bp "pushes boundaries" of procurement with Fairmarkit
bp wanted to free up procurement resources to concentrate on value-added procurement activity as well as ensure they were managing their spend and budgets efficiently. To do this, the company wanted to both automate as much of their process as possible and monitor procurement data in real
time to identify efficiencies.
Procurement at bp is an incredibly large operation. The company’s supply chain spans the globe, incorporating functions as varied as drilling for oil, to constructing wind turbines, to operating retail storefronts. In this environment, the procurement team needs to manage spend ranging from billion-dollar specialist equipment to the receipt rolls in cash registers.
“Sourcing and contract negotiations can be quite a manual process,” says Nicholas Wright, Director, Digital and Innovation at bp who is responsible for the way in which bp approaches the market in the digital and innovation space. “It requires careful attention at every step of the process—from capturing and sending the requirements out to suppliers to have them bid on particular requirements or scope, to the selection of a final vendor and the activities required to on-board them. It's an incredibly time- and resource-intensive process.”
bp not only wanted to free up resources to concentrate on value-added procurement activity, they also wanted to ensure they were making the best use of the digital tools avalaible within the marketplace. To do this, bp wanted to be able to both automate as much of the process as possible, as well as monitor and analyze their procurement data at a granular level.
Wright says Fairmarkit is delivering “a great outcome.” He says the platform automates what used to be a manual process to help bp do things faster, with less people. But for Wright, Fairmarkit’s proposition has served another benefit. “It has pushed the boundaries,” he says. “At bp, it was one of our first significant digital platforms, and it is disrupting the way that we work within procurement; it’s actually made people stand up and realize that we can do things differently. As a team and a company, we’re inspired to go out and look for the next Fairmarkit, whatever that may be, and be more aware and open to disrupting other manual processes.”
By working with Fairmarkit to automate processes, bp’s procurement team was able to deliver the same scope automatically that was previously done manually.
“We can now do more with less,” says Wright. “Automation and the capture of data makes our platform infinitely smarter than any one person. We are now using real time data to make accurate decisions—more than one single brain can comprehend.” bp procurement team members are also using data collected from previous transactions to make smarter decisions.
“For instance, if we’re paying for a certain products and services, we can now see how much other organizations pay for those products and services and evaluate whether we’re getting a competitive price,” says Wright. “To be able to do that in real time—on every single transaction—is a level of
transparency that is extremely value-additive. We’re using price history to inform the future.”
Nybl: Saudi Startup to Expand AI Solutions
According to co-founder Nour Alnahhas, nybl was formed for the greater good. A visual data mining and machine learning platform, the platform will help organisations streamline their operations. ‘We wanted to centralise our vision around AI and machine learning’, said Alnahhas. ‘Something not just for profit, but added value. Conscious capitalism’.
Nybl aims to democratise artificial intelligence by making it possible for anyone to build an AI solution. What website builders like Wix and Squarespace did for site design, nybl will do for AI—allowing even non-coders to feel comfortable creating solutions. In fact, Alnahhas calls it a ‘Shopify of AI’, or a third-party platform that helps businesses deliver better service.
With hubs in Kuwait, the UAE, North America, and India, nybl is focused on launching operations in Saudi Arabia, Alnahhas’s home country. When the company first launched, it was difficult to convince Saudi Arabian businesses to work with a startup. Yet now, nybl has proven itself. ‘We had support in the UAE, so now we’re coming back’, said Alnahhas.
Alnahhas has launched a pilot with Saudi Aramco and has slowly built partnerships with paper, heating, HVAC air conditioning, and manufacturing companies. In addition, the Saudi government has started to invest in the Kingdom’s National Strategy for Data and AI, which means that nbyl, as a tech startup, has finally gained credibility.
No War for Talent
One of the most critical parts of nybl’s expansion will be hiring the right individuals. Thankfully, there’s a current surplus of talented researchers, developers, and data scientists within the Kingdom. Like nybl’s Alnahhas—educated at the University of Houston, the Wharton School of Business, and INSEAD— many Saudi Arabians have benefited from government-sponsored education abroad.
Last year, Saudi Arabia signed several partnerships with tech firms to advance the Kingdom’s skills in artificial intelligence. ‘It’s exciting to be in Saudi Arabia where there’s alignment and support’, Alnahhas concluded. ‘You’re getting an increasing talent pool. And even old and big family conglomerates are finally changing to use AI’.