Hi Scott, welcome to our Fintech Interview Series. Please tell us about your tech journey so far. How did you get into financial technology in the first place?
I found my way into financial technology through a series of diverse roles and experiences throughout my career. I started in management consulting at Ernst & Young, where for eight years I focused on business transformation and ERP deployment in the fintech-oriented space for SAP, Coca Cola, Metlife, EY, Morgan Stanley and a number of other Fortune 500 clients. Then at the front end of the .com boom, I embarked on a new path running operations for e-business integrator Proxicom. The core of our business was building websites and e-commerce capabilities for the likes of Goldman Sachs, and AOL during the web boom.
Upon the proverbial “Bubble” bursting, Proxicom was acquired by Dimension Data, a leading systems integrator and one of Cisco Systems largest resellers and integrators globally.
I spent the next 17 years focused on corporate network infrastructure and solutions (network, unified communications, security, data center, cloud), eventually becoming the COO for the Americas region and the president of the North American market. I had the opportunity to be a part of Dimension Data’s transition into cloud services, significantly contributing to the company’s growth. We served some of the largest financial institutions in the world, including HSBC, which became one of our largest customers.
With the emergence of SaaS, I was ready for a career transition and took on the role of chief operating officer at Granicus, a government technology and citizen engagement company backed by Vista Private Equity and Harvest Partners. During my tenure, the company experienced substantial growth, with revenue increasing tenfold.
In 2021, when SpendHQ approached me for the CEO position, I considered three key factors before joining its team:
(1) belief in the product, Spend Intelligence,
(2) confidence in the team’s capabilities, and
(3) the potential to bring operational maturity and accelerated growth to their emerging software business.
SpendHQ, at that time, was a business unit of Insight Sourcing Group, a leading procurement consulting firm, and had not been run by a full-time CEO. The opportunity was a great fit for my skill sets and passion for helping scale and grow companies, so I jumped at the chance and took the job.
Now as the CEO of SpendHQ, I bring my twenty-six years of experience in delivering results, leading organizational change and transformation, and managing complex business operations to drive the company forward in the fintech and procuretech spaces.
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My goal is to inspire teams to deliver exceptional results and continue building a successful and innovative software business.
Please tell us a little bit about the services provided by SpendHQ.
We view ourselves as upstream, not downstream, in the procurement value chain. We close a longstanding gap between spend insights, procurement strategy, and execution.
For far too long, there wasn’t a unified platform available that delivers spend insights, ingests them into a pipeline, establishes projects, and enables the management, tracking, and execution of those opportunities to deliver bottom-line savings or advance other corporate strategic ESG goals such as diversity or carbon reduction.
That is exactly what we set out to do – and are doing – at SpendHQ.
We elevate the impact that procurement teams of over 450 customers have on corporate objectives. Here’s how:
We help our customers globally gain a comprehensive understanding of their spending patterns by providing detailed intelligence into where with whom, and when they spend. We ingest all of their spend data, not just their P2P data, but all sources, and utilize our AI/ML engine to normalize and categorize the spend into a procurement-focused taxonomy.
By analyzing the spend data, we help customers uncover crucial information about suppliers, categories, and purchasing trends, enabling organizations to make informed sourcing and procurement decisions and identify potential areas to drive savings or advance other corporate goals such as enhancing their spend with diverse suppliers.
We go beyond providing simple spend data. Our advanced analytics capabilities enable us to extract meaningful spend intelligence from the vast amount of procurement data collected. We apply data modeling, predictive analytics, and AI/machine learning techniques to uncover hidden patterns, identify cost-saving opportunities, and support strategic decision-making.
Procurement Performance Management:
Our solution provides customers with the tools and resources they need to measure, track, report, and improve their procurement performance. By centralizing procurement performance projects, with financial and non-financial goals, establishing key performance indicators, and leveraging real-time data, organizations can effectively evaluate their progress, identify areas of underperformance, and implement targeted strategies to enhance procurement performance.
Said another way, you would never run a sales team without Salesforce or a CRM to track and manage sales opportunities. That is the gap our Procurement Performance Management solution fills; a platform for procurement teams to manage and report on the opportunities they are executing to drive savings and corporate objectives.
How do you see emerging tech play a key role in how newer fintech innovations are built/developed?
Artificial intelligence is disrupting and will continue to disrupt the fintech solutions market for the foreseeable future. AI will be transformative to generating insights and looking at organizations’ data via a private generative AI model. Utilizing AI, we’re able to look across the $7 trillion in spend that we have analyzed to build benchmarks and use that benchmarking data to drive improvements to enterprise spend behaviors and execute on savings opportunities.
Another thing to consider: customer centricity, ease of design, and ultimately ease of use will win in this market. Thus, we at SpendHQ have an opportunity to provide the easiest, most intuitive spend intelligence and PPM software in this space.
As a fintech/procuretech provider, we touch every business segment, because fintech/procuretech touches every business segment. We work across all industries and all sizes of enterprises as evidenced by our 450 enterprise customers. Whether heavy in indirect spend or both direct and indirect, our solution is a great fit for those enterprises that truly want to understand their enterprise spend and then act on the insights to drive savings.
How will the fintech segment evolve in the coming years? Which industries will benefit most from the latest innovations in fintech and how?
Industries across the board are grappling with shared hurdles. Be it pharmaceuticals, consumer packaged goods, manufacturing retail, etc., common obstacles such as working across data silos, restricted transparency, lack of stakeholder collaboration, and more, are impeding the progress of the procurement and finance functions.
It’s precisely this reason that we engage with a wide spectrum of industries. Our objective is to deliveran integrated procurement platform that drives transparency, enhances operational efficiency, eliminates silos, fosters interdisciplinary collaboration, and propels holistic outcomes that extend beyond mere cost reduction. This epitomizes the future landscape of financial technology, and we are excited to stand at the brink of this innovation.
What are some of the top features that upcoming fintech apps will need to have in order to enable better finance management?
Artificial intelligence, specifically machine learning, will be transformative in procurement. We’re working with generative AI in our business, and running proofs of concept, as many other companies are, because it has the ability to continue to evolve or potentially even revolutionize the data categorization and normalization process. We see it as a powerful trend.
In the meantime, we’re utilizing AI/ML to power our flagship solutions, Spend Intelligence and PPM, that deliver bottom-line financial results as well as advancing corporate objectives around Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) and other non-financial value drivers.
Using AI/ML, SpendHQ enables teams to surpass conventional cost-saving approaches and unlock enterprise-wide value by driving ethical and sustainable procurement, process improvement, and efficiency gains.
Given that the intersection between procurement and ESG is relatively new, many organizations face challenges navigating this territory. That’s where we step in, using our expertise to assist our customers in aligning their procurement practices with ESG objectives. Our goal is to empower businesses to drive continuous improvement, achieve their sustainability and ethical goals, and navigate the complexities of ESG integration in a measurable and meaningful way.
What are some of the biggest fintech challenges for the B2B sector today that teams face when it comes to the adoption and selection of the best fintech stack to drive efforts and goals?
Data. Any enterprise of scale that has gone through acquisitions and has expanded across multiple geographies could have several dozen ERPs and systems of record for data. It is very difficult to properly drive and execute your strategy unless you understand your data. It all starts with the foundation of accurate, quality data. As an example, for one customer, we’ve pulled data from 35 ERPs to give our customers accurate, consistent, repeatable visibility into their enterprise spend, which is critical.
What differentiates us from other spend analysis solution providers is, we are a full spend technology stack. When there are complex data sets, it’s much easier to partner or work with us to pull that data as opposed to trying to build it internally or going with a suite provider. Our competitors in the procure-to-pay space only provide spend visibility that’s flowing through their systems, which, in the best case, is just 65-70%. Total spend visibility is just not there – they’re not going to get that holistic view of their spend.
Another challenge is, for those companies that have another spend analysis solution, it still comes down to execution – what do you do with those insights? You still need to take those spend insights and convert them into savings opportunities, or opportunities to drive more value. We created that category – and we are the market leader in that category.
Your favorite FinanceTech quote.
Two quotes come to mind – one from Tom Creighton, who said, “Software eats expertise,” and Peter Drucker, who famously said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” But, who said you can’t have them both?
Our business starts with the foundation of a customer-centric software design, our team, and our culture, which leads to software that is differentiated within the market and distinctly run by experts. A large number of our employees are domain experts having been ex-procurement practitioners or consultants. Thus, we’ve built a firm with experts whose knowledge we embed in our software driving amazing outcomes (and the highest returns on investment) for our customers.
We believe, as Carta Chief Commercial Officer Giles Sutherland does, that “At the end of the day, customer-centric fintech solutions are going to win” in this market.
Tag (mention/write about) the one person in the tech industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read!
One of our clients, Nannette Bauer from Discover, has been on an ambitious digital transformation journey to modernize their procurement operations. Their procurement team used to struggle with gaining transparency into all of their procurement projects, especially ESG initiatives. They also struggled to align stakeholders and business partners and provide executive oversight for their “very active C-Suite.” By implementing a procurement performance management solution that centralized both savings projects and ESG-related projects, such as increasing supplier diversity and sustainability, Discover’s procurement team was able to drive greater transparency into these programs, facilitate greater operational and executive oversight, and ultimately foster their success.
Thank you, Scott! That was fun and we hope to see you back on globalfintechseries.com soon.
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Scott Macfee is the CEO of SpendHQ where he leads organizational change and transformation to drive the company forward in the fintech and procuretech spaces. He has a twenty-eight-year track record of success in delivering results across a diverse set of leadership roles. He has a demonstrated ability to inspire teams to deliver exceptional results, lead organizational transformation and plan, build, and manage business operations in complex environments..
SpendHQ is the leading best-in-class provider of enterprise Spend Intelligence and Procurement Performance Management solutions. These products fill a critical strategic management gap in the solution landscape, by producing actionable spend insights that drive new initiatives, goals, and clear measurement of Procurement’s overall value to the business. Backed by nearly 20 years of procurement expertise, SpendHQ’s solutions give businesses the rapid, accurate spend intelligence and performance optimization needed to drive better financial and non-financial outcomes, advance procurement maturity, and demonstrate impact with data.