Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

Supply Chain 5

Supply ChainHow has Coronavirus impacted your business and business models?

Ivalua’s spend management platform is used by procurement, supply chain, and finance leaders at large organizations to effectively manage their spend and suppliers.

With the Covid-19 crisis having had a huge impact on organizations, and their supply chains in particular, it has naturally changed our customer buying behavior and hence we have had to adjust as a business.

First, our customers’ priorities have shifted, with a clear focus on areas to help them navigate the crisis. Top of the list is reducing costs to protect the bottom line, improving visibility into their supply chains to better assess risk and ensure continuity and improving cash management to ensure liquidity for them and their suppliers.

Second, their timelines have changed. While before most organizations were looking to launch broader digital transformations of their complete source-to-pay process since the crisis many are looking to start smaller or to address a specific, critical need. To achieve quick wins and then later expand scope to more processes, spend and suppliers.

At the same time, the crisis has emphasized the importance of effective spend management and organizations that were lagging are eager to act now. So we are seeing more companies come to us and with a surge of new customers in the last quarter.

In response to this, we’ve updated our packaging. We’ve always had a very modular suite, so customers can start wherever they need and expand over time. But to meet the urgent need, we launched new “jump-start” packages for organizations in the early stage of digitization like sourcing to reduce costs, and supplier risk and performance management to improve visibility into and collaboration with suppliers. These can be deployed in under 4 weeks so customers can better manage the crisis. They are our core products, with the full extensibility and integration to the rest of our suite, but with more capabilities pre-packaged to reduce deployment time, and we offer a similar package for procure-to-pay, which can be delivered in 8-12 weeks instead of months, so companies can better manage cash.

We also are working closely with new customers in helping define the scope to minimize the time to value by focusing on any specific needs. For example, Los Angeles Department of Water & Power used to receive bids for new contracts via paper but when they had to work from home that became a huge impediment to doing business. They had to digitize immediately, so we worked with them to identify the core processes and digitized their bid submission process in 1 week, with over 150 vendors registered within one hour of go-live. Customers always preferred rapid time to value but there was never this sense of urgency before the crisis. Our customers need to adapt and be resilient and so do we.

How is technology impacting your business/business processes? What are the major trends or innovations you foresee emerging in the short to medium term?

Technology has had a growing impact on our business, both from necessity and due to accelerating innovation. The inability to travel and meet people has been a big catalyst in accelerating the trend towards digitization. It is simply a must to keep operating effectively. How we engage with prospects, deliver projects and collaborate over time with customers has been changed by technology. Some of it is short term but we don’t see the business going back to the way it was.

Unable to meet prospects in person at events, we’ve had to increasingly shift to digital programs, from webinars, podcasts, and even virtual roundtables featuring a celebrity chef in Germany. Once we sign a customer, most projects have shifted from a mix on in-person and remote work to all remote. So we have to collaborate, discuss design and execute remotely. And gathering feedback from customers, strategizing for future plans and addressing any issues has been virtual as well. We’ve seen that this all works remotely and in some cases, even better than before.

Fortunately, there has been a surge in innovation that has made this transition both more effective and also likely to be permanent, at least partially. For example, we replaced our annual, in-person marquee event, Ivalua NOW, this year with a virtual one due to Covid-19. But rather than just a series of webcasts, new technology allowed us to offer a unique experience. Attendees entered a fully designed and branded venue online, where they were able to enter break-outs rooms, keynote sessions, and even engage with sponsors or our own product team whenever they wanted. And they could chat with other attendees online to connect and network.

This is a great example of the innovations we see in technology, which are heavily focused on delivering a great experience while still supporting the networking aspect that historically was exclusive to in-person activities. When people are able to travel and meet again, we are sure they will jump at the chance. But we see technological innovations offering unique advantages and reducing the disadvantages, which will continue long after the crisis is over. And we see such rapid innovation taking place now that running a more global, virtual approach to engaging colleagues, customers and prospects is here to stay.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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