Background: Salons Solutions is the premiere event in Europe for all things related to the fields of digital transformation, Big Data, e-procurement and e-business in general – more than 6,000 visitors attended in 2016. As a major presenter hosting six roundtable discussions, Determine covered many topics of critical interest regarding source-to-pay. While I did not present all of these topics, I thought it would be informative to put them into a series of blogs, which we are sharing this week.
As we continue to see, there is a massive influx of millennials in companies, and it is having a real impact on business solutions. This is not a new phenomenon – we’ve covered the topic in blogs over the past several years – but it is on the rise. An article in Procurement Leaders from 2014 predicted that millennials would be 75% of the workforce in five to ten years; an article this year put the number at 50% by 2020.
Making source-to-pay technology attractive to tech natives.
Regardless of exact percentages, it’s a significant generational shift that necessitates a rethink and revise of technology – or, that “millennialization” we hear about so often (these people have never known life without computers, texting, email and to some degree, smartphones). At Determine, we first had to entirely redesign the user interface to be a more modern, responsive design that’s completely user friendly. Then we had to make sure that applications are consistent and available on any device, including mobile of course.
These new users expect that all solutions seamlessly integrate online collaboration and social capabilities to connect all stakeholders, including third parties. That means our solutions are not only managing spend or contracts, they are being used to manage relationships and communication between all parties. This demands capabilities that efficiently help manage all types of business cases, including nonlinear processes like services procurement. These require much more flexibility, collaborative tools and project management assistance, all delivered in a very intuitive user experience. The advent of the modern cloud platform provides the perfect foundation to address these needs.
As an example, we have a customer in the manufacturing industry deploying our procurement solution across all continents, with more than 20,000 users. In a situation like that, the most critical capabilities have been Determine’s Amazon-like e-commerce shopping cart and Google-like search engine, as well as the ability to approve purchases using mobile applications. We are currently implementing a recommendation engine based on machine learning to let the customer’s users create requisitions based on anticipated needs. This truly leverages the advantages of having their solutions on the Determine Cloud Platform.
“Alexa, what do millennials want next?”
Now that we have entered the era of digital assistants, users will now be looking for – and expecting soon – smart applications in source-to-pay that enable them to automate most tasks, get them any information they want or need to make decisions, and also make recommendations on what to do based on predictive models.
Solution interaction is evolving to take care of business processes, whatever they are, instead of being simple tools requiring business expertise from users. All of this is driven by consumer applications that now extensively use artificial intelligence. Investments in artificial intelligence technology will also change the way users interact with procurement applications. This will bring tremendous value and productivity gains; however, it will take two to three years to be generally available.
We are at the very beginning of a real revolution that will change the business application landscape, especially in procurement and contract management. And it’s millennial expectations that are driving the next generation of innovation in our industry.
If you haven’t read it yet, check out my Topic 1 blog from Salon Solutions in Paris – Managing business complexity: Keep it simple.
If you’d like to learn more about how our technology can help you become millennial ready, schedule a personalized demonstration of the Determine Cloud Platform. Also check out the range of resources we have available in our Thought Leadership Library: