We were fortunate to connect with our Gold Sponsor, Mithra-AI, before our 3rd World Digital Procurement Summit. Rasa Raoufi, Co-founder & Chief Operating Officer, shares his insights about the state of the industry:
Could you tell us more about your professional background and your area of interest in procurement?
Sure, my educational background is in Industrial engineering and supply chain management. I have spent more than a decade working in supply chain design, management and procurement roles across manufacturing, logistics, pharma and medical devices. Within procurement I spent the majority of the last decade across operational (Procure 2 Pay), strategic (Source to Contract) and support functions such as procurement COE, program management and analytics.
Procurement is a highly intertwined and complex function that must embrace lots of external dynamics into account as well as being an influencer both internal and external. Given the need, the ability to have full overside and be proactive cannot be met without dedicated processes and tools to make this function shine. This is the challenge I have had and continues to be obsessed with.
Tell us more about Mithra-Ai - what is the mission of the company and its vision for the future?
Our vision is to make win-win data-backed decisions at the industry level and speed to value “A NEW NORM for ALL businesses”. A world in which category strategies are good for PLANT & PEOPLE.
We have a complementary team with a solid background in software development and procurement which has designed and built a solution solely for procurement people and the challenges they are facing on daily basis. We have combined the art of machine learning with user experience design for category management so they can focus on strategy execution and think holistically.
What are the biggest challenges that you see in the industry right now?
We are in the midst of a significant technological breakthrough and a peak of economic and geopolitical turbulence. These two factors accelerate the dynamics on both upstream and downstream in the supply chain and customer base and therefore agility becomes a must for any business. Agility means the ability to see/predict, scenario (re)plan and swift execution.
The traditional way of spend and category management is neither effective nor affordable any longer. Mainly due to limited resources & budget, an increase in roles and responsibilities & expectations from procurement and let alone the long cycle times which cause missed opportunities and threats.
How can “Spend Synergy” feature help organizations maximize their addressable and managed spend?
One of the primary goals of procurement is to maximize addressable and managed spend. However, this is a massive challenge mainly due to; organizational structure, different locations and non-integrated ERP systems, new business units (M&As) and usually cost and resources needed to do analysis, gain accurate visibility and create business cases.
Synergy finder is a capability for all procurement teams to easily scan, learn and assign ROI to prioritize and integrate additional pockets of spend under management in a matter of days.
Mithra-Ai app allows for easy capture of spend profiles through any extracts (without any IT effort!), and after automated data cleansing, the machine learning algorithms will visualize synergy areas across the supplier base, similar categories down to transactional level. This is where procurement teams can generate opportunities and maintain those to be used for business cases and prioritization of these spend profiles. Once the decision is made on which business unit or part of spending should be managed by procurement, again machine learning algorithms will be making life easy by categorizing spend using your spend taxonomy. The rest is what procurement people love! working on qualifying, execution of those, and reporting wins to the full organization.
What advice do you have for businesses trying to integrate automation into their spend framework?
Most important is to have leadership support and see this also as a learning experience. Find an area with high ROI potential for automation together with current SME’s. Involve SME’s next to leaders to start with smaller scope to test and evaluate results. If successful, depending on the scope and scale ensure that there is a change management task force and the right talent within the organization to keep the initiative up and running. The rest will be a classic project, program management to implement the automation and celebrate productivity and throughput of that processes.
In Mithra-Ai, we partner across each of these phases with our client. We help them to get the feel of using their own data and stay as a business partner to support process owners even once the deployment is done to ensure continuous value generation as well as understanding and supporting other relevant challenges as they show up. Partnership and teamwork are key to success both internally and externally.
What are you most looking forward to at the 3rd World Digital Procurement Summit?
Meet new people and organizations, learn from each other and discuss business challenges as well as brainstorm on solutions, vision and collaboration opportunities. Last but not least enjoy the quality and informal time in Berlin with talented people and make new friends!