Overview: BT Group Chief Procurement Officer Cyril Pourrat and Sr. Transformation Officer Adam Brown discuss how they are powering “the salesforce of the bottom line” at BT Group using Suplari for spend analytics, spend intelligence and spend agility.  CEO of the Sourcing Industry Group Dawn Tiura interviews Cyril Pourrat, Adam Brown and Suplari CEO Nikesh (Niki) Parekh.

“I consider ourselves as the sales force of the bottom line.  We’re selling our capacity to buy something. That’s what we do.  Forget the pivot table and the PowerPoint.  I want to increase supplier face time and stakeholder face time.”  – BT CPO Cyril Pourrat

Key Takeaways:

  • Cyril Pourrat came to BT as Chief Procurement Officer (CPO) to reinvent procurement and drive innovation at BT.  Cyril was previously at Sprint but has significant experience in telecom with Orange and Saudi Telecom.
  • Cyril empowered Adam Brown to create “The BT Procurement Garage” to bring innovative sourcing and procurement solutions to BT.  Adam has reviewed more than 180 innovative companies through the Procurement Garage over the past year.
  • Empowering the BT Group to make data driven decisions is critical to success, yet due to legacy infrastructure and ERP’s, it could take 1-2 hours to complete a simple supplier query.
  • Suplari is making procurement more relevant to the business, by sharing data across the business and fostering partnerships with the budget owners and executives across the company. BT is using Suplari in Sales and Account Management to understand the costs of support customers, IT to understand the IT cost structure, and then in Finance to cleanse dirty data.
  • Cyril wants his team to maximize the time that procurement is spending with suppliers and internal stakeholders.  He wants to eliminate all other distractions.  Solutions like Suplari which democratize data and enable rapid decision making are key to the future of BT.
  • Suplari’s insight platform is accelerating savings opportunity identification for procurement and outside of procurement as well.
  • In a world of COVID, with people working from home, BT has “information at its fingertips” which is gives them the confidence to do more.  Cyril uses Suplari on his iPhone every day.
  • Cyril considers procurement as “the salesforce of the bottom line,” maximizing profit and margin for the company.  The goal is to increase the productivity and time that his teams can spend with suppliers and internal stakeholders.  As CPO, his goal is to eliminate issues that prevent his team from collaborating with suppliers and stakeholders.


BT Webinar

Dawn: [00:00:08] You are here today to hear the story of BT and Suplari. So, I am so excited to introduce you to our three speakers today. So, if you guys would come on camera, I’d love to have your wonderful faces up here with us. And so Suplari is a great partner to SIG. And we’ve known Niki for years. And we’re so excited about the fact that all of our members, when they talk about Suplari, they rave about Suplari. With him today is Cyril Pourrat. He’s the chief procurement officer at BT, an Award-winning procurement and supply chain executive with 20 years of experience in Fortune 500 companies in Europe, the Middle East, and North America. Cyril has formerly held critical roles at Sprint, Saudi Telecom, and Orange, a telecom veteran also with him today. I’m so excited to be sure that Adam Brown, he’s the senior transformation officer and the head of B.T. Garage. So, we’re going to get into that because it’s a very interesting title and I love that. And as the head of BT’s procurement garage, he serves as a tech incubator for developing procurement technologies in the UK. Adam is an expert in procurement technology and leads vital initiatives to digitize procurement with the best of breed leading-edge technologies. And speaking of Leading Technologies, we have Niki Parekh and Niki is the chief executive officer at Suplari.

Dawn: [00:01:29] He’s both the founder and CEO. And this is an A.I. driven Insight’s platform for Modern procurement. Niki formerly held executive positions in real estate tech firms such as Trulia and Zillow. So welcome, gentlemen. I’m so excited to have you here today. 

Dawn: [00:03:43] Thank you, so I like to start by you if you minimize your screen, and so if I took over your entire screen, you can hit exit and I will minimize it. It’s easy to find the Q&A button at the bottom of your screen. If you are not minimizing, you can go to the top of your screen and go into view options and find the Q&A. And we would love your questions as we go. So, anything you’d like to ask this gentleman? I have the opportunity just to be able to talk to them. But if you have anything that you’d like to share, please do so. And then in the chat function, if you could let us know where you’re checking in from, that’s always really fun. Yesterday we had people from Saudi Arabia, Egypt. It was just so cool to see where people are coming in from.

Dawn: [00:04:26] But I would like to start with you, Cyril, because your most recent role before BT, you were over at Sprint and when did you start with BT? Could you share your role as a CPO with BT?

Cyril: [00:04:39] Yeah, for sure Dawn. Thank you very much for inviting us as well, sharing our experience with Suplari, and working in the community about what we’re doing to develop our digital transformation at BT. I joined BT a year ago. I find it a very interesting company, you know, which is British Telecom. So a former PTT, I mean that we’ve got a huge, huge legacy and we’ve got thirty-five ERPs. And when I met with Adam in the teams, just extracting the spend, it was taking us a good hour to just to know how much money we’re spending with Cisco. And I said, oh you know what? I’ve done something recently when I was at Sprint that might help us to fix these kinds of issues. I called Niki and I believe that we need you there. And it’s really amazing what we’ve been able to do so far with those guys.

Cyril: [00:05:34] Let’s face it, a lot of legacy, a lot of legacy, and then I would switch from something legacy to almost the actually the twenty-first century or even more than the twenty-first century.

Dawn: [00:05:52] Ok, so Adam I’ve got to go to you and ask you what the heck is a garage. 

Adam: [00:05:58] It is something that Cyril had this idea when he first joined. I think it was probably in the first two or three conversations we had where we had an aspiration to digitize them.  Cyril said, that’s a nice aspiration but why on earth are you wanting to take so long about doing this? So, let’s create something. Let’s create this digital garage. Just accelerate that massively where we meant to do two big things. One, to digitize the process and the tool in procurement as rapidly as we possibly can and not just digitize it with stuff that’s just been around for a long time to digitize it with the absolute latest technology that there is and to leapfrog that traditional transformation process, you know, the usual transformation, iterative process that you have the aspiration to completely leapfrog that and really get us ahead. So that was one part, to digitize, the second bit was to work with these small, innovative start-up companies that worked super closely with them, because this is where the innovation comes from, Right, this new stuff which can really benefit procurement, to look in that procurement ecosystem of technologies. And you said just now you’re amazed that there were 75 companies that Spend Matters was tracking. I think in those first two months I reviewed something like 180 companies who had anything to do with procurement ecosystems that AI machine learning, pure AI companies, for example. So, we find ourselves now working with four amazing startup companies. That was yeah, once they’ve been around for maybe 18 months and there was even one Cyril and I met them at Cambridge University just up the road from where I am, a young man called Simon with a fantastic idea. It was a company of one person who had been there for about three weeks and Cyril said, I really like what you’re doing. I love the technology. I’ve got a board meeting on Monday…Can I have your stuff?

Adam: [00:08:26] Yeah, it’s yeah, it’s just been a fantastically exciting time working with these startups and kind of guiding them towards what we would need, what we would use in those solutions, and just really doing the right thing as a big organization.

Dawn: [00:08:47] I’m assuming, Cyril, when you named it the garage, it was hearkening back to the days of HP being started, Hewlett Packard thing started in a garage 

Cyril: [00:08:59] Yes, so it’s exactly the idea, so BT procurement garage is all about starting new innovative stuff. And that was the idea. So, we built a very flexible, very simple model with those guys who we don’t have like huge contracts just signing an NDA. So, if we like the startup, we are keeping them in the garage. If we don’t like them, we’re asking them to leave. And it’s the other way around as well, if they like us, they can stay with us, if they don’t like us, they can leave as well. But that’s exactly something which is super simple, super flexible. Adam was just mentioning an example, a known company, I believe, four or five when we met just before the pandemic clocked all of us, it was just one person very scared to death to deliver something in a couple of days. But he has been pushed by the dean of the university and now they’ve got a CEO. They’ve got maybe a CTO.

Cyril: [00:09:50] And that’s what we’ve done. So, it’s really amazing. And it’s pretty amazing as well to see that all the tech that we can use now in procurement is making us more relevant to the business. And when I’m saying more relevant to the business is Suplari, the main team is maybe not procurement, which is maybe a bit strange, but our global team, which are fitting our products to the larger international company are one of the top users or the finance team is one of the top users as well. And I was with the technology guy and they said, oh, you know Suplari, you should make more buzz around this platform because that’s the best tool that we’ve ever seen at BT so far. So, it’s very interesting to see with the procurement tool, which is how you can get traction and interest from the business.

Dawn: [00:10:45] You know, as a CPO, first I have to applaud you because at least within SIG, we have maybe a third of our CPOs who are forward-thinking like you, and then we have a third who say, I want tried and true. I want to make sure that they’ve got tons of references. And then we have the last third that said, I’m so tired of drinking out of this firehose, I just need to retire. And so seriously, Cyril, you are at the upper echelon of drinking from the fire hose and embracing it, but you’re not worried. Why are you not hampered with things like the risk that no one has done it before? How do you make sure that you know that for Adam, it’s safe? I’d just love to know how you support Adam in this role, because you are certainly A shining star, to be honest.

Cyril: [00:11:40] Thank you for that, but I’m sure that I no shining star. The garage. It’s not just only a picture, it’s a mindset. And what we have done is really in charge as a small team but is using as well all the practitioners in the team. So, we’ve got basically anything that will help the practitioner. So, they can present the tool. And I say, OK, we will do a pilot and I’m letting them do a pilot and they can come back and say, we believe that it’s a great tool for the company.

Cyril: [00:12:11] So instead of having an approach where I’m saying so I’m CPO and that’s my decision and you have to do it, it’s exactly the other way around. So, we’ve got our search engine to a certain extent, and we’ve got our team, which is as well embracing this kind of change. And they are getting this tool and they are coming with a recommendation “yeah, this tool is good for our job,” “not mature enough” and stuff like that. And it’s very interesting because if it’s your team coming in and recommending the tool, so you know as well that in terms of change management in terms of effort, it will not be the same as when you are making the decision and you’re telling the team now you have to use this tool. So that’s basically this kind of spirit. And you were spot on what you said. So, it’s really failing fast, learning fast, digitizing fast. I think that’s basically the motto that we have, and that’s what Adam & the team is doing.

Dawn: [00:13:03] I love that. So, when you first went to BT, tell me the status of the data. You mentioned Cisco took you a couple of hours just to figure out how much money you spent.

Cyril: [00:13:15] Yeah. So, I would say when you’re in the company, and Adam has more experience in that. But when I joined, he said, that we’ve got a database. We have – because I’ve got teams in India as well. Basically, what they are doing is extracting the spend for two weeks, they are cleaning it. Then after that, they are loading it into the old school database.

[00:13:41] And then when you want to do something, you are going into this old school database. That is, you run the query, it lasts 20 minutes. You extract an Excel spreadsheet; you do a pivot table and you’ve got your answer. Now in two clicks with Suplari, we’ve got the answer in two clicks. So but the good thing is that we’ve been able to basically adding the thirty-five ERPs aggregating into one Excel spreadsheet, basically a flat line, and we’re sending that to Niki and then after that, so we got the results and we send them to my team and not only my team but as I said the business team as well can use it. And we’ve got all the insights that Niki was just mentioning at the very beginning, which is helping us really to drive and to find opportunities in our spend. So that’s basically coming from thirty-five ERP, thirty-five different sources of information. None of them were connected, none of them were obviously on the same taxonomy and stuff like that and be able to have something meaningful for the business. And I really believe that. Adam, you should share your experience. What the demo that you did for our CFO, which is, by the way, our boss as well, when you had to entertain the CFO as the application was running.

Adam: [00:15:01] I think there’s an interesting point here as well. It’s never the first question that’s the difficult one to answer and it’s never the first question that frustrates people. It’s the second question because Cyril would say, how much do we spend with Cisco and, you know, some magic and some people in the background and we very quickly tell him. But then, annoyingly, Cyril would ask the second question, such as ‘what countries’ or a third? And every time you ask a question, it’s that same delay, that same back and forth, that same huge piece of work, whereas now with Suplari, well, he doesn’t even ask me. He just gets on the mobile phone and has a look for himself. And I presume it’s resolved. But I think it’s just getting to the other point about the garage and whether I can fail or not then, and it’s really interesting how we’re doing it. And the mindset is absolutely correct here because we must remember we procurement. Procurement does basically two things. One, get it cheaper. Secondly, reduce the risk. So, it’s in our remit to reduce the inherent risk with whom we’re dealing with. But then there’s that secondary risk is the adoption.

Adam: [00:16:18] What if nobody uses it? We don’t want to be a ghost town of fantastic technology. And so, we simply do this. If I just say, look, everybody, here the options. Go play with A, B, and C and tell me which one is best. And every time it is a fairly resounding, very polarized answer, which is great. And we did exactly that with Simon the CFO. So, Niki came over very kindly over to London thinking that he would be giving a demo and having a catch up with Cyril, meeting me. And I said, would you mind terribly coming over to the other office, the nicer office to be fair, and demoing this to CFO? And he did exactly that. It was slightly embarrassing for me because we did a side by side demo that I Niki demoed Suplari, which we had given Niki all of our data so he demoed Suplari and I demoed our legacy tool. Niki’s sales pitch was probably about five words and then it was done. I was stood there for about ten minutes filling with anecdotes while this processed in the background. So very different. Yeah. Simon was, you know, clearly enormously supportive that we really needed that tool.

Dawn: [00:17:45] I love that. So, somebody has come in and said for Adam, I remember a time not so long ago when ordering a Cat five cable took so much effort. You’re better off buying it and expensing it yourself. So, have you solved that problem within BT now?

Adam: [00:18:02] I hope so. So with the whole buying stuff, there’s a huge digital transformation that we’re doing in procurement and that covers not just the sourced contract piece, doing the spend analytics and the market insights and the sourcing your RFP and RFQs. So that piece is being done, but also all the way through to the buying channel bit. So how do we actually go and buy something? So, we’re implementing Ariba going to buying. That’s coming up the next calendar year, that’s going to come live for the company and that ambition to make it so incredibly easy for people just to type in Cat 5 cable click ‘buy now.’ And it’s just done.

Dawn: [00:18:51] So the person commented that the people are trying to Amazon-ify, is the word that they used, so trying to make it like the Amazon buying experience, which is very easy for most people. Do you think outside procurement that they’re going to see it as that easy, or is that your goal? Are you there yet?

Adam: [00:19:15] Absolutely. That is the goal and exactly how we want to get there. And certainly, for us at BT, Cyril referenced that we have multiple ERPs, and we will work towards consolidating them down, obviously within the UK first next year with Ariba. And it’s that very visual, pictures on tiles. You see what you want, you click on it, or just type in ‘Cat 5 cable’ and so the experience of that is going to be so vastly different to what we have today where, you know, you kind of have to be an expert in the category taxonomy that we have and then the type of purchase, whether it’s by the value of what you want or the volume of what you want, there are so many weird, nuanced questions you have to know simply to be able to navigate through to find what you want. And so, yeah, the complexity of what we have today is old legacy stuff and certainly moving completely from that to just online shopping, you know, be it Amazon or supermarkets or anything. It’s just the modern way of working.

Cyril: [00:20:21] And I would like to add to that. There’s something else we would like to do. It’s basically, so far, we’re asking the user to go to the tool and what we would like is the tool going to the users. What I’ve done as well in the past, and something which is a part of our roadmap as well, is I use Excel. I was able to do this at the company where I was just before going to BT, working on that. It’s using the voice. So, we were using the voice to alter the suppliers. The next step was for us to do the travel. So, you say, tomorrow morning I want to go to London and then. The idea is, basically your travel agency will tell you exactly what all the options are. You booked everything. And then so if your boss is telling you until you have to stay there. You just go to Alexa in Procurement and say hey can you cancel my trip for tomorrow, and then everything is canceled. We’re working out a lot of using the voice, and travel as well.

Cyril: [00:21:48] So what was an interesting ask from the user group. There’s another company that we are working with at BT for which I would like basically a user to use the voice to do a statement of work.

Cyril: [00:22:12] So instead of having a department of guys, you go to the application and you just click the application which may be on your phone. The application will ask you a question. You just enter with natural language and it’s translated into a statement of work you click and the statement of work would send automatically to the suppliers and then after that, you can do the correction. And he’s just monitoring the analytics. So it’s very, very key for me. That’s not to be true procurement focus because that we have our jargon, we’ve got our process and stuff like that. But really thinking about all people are using it. And as I said I would like to bring the tool to the user and not the user to the tool which is the case of most procurement organizations nowadays.

Dawn: [00:23:01] I love that, so Cyril you talked about the tool and you talked about your CFO embracing it, has the rest of the company is this more accepted throughout BT now, or is it just you and your CFO and your procurement organization?

Cyril: [00:24:37] No, it’s absolutely serious. Or we’ve made some demos. We’ve got our global division. Our global division is serving in the top international company in the world. And we’ve got some of our customers which are on this webinar. And, you know, when you’re a global account manager, one of the questions that you have is that how much money, am I spending for this account, profitable or not. Once this guy said, I’ve got we have four verticals and one of the big verticals told me that he had three or four people actually crunching that wanted be able to see how much money we’re spending by customer account. It’s basically using Suplari and when you’re the global manager of one of these top 800 accounts. You go into Suplari and you click, and you’ve got to know the name of your account. So, it’s not like something you don’t understand. If it’s, I don’t know, a BMW or McDonald’s, you just click on McDonald’s and you get all the spend for this customer, something that you can really track that. For a lot of traction and one of our best is based out of Colorado, and she said as well, I’m quoting here, that the best she has ever seen and she’s now able to see accounts by accounts and having these discussions with a global account management team so they can go and I can see my top spend that’s my tail and everything.

Cyril: [00:26:15] And it’s very, very interesting because they have as well, through interacting with Suplari, a better understanding of what they are spending. And it will help them to basically bring better technology at the most valuable cost. That’s basically what we think. One of the heads of the technology, they’ll call today. I’ve got a big, big challenge in my department. I need you to help them as well with that. OK, so what about my 10 direct reports. And what about this guy, oh yep with Suplari you have two clicks, and that’s the spend of this guy. But we can go, we can deep dive and can say, well what about this one, and they were like blown away.

Cyril: [00:27:01] Obviously, we’re using it on the procurement side, but we are really trying to evangelize the rest of the team and say there’s a value on that data which are far beyond just procurement because if you are a global manager and you want to discuss with a CPO of the company that I was just mentioning or the CPO or these companies is asking you a question, you can on your mobile phone because you can access Suplari as well on the app. So, it’s on your mobile phone. It’s not just computer based.

Cyril: [00:27:37] Exactly. And then so it’s basically you are with a customer. You’re discussing with maybe one of the CPO’s in a meeting, the CPO has a question on one supplier or something like that. You can go and can check on Suplari. And we’ve got as well on our risk management the same so they can answer to any CPO, almost live on the risk management, how we are managing our supply chain to service these customers. So huge traction, huge value for our global team, finance team as well likes it a lot. And the business unit as well, because we can slice, dice, we have the insights that Niki was mentioning before they can see as well the insights which are related to their division or subdivision. So, they really like that. So, it’s almost like a challenge with my teammates, you know what, it’s the first users of Suplari they are not in procurement and they outside of procurement. 

Dawn: [00:28:39] So I have to tell you, somebody just wrote in and said ‘it’s the best time to be in BT. It makes me feel that I’m an account manager with the power of data via just a few clicks.”

[00:28:49] So somebody that’s here today is certainly singing the same song. So, I love that. Adam, one of the talents for people going into procurement always historically has been you have to be a wizard at Excel and pivot tables. Do you think that through all of this technology we really will be a few clicks away from having all the data and that companies like Suplari are going to be the ones that will be masterminding how to pull all this together, and we no longer have to just be sitting in pivot tables all day long trying to analyze the data. Is that the future?

Adam: [00:29:26] Yeah. So, um, there’s a balance to be had here that I see across all of the digital platforms that we’re looking at, we’re bringing in because the pivot table is just a simple mechanism to summarize your data. So, with all of these platforms by default and Suplari is the same, by default they have a summary screen. But there’s always eventualities where you need to spin the data around in a slightly different way. And this is where the real trick is. It’s to get that basic screen, basic summary screen to cover ninety-five percent of what you always want and I think Suplari has done that enormously well, but there’s always, always a need to be able to pivot it to summarize in a slightly different way. And typically, that extra need is always out of the blue and it typically always comes from the CFO or the CPO. It’s usually somewhere unexpected. And this is a good fit that with Suplari they have built-in pivot tables into the tool. So you’ve got the regular screen where it’s going to solve 95 percent of what I need, and then we were doing something recently exercising our supply base and Cyril said, you know, how many suppliers have we got, where are they? What’s the expected breakdown, which is just a pivot table exercise, but it’s built into Suplari which is mega, mega useful.

Adam: [00:31:00] And I haven’t yet had to drag the data out into Excel. And it’s that which I want to say across all of this because it doesn’t matter if we’re talking about spend or we’re talking about risk or initiatives or strategies or whatever the tooling is, we’re always going to need to summarize and there’s always going to be something unexpected. So, for me, I don’t simply want to see the end of people using Excel. I want to see the end of people using PowerPoint because, as you mentioned Excel, but you’ve probably got maybe about 10, 15 percent of the population spending a lot of time with Excel. However, you’ve probably got about 80 percent of the population spending a lot of time on PowerPoint. So that really is where I see the biggest thing is that presentation layer and stop the PowerPoint stopping emailing of the PowerPoint, Here’s the tool, here’s the system. It’s on the phone. Just look at it live. And that to me is the real solution. And we’re doing exactly that category strategies now, which like any organization, you would review your category strategies maybe once a year will build a PowerPoint. This will be the first year where we’re going to do that completely digitally, not using PowerPoint at all.

Dawn: [00:32:21] So let me interrupt you because a question came in and said, can you automatically create category strategy sheds?

Adam: [00:32:26] Yeah, so you can do guided category strategy creation. So, all of us have spoken to many, many consultants over the years been Kearney, McKinsey, and everybody’s got their steps, whether it’s five steps, seven steps, and it’s all broadly speaking, here’s a bunch of things to do in a checklist and a bunch of questions to ask yourself to have a fully comprehensive category strategy. It’s there’s only a finite number of things. And you do the normal stuff like your Matrix and Porter’s five forces. You know what I’m talking about. Automate all of that. So, get all those questions. Yes. No. Does this matter? Does this not and off the back of that, you can automatically say, well, out of all the possible levers, you could call for a strategy, these are the ones that are relevant to you based on the questions you’ve answered. So that’s where you’re getting towards that digitalization of a strategy that at its heart is a collaboration. Right, because you don’t answer it independently by yourself. You’re collaborating with the business and talking to them and working with them. There are loads of people around who are phenomenally smarter than I am. But I challenge anybody to store all of these questions in their mind every time they’re doing this to sort through and figure out how I answer this and this and this, and at the heart of it a collaboration tool is saying, here are all the possible things to ask, sit with your stakeholders and ask those questions because it’s going to trigger thoughts. And yeah, one thing a wise person said to me about 20 years ago was, you never know where the next best idea is going to come from.

Cyril: [00:34:22] And yeah, and just to continue to elaborate on that, we are pivoting actually completely as we speak on a new platform, which enabled that and we connected as well Suplari into this platform. So, it’s basically category management also. It’s not fully automated yet in a sense. You have the brainpower of a category manager, which is good stuff because it means that we still have a job tomorrow. But it’s a platform where, as Adam said, it’s a collaboration and adding everything else in the same place. But we connected Suplari as well to that and we connected our risk management platform as well, and we connected it all. It means that in six months from now when I will ask the category manager to show me the strategy because I need to have the strategy, you will go into the tool. The spend will come directly from Suplari so he has nothing to do, he doesn’t need to advance this slide and going to PowerPoint and say that is the very latest spend. It would be automatically populated. So, when we just click on a button and the PowerPoint will be created for him and you will have the most current spend as well on that and the most current information in terms of risk management. And I was with the CFO a few hours ago and I said good stuff, right now you can at any point of time go to these platforms and see the prior spend on any category. And if you have nothing to do on a Sunday evening and want to check nothing, you can do that without me.

Dawn: [00:36:06] I love that. So, a question came in and said how live is the data. And I think one of the challenges in procurement is managing the company’s spend by consumption. Is there a solution that gives the right people a view on the trajectory of spend, at which point it can back under control?

Adam: [00:36:22] Yeah, so I have a lot of experience of this because I know it’s both ways now. So, spend analytics and the question of should we have a live connection or not. So, I’ve done both: I’ve done a live connection and I’ve done monthly updates. So last time we did a live connection, it went like this. I said the spend is a hundred pounds the next day the CFO comes back and said, I’ve just had a look and the spend is 102 pounds. You’re wrong. Why is it different? Well, it’s because you looked the next day. Guess what happened the day after that. Now it’s 104, please can you look at it and give me a full breakdown and give me a walk in PowerPoint on the difference and why it’s changed. And so, you just ended up down a complete rabbit hole with that for our needs in procurement. So I’m not saying needs are not different across the company, but for the specific needs on what we were doing of, say, this is the spend period six or seven in the year, this is the year, this is the spend, this is what it means, having that great solid monthly baseline that’s been really, really important. I would love, hopefully, to evolve over the coming months and years to put a fully live connection on it and have everybody at that maturity level to understand that, yeah, it’s going to be different from one day to the next because it’s live but you know, it fundamentally doesn’t change things. But that’s the sourcing bit. There is that in live management, where having completely live data is more relevant.

Dawn: [00:38:07] So, Richard from Scotland, I love that he told us where he’s from, said, you talk about any future plans for the garage. Are there any more startups being brought in, any areas of capability that you’re looking toward right now?

Adam: [00:38:21] Yes. So, my remit is the entirety of the source to pay process. And so we started on the left-hand side, basically, which is, you know, spend and intelligence and so solving for that we say risk is a big thing, so we’ve just dropped in a risk management platform. With the startups that we work with, we are very interested in the inputs into the risk management platform. So out of the startups that we’re working with, three of them are inputs into the risk management platform. So, one of the cyber threat analysis, one for automatic mapping of the tiers in our supply chain hierarchy and another one for macroeconomic risk impact. So, three of the startups that we’re working with are directly related to risk. For BT and many companies, we’ve got Brexit, we’ve got COVID, risk is absolutely right at the forefront for all of us, a big focus with risk. Supplier market intelligence is the next big one that I’m hugely, hugely keen to solve is that, again, we talk about spending time on PowerPoint and Excel. How much time do we spend on Google or in fairness other search engines are available, but we spend an awful lot of time researching and finding out the information about the market, where it’s going, and just to automate all of that and bring that to Cyril’s point, bring that to the people so they can sit and say, look, there’s a lecturer here, so I can’t actually ask because they’ll probably answer, but ask the system to tell me about my marketing category,  What’s going on, to get all of those category insights?

Adam: [00:40:18] And of course, then sourcing is the other big one of just the daily activity that we do doing RFPs, RFQs, RFXs, we’ve got the low end with RFQs solving for that, which again we’re actively trialing and testing and doing stuff there. The super complex end of massively complex RFPs. How do we do that? The bits in the middle. We’ve been stuck with the same paradigm in procurement for years now, I send out an RFP asking for a price and some service specifications. That must be a better way and a different way. And again, we’re looking very closely at that bit in the middle of how we spin that on its head to accelerate, to make it work better, faster, sleeker for us. So, we spend less time just trying to get to what should be the beginning of the process and enable our people. Let’s not forget, we employ people for their brains and they’re shrewd negotiation skills. We don’t employ people for the ability to do a pivot table or make a pretty PowerPoint. It’s enabling all of the brainpower and all of the time to be spent on that. So that’s where I’m going at the moment, is what can we do with sourcing, market insights, and analytics, and yeah, that process excellence and process optimization, is to ensure that that process is super slick as possible.

Dawn: [00:42:02] Yeah. And so, you brought up the COVID aspect of it. And Cyril I’d love to ask you, I don’t know how we would have gotten through COVID if it wasn’t for technology. COVID had to make you more agile and made you adapt more quickly than ever before. Can you share some of your thoughts about COVID? Is it going to speed up the digital transformation because of necessity or were you already on that track? Could you just share a little bit?

Cyril: [00:42:29] Yeah, so I just joined slightly more than a year ago and what, a month after I created the garage. That’s already something we but very clearly need more information on. We were just debating about this; do we need to have real-time spend? Maybe not. So, what we have right now is the spend of the previous month and we have as well, thanks to Suplari, the last three years of spend. But what we see much more on the risk management side, where we need to have something which we near real-time time, because even I’m not sure that actually real-time makes a lot of sense. But near real-time, so at least I know exactly where I’m standing. So that’s obviously extremely key. And then from the risk being able as well to connect with the Spend, so what is the size of risk, and what is the size of the impact of the risk? So more digital for sure. It’s I mentioned several times the answer that we are all using. So as well, I’m sick and tired to see a lot of procurement applications, which looks like, you know, a very depressing ERP page.

Cyril: [00:43:48] That’s why I’m using my phone all the time with this very nice application. So the fact is that we have COVID so people are working from home or working in different places like this, we have the information at your fingertips on your mobile phone with the digital tool that you can use. It’s really key. So, think about the CFO and CPO, they can access any of the tools that we just mentioned on their mobile phone without us. So that’s the fluidity of the information and every week the procurement was been able to see more clearly to the point that we were in control. And again, with this kind of tool, the proper confidence in our ability to do more. And then they are asking more questions, so then we go and give them more information. So that’s what kind of digitalization is super key there. But we started just a bit ahead of COVID. That was good. We were on track.

Dawn: [00:44:54] That is awesome. So, a comment came in and says, “the tools that you’re bringing in are going to transform us from procurement professionals to becoming consultants. We can take strategic decisions on our own, replacing third party consultants. You’re already heading towards predictive procurement.” So first off, I want to say I’m sure glad that I’m running SIG now and not procurement consulting any longer because I do think tools, like the ones that Niki is bringing, you’re not going to need the consultants. You don’t need this massive PowerPoint. And for us to come in and do your pivot tables and give you your category strategies any longer. So, you’re going to get rid of that. And I love the fact that someone sees themself now as being really an internal consultant to your business units.

Cyril: [00:45:37] Yeah, it’s interesting because you and my team know that. So, I’ve got a different view of being a consultant. I considering ourselves as the sales force of the bottom line. We’re selling our capacity to buy something. That’s what we do. So, all the tools that we’re speaking about and forgetting the pivot table and the and the PowerPoint, basically what I wanted to increase supplier face time and stakeholder face time. So, if my people lack face time with their suppliers or with their stakeholders, they are not doing their job. So that’s basically what we want to do. So, I don’t want to toss them into consultants. We will always have to learn from others and learning the best practice from other industries and other people. That’s usually what the consultants are bringing to the table. But what we are doing is always true. It’s maximizing the supplier facetime and the stakeholder first time. And we were just mentioning as well about the fact Niki said that there’s very, very little almost no training to use Suplari. It’s big stuff because for me, again, so think about a procurement team being a sales team of the bottom line. So, if they don’t have to take training, they can again, maximize their supplier facetime and their stakeholder facetime. So just think about, you know, the bottom of the value chain. So, you’ve got we are basically on the left-hand side setting our capacity to buy something to the salespeople of the previous value chain. So that’s basically where we got ourselves. 

Cyril: [00:47:21] And we are partnering, by the way, with our colleagues from the Sales, those with Sales actually in their title. And we are working together and trying to create peers and said, OK, so when are we buying and when are we selling. So that’s increased our overall efficiency when we buy and sell. I’d rather prefer to say that we are the salesforce of the bottom line. So that makes more sense. 

Dawn: [00:48:11] I will credit you with that, sir. But that’s got to make a CFO so excited that you’re focusing so much because it’s so much I mean, for every dollar you save is so much more that they don’t have to sell at the top. So, you’re I mean, you’re talking the right talk. That’s got to be thrilling to your CFO.

Cyril: [00:48:33] Yes, the CFO but also the CEO and the execs. And they are very appreciative as well of all the support that we are sharing that we’re giving them. And we have as well someone that joined the company to develop the indirect channels. And they want to partner with us because again, we are in this mindset setting our capacity to buy something.

Cyril: [00:49:00] So that’s why it’s interesting to see the traction that we have with the business and what I’m saying we’re speaking almost the same language. We’re trying as well with the finance guy to speak the same language storyboarding. So, we’re savings and cost overruns and stuff like that. But most other people don’t understand except us. But much more speaking their language. That’s like when you’re getting a CFO that you’re sending in two-point-six percentage points off that mountain and you’re using the amount, the margin of the company next year. So that’s something that he can understand, or she can understand. And that’s basically as well what we’re doing is avoiding using our own language. It’s much more about using the language of others. 

Dawn: [00:49:46] Yeah. And having the mindset of a CFO is so important for a CPO to be able to translate it. So, and as a recovering CPA myself, I certainly appreciate it when I hear you say that. But somebody wrote in and they said this is inspiring for once to hear a CPO talking about the role of procurement being to sell!!!

Dawn: [00:50:11] oh, my gosh, oh, shoot, we are out of time. Niki. Thank you so much for bringing me to amazing, fascinating people with the mindset that they have. I want to thank Suplari and I can’t get to the last questions are coming in, but I’ll make sure to pass them on. But thank you, Cyril and Adam, you were just amazing. I am positive and turn this into a podcast because everybody is going to want to hear your story.