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Calling All Suppliers: It’s Time to Embrace Automation

Procure to Pay | Supplier Management | Supplier Network | Supply Chain Management

I’ve been working with suppliers for over 20 years but even I was surprised to discover that only 9% of suppliers worldwide are fully automated across B2B commerce today. While supply chain transformation and resilience are now top priorities, new research from JAGGAER uncovers that automation progress is lagging on the supply side. The gap and resulting inefficiencies could stall global supply chain transformation and inhibit suppliers’ growth and performance.

We surveyed suppliers globally to get insight into the challenges they face and where automation and artificial intelligence (AI) would specifically reduce friction and drive better business outcomes. We found that:

  • Suppliers’ biggest operational complaints are having to manage multiple platforms at once (65%) and manual processes and communication with buyers (39%).
  • “Responding to requests for proposals (RFPs)” (43%) and “invoice management and collection” (43%) are the most valuable processes to automate.
  • A centralized hub that provides access to a large universe of buyers (59%), data that shows how suppliers stack up against their competitors (57%), and automated workflows that improve collaboration (48%) are the three most promising advancements for improving suppliers’ commerce experience.

The lack of widespread automation on the supplier side isn’t entirely surprising considering that most procurement technology advancements to date have focused on making life easier for buyers. Technology innovation is taking off, however, to close the gaps and drive efficiencies across suppliers’ commerce experiences. And there’s no better time to embrace these developments.

Why Act Now

The urgent need to transform the supplier experience with automation is clear. Suppliers, like their customers, are struggling with the severe business impacts of shortages (73%), inflation (69%), the talent crunch (62%) and geopolitical risks (50%). Expectations are also rising for suppliers to help buyers advance environmental, social and governance (ESG) and other strategic initiatives.

Successfully tackling disruptions and macro issues while driving forward strategic objectives is impossible when most of suppliers’ time and energy goes toward managing back-end processes. In fact, 32% of the suppliers we surveyed said they spend more than 25 hours per week on just responding to buyer communications, RFP and RFI requests. Suppliers said they could grow their business (74%), strengthen customer relationships (72%) and increase profitability and lower costs (59%) if they had the right technology and more time.

Automation removes the friction and opens up team capacity by streamlining routine and cumbersome tasks. Suppliers can focus on the initiatives that matter most to their business and on collaborating with buyers to drive mutually beneficial outcomes. AI matches suppliers with buyers that need their specific capabilities, which creates new revenue opportunities for suppliers and reduces risks for buyers by giving them simplified and expanded access to qualified suppliers with better selection, pricing and service levels. It’s a win-win for both sides.

The economic outlook is murky, but investing in technology is still critical during recessionary times. Automation and AI are key value drivers as these tools surface insights in real time and enable teams to do more with less. Suppliers can reallocate time savings to initiatives that help the business adapt and navigate through the uncertainty. Suppliers are best served by investing in systems that not only streamline core processes and open team capacity, but also enable better selection and pricing on their own supply sources, open their access to potential buyers and reduce risk.

Closing the Gaps: A Path Forward with Autonomous Commerce

Our research shows that the commerce-related challenges suppliers face today are material and it’s time for fundamental change. The global supply chain can’t truly transform if the supply side is not equipped for success.

 

 


Download our 2022 State of the Supply Side Report to dive deeper into the opportunities facing suppliers and how Autonomous Commerce carves a path forward.

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