Key Analyst Takeaways from Tradeshift's London Innovation Summit
Levvel Research was invited to attend Tradeshift’s third exclusive Innovation Summit, called “Modernized Digital Transformation: How the Platform Economy is Driving Supply Change,” held in London on Monday, April 8, 2019. The following post provides an overview of the event and a Levvel Research analyst’s industry insights.
To hear some of the players in the Procure-to-Pay (P2P) automation software market, the world of supply chain management is on the verge of a revolution — and Tradeshift would like to be among those leading the way. The main message of the summit was on the power of a dynamic, application-driven platform solution that supports direct connections within a supply chain. Applications and technology platforms are far from new concepts in the consumer technology space, but Tradeshift claims to have broken new ground harnessing the versatile and robust capabilities of the platform for its supply chain network.
The Power of the Platform
In general, one of the main values of platforms for procurement lies in their ability to facilitate and accelerate connectivity amongst suppliers and buyers, bringing together many parties directly without relying on individual databases or siloed processes. Many solution providers in the P2P space have harnessed the platform concept with application ecosystems in order to drive even greater global, collaborative networks. On platforms, users can typically download apps and tailor the solutions to their needs more so than with traditional software suites and their modules.
Tradeshift’s supply chain platform provides not only a marketplace of applications to enable commerce, but also services to support supply chain activity—a step beyond what many other players in the P2P space offer at this time. Tradeshift’s supply chain platform is customizable to the user, allowing users to select and install functionality that is required for their individual roles. This tailored approach helps to create a user-centric environment, rather than, for example, one that offers only generic tools for procurement or sourcing processes.
Melissa Gordon, Senior VP and General Manager of Tradeshift Applications, and Thijs Stalenhoef, Tradeshift’s Senior VP of Global Product, shared more about the system working behind the platform. As we have seen in Tradeshift’s products previously, the company is making innovative use of data, advanced AI-power algorithms, application marketplaces, and domain expertise to further increase the value of its overall software offerings. One of the most distinguishing characteristics of Tradeshift’s platform, however, is its origin: all of its solutions and modules were built on the foundation of a platform infrastructure. Unlike some other providers who are offering app ecosystems and platform environments as new features built into their existing software suites — some of which were originally designed as on-premise technology — Tradeshift’s original product design is a cloud-based, platform architecture. Tradeshift posits that this foundation enables it to be more flexible and accommodating to different businesses’ and users’ needs, as well as making it better able to support growth and rapid onboarding. The company also claims its flexible product lends it compatibility with a broad customer base—it’s easy for customers of different sizes or industries to make the same platform work for them.
Supply Chain Resilience
Ron Volpe, Tradeshift’s Global Vice President of Apps Business Development and Chief Supply Chain Evangelist, brought home another key message of the summit: it is critical for organizations to better manage their supply chains and prepare for new challenges in an increasingly global business environment. To stay ahead of the curve, Volpe implies, organizations can minimize and even circumvent potential challenges by digitizing and automating their supply chains.
“The platform is the on-ramp to digitization.” – Ron Volpe, Tradeshift
Tradeshift knows it can’t offer every solution and service necessary to enable its customers to achieve this fully digital supply chain, which is why it is putting so much emphasis and focus on its app ecosystem and network platform. Tradeshift is giving customers access to partners, each of them equipped with their niche expertise to address different parts of a digital supply chain. Featured partners, Coface, Kompany, TransferMate, and Quyntess, displayed the depth within their specific solutions—from credit insurance to global payments.
A New Wave of Digital Transformation
Though the platform approach has taken over many parts of consumer-facing products today, it was seldom utilized in back-office automation technology until recently. Tradeshift is one of the leaders in leveraging the platform in this relatively untouched area of business, and in supply chain-focused digital transformation specifically. However, one thing to consider is that utilizing platforms instead of software suites or ERPs for these core business functions requires that some of organizations’ other internal structures and processes transform as well. Real-time, digital, and expanded supply chain processes, as enabled with a platform approach, have the potential to change many fundamental aspects of business operations, including requirements and techniques around staffing, supplier management, procurement, and working capital management — not to mention the effects of this change on organizations’ internal cultures. Tradeshift’s focus on innovation and disrupting the status quo could actually be costing it some more traditional customers, such as those of more change-resistant industry verticals or cultures. However, it has never seemed like Tradeshift’s goal was to ease its way quietly to the top of the P2P space, and if anyone can change supply chain management through sheer audacity, it might just be this provider. It doesn’t hurt that Tradeshift’s solution is pretty impressive as well.