, xCBL here, CSV here and so on. So, essentially every buying institution using an ERP has to figure out how to get their suppliers to “talk to” that ERP…….or do they?

That’s exactly where we come in. I think on some of our old marketing material we had this tag line “Connections Made”. I kinds miss it, because that’s a huge part of what we do so well. We enable suppliers (aka connect suppliers) to the buyer’s ERP platforms and we do it in THOUSANDS of different ways. We talk to buying institutions who use, let’s say Ariba, and then we talk to their suppliers. All of which are using different systems. Then we create maps and connections that allow all those different supplier systems with different languages, transport methods and doc types to seamlessly transmit data back and forth with the buyers ERP.

Imagine two boats at sea, they’re lost and they need to work together. On Boat #1 we have two persons; one who speaks French, and one German. On boat #2 we have also have two persons; one who speaks Native American Navajo and one Mandarin Chinese. You can imagine all the yelling from boat to boat as they try to coordinate. In comes Supplier Solutions, in the middle, and as each person yells across the waves we translate the message from the senders language to the receivers language. Not only that, but we verify each transmission and create logs of it. Suddenly, these parties hear one another with 100% clarity. Suddenly, they can coordinate and work together. Suddenly, meaningful, data is being generated for those “Data Analyzers” to get all Analytic’ee on! Even more importantly, we’re expert sailors and we step in to share our own experience to both boats ensuring no one has to swim home.

I feel like that’s an odd way to illustrate my point, but I’m going with it because I’m getting texts reading: “Dad, I’m hungry.”. It’s time to wrap this up and feed the progeny.

P.S. That picture is totally me at the end of my marathon call at 3pm today. Yes, you know who you are if you’re reading this. :)