JAGGAER’s eProcurement Suite—Offering Customers More Flexibility, Scalability, and Business Intelligence
JAGGAER InsideSpend Thought leadership Series – In this blog series we profile leaders in the procurement industry. We hope their insights and experiences inspire you to achieve greatness in procurement.
A conversation with Mark Pugh, Director of Product Development, JAGGAER
We recently chatted with Mark Pugh, Director of Product Development at JAGGAER at the REV2018 Conference about the key trends in eProcurement and how JAGGAER is meeting the needs of today with an eye toward the future.
Mark talks about why scalability, security and integration is mission-critical to a successful procure-to-pay system. He also provides us with a sneak peek into what JAGGAER is doing to provide customers with more business intelligence and predictive analytics capabilities.
Scalability for Flexibility and Growth
Q: Why is scalability an important platform function for JAGGAER products?
A big part of the responsibility of our Platforms Team is to ensure our products scale into the future allowing us to bring more customers on board. For that, we need to ensure our database structure and applications are designed to flex and accommodate that growth.
As a cloud-based software as a service, we need to respond to the various technology stacks customers are using. We have thousands of customers using other platforms that require integration and the ability to scale. In addition, we support tens of thousands of suppliers. Our mission is to ensure all of these users and suppliers are able to work seamlessly on a single, cloud-based platform—scalability is critical in order to achieve that.
Q: Has movement to the cloud helped with scalability?
Absolutely. We have a custom platform for our Procure-to-Pay Suite, but we are just now starting to peel pieces of that off and put in some of the cloud services that Amazon offers, which gives us all kinds of speed. As a result, we can leverage existing services offered by Amazon to accelerate our development. We’ve recently done that with our 18.1 product release, which allows customers to track emails back and forth out of our Total Contractor Solution.
Security and Cloud-Based eProcurement
Q: With JAGGAER leveraging public cloud technology, what are some of the concerns you’re getting from enterprises around security?
We get a lot of questions on RFPs from existing customers about data security and this is a top priority for us. Currently we’re pursuing a hybrid approach, where we host our own data center for the Procure-to-Pay platform and all of our customers’ transactional data is stored in that system. From a security perspective, this provides customers peace of mind.
As we move into the cloud, we are examining each of our services to assess the risk and how we can best use those services. For example, we use Amazon’s Simple Notification Service and we’re now starting to use Amazon’s S3 services for object store. For each new service, we carefully assess how each of these impacts our customers. We have customers who are required to comply with iTalk, which means their data cannot be stored in data centers that are accessible to individuals who are not U.S. citizens or a U.S. resident.
Q: What about HIPAA rules and similar regulatory requirements. How is JAGGAER responding to that?
While Amazon Web Services (AWS) are PCI, HIPAA, IATAR “ready”, this doesn’t mean that deploying software into this environment will automatically meet compliance. It’s up to JAGGAER to protect our customers’ data beyond the infrastructural regulatory compliance Amazon offers. We ensure the software we write is also compliant before we deploy it to AWS.
Integration Capabilities Across the JAGGAER Product Set
Q: JAGGAER has been actively acquiring other companies with different platforms. What is the strategic vision being driven from customers and JAGGAER senior management about integration?
We are receiving requests from customers at a strategic level from JAGGAER executive management to integrate our solutions more tightly from a single sign-on perspective, look and feel, and experience vantage point.
For example, we have a lot of customers using one or more modules from the companies we’ve acquired, and we’ve worked diligently to ensure a tight integration between those modules. At a very basic level, customers are looking for the ability to navigate between those modules without needing to log in multiple times. We’ve provided single sign-on capabilities and this has been huge. For example, if customers are using our sourcing solution and downstream of that need to have a purchase order generated, customers shouldn’t have to log into two different systems and manually trigger both of those these functions.
Business Intelligence and Predictive Analytics
Q: What is the importance of business intelligence and predictive analytics as it pertains to the JAGGAER product suite?
A longstanding request we’ve had among customers on the Procure-to-Pay platform is the ability to mine their own data. We house an enormous amount of our customers’ data and they are asking for the ability to extract that information, so they can pull it into whatever reporting or business intelligence solution they choose. Part of the problem with that approach is that they don’t necessarily have access to all of their data stored in our solution because not everything is extractable.
We’ve been working on a solution of pulling out transactional data into a warehouse where customers can start reporting on it through a visualization front-end. In our 18.1 release, customers now have the ability to mine their own data, perform visualizations, schedule reports and have them delivered to their email inbox, export PDFs—all sorts of new capabilities within the data warehouse. As we continue to grow that warehouse and get feedback from customers, we’ll be enriching that data in subsequent releases.
Q: Are you getting requests beyond the transactional contract data? What about market intelligence data?
In the Procure-to-Pay platform, the business intelligence mission is the ability to mine the transactional data that exists, requisitions, purchase orders and invoices, and bound it off of supplier or contract data.
We have an offering–Spend Radar–which allows our customers to bring in data from other outside sources and analyze that. We plan to make the move into predictive analytics, but that’s a little further down the horizon for us. Right now, we’re focused on getting our customers the ability to report on the data they’ve been asking us for for years.
Product Improvements On the Horizon
Q: Is there anything on the horizon, either within your own product set or a technology that you think may be relevant or interesting to the procurement organization?
My team is very focused on technology evolution. One of the things I’m excited about in the next couple of years for our Procure-to-Pay platform is a move out of our proprietary search technology to an elastic search technology hosted in the cloud. This will allow our customers much more flexibility in searching for documents and transactional-related items inside our solution, using all kinds of new fuzzy searchable logic. It will also allow us to scale, which is an issue we’ve had with our current search technology.
Mark Pugh is Director of Product Development at JAGGAER. He has served as a developer, application architect, development manager, and director of product development in his 15 years with the company.