ProcureTechSTARS with Sammeli Sammalkorpi

ProcureTechSTARS with Sammeli Sammalkorpi, CEO and Co-Founder of Sievo

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Sammeli Sammalkorpi, CEO and Co-Founder of Sievo, a Procurement Analytics SaaS Solution combining best-of-breed spend management software with world-class services and value-added content.

During the conversation, Sammeli shared his thoughts on creativity, customer interdependency, sculpting brands, innovation and … non-alcoholic beer

1. What’s Sievo’s mission? What is your USP / point of differentiation?         

Sievo’s mission is to turn dirty procurement data into insights and actions and create business value.

When you think about a large company, they typically have multiple data assets: internal data sets in ERP systems, various documents systems and then more data in external services, supply risk, commodity prices and CO2 data. Procurement organisations have a lot of data.

“But the challenge nowadays is not so much around data acquisition, it’s how can you process that dirty data and translate it into relevant insights that will influence your business decisions that will create the business value. This doesn’t always have to be through cost savings, but for the wider procurement mandate such as risk, sustainability and supplier diversity for example.”
2. What have been the most significant milestones on the Sievo journey so far? 

With our first customer, we spent money on fixing loads of problems as that is where they wanted to take us. Since then, we’ve been able to learn and adapt and become more available for our clients to create better products for them. We have been able to co-develop great solutions with our clients, such as a CO2 analytics solution by responding to market demand and help clients understand the impact of their operations within the purchase of goods and services in their upstream ecosystem.

“We want to be an innovative company, but we believe it’s best done with our customers.”
3. What do you look for in the perfect customer? What do they look for in you?

We look for a customer where we can create value for them and have a similar culture to work with. For instance, we need to have enough knowledge around volume and complexity to help a large organization with $1 billion in spend. Then we have to consider multiple kinds of data assets which can exist across many external platforms that we can work with. Also, we want customers to see us as not only a software supplier, but a partner to help drive digital transformation, data driven cultures and helps sculpt their brand into what they want.

There are two major trends in how digital procurement is changing.

“Firstly, companies previously felt that when you have SAP you can solve all your challenges: it’s not true anymore. There’s so much innovation and investment in the procurement software landscape right now and there is no one player that can keep up with it all. This provides a great opportunity for companies to capture best of breed solutions and combine them with more transactional operational systems.
Secondly is the mandate of procurement. No longer is it purely about cost savings. Customers now seek supplier diversity, ability to tackle sustainability issues, ESG and more.”

If procurement can position itself as the external interface to the upstream ecosystem by capturing and processing all of that data for the benefit of the company, this creates a completely new perspective on the benefits of digital procurement by using data to create a competitive advantage.

4. What are the foundations of a great team?

At Sievo, we encourage interdependency amongst our colleagues, but also with our customers. We embrace a team that can push the unexpected and be creative. I definitely believe that recruiting is an important business decision. Then within the team, it’s about creating the right level of trust so they can truly collaborate and encompass a feeling of safety.

5. As we emerge from COVID what will you be doing differently?

Sievo has always adopted a flexible way of working, but going forward we will for sure adopt a more hybrid approach. We want to provide people with more freedom and flexibility and to be more remote. I think that is a no brainer for a company like us.

At the same time, I really believe to create this high trust and high interdependency I mentioned you need to create a social connection that can only be created in the physical office setting, like catching up by the desk, at the water cooler, over coffee. We believe that the office will become less of a space for actual work, but more of a social hub. We need to find ways to get people to the office: it gets dark and rainy in the Winter months in Finland, so it’s easier to stay home. This makes us think about how we can make the office space, exciting enough for people to join and create social connections; I think that’s an interesting challenge.

6. What is the vision for Sievo for the future and what will be most important to achieve it?
“I think there are multiple agendas that the company and I want to drive. We believe that procurement analytics can be done better than it’s done today and we believe Sievo is a great place that can push transformation to become a global leader in procurement analytics and change how it is done.”

I do believe Sievo has scratched the surface. We have a great growth story: we have over 220 people and I feel we are in a position where we really can start impacting the world and add a sprinkle of excitement.

If we can create an organisation where people can really thrive and enjoy their lives and take pride in their work, then I know Sievo has done well.

I’ve said many times before that money is not really the motivation. I’d rather die knowing I’ve had fun at Sievo than being very rich but having nobody around me from the company!

7. How are you doing good for the planet?

Sievo started 18 years ago. I really believe that the climate crisis is the most fundamental challenge our generation is facing and what I’ve come to realise, and I guess the whole industry, is that larger organizations can have a bigger impact as a result of their wide operations, budgets, goods, services, and CO2 emissions.

If there’s one positive impact Sievo can have on the planet, it’s helping our clients to have visibility on their CO2 footprint and driving that down: this has the potential to be massive, given the nature of some of our clients.

INSTANT SAMMELI INSPIRATION

1. What is your favourite book or blog & why?

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Amy Wallace and Edwin Catmull.

They wonderfully explain how creating effective and operational processes is one thing, but creating good creative organizations is a different challenge.

How do you combine this need for independence and creativity? How do you foster that? It’s about questioning how to impose control at the same time whilst not letting people working on something for 20 years without results. That has been a great source of inspiration.

2. Who is your favourite inspirational leader & why?

I’d like to think of that bit differently: I tend to look at people around me and try to identify a trait or behaviour pattern from those people. If they do it very well, I try to learn by example which inspires me each day. For example, in my role as youth soccer coach, I constantly try to, not only teach kids about soccer and life, but to learn from those great individuals something.

3. What is your favourite app or piece of technology?

This is a difficult one. I’m not sure if I really have one. I do spend a lot of time just reading the news on my phone. I like to read the Helsingin Sanomat.

4. What is your favourite cocktail?

I try to go for more non-alcoholic options now, for instance when I complete the day at 9pm I have this daily habit of relaxing and if I feel like it, I have a drink but minus the alcohol – you still get the same sensation but you don’t get the sub negative effect.

5. What’s your favourite way to celebrate a success?  

I’m an old-fashioned guy here. I think it’s about getting together with the team and taking time to enjoy the moment. I love the question because when you’re an entrepreneur, work is very much your life and so are the people involved. We are all easily exposed to a negative version of the world through the news and social media, so it’s important to reflect on the successes and enjoy your view while on the way up.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

1. There is no single digital procurement platform for companies to operate on.

2. Create business value from data – beyond cost savings will create greater sustainable benefit.

3. Work with clients to create innovative, meaningful solutions.

4. A matching culture benefits working relationships.

5. Interdependency is invaluable in a team and with customers.

6. Create an organisation where people can thrive, enjoy and take pride in their work.

7. Embrace a team that can push the unexpected and be creative.

About Sievo

Sievo is the procurement analytics solution for data-driven enterprises. Sievo gives procurement, finance and leadership teams a single source of truth and radical transparency to all sourcing decisions.

Sievo bridges the data-to-action gap and powers agile procurement by combining AI with procurement expertise. Sievo’s software solutions include Spend Analytics, Savings Lifecycle Management and Materials Forecasting. In addition, Sievo are pioneers in CO2 Analytics which enables enterprise businesses measure Scope 3 carbon emissions across the supply chain.

About ProcureTechSTARS

Our industry is moving forward faster and faster, empowered by innovative, progressive digital procurement solutions created and led by inspiring teams. ProcureTechSTARS are the digital procurement company CEOs and Founders that are leading the change, they are entrepreneurs, engineers and architects collaborating to transform procurement and the enterprise. In an open conversation with these leaders Lance Younger will be discussing the highs and lows of building the future now, the challenges they’ve faced, their perspective on accelerators and hot topics, and what keeps getting them up in the morning (and keeps them up at night).

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