Insights for Procure-to-Pay and Finance Leaders

Shift Happened. Christian Lanng discusses Tradeshift’s debut in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Procure-to-Pay Suites

Gartner just placed Tradeshift as a Visionary in the 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Procure-to-Pay Suites. To us, being placed in the visionary quadrant as a FIRST TIME ENTRY is unheard of and a phenomenal achievement. 

Download your complimentary copy of the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Procure-to-Pay Suites here.

We’re both very proud and a little humbled that Gartner recognized our position in the industry.*

I sat down with Christian Lanng, co-founder and CEO of Tradeshift, to hear his thoughts on this historic achievement.

Matt Vermeulen: Tradeshift just got placed as a visionary in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for P2P Suites. Let’s talk about why. We believe one of the reasons why we were placed here is because of our disruptive multi-tier network PaaS approach. What does this mean to you, Christian?

Christian Lanng: In the space of two weeks, we launched the first cloud platform for connected supply chain payments and announced our Series E funding round and $1.1 billion valuation. And now we’re celebrating our placement in the 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Procure-to-Pay Suites. To me, our placement validates something really simple we’ve believed all along: at a core level, business is about connecting companies.

When you think about procurement in the past, it was so expensive to connect companies over multiple systems. In a disconnected world, one that’s fragmented and offline, it’s too expensive for companies to invest in connecting: it’s just not worth it.

At Tradeshift, we started with the simple vision that we already have the technologies to connect companies 100 percent digitally. That’s our starting point. And when you start digitizing companies, when you start making it easier to get things in the cloud, it becomes much cheaper and easier to connect. Digitally connecting all businesses to the economy is the first part of the revolution.

The second part of the revolution is apps. With apps, we set out to answer another set of questions: if everybody is connected, if there’s no friction in connectivity, why keep building different networks and portals for different tools over and over again? What if, instead of starting all over again for every new project and onboarding all of your suppliers all over again from scratch, you could just activate an app on the platform of your choice and distribute that to all of your suppliers? We believe everything is going to be networked and everything is going to be apps. That’s how we’re already living as consumers. We already have these seamlessly connected smartphones with integrated and connected apps. We’re dedicated to bringing the value of a connected app experience to the Tradeshift platform.

So when people talk about us being disruptive, what we think they really mean is that we’re implementing a multi-tiered interconnected network that runs multiple processes and apps on the same network. You don’t have to start over all the time. That’s the revolution.

MV: The second reason we think we’ve been recognized is Tradeshift Ada. We believe that our AI offers supplier matching and invoice to PO mapping. Talk about why that’s an important part of the Tradeshift ecosystem.

CL: Once everyone’s connected, once digital is the default, then you get to automate processes that used to be manual. The amount of time it took to match invoices with POs used to be ridiculous. For some companies it still is. But now that we have millions of digitized documents, transactions, and data points, and a whole network of businesses working from that data, we can make the work far easier by using Artificial Intelligence to sort those documents in a fraction of the time. For us, that’s our AI assistant, Tradeshift Ada.

Simple questions that used to take hours or days to answer like, “how much did I spend last week?” or “What invoices have been already approved?” Ada can answer in seconds. Ada, paradoxically, gives a more personable face to how we engage with the supply chain. Ada allows us to create value-add for the people using our platform.

And let’s be frank: you’re not logging into your procurement system every day just to check out what’s new. You just don’t use these tools every day. But with Ada, you get to have a personal assistant who knows at a fundamental and instantaneous level how to best use the platform.

MV: In our view, a third reason we’re positioned in the Visionaries Quadrant is based on Tradeshift’s growing global client base. What’s been the genesis of Tradeshift’s global reach?

CL: Tradeshift Ada, apps, digitization: all of this comes from our goal to connect all companies. Tradeshift is truly a global solution. We have access to suppliers in more than 190 countries. We have offices in 14 countries. We’re one of only two companies in the world that have a tax license to operate in China. We’ve built a global customer base. We have massive companies in China, North America, Europe, and all over the world leveraging the Tradeshift platform to be more efficient and connected to our user base than we’ve seen before.

MV: Why do you think Tradeshift has been successful?

CL: So much of our success is because we’re not afraid to rethink and change the approach to solving problems in the supply chain. Over the last 20 to 30 years, companies have tried to solve the same problems the same way. Every solution was based around using brute force to coerce suppliers into using buyers’ tools. To push suppliers into solutions they didn’t ask for. To wait as long as possible to pay suppliers. And guess what: the results were abysmal. They still are. Most digital conversion rates come in at a paltry 5-10 percent.

We’ve been a pioneer advocating for new solutions to the same problems. We work to make digital the default. Starting at 100 percent digital should only be the start of the change. We should work to build stronger buyer-supplier relationships, not just bludgeoning suppliers on the head with our solution. With greater connectivity should come greater collaboration. It’s our belief that technology is going to drive a bigger change in this whole space and industry in the next three years than it has in the last 30, and based off our vision and success, we think we’ll be the clear leaders in this space.

*Gartner Magic Quadrant for Procure-to-Pay Suites, Desere Edwards, William McNeill, Magnus Bergfors, Patrick M Connaughton, Kaitlynn N. Sommers, 29 May 2018. Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.