At the recent eWorld Procurement and Supply event, Paddy Lawton, founder of Spend360, the analytics firm bought by Coupa earlier this year, spoke about The Inside Story: From Machine Learning to Procurement Benefit Realisation. The session was presented in conjunction with consulting firm Xoomworks, who are probably the leading implementers of large-scale Coupa programmes in the UK.

Lawton started by explaining why understanding cost is not as simple as it might sound for large organisations. Is the spend data accurate? Are the units of measure understood and consistent? What about currencies, let alone just understanding the many different ways in which “IBM” might be recorded in your payables ledger. That’s why executives spend a lot of time “trawling though spreadsheets”, just to try and get a clear view of spend basics – how much, with whom, by whom, etc. The whole issue comes down to classifying unstructured data, he said.

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