Data, Visibility and Resilience in Procurement
Exclusive interview with Craft’s Ilya Levtov 🚀
Global supply chains are experiencing unprecedented disruption due to Covid-19 and mounting challenges from cyberattacks, shipping delays, geopolitical competition, human rights violations, and extreme climate events. Alongside sweeping legislative upheavals such as Germany’s Supply Chain Act and US President Biden’s Supply Chain Executive Order, this is a period of reset, transition and growth for Procurement and Supply Chain teams as they prepare for the ‘new normal’.
We spoke with Ilya Levtov, Co-founder and CEO of Craft, to discover how digital transformation is critical to gain the upper hand in three key pillars of procurement: data, visibility, and resilience. Founded in 2015 in Europe and headquartered in San Francisco, Craft provides enterprise intelligence that supports procurement and supply chain teams – and it’s growing fast.
Why did you start Craft, and what problem were you looking to solve?
Levtov: Observing the procurement landscape, we saw valuable datasets located in disparate and obscure places, with little being done to aggregate, structure, validate and turn this data into business value at scale. We are focused on supporting procurement and supply chain professionals. The procurement function has not historically undergone as much digital transformation as other areas of enterprise, but it is now catching up fast. Procurement teams as well as supply chain managers need better data, faster, and critically they need a tool to analyse the data to make better business choices – this is what Craft delivers.
How is Craft supporting digital transformation for its procurement users?
Levtov: Craft’s software suite provides high-quality, validated and broad data about every one of your suppliers. We can also support you with data about your N-Tier suppliers, whether you know them already or not. In the latter case, we will help you figure out who they are. Our data includes both traditional and advanced data sets, and includes everything a procurement professional might need: financials, human capital insights, operating metrics, legal, product information, commodity information, cyber risk, sustainability and much more.
Secondly, our software is accelerating transformation journeys. Our application is a browser-based, turnkey solution for discovering new suppliers, evaluating those you know, and importantly helping you monitor suppliers with daily alerts. One of our customers had spent over two years and millions of dollars to improve their supplier intelligence capabilities, ultimately failing – Craft stepped in at the 11th hour, and we were able to roll out our platform to this massive government agency within 90 days.
You provide a huge amount of external data for procurement professionals. How do you gather this?
Levtov: In several ways - and our process of gathering data is a key ingredient in our secret sauce! We’ve always and will continue to capture vast amounts of verifiable data from source, whether from SEC filings or national registries, and we’ve built ways to automate this process. We’ve also built our own tools to capture information and relevant data from company websites, news, blogs, social media and other traditionally inaccessible sources. This is invaluable for our breadth of data – it is where we uncover some of the most critical or impactful insights that others cannot locate.
We also leverage many cutting-edge partners, ingesting their fantastic datasheets and working with them closely to share best practices. This is a growing list but includes exceptional companies like Security Scorecard for cyber ratings, CSRHub for ESG scores, Versed.ai for multi-tier supplier mapping, Certa for surveying suppliers, and Lab 1 for dark web monitoring. Combining these brilliant companies in the Craft portal greatly supports our goal of becoming procurement’s single source of truth.
Can you tell us more about your daily alerts – what do you provide, and how does that help your users?
Levtov: From day one, our customers asked us for a service that will alert them of any risk to their supply chain as soon as possible. Our customers include healthcare companies and global freight providers. If these organisations suffer disruption, the consequences are devastating – occasionally a matter of life and death. A pharmaceutical company cannot deliver its drugs without the ingredients to make them, and if their suppliers fail to deliver on time, patients are the ones who suffer. That is why they choose Craft.
Our alerting service provides daily alerts across 32 different categories, and these are available on both your Tier 1 and N-Tier suppliers. This means supplier relationship managers can react as early as possible to find an alternate supplier or figure out another way to prevent operations from grinding to a halt. In the current climate of uncertainty and change, getting advanced warnings and signals is critical. Surveying our customers, we found Craft alerts are 81% must have and 14% nice to have, so our users are telling us we’re adding value.
What are you most proud of about your Craft journey so far?
Levtov: I am very proud of the progress we’re making with our product. It’s having an impact and helping procurement teams improve their ability to do their job every day. I will steal a line from one of our customers, Roche, who describes their procurement transformation journey as “Procurement Re-imagined” – this is exactly what Craft is helping large global enterprises and government agencies to achieve. I am also very proud of the relationships we have with our clients and partners; we have fantastic customers in Europe, the US and Asia, and we’re very fortunate we can collaborate with them to deliver immediate value and build towards an even better future together.
As clichéd as it might sound – and without detracting from what I have just said – I am most proud of our people. We have doubled our team in 12 months, we have colleagues in 8 countries, and we’ve fully embraced remote working to positive effect. We’re also a diverse group, with women making up 46% of the company and nearly 50% of our executive leadership team. We will continue to take a strong position on diversity and inclusion, and to support that, we’ve recently hired our global head of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Community. These values are not afterthoughts at Craft, rather we are weaving them into everything we do, including Recruiting, Retention and Product.
What developments can we expect from Craft in the next six months?
Levtov: Our innovative and forward-thinking customers are showing us exactly what impacts the daily lives of procurement professionals. With that in mind, we have built a roadmap of upgrades and features to our Intelligence Portal and much of this will be deployed in the coming months. I cannot say too much, but one of the most important developments we’ve had in R&D over the last few months has been the ability for users of the Craft Supplier Intelligence Platform to import their own data. This will mean that for the first time, users will have both a comprehensive view of any supplier from all useful external data sources integrated with supplier data from the customer’s own spend or ERP system – all combined in a place to support a single source of truth and, more importantly inform a unique opportunity to make a FULLY informed business decision.
What’s a fun fact about you?
Levtov: I grew up as a musician, playing Cello in various chamber music groups and studying music at the Juilliard School in New York. From there, it was quite a leap into the world of business and supply chain intelligence, but it has been a very fun journey so far, and I feel privileged to be able to work in this area.
To learn more about Craft’s supplier intelligence solutions, please email email@example.com.