Discuss, debate and exchange ideas on latest trends and opportunities in the Business Process Management (BPM) landscape. Deliberate on adding “business value” to clients, vendors, employees and various other stakeholders to enhance customer satisfaction and sustain long term partnerships.

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June 27, 2019

e-Sourcing Platforms for S&P process: ARIBA & Xfer

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eSourcing platforms not only facilitate real-time and endless negotiation between competent suppliers, but also guarantee transparency. This is where suppliers compete amongst themselves to provide the best possible price for the highest possible quantity under prevailing circumstances in order to attain the order.

This platform has multiple modules - the buyer, the supplier and the requester. An eSourcing platform provides a more effective system for every purchase. The more items that you use it for, the easier it gets because everything is already set up and can be quickly modified. By consistently using the platform this makes it easier for suppliers, knowing that they have an easy and adoptable format to follow when they submit a bid and will be more driven to doubly work for your organization.

Initially, as is everywhere, there are challenges with these platforms or any kind of platform for that matter. One of the challenges is adoption by buyers - the key thing for any organization is to be able to bring in change management or a new way of doing business. Let us see how we were able to overcome this with one of our mining clients. 

The client is an industry leader in value creation with a business objective to create value and improve lives through sustainable and responsible mining. The company had to implement e-Sourcing platforms through all their divisions including South America for processes related to contract management, e-bids, RFXs as well as for communication between supply base and stakeholders.

The e-platforms were already available for all sites of the company in any country. The sites in Latin America did not show any interest nor accepted to move to the new technology available. Nevertheless, the company wanted to continue the standardization of sourcing and procurement tools in the rest of the divisions in order to align with the corporate goals and SOP.

Infosys BPM team had to deploy and implement the new platforms with stakeholders and the client's supply base in the South American region. When new e-tools were deployed, people were reluctant to use a different way of communication and break away from the traditional modes. The same situation was with some suppliers, hence, the challenge was external too.

In order to continue with the implementation and minimize the resistance, Infosys BPM team began to reach out to the stakeholders and vendors to explain the benefits of the e-tools. They emphasized on aspects such as time-effectiveness on communication, information security and ease of sharing information for RFXs. 

The local supply base was used to deliver their proposals in hardcopy. Hence, in terms of time, it was not productive and the process of bids in some cases was taking too much time to conclude its cycle. Moreover, considering the client's site is in a remote location, the traditional process to deliver proposals in hardcopy proved impractical.

Another way to start convincing stakeholders and the supply base was through the proposal of a pilot program. So, the team asked support from one of the client's site stakeholder to use a requirement from them as a pilot project and once the site approved the pilot program, Infosys BPM team began reaching out to the supply base. The team faced challenges pertaining to the language, as the training material was in English and most of the local suppliers in South America were not comfortable with it. Ultimately, the Infosys BPM team proactively translated the material for the suppliers in order to support them and ensure the implementation of the e-tools.

How we brought about Change Management

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  • Local language: Created training material in Spanish to ensure easy & simple understanding of modules in their local lingo. 
  • User interface training: The team supported the vendors to access the e-platform and helped them create their profiles.
  • Training stakeholders: Guidance to the usage of tools and resolve issues, if any.
  • Availability: Overall, the team was readily available for any difficulty. 

Ultimately, with the required support and assistance from Infosys BPM team and other stakeholders, the client realized the benefits of the e-platform and adopted it. 

What was the value delivered?
Vendors and stakeholders began to use more of the new e-tools; information like RFIs, RFPs and RFQs continued to flow faster by 40%.
The vendors started to share information & proposals and connected through the new tools instead of the traditional process.
The team were able to deliver savings of 14% from the initial spend for the pilot program.

Way ahead
After interacting with the tools, vendors were more comfortable to use the new e-platforms to provide quotations over the traditional hardcopies or e-mails. The main reason being, now they were more confident that the proposals gained visibility and were enthusiastic with the added transparency on each process of the bid. The level of participation from client's supply base is much better now and the initial implementation brought around one hundred vendors using the new e-tools on RFXs processes.

The implementation of the e-platform was then successful, as the emphasis was not on imposing a new tool. The team became proactive about communicating appropriately to stakeholders and suppliers the benefits and transparency of the processes through Ariba & Xfer. Additionally, timely support was provided to vendors for using the new platform and by translating the training material in the local language. With our extensive experience and learnings the team was able to deliver value efficiently.  

Market intelligence: A Value-Multiplier for sourcing projects

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One of the major mistakes we can make while preparing our category profile is to underestimate the significance of a solid market intelligence department. It is not uncommon to get caught up in the natural complications of a sourcing project -such as scope definition, milestones and approvals, and leave the market intelligence aspect out of it, or at least incomplete. 

In order to be successful on a project, we need to understand the requirements and specifics of the project. We need to know what type of information is required to research, and assign sufficient time and resources for Market Intelligence (MI).

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As sourcing takes on increased strategic importance within companies, category managers are being asked to do even more with their limited time. This is especially true while sourcing services, which requires keen attention towards changing economic factors outside the organization, many of which are not even manageable by the company (labor rates, inflation, etc.)

Integrating MI & Sourcing: To make the best decisions possible without falling behind, sourcing must ensure it has access to and effectively uses supply market intelligence. In order for us to accomplish this, we must ensure that we are including the key pillars of market intelligence.

Generally speaking, market intelligence consists of three pillars. The first is Market insights, which principally involves data gathering -- how to get it, provide access to it, store and analyze it, and the many methods and applications for doing so. This pillar will provide the information on the current supply base, the right price for the right product or service and in general, if we are able to do different things in order to improve our processes:

  • Key Suppliers
  • Key services and products
  • Market overview (local, regional and /or global)
  • Market drivers and restraints

Then comes competitive insights, which comprises obtaining information such as competitive dynamics, disruptors and other value levers at play for strategic purposes:

  • Industry trend
  • Best practices and its impact

The last pillar is the supplier insights, when gathering and analyzing information becomes relevant to the company and for better understanding of the market:

  • Geographical capability
  • Supplier's service portfolio
  • General capability from each supplier

All three ultimately support the goal of enabling accurate and confident decision-making in the procurement process.

Negotiation process supported by embedding MI as a part of the sourcing process

Infosys BPM started a project of productivity with a client from the mining industry. Market Intelligence was augmented to ensure guaranteed success in the process of negotiation. Using an all-around effort from our Infosys Market Intelligence team, the team was able to come up with a solid strategy to re-negotiate the fuel supply for a client's site located in North America.

The information gathered allowed the team to not only understand the fuel market and the different industry indexes and of course the best practices used, but also achieve a great leverage during the final negotiations with the pre-selected supplier.

Using tools such as cost models and price escalation formulas found during the market intelligence stage, we were able to conclude a project by $900,000 USD in savings, which represented around 7% in spend reduction for the period. This initiative resulted in a complete turnaround when compared to the previous projects - from similar segment and complexity perspective.

During the negotiation stage of the project, Infosys BPM included protection clauses and price adjustment formulas in the contract, protecting the customer against any potential unexpected price increase in raw materials and cost drivers such as petroleum, diesel and other associated products.

The market intelligence can empower sourcing and procurement practices to think beyond by providing powerful insights and evaluate costs, and value opportunities for specific category areas of spend. With the support of quality market intelligence data, sourcing can build a stronger position in negotiations, manage risks, and make better informed sourcing decisions in key category areas. It is our responsibility to assign the right amount of time and resources to ensure that we maximize the benefits from this type of study and reports.

June 14, 2019

Location Intelligence - Hand drawn Paper to Flying Objects

"A flying machine scans the buildings as a live feed or a Route map navigates the users to their destination, facilitates maps for revenue administration to identify the change in landform or to trace the contours of the building or rooftop for urban and insurance companies".

Location Intelligence or Maps have been gaining relevance and maturity in today's digital world. Every aspect of our day-to-day life is somehow connected with location data, which has almost become like a regular reference point for us. Currently, in the Geospatial Industry, continuous scientific evolution in Geospatial technologies have made a difference in every walk of life. Digital innovations such as Machine learning, IoT, Robotics & Automation, and AI are driving the industry to broaden its skyline and target every industry vertical. 

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However, Data being the king in the geospatial space and production forms the key, it has seen many stages of evolution - from static paper maps to dynamic digital maps, from basic analysis to more complex problem solving, involving more map-based processing. Contribution to the mapping process started involving topographic survey, satellite imageries covering both 2D and 3D, Aerial photograph technologies, image processing, GPS, Drone, etc.

While surveying technique gets time-consuming and labor orientated, it is now widely used only for a special type of mapping, mostly on Road/building constructions, land records, etc. This technique has the advancement of GPS, EDM and other technologies, and it is still widely used.

The satellite imageries provide large scale mapping and are used for both surface and subsurface assets. It includes the satellite-based cartography of urban/rural environments and landform changes, land cover/land-use change, estuarine and coastal environments, topographic map updating, production of image maps, agricultural monitoring, and land degradation.

The image processing techniques generate point cloud(LiDAR) data, DEM/DSM 3D models etc., are leveraged to identify relief maps, elevation parameters (slope, aspects) to use in GIS mapping, Engineering Design, simulations, Surface analysis and other applications.

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On the other hand, Aerial photos are taken from the air by a special camera mounted in an aircraft flying over the area with the camera axis vertical or nearly so. These photos are merged and mosaiced to create an orthogonal (Orthophoto) and Oblique photos to represent 3D/Elevation models representation of the captured objects (buildings, Trees, Mountain ranges, etc.).  These being more detailed image sources, the aerial photos are widely used for topography mapping, agriculture, line of sight selection, utilities, defense, etc.

Next evolution of geospatial data creation is the Drone based mapping. Drones equipped with cameras that can transmit various types of GIS data in lower costs on multiple levels. With advancements in building cost-effective drones, extensive advantages are experienced within the GIS science field. GIS communities even believe that mapping through drones can be better than on-the-ground survey tools. These are some key reasons.

It takes less time for processing and mapping than other techniques such as surveying, Satellite data, and orthophotos.
Hardware cost is less expensive and the upfront cost is minimal that influences the map production cost.
Accessible for any area that is physically not approachable, such as, Water bodies, Defense/War zone, Zoo, and other restricted areas.
Drone Survey and mapping involves less involvement and is completely non-invasive for the public. This technology is paving way for wider areas of application and operation such as elevation, pitch, minerals, change detection, etc.

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The Map production process through Drone Technology  has a slew of applications and utilities from Aerial Surveying to Asset Management, Agriculture to Disaster Management, Smart Cities to Construction/Real Estate. This technology is increasingly being deployed to enhance efficiency and productivity. The data fed from Drones facilitate 3D land mapping services, elevation data, contour lines, 3D surface data, accurate volume measurements, terrain profile. This highly detailed data is made available at a much lesser cost.  This service also provides AR/VR enabled 360-degree panoramas - aerial/ground incorporated as fly through or Virtual tour demonstration.  These features ensure preparedness for combats, dam or tower construction in the remote areas, disaster mitigation planning in L3 or more zones.  

Beyond manifold GIS applications, owing to the advancement of 3D/Elevation technology and high-resolution data due to Drone, the current technologies enable microanalyses of the details. This helps to trace the contours of the building or rooftop for survey or urban and insurance claims to assess the situation, change detection before and after the period helping the development authorities, Tax/Revenue assessment, illegal construction or bunkers, detailed network analysis, and detailed Data quality.

GIS (Maps) is all around us and its inevitable to avoid their existence. Online maps with their evolving capabilities have changed the way we communicate and collaborate. The future of maps will bring faster evolution, cost-effectiveness, real-time feeds, and will enable near-accurate decision-making.  

Consumers and businesses are also gaining experience in adopting the latest technologies and experimenting with new methods of mapping process, primarily Drone-based for 3D mapping and GPS maps. In a way, the GIS User Community is reaping more benefits from innovation as the market grows substantially.

-          By Dr. Pradeep Kishore, Principal - GISCOE

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