Market and business intelligence rank as chief concerns for people across every industry vertical and function, but are of particular importance to procurement professionals whose every day work is subject to, and evaluated in light of, internal and external forces. As the saying goes, “a butterfly flaps its wings in Beijing and it creates a hurricane in Texas which hits a refinery that makes the cost of plastic go up in Vancouver.”

The world's markets really are that connected and complex. Capturing insights from the market can often be just as complex. Here we’ll discuss some of the key elements of insight, with an emphasis on market intelligence, and how a Cognitive Sourcing™ platform can transform how you deal with the data and information that has the potential to grant you leverage in negotiations and help you generate a sustainable competitive advantage for your organization.

How Intelligence is Gathered

Every professional and organization has a slightly different way of gathering market intelligence. This often depends on the maturity of the organization, budgets, and available resources. Externally, suppliers are a major source of input, often the only source. Less advanced organizations then process this information by relying on know how and historical information that often resides in one or two individuals. More mature teams reach out to a wider range of external sources and systematize how they process this information. And there's no shortage of sources.

Third party sources from trade publications to consultants provide various types of intelligence - data and news aggregation, benchmarks, forecasting and category analysis, technology consultation. These, largely paid, services are supplemented by everyone’s favorite data research tool, Google. That’s not even counting the ways in which real time information might be sourced in social networks like Twitter, for example when the President makes a tweet that impacts predictions about trade tariffs.

Digesting these Insights

It’s no secret how important it is for organizations to have access to accurate, up-to-date data. Internally, data and information flow to procurement from engineering, finance and other relevant departments in the from of discussions or reports. These insights are wrangled in enterprise resource systems (ERPs) or supplier relationship management systems (SRMs). Sometimes these are supplemented by off-the-shelf business intelligence (BI) tools or systems developed in-house. Excel spreadsheets remain an integral part of the business ecosystem (to pretty much everyone’s chagrin).

As a sourcing event draws near, all these tools and sources are martialled by the procurement team to develop a negotiating strategy and goals that meet executive demands. Once a deal is reached, the papers are signed, the team moves on to the next negotiation, the insight gained from bringing together all these sources of market intelligence begins to degrade quickly, as the information coming in from the all the various sources changes independently.

The Opportunity

The situation described above is the grim reality for many organizations, but that doesn’t have to remain the case. The rapid evolution of Cognitive Sourcing platforms now provide procurement professionals with the means to monitor all their market intelligence inputs in real time with 360° visibility. Both internal and external data can be managed by one platform and presented in a harmonized model tailored to an organization or team’s specific needs.

Cognitive Sourcing means that procurement professionals now have access to a comprehensive digital platform that can serve as a single source of truth, with the added benefit of real time, on-demand data and information. This empowers a procurement team with the ability to operate nimbly, strategically and proactively as they work towards meeting their organization’s goals.