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LEVELING THE PLAYING FIELD ON DATA-DRIVEN INTELLIGENCE: IMPROVED ACCESS AND SMARTER IMPLEMENTATION TO DRIVE GREATER VALUE FOR BUSINESSES

John Callan, Senior Director at Coupa

 

Procurement is a vital component to any successful business, much like the deal closing sales teams working on the other side of the organisation. But in many cases, procurement teams suffer from inadequate intelligence compared to their counterparts.

 

Sales benefits from an abundance of internal and external resources, combining data and analysis to make intelligent informed actions. Market research, customer profiling and a data-driven approach has created a focused and efficient business practice, recognised as directly impacting the bottom line and embraced by the entire business.

 

Procurement is more than capable of delivering these same contributions to an organisation. But in many ways it has been neglected, through a lack of understanding and operating legacy systems based on outdated ideas, holding back its ability to contribute greater value.

 

Outdated solutions

Yesterday’s procurement intelligence solutions are no longer viable. They were developed for siloed organisations and lack the ability to work cohesively with modern business practice. They cannot deliver the insight for procurement to be valued within an organisation.

 

Patchworks of systems, products and processes have created inefficiencies in the exchange of information between buyer and a supplier. The cumbersome and slow nature of these systems lack the intelligence business decision makers need today.

 

Parts of these systems have advanced over time, especially in payments. But this has not been part of a strategic and unified approach and the lack of integration fosters an environment of inefficiency and missed opportunities to optimise.

 

Implementing the right platform

It’s time for procurement to realise the benefits it can – and should – be delivering to businesses. Powerful technology platforms are available to procurement teams that can enable them to provide impactful insights that are equally as strategic as those generated by their colleagues in sales.

 

Business functions including sourcing, approving and onboarding suppliers and purchasing goods, can work together holistically as part of a streamlined process. Implementing smart, integrated solutions that not only simplify core procurement functions but also deliver valuable intelligence and create incredible opportunities for business.

 

For instance, using new insights to: create the most effective category plans, fair market pricing evaluation to maximise savings and analysis of consumption patterns to reduce overall spend,  analysis of preferred supplier compliance, contract usage and buying channel distribution to address savings leakage.

 

These solutions can inform smarter business decisions and deliver applicable insight. Empowering procurement teams and business leaders to focus on the higher value functions of procurement such as negotiating contracts, monitoring supplier performance and strategic sourcing.

 

Data that drives decisions

Millions of data points are locked within the typical procurement process. But most of this data remains inaccessible and unused because procurement teams struggle to turn it into the actionable insights they need. That’s why it’s critical for companies to focus on increasing the maturity of their analytics and intelligence capabilities.

 

The best way in which to do this is by creating ‘open’ data systems that inform a business though a shared pool of information, unifying data resources to maximise the application of intelligence and impact to the business. Delving deeper into the data and creating actionable insights.

 

Data needs to be shared, analysed and available in real-time. It needs to be informed internally and externally, integrated through the business and taking advantage of third party and external sources of information. Through sharing information departments and businesses can see the benefits and drawbacks as they choose suppliers. Costs, delivery times, geography, availability and track/record.

 

Analytics, artificial intelligence, bots, community intelligence and other technologies can work together to improve procurement outcomes. For this to become a reality they need to share the right data and enough data to have an impact.

 

Delivering valuable insight

In today’s data-driven economy, procurement teams need to implement systems that leverage the abundance of data to deliver intelligence that can be turned into actions. This access needs to be at all levels of the business and gather all applicable data, in an open data system.

 

It’s of paramount importance for businesses to change their attitudes to procurement and work with platforms that can realise and deliver the value of data they require. Through a holistic view of procurement and open data systems in-line with sales, significant savings can be made,  inefficiencies removed and with each step in the journey, analytics and intelligence can become more valuable to the business.

 

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Business

STOP THE CONFUSION: HOW TO KNOW IF YOUR BUSINESS MAY BE INSURED AGAINST COVID-19

By Alex Balcombe, Partner at Harris Balcombe

 

The last few weeks has seen businesses in hospitality, tourism, retail, leisure and more forced to close their doors following the Government’s orders that they should close to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

While this is expected to flatten the curve and reduce the number of coronavirus cases, it will of course have an impact on businesses and employees alike.  For small businesses especially, there are many concerns about how they can claim on their insurance to weigh the fall of this impact.

 

Mixed Messaging

In response to calls to help struggling businesses, the Government has informed the public that companies who are facing turmoil will be able to claim on their business interruption insurance during this difficult time. For most, this is wrong.

Alex Balcombe

The insurance industry has also been extremely vocal that there is no cover for any coronavirus-hit businesses during this tough financial period. This isn’t strictly true either.

How can businesses see through the mixed messaging and best secure their future and their livelihoods and reduce money worries? It’s an extremely stressful time for many companies, and confusion over whether or not they can be covered can only cause more unnecessary stress.

Since it’s a new disease, most businesses will not be covered for business interruption due to COVID-19. In fact, the vast majority of policies do not cover anything related to COVID-19.

That said –  don’t rule out the idea that you may be covered. There is a chance that you will be covered against COVID-19, but not know it. This is a very small chance, but your current cover may already protect your business against the consequences of coronavirus, and the nationwide response to it –  though those with this cover are unlikely to realise it.

 

How Could I Be Covered?

Not everyone has business interruption insurance, as it’s not a legal requirement. It is entirely up to the policy holder to weigh up the benefits of having it, and their ability to trade should a disaster happen.

To be considered for cover for COVID-19, there are two types of policy extensions to your business interruption cover that can potentially cover you for this situation:

Infectious Disease Extension 

Many policies expressly state which diseases fall within the realm of being an infectious or notifiable disease. If this is the case, your policy will not provide cover. As it is a new disease, these policies will not have included COVID-19.

Other infectious disease extension policies will define the disease with reference to the actions of the government. Since the UK Government has named COVID-19 as a notifiable disease throughout the UK, it is possible that your business may fall into this definition, thus meaning you may be able to make a claim.

However, again, it’s not always that simple. Many policies require the disease to have been on your premises, while others specify a radius from your premises in order to qualify.

 

Denial of Access Extension (non-damage)

Denial of Access Extension (non-damage) policies may cover you if you’re prevented from accessing your property. This could be due to an event, or by the actions of a competent authority, which could cause your business interruption cover to engage.

If covered by this clause, there are often very subtle differences in wording in your policy. This could depend on the insurer or policy. You may well be covered, but it will depend on your particular circumstances, and the specific policy wording.

 

What now?

It’s clear that the Government needs to do more in ensuring there is clear messaging for businesses, and to help the insurance market look after policy holders. This is an unprecedented situation, and with many people looking to claim on their insurance, we’re already seeing major delays which could have a domino impact.

People throughout the world are understandably facing all kinds of worries because of the current pandemic. Our ways of living have changed, and many business owners will not have experienced a situation like this in their life times. If you own a business and are unsure about whether you can claim for business interruption, or are confused about ambiguous wording, get in touch with a loss assessor.

These claims are not simple, but loss assessors will be experts in business interruption insurance, and will specialise in large and complex claims. They will be able to help and guide you along the way, check your wording and work on your behalf to make sure you get everything you are entitled to.

 

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Business

HARNESSING ANALYTICS IN THE FIGHT AGAINST FRAUD

ANALYTICS

By Anna Lykourina, EMEA Fraud Analytics Expert at SAS

 

In the past, the fight against fraud has been a bit hit-and-miss. It has relied on auditors to identify patterns of behaviour that just didn’t quite fit. They often only detected problems months after the event. And then organisations had to claw back stolen funds through legal processes.

In a world where transactions happen in under a second, however, this is no longer acceptable. We need to be able to detect fraud immediately, if not before it happens. Customers want safe and protected data that is not vulnerable to identity theft through company systems. But they still want to be able to pay online and in seconds. The stakes are high, but fortunately new tools and techniques in fraud analytics are enabling companies to stay ahead of fraud.

 

Trusting machines to do the work

Machines are much better than humans at processing large data sets. They are able to examine large numbers of transactions and recognise thousands of fraud patterns instead of the few captured by creating rules. On the other hand, fraudsters have become adept at finding loopholes. Whatever rules you set, it is likely that they will be able to get ahead of them. But what if your system was able to think for itself, at least to a certain extent?

New approaches to fraud prevention combine rules-based systems with machine learning and artificial intelligence-based fraud detection systems. These hybrid systems are able to detect and recognise thousands of fraud patterns and learn from the data. Automated analytical-based fraud detection systems can reveal novel fraud patterns and identify organised crime more consistently, efficiently and quickly. This makes them a good investment for businesses across a wide range of sectors, including public sector, insurance, banking, and even healthcare or telecommunications.

How, though, can you harness analytics as a tool in your fight against fraud?

 

Identifying needs and solutions

The first step is to identify which options you need. Probably the best way to do this is through a series of company-wide workshops with the fraud analytics experts to determine what analytics you need, which data to include and techniques to use, and what results to report. They can also identify the ideal combination of rules-based and AI/ML approaches to detect fraud as early as possible.

Companies looking towards advanced analytics for fraud detection will need to make a number of decisions. They will need to optimise existing scenario threshold tuning, explore big data, develop and interpret machine learning models for fraud, discover relevant information in text data, and prioritise and auto-route alerts. There may be industry-specific decisions to make, too, such as automating damage analysis through image recognition in the insurance sector. By automating these areas, companies can both significantly reduce human effort – reducing costs – and improve their fraud detection and prevention.

 

Benefits of an analytical approach to fraud detection and prevention

Companies that are already using an analytical approach for fraud prevention have reported several important benefits. First, the quality of referrals for further investigation is better. Investigators also have a much clearer idea of why the referral has been made, which improves the efficiency of investigation. Analytics also improves investigation efficiency by reducing the number of both false positives (that is, alerts that turn out not to be fraud) and false negatives (failure to spot actual frauds). This improves customer experience and reduces risk to the company.

Analytics makes it possible to uncover complex or organised fraud that rules-based systems would miss. Companies can group together customers and accounts with similar behaviors, and then set risk-based thresholds appropriate for each scenario.

There are several sector-specific benefits too. For example, insurance firms can identify fraudulent claims faster to prevent improper payments from going out. Claims investigation is likely to be more consistent because claims are scored through technology, algorithms and analytics, rather than by people. Finally, it becomes possible to shorten the claims process through automated damage analysis. It is no wonder that organizations across a wide range of sectors are placing analytics at the heart of their anti-fraud strategy.

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