Companies today face disruptions and business risks the likes of which haven’t been seen in decades. The enterprises that ultimately succeed are the ones that have built up resilience.

To be truly resilient, an organization must be able to continuously gather data from diverse sources, correlate it, draw accurate conclusions, and in near-real time trigger appropriate actions. This requires continuous monitoring of events both within and outside an enterprise to detect, diagnose, and resolve issues before they can cause any damage.  

This is especially true when it comes to enterprise procurement. Upwards of 70% of an organization’s revenue can flow through procurement. This highlights the critical need to detect potential business disruptions, spend leakages (purchases made at sub-optimal prices by deviating from established contracts, catalogs, or procurement policies), non-compliance, and fraud. Large organizations can have a dizzying array of data related to thousands of suppliers and accompanying contracts.

Yet amassing and extracting value from these large amounts of data is difficult for humans to keep up with, as the number of data sources and volume of data only continues to grow exponentially. Current data monitoring and analysis methods are no longer sufficient.

“While periodic spend analysis was okay up until a few years ago, today it’s essential that you do this kind of data analysis continuously, on a daily basis, to spot issues and address them quicker,” says Shouvik Banerjee, product owner for ignio Cognitive Procurement at Digitate.

Enterprises need a tool that continuously monitors data so they can use their funds more effectively. Companies across industries have found success with ignio Cognitive Procurement, an AI-based analytics solution for procure-to-pay. The solution screens purchase transactions to detect and predict anomalies that increase risk, spend leakage, cycle time, and non-compliance.

For example, the product flags purchase requests with suppliers who have a poor track record of compliance with local labor laws. Likewise, it flags urgent purchases whose fulfillment is likely to be delayed based on patterns observed in similar transactions in the past.  It also flags invoices that need to be prioritized to take advantage of early payment discounts.

“It’s a system of intelligence versus other products in the market, which are systems of record,” says Banerjee. Not only does ignio Cognitive Procurement analyze an organization’s array of transactions, it also takes into account relevant market data on suppliers and categories on a daily basis.

ignio Cognitive Procurement is unique for its ability to correlate what’s currently happening in the market with what’s going on inside an organization, and it makes specific recommendations to stakeholders. For example, the solution can simplify category managers’ work, helping them source the best deals for their company, or make decisions such as whether to place an order now or hold off for a month.

Charged with finding the best suppliers and monitoring their success within the context of the market, category managers work better and smarter when they can tap into ignio Cognitive Procurement.

ignio Cognitive Procurement also identifies other opportunities to save money and improve the effectiveness of procurement. For instance, the solution proactively makes business recommendations that seamlessly take into account not only price, but also a variety of key factors like timeliness, popularity, external market indicators, suppliers’ market reputation, and their legal, compliance, and sustainability records.

“Companies also use the software to analyze that part of spend that’s not happening through contracts,” says Banerjee, “and they’ve been able to identify items which have significant price variance.”

To avoid irreversible damage or missed opportunities and to keep a competitive advantage, organizations across industries urgently need an AI-based analytics solution for procure-to-pay that can augment their human capabilities.

To learn more about Digitate’signio Cognitive Procurement, click here.

Analytics, IT Leadership

Digital transformation has reached a critical juncture within the railway industry. As rail operators embrace new trends in intelligence, sustainability and service, aging telecommunications architecture of more than 20 years ago is unable to meet current and future requirements.

The existing GSM-R train-to-ground communication system can no longer provide sufficient capacity for modern railway stations. Instead, operators are turning to the Future Railway Mobile Communication System (FRMCS) with broad bandwidth and a new decoupling architecture based on LTE and the latest technology to improve performance.

“Digital transformation is a long journey and rail operators need to ‘dream big’. Currently, the most pressing challenge for rail operators is to identify both the pain points and benefits and address them with cost-effective digital solutions—to ‘act small,’” said Xiang Xi, Vice President, Aviation & Rail BU, Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd.

As an industry-leading ICT solution provider, Huawei can help with these transformation efforts in three aspects: by reshaping connectivity, reconstructing the platform, and enabling intelligence. At the upcoming InnoTrans exhibition, Huawei will outline the framework for digitalisation of the railway business and best practices for innovation and showcase smart railway related Solution.

Reshape connectivity

With digitalisation, demand for new services such as train automation, smart maintenance, and others is growing. Current narrowband network has insufficient bandwidth to meet complex network requirements to support these services. Innovative solutions such as FRMCS, Wi-Fi 6 and all-optical networks will enable a more digitalised rail infrastructure.

Huawei FRMCS solution enables wireless communications systems for high throughput, low latency, and reliable connectivity. This solution can support new railway services such as multimedia dispatching communications, trackside IoT, and predictive maintenance.

Reliability in connectivity also requires zero interruptions for real-time service. Wi-Fi 6 Train-to-Ground communication, Railway All-Optical Network using native hard pipeline (NHP) and Urban Rail Cloud-Optical Network based on OTN technology with ultra-low latency, enables no-disruption connectivity to operators’ assets, services, operations and maintenance.

Reconstruct platform

Traditional urban rail lines and service systems, including ATS, AFC, and PIS, are relatively independent. The silo construction of IT resources leads to high construction costs, low resource utilization, and isolation of multiple information systems. The unified construction mode of the urban rail cloud changes these issues.

Huawei’s Urban Rail Cloud Platform solution empowers rail operators to maximise IT resources and improve security and efficiency of operations.

Enable intelligence

As rail operations increase in complexity, rail operators need to gain a better situational awareness in order to manage their assets better and expedite incident response time. The challenges becomes even greater as operators look for ways to improve low-carbon development and other parts of their operations to address sustainability objectives.

Huawei’s Urban Rail Intelligent Operation Center (IOC) solution connects digital environments with physical spaces for improved and integrated situational awareness leading to better decision-making and an efficient and collaborative command.

Next-generation communications technologies will play a critical role in addressing the unique challenges of the rail industry. Cutting-edge solutions such as FRMCS, Wi-Fi 6, and all-optical networks are addressing those challenges to empower the rail industry to modernize for improved safety and reliability of rail lines, while opening new opportunities for innovation.

Register now to find out Huawei’s global experience in the rail industry at the 9th Huawei Global Rail Summit on 22nd September at the Grand Hyatt Berlin in Germany.

Digital Transformation

Companies typically face three big problems in managing their skills base: Normal learning approaches require too much time to scale up relevant knowledge. Hiring for new skills is expensive and also too slow. And skills from new hires are rarely properly shared.

Businesses of all types have fought to solve these problems. Some conduct ever more advanced offsite or onsite seminars and training – but these are costly, take time, and don’t adapt fast enough to incoming needs of the business and teams. Online training is often perceived as a hassle and participants can become disengaged. Other companies try to jump-start knowledge by bringing in consultants, but this risks only temporarily plugging the gaps.

The reality is that most of these efforts involve throwing money at only the immediate problem. Few budgets can meet the continuous need for up-to-the-minute learning and training, particularly in fast-evolving tech areas such as programming languages, software development, containerization, and cloud computing.

A fresh approach is needed

A handful of companies have found a solution. They’re adding community-driven learning to their existing training approaches. They recognize the wealth of knowledge held by individuals in their teams, and create an agile, natural process to share this knowledge via hands-on workshops. This is a logical progression from existing efforts to connect staff for social bonding and business collaboration.

In practice, what these companies do is create an open, well-managed community of trainers and trainees from within their staff base. Trainees (any employee) feed into a wish list of the specific skills and areas that they want to learn. Trainers (who are staff members with regular, non-training roles) offer lessons on skills or knowledge that they excel in. It is a system open to everyone, with managers, who understand the incoming strategic requirements of the business, helping to prioritize topics and identify potential trainers.

To succeed in this approach, businesses need good leadership and appropriate time allocation. It starts with Chief Technology or Chief Information Officers, who must endorse the importance that the company places on tech innovation, by actively facilitating employees to spend 10 to 20% of their time learning or training others. Once a learning initiative has begun and is nurtured and adapted, it often grows quickly as staff see others taking part.

The results we’re seeing from community learning at GfK

There have been some powerful results for companies running community-driven learning. At GfK, we provide consumer, market, and brand intelligence, with powerful predictive analytics. Since we began our own community-driven learning initiatives three years ago, we’ve witnessed compelling improvements. Our teams can initiate targeted, in-house training whenever necessary, with zero red tape. This has delivered a significant growth in innovation. We’re attracting and retaining top talent, and there are marked improvements in our speed of adaptability.

For example: We swapped initial hackathons for two-day learning events, run five times a year, called “we.innovate”. Our tech teams have full access to these staff-delivered interactive lessons and workshops. The skills covered are shaped by a combination of staff requests and the specific strategic needs of the business. Among the 40 or so topics on the list, we’ve already covered Kubernetes, basic and advanced usage of Git software to track code changes, domain-driven design approaches to software development, cloud computing, cyber security, test-driven development, and much else besides.

Hundreds of our staff have participated in our community learning, and we constantly encourage people to step up as trainers to keep things fresh and relevant. We measure progress by monitoring engagement levels and what the average level of expertise is per individual.

As we have experienced, this is a self-accelerating process. The scale of participation grows fast, meaning the results quickly become transformative at company level. Innovation is the currency of the future, and we are growing ours by drawing out our employees’ substantial individual expertise and distributing it as widely as possible.

To find out more about our innovation, visit gfk.com/careers

IT Leadership