Looking back at a phenomenal week here at Fairmarkit

September 28, 2023

The Fairmarkit team is riding an awesome wave of momentum coming into this week. Before I get into the new GenAI Strategic Sourcing product drop from Tuesday, I’d love to look back to last week and share some cool updates: 

1. We had the Amazon Business team onsite for an awesome workshop brainstorming how we can continue driving more value for joint customers using our Integrated Quoting functionality. Amazon drinks their own champagne by being power users of this functionality. Here’s what they had to say about it:

“What an improvement for our customers!" says Kelly How, Digital Procurement Lead for Amazon Procurement, "We are not only speeding up and automating the requesting for quotes process, but we will also achieve additional discounts with bulk orders via Amazon Business. It is great that this is fully integrated in our Fairmarkit environment.”

2. We’ve been thrilled with the engagement from the extended SAP community. Last week, both sides announced that Fairmarkit saw one of the fastest paths ever to the ‘SAP Spotlight Program’. Here’s a blog post by SAP covering this journey. Shout out to the Ariba product team themselves for not just being in the top right of the G2 Crowd Review P2P quadrant, but for winning by a marathon :)

3. We reached a large development milestone in our joint product work with ServiceNow’s new Sourcing and Procurement Operations platform - SPO. SPO is an exciting entry into the procurement space, centering the end user experience and orchestrating complex processes across enterprises. The Fairmarkit integration allows users to seamlessly and automatically source goods and services without ever leaving the Servicenow interface. This co-development has been in the works for a long time, and it’s exciting to be approaching the finish line! Shout out to Colby and Kirsten for being named to one of the top spots in Procurement Magazine.

4. We launched a platform-wide redesign aimed at improving the user experience and performance across all customers. As you can imagine, everybody at Fairmarkit was on standby ready for bugs or disgruntled users. Shockingly, the launch was awesome - thought it’d fun to share the below email chain from the head of procurement at one of our customers:
At launch: “All my buyers are complaining!”
1 hour later: “We’re starting to get the hang of this.”
Another hour passes: “Okay, we figured it out 😀”

5. We’re striving to be the best-in-class GenAI leader within sourcing and procurement, and as part of that we need to go above and beyond from a security standpoint. To that point, last week we took a tangible step in that direction with our LLM partner who approved us for enhanced security measures. This helps us strengthen our position on data privacy & security in GenAI.

6. A Fairmarkit customer that also happens to be one of the largest companies in the world ran a head-to-head NPS internal survey of Fairmarkit against another leading strategic sourcing solution they also have in-house. The result was an overwhelming 57 NPS for Fairmarkit, with over half the users giving us 10/10, against a negative 47 for the competing platform (104 score delta). Loved hearing about the win, but we still have crazy positive urgency to continue improving on a daily basis (per the Hulu series The Bear - “Every second counts”).

Net-net: Action packed week filled with plenty of momentum, but, as always, on to the next!

Looking ahead - Another massive week follows!

Strategic Sourcing Launch

On Tuesday, we prepared Fairmarkit and the industry for the launch of our Strategic Sourcing solution, which brings the strength of Fairmarkit’s Autonomous Sourcing solution to a painful yet important strategic sourcing process. This launch takes everything that made us a leading tail spend solution, and then adds powerful capabilities like AI-driven RFP, RFI, reverse auctions, and our new GenAI sourcing intake that I have been teasing out for a couple months now. 

Fairmarkit RFP process

Why Strategic Sourcing? 

We’ve spent the last 5 years laser focused on establishing ourselves as the #1 Autonomous Sourcing platform for Tail Spend, and I’m proud to say that we have been successful with that. During this journey, our customers have realized the value that Fairmarkit brings both tactically and strategically. Just as importantly, they valued how well we complement their existing P2P’s (whether they have 1 instance or 100+), as digital projects and solutions need to cohesively integrate to deliver a simplified and personalized experience for the users - which is exactly why we have established and continue to prioritize partnerships with P2P providers.

With customers treating us like partners, the discussions soon turned into them pushing us to explore other areas where automation and AI can play a huge role. The core strategy was to approach new product areas with a mindset of: What’s the business output our customer is trying to drive, and can we use AI, GenAI, ML, or basic automation to achieve it vs building “another button.”

The real gap that we noticed wasn’t that we need to build another tool with the same features as existing strategic sourcing solutions, ones that solve for every outlier and corner case. Instead, we saw through our interviews that the biggest pain point for strategic sourcing is the lack of adoption of these traditional solutions, leading to most RFPs today still being done via Excel or Word - highly manual effort. 

To call out; our approach is to stay focused on the 80% of strategic sourcing that people run 98% of the time, and make those areas exponentially faster and easier for users (business users or procurement users). While doing this, we pulled from the experience we have with autonomous sourcing for Tail Spend, which has led to us running more sourcing events than any company in the world (our in-house integrations, AI supplier discovery, and AI autonomous sourcing has resulted in the avg buyer running 127 events/week), and we see that lead only continuing to grow as we further expand out our position as the Tail Spend market leader.

During this evolution, we even looked into all the things that make Strategic Sourcing distinct from Tail Spend. Mainly, it requires a crazy amount of painful collaboration between the business users and procurement buyers. We’ve heard and seen it all, from generic word docs or excels, static forms, late night emails, to 20+ person “RFP prep strategy meetings.” We were surprised to learn how little was given to category managers and strategic buyers when it came to collecting the requirements and setting up strategic sourcing events in a way that followed their company’s policies and procedures. When we unpacked that further, we saw why it was so hard, companies had tons of policies across the org, then tons of procedures for each geography, category, and team (insert mind-blown emoji here).  How can procurement leaders expect their business users and buyers to know and follow all of them, especially when they’re continuously changing.

This is where Generative AI became beyond exciting to us. Also, honestly, we just got lucky. While we were diving into this problem, GenAI hit an absolute vertical climb. Whether it was OpenAI, Meta, Google or any of the other Large Language Models (LLMs), all were (and are still) changing the definition of what it means to “iterate fast.” 

So we created our own SWAT team composed of Fairmarkit engineers, data scientists, and most importantly customer collaborators. 

Main Goal: Simplify the Intake to RFx open process

Measured By:

  • # of requests created
  • # of RFx’s opened
  • Savings driven from above activities
  • Reduction in intake-to-RFx open timeline
  • Reduction in intake-to-RFx effort
  • User satisfaction (eNPS) 

Business Goals: 

  • Cost Savings
  • Cycle Time Reduction
  • Increased Policy Adherence (risk reduction)

We first built and tested user flows for end users to interact with LLMs, then the user journey for procurement buyers to interact with LLMs and also create SOW’s, and then using LLMs to help optimize how the sourcing events were created. We also trained it to take into account the policies and procedures mentioned above, along with internal and external data sourced (historical RFx’s, templates, SOW’s, rate cards, catalogs, contracts…etc). 

Fairmarkit KIT UI

With security already being accounted for, we launched the GenAI Sourcing Intake beta on 8/1 and have been iterating weekly with customers since then. To be upfront, it’s not perfect and it’s not a silver bullet. It’ll never be. Our goal is if we can amplify the process with AI, and bring it 80% of the way, then humans can assist with the remaining 20% (maybe that’s 95%/5% in the future, but not possible from a tech standpoint today).

During all of this, we started to get more attention on GenAI and have been invited to speak at conferences, participate in webinars for other AI companies, and even had an article on AI and GenAI published in Forbes. We’ve also crowdsourced countless new GenAI sourcing use cases across our customers, and our data science team is committed to releasing a handful of new “delighters” every quarter from here on out.

If you’ve made it this far…then our Marketing leader Niket will have lost his bet that no-one in their right mind will read a blog this long 🙂.

In Summary: Fairmarkit has always been an Autonomous Sourcing platform for Tail Spend, we’re now expanding to include Strategic Sourcing as well. Customers can partner with us for one or both offerings. 

As stated above, we provide the most value by integrating and partnering with our customer’s existing P2P’s, that way the end user doesn’t feel like procurement is bringing in “another” platform. 

Fired up for this next stage in our journey with customers and partners…LFG

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