Procurement Ops Digest #2: A BIG year in procurement

January 12, 2024
December 19, 2023
min read
Procurement Ops Digest #2: A BIG year in procurement

Technology has been fomenting rapid changes in procurement. The procurement tech stack has grown in size and diversity. This year, there was specifically a huge rise in appreciation for the importance of process orchestration, particularly around intake orchestration and process experience. That’s our headline procurement story for 2023. For example:

…and so on. Some of this is driven by necessity—the need to do more with less, and a renewed focus on culling things like rogue spending as budgets tighten. And some is driven by the presence of new tools—particularly as generative AI exploded this past year. 

And that’s the second big story.

There’s an eminently human side of using technology to make work easier and more efficient. As we look at automating manual and time-consuming work, it’s a reminder that people, and their unique and deep skill sets, are more important than ever. And that’s more important in procurement perhaps than anywhere else. Why squander your hard-earned financial and logistical acumen trying to cajole everyone in your company to follow painstaking, static procurement processes? These are tasks that can be improved or fully automated with AI. 2023 was the year that organizations awoke to this reality en masse.  

That’s partly because 2023 proved, in terms both tangible and irrefutable, the business value of using new, innovative technologies like LLMs at the process level to finally, actually put people first. 

At Tonkean, this was music to our ears, because using technology at the process level to put people first has been our cardinal mission since Sagi Eliyahu and Offir Talmor started the company in 2015. 

It’s long been our opinion that AI’s most game-changing promise is to provide internal teams new opportunities for creating newly intelligent and adaptive process experiences that truly empower employees by putting people first. So we focused our own efforts this year on cutting through the hype and finding ways to help organizations employ AI at the process level of their operations in order to deliver tangible, human-centric benefits. 

We’ll dig into what our work this year wrought below. But first, here are some of the most interesting, notable, or memorable stories from the world of procurement we came across this year. And—why not—let’s look back at 12, one for each month of the year that was.

Latest in Procurement

  • The value of the $7.2 billion global procurement software market could nearly double by 2030, says RationalStat report  | Yahoo!
  • “I'm increasingly feeling that intake and orchestration will consume its source-to-pay host over the next decade,” says Spend Matters CEO | LinkedIn
  • AI expert panel: Pentagon’s procurement process is one of several major obstacles hampering efforts to develop and apply artificial intelligence technology. | C4ISRNET
  • A Deloitte study reveals the top priorities of top procurement leaders | Deloitte
  • Intake management solutions (including Tonkean) are on the rise in Gartner’s 2023 Procurement & Sourcing Solutions Hype Cycle report | Gartner
  • Study: 69.6% believe Procurement is essential for implementing an organization’s strategy, but only 53.2% think Procurement is collaborating effectively. | SAP
  • Silicon Valley defense tech CEOs urge the Pentagon to address its “antiquated” procurement systems. | FT 
  • Here are the many ways AI will transform procurement | ProcurementMag 
  • Process orchestration is critical to improving the procurement experience | SupplyChainBrain
  • Easing the shared pain of new procurement technology. “Money can be one reason why projects fail—but resistance to change is the big one.” |

If you have some insightful news or knowledge about the world of procurement to share, let us know!

Procurement in the Field

At Tonkean, our twin themes of 2023 were “fit” and “focus.” Specifically, we focused our efforts—technologically, communally, and otherwise—on serving two specific operational verticals: legal and procurement. 

For the latter, we launched ProcurementWorks, a product suite that gives procurement teams what they need to create guided internal buying experiences that reduce risk, increase efficiency, and create net-new business value, via internal processes that people will actually follow. 

To superpower ProcurementWorks, we also created a new generative AI-based tool, called the AI Front Door—an AI-powered intake experience for submitting (and proactively resolving) internal requests. 

And we continued to upgrade and add to our core platform offering. And we won awards and the attention of media outlets, influencers, and research outfits. 

So yeah, it was a busy and productive year! Here’s a short summary (for more details, check out this end-of-year blog recap post!): 

  • ProcurementWorks offers a unified intake experience, and it prominently features the AI Front Door as a central intake channel for all purchase requests. It deploys a wide range of out-of-the-box procurement workflows like PO management, invoice processing, and spend control, and it provides an audit trail of all actions and approvals to mitigate risk and maintain SOX compliance and audit readiness. 
  • The AI Front Door is an AI-powered intake experience for submitting—and proactively resolving—internal requests. It supports frictionless service interactions with a plain-language user experience and is accessible to requesters via email, Slack/Teams, or a customized web portal. It provides intelligent assistance that’s personalized and context-aware and that understands employees’ intentions and accommodates their preferences moment-to-moment. And it does all this without compromising on policies.
  • General platform enhancements: In addition to the above releases, this year we completely overhauled our form sequences. We transitioned to Workspace Apps and Custom Interface, and we added the ability to allow guest user access to Tonkean. We also completely redesigned the visual Process Mapper (part of our Module Builder) to enhance all users' experience and context on their processes. We added or improved numerous data sources, including Netsuite, Coupa, SAP Ariba, AWS Textract, Google Drive, SharePoint, IronClad, DocuSign, ServiceNow, Azure OpenAI, FiveTran, Jira, Anthropic, and more. 
  • We’ve made our presence known at key industry events like SIG, both by participating as a vendor on show floors and as thought leaders, speaking at event sessions.

In closing, here are some eye-popping 2023 Tonkean stats:  

  • 60+ native data sources added
  • 7.7 billion steps automated
  • 288 million requests handled
  • 250 steps automated every second
  • 10 requests handled every second

Read the whole story here. On to 2024…

And to learn more about what process orchestration can do for your procurement team, download our updated Procurement Handbook!

Modern Business Operations

On this episode of Modern Business Operations, host Seth Colaner is joined by Mark Raffan, Head of Training at Negotiations Ninja. Mark shares insights on procurement negotiations and discusses the importance of aligning negotiation strategy to overall business goals.

Seth and Mark's discussion yielded these key takeaways:

  • Tools should facilitate improved processes, not dictate them.
  • Implement software after improving processes, not before.
  • Negotiation is a procurement tool aligned to category strategies.
  • Inflation makes negotiation skills more critical now.
  • AI and ML are automating some negotiations.
  • Identify the differences between tactical versus strategic procurement.
  • Focus on negotiation strategy, not just tactics.

Subscribe to the Modern Business Operations podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Maestro's Minutes

Here’s everything we did in this month’s Tonkean release notes:

Module Builder:  

  • There are two new Formulas: Concatenate With Line Breaks (works in exactly the same way as a conventional Concatenate, but with added line breaks in between each value) and HMAC SHA-256 Encryption (added a new Encoding Type parameter to this formula, allowing you to specify whether you want to use 16 or 64-bit encryption).

Custom Item Interfaces and Workspace Apps:

  • Set Action button display and disabled states: You can now specify conditions that determine when a button in the Actions widget or at the top of an interface is hidden or disabled. This update enables you to display buttons based on the context of your workflow, showing only the relevant actions to the user and making it clearer which actions they're able to perform.
  • Widget width configuration: Rather than a simple Full and Half width values, you now have greater control over the display width for widgets. This enhancement makes possible richer and more customized layouts that better serve your unique workflow. For example, you can now display a large preview of an image and include an in-line description.
  • On load actions: You now have the option to initiate an action in your workflow immediately upon loading an interface, using the new On Load Actions feature. This feature is helpful if your interface or app page includes embedded or linked content that requires regular refreshing.

Enterprise Components: Users can now integrate the OnSolve data source with their Tonkean solutions. Additionally, the Coupa data source has been enhanced with the following updates:

  • New entities - Content Groups, Content Types, Unit of Measure, Requisition Line, Period and Accounts
  • New data source actions - Add Comment and Submit Contract for Approval

Bug fixes:

  • Gong integrations were failing to collect the Call entity when the call's participant object was missing.
  • Some users were unable to open the Rich Text widget configuration panel after setting the widget title to too few characters.
  • The search field in the Actions widget was not filtering results properly.
  • In no-code data sources, attempting to delete a query param from the middle of the list deleted the last param in the list.
  • The Array Index Of formula was not working properly when wrapped by a Map formula.
  • The Comments widget was not wrapping text, creating a horizontal scroll for long comments.

Also, Tonkean was featured in the ProcureTech100 2023 Yearbook, which identifies and champions the 100 pioneering digital procurement technology, data, and analytics solutions that are supercharging procurement and the enterprise. (Click here to download a copy and read up on Tonkean and our procurement pioneer peers!) We were also included in the 2023 ProcureTech100, a list of pioneering digital procurement solutions, and we were named one of the Top 50 Procurement Providers to Watch by Spend Matters. You should also read Supply Chain Digital’s feature about how Tonkean understands that compliance requires high adoption, and adoption requires a great experience.

ICYMI: Last week’s webinar—a joint effort between Art of Procurement and Tonkean. Titled “Signs Your Intake-to-Procure Process May Be Broken, And How to Fix It,” this panel discussed how improving the intake-to-procure process can resolve myriad symptoms, and deliver additional benefits as well.It featured Tonkean co-founder and CEO Sagi Eliyahu and Head of Procurement Dan Coor. You’ll learn:

  • Why now is the time to explore your intake process symptoms and start looking for a cure
  • The role that AI and automation can play in improving your company’s intake-to-procure health
  • Additional benefits procurement can deliver by streamlining workflows and reducing friction

Thanks for checking out Procurement Ops Digest! To learn more about who Tonkean is or what we do, we have a few different kinds of trials that you can sign up for. They walk users through our most salient solutions, including Legal intake, Purchasing Approval, Invoice Intake, and Email inbox automation. Sign up for one here!

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