Q&A: Doing more with less: How The Smart Cube is enabling companies in the Industrials sector

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Sulabh Pansari talks about the challenges facing the Industrials sector, and how The Smart Cube delivers value to businesses through its new solutions and intelligence platform. 

What are the top challenges that our clients in the Industrials sector face today?
While this vast sector encompasses many distinct sub-sectors, we see some common challenges affecting all Industrials companies – from engineering and aerospace to chemicals and utilities – including volatile commodity markets, risk management, productivity, sustainability, regulatory burdens and cost inflation. Inability to decipher large quantities of data, to potentially solve these challenges, is another big focus area for the industry.

For our clients, typically in procurement and supply chain functions, these challenges are against a backdrop of having to do ‘more with less’ – while the function’s remit has expanded, budgets and resources have generally shrunk.

How are we helping our clients tackle the challenges you have mentioned? Could you share examples?
Addressing these challenges requires a combination of things - complete visibility of procurement, proactive risk management, access to high quality data, and strong data analytics capabilities, – as well as the time and resources to focus on areas with highest opportunities. Clients seek our expertise and support in all these areas, both tactical and strategic.

At the moment for example, we are working on a low-cost country assessment and supply base analysis for an aerospace and defence company; a commodity volatility strategy for an industrial materials manufacturer; category management support for an engineering company; and price and inflation forecasting, as well as KPI benchmarking, for a steel manufacturer.

To go into a bit more detail, we recently supported a global steel manufacturer to meet its objective of improving cost efficiencies, through a combination of activities: identifying opportunities to source from low-cost alternatives and supporting the eAuction procurement process. In the first two sourcing rounds alone, our support influenced significant percentage savings, and a more stable, diverse supplier base.

Can you tell more about your Industrials solutions, and how you deliver them?
We have recently launched new tailored solutions for the sector – Category Excellence, Commodity Volatility, Supply Chain Analytics and Supplier Engagement – which we deliver through a unique fusion of talent, tech and tools. Talent comes in the form of Industrials specialists, with extensive sector experience and understanding. Tech and tools come through Amplifi, our organisational intelligence platform, which contains a wealth of enabling assets – knowledge capital, cutting-edge tools, and advanced analytics – for our specialists to leverage to deliver client work.

Take Category Excellence as an example – it’s an end-end solution for category managers, providing the real-time insight needed for effective and strategic category management. We take clients’ internal spend, savings, compliance and contracts data, and integrate it with external information on supply market dynamics, cost trends, innovations and potential disruptions. This gives category managers access to real-time insights on questions they may have – questions such as, ‘What are the top five categories with the maximum spend?’, ‘What are the top five categories with the maximum margin for improvement?’ or ‘Are there any risks I need to worry about in my spend categories’? The right intelligence enables better, faster sourcing decisions across categories, helps manage risk, and can drive innovation with suppliers.

How has our approach evolved to add more value to our clients?
Technology-enabled bespoke solutions have become the key value driver for our clients. Advanced algorithms and visualisation technologies augmented with our experience and tools on Amplifi, enable our clients to see through their internal data and marry it with external insights. These insights are leveraged by category teams to proactively reach out to their suppliers as well as internal stakeholders.

As an example, we have a team of aero and marine engineers supporting category teams of our defence clients. These specialists use analytics to dig deep into spend data and then marry it with market movements and supplier risk. In another example, using hundreds of RFx templates from our database and combining it with our Ariba/SciQuest expertise, we substantiality decrease the lead time to market for clients across direct and indirect categories.

Sulabh Pansari

Sulabh Pansari

Sulabh leads the Industrials sector practice for The Smart Cube. In his role, he ensures delivery excellence for existing and new client relationships. He is an engineering graduate from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, India, and has more than 12 years’ work experience in research and analytics. Sulabh spends a lot of his free time running around after his young son, and also likes to travel, especially adventure activities involving wildlife.

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