AI-Driven Analytics for Modern Procurement Teams – Interview with Suplari’s Nikesh Parekh

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DPW sat down with procurement’s rising star and tech entrepreneur Nikesh Parekh, CEO and Co-founder of Suplari. Suplari fills an important niche in the procurement industry to help procurement teams interpret their data to gain new business insights. 

All great companies are about people. The greatest companies empower their people to make better decisions.
- Nikesh Parekh, CEO and Co-founder, Suplari

We realized that procurement and finance teams were most focused on operational efficiency, cost savings and risk management. What’s more, these operational areas, Procurement especially, had been historically underserved by tech investors and entrepreneurs who didn’t or couldn’t imagine a big upside financial win to funding innovation in procurement and spend management. But in fact, those were natural use cases for data analytics, the cloud and artificial intelligence. It is an area that is way behind and ripe for disruption.

You talk a lot about spend agility. What does that mean and how does a company implement it?

Parekh: Spend management has historically been a process game. In some ways, it’s traditionally been about how you can prevent people from spending. The more you can make it harder for people to spend money, the more successful you will be at reducing your expenses. 

Now think of the modern enterprise. The millennial who is 25 to 35 – do they want to go into an organization where they’re limited to buying the one blue BIC pen that’s the cheapest option? You have to empower them. Yes, you need control over spend. But with modern spend management, it’s also about being able to move quickly and with agility, such that you’re enabling your people to do more through data instead of through process. You’re able to help people make more decisions faster, not to mention better decisions that lead to cost savings, compliance and risk management. 

In order to achieve spend agility, you have to have a system that is able to encompass all of your spend. All the original data by itself is not necessarily useful. It has to be on demand. It has to be at your fingertips. So whenever you have a question or whenever you need to make a strategic decision or analyze data, it’s readily available. You’re not road-blocked by having to go to central analytics, which runs a report and then takes 2-4 hours to then sift through the data.

In that situation, it’s about looking through the rearview mirror. It should be about looking forward – letting the data actually tell you where you should go. All great companies are about people. The greatest companies empower their people to make better decisions. Giving lots of people access to good data in order to make better decisions is the key to success in the modern enterprise.

Suplari co-founders Jeff Gerber, Brian White, and Nikesh Parekh

The modern CPO also needs to empower both their people and leaders across the company to make better decisions. The more they can enable business leaders and budget owners to have access to data and actionable intelligence to make better purchasing decisions and discover better opportunities for cash savings and investment, the more the CPO and his or her team really move the needle for the company.

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DPW is the global innovation and mission-based ecosystem for digital procurement. We are driven by our purpose: To unlock the true power of procurement through excellence in digital.
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