Levvel Research was recently invited to Tradeshift’s bi-annual Innovation Summit in New York City. We heard a lot about the tech company’s recent and upcoming software developments and company strategies. The following is a brief recap of our time there from Senior Research Analyst, Major Bottoms Jr.

Without saying a word, Tradeshift wants you to know that they’re not your run-of-the-mill procurement software. From the bottom up, most of the executive team was clad in standard business-casual blazers and jeans. On their feet, however, they sported trendy and exclusive sneakers, like the Nike athletic shoes made in collaboration with fashion label du jour OFF-WHITE. Tradeshift is clearly proud of their Silicon Valley culture, and to a certain extent, their style of dress is emblematic of the company’s strategy as a whole.

They see themselves as operators in the gray area of eProcurement—they want to offer all of the functionality of a standard procurement software, but with creative features you might not see in those solutions. Innovation isn’t only the title of the November summit, but something they have tried to put in the DNA of the company.

The theme of Tradeshift’s Innovation Summit was “What’s your marketplace strategy?” To open the Summit, CEO Christian Lanng reviewed some of what he views as shortcomings in standard eProcurement solutions in the past, and discussed how Tradeshift incorporates these lessons into its product strategy. He went over some of the successes the company had in 2018, but the real focus was on its future, which centers around standing out in an industry that Lanng believes has become unimaginative and stagnant.

Tradeshift doesn’t want to just build a better map, camera, or calendar feature within a standard back-office process software—they want to build an iPhone.

The SVP of Global Product, Thijs Stalenhoef, went over the feature-specific roadmap, which is designed to support a more network-based, collaborative approach to P2P management. The new features and tools include integrating artificial intelligence more thoroughly into the procurement process, and support global supply chain interaction between many different business parties on one interactive network. The network allows organizations to adopt / turn on different software applications that enable their unique business and financial technology requirements.

To illustrate the reasoning behind Tradeshift’s product roadmap, the tone of the summit shifted from the future of the company to the present state of procurement. For this, Tradeshift turned to their new Chief Procurement and Digital Transformation Officer, Roy Anderson, who spoke on how disconnected most supply chains are and how traditional eProcurement systems fail to cure this. Anderson argued that those systems try to apply a “one-size-fits-all” approach to addressing a company’s supply chain, where Tradeshift’s application-based product helps by offering businesses apps they need and nothing they don’t.

He claimed the utility of Tradeshift’s platform helps attract new talent to a dated process, and adjust processes to the fast-paced, competitive, omni-channel business environment. Anderson said the platform also improves speed to delivery, accuracy, and facilitates an immediate feedback loop to support a dynamic and resilient supply chain operation.

Our general impression? Tradeshift doesn’t want to just build a better map, camera, or calendar feature within a standard back-office process software—they want to build an iPhone. In other words, they want to change how companies are viewing procurement automation entirely, and to consider the value of a P2P marketplace, not just a technology, for transforming spend management. Attempting to change the way companies approach procurement automation is a big bet, but it could certainly pay off.