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Amazon Business brings procurement into the digital era

Everyone knows (and loves) Amazon Prime for its fast, free shipping and wealth of associated benefits.  Lesser known is that Amazon has a Business platform that offers similar benefits to help companies simplify the procurement process.

“Corporate procurement is really hard and cumbersome,” said David Stout (pictured), head of global alliances and partnerships of Amazon Business. “We’re really trying to focus on [bringing] that experience [of Amazon Prime] for consumers. Taking that same ease of use and experience to the business world.”

Stout spoke with Lisa Martin (@LisaMartinTV) and Stu Miniman (@stu), co-hosts of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s mobile livestreaming studio, during the recent AWS re:Invent conference in Las Vegas. They discussed the impact of digital transformation on the procurement process and how data has aligned IT and procurement goals. (* Disclosure below.)

Bringing consumer simplicity to business procurement

Just as Amazon Prime offers exclusive deals and membership privileges to consumers, Business Prime offers similar features aimed at business customers. And just as the Prime membership is part of the wider Amazon sales platform, the Business Prime program is part of Amazon Business.

Amazon Business focuses on four verticals: healthcare, education, government and commercial, offering custom solutions for each. “The needs of a small dentist office are going to be different than the needs of an industrial manufacturing organization,” Stout said. “So, we continue to find solutions sensible to the needs of each.”

While the program has a long way to go to meet the market saturation of its consumer cousin, adoption is growing thanks to Stout’s efforts to educate customers about how Amazon can help transform their procurement practices. “We have 55% of the Fortune 100 list customers, we have 80% of the largest educational institutions in the U.S. as customers, we have greater than 50% of the largest health systems in the U.S. as customers already, and greater than 40% of the largest municipalities in the United States,” Stout stated.

Customers are seeing benefits by streamlining their operations, driving greater efficiencies, and, most importantly, by providing “a better end-user experience that they’re used to from their home purchasing,” Stout said.

Data streamlines procurement processes

Information technology and procurement might seem odd bedfellows, but the digital transformation of business operations is aligning the strategies of both departments. According to a study performed by Amazon Business and the procurement industry event and services facilitator ProcureCon, over 55% of procurement industry executives said that their goals are either fully aligned or mostly aligned with the goals of the IT department.

“What you’re starting to see is a lot more focus on how do we use artificial intelligence, how do we use robotic process automation, how to use machine learning to find new opportunities to drive efficiencies within those operations,” Stout said.

Purchasing is not the only area where IT and procurement overlap. Seventy percent of respondents in the Amazon Business-ProcureCon study said that their security strategy is shared jointly between their IT and their procurement teams.

Highlighting once again the link between IT and procurement, Amazon Business is built on the AWS platform and shares its world-class cloud security features. This provides a level of safety “that I think gives most of us comfort,” Stout said. “What we’re seeing and continually seeing is that there’s a convergence between the IT strategies and the procurement strategies.”

Watch the complete video interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of the AWS re:Invent event. (* Disclosure: Amazon Business sponsored this segment of theCUBE. Neither Amazon nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

Photo: SiliconANGLE

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