AI & Learning – A Powerful Combination

A discussion with Rebecca Nilsson (Oracle Startup Ecosystem) on how we are changing the world of B2B commerce.

As everyone arrives at NBC Congrescentrum near Utrecht for the Oracle CloudDay NL event, Previse is excited to be attending the exhibition as well as participating on a panel. As partnership manager at Previse, I’m really looking forward to connecting with other thought leaders at the event.

It’s great to be working alongside Rik De Deyn, Oracle’s Senior Innovation Director, Financial Services, who recognised our shared vision a year ago and brought us into the Oracle community. Since then our relationship has gone from strength to strength and we now run our solution on an Oracle Cloud platform and are realising all the benefits of being part of the Oracle StartUp Ecosystem.

Join us at the event, listen to the panel, or follow #OracleCloudDayNL for the latest updates. Meanwhile, here is an extract from the recent discussion between my colleagues David Brown, Co-founder and Head of Innovation and Steve Baird, VP, Architecture and Rebecca Nilsson from the Oracle StartUp Ecosystem team which explains more about how we are changing the world of B2B commerce….

The FinTech landscape has long been famous for the prevalence of “Disruptors”

What is the story of Previse in this context?

Previse was founded just over two years ago by a small group of people who believed that the balance of financial power between large buying organisations and their smaller suppliers was fundamentally wrong. They recognised that slow payments are damaging SMEs, large companies and the economy and it was clear current solutions weren’t working. They made it their mission is to ensure that every supplier in the world can be paid instantly and at the fairest rate.

Fast forward nearly three years, and we have invented a payment solution which expedites payment from 30+ days to instant payment, signed up eight multinational clients and are working with leading firms such as Oracle, NatWest and PwC.

How are your ideas being received by the stakeholders?

Unsurprisingly, extremely well as it’s a win-win. The buyers are happy to set a new, progressive standard for their suppliers whilst maintaining existing payment terms; they enjoy revenue income from the data fee paid, and our approach doesn’t demand wholesale back office change for the accounts payable service. Suppliers enjoy improved cash flow, reduced reliance of expansive credit and no need, ever, to chase a payment or, worst-case, worry about defaulting payers. Our product also provides a new investment instrument for the funding partners which supply the capital and this group comes from many different types of participant in the wider financial services industry.

We would emphasise that, although we are often thought of as a fintech, really our InstantPay product has a part to play in every business where there is a buyer/supplier relationship – so you are just as likely to encounter our clients in retail, healthcare, construction, publishing or any industry vertical you care to name!

Tell me about your business.

Can you describe the offering in one to two sentences?

Previse gets suppliers paid instantly. Its machine learning tech analyses its clients’ ERP data to predict the few invoices which are unlikely to get paid. The rest can then be paid instantly by a funder, such as a bank. The buyer then pays the funder back on its normal payment terms.

What differentiates you from your competitors – makes your solution unique?

Previse is using AI and machine learning across ERP data to remove issues that arise from payments processes as this is where a lot of frustration is borne out of. With access to the Oracle AP data, we are able to “divorce the process”, which is what makes us unique. With Previse, paying an invoice is an AI, data-driven instant decision rather a process-dependent decision.

What pain point(s) are your solving? 

The key pain point we are solving is for the suppliers and their cash flow. The bigger picture is the inefficiency in the procurement process – when a buyer buys from a smaller supplier. We are particularly helping the smaller suppliers because they need it the most. As the supplier may not get paid until 60 or 90 days, they might have to borrow money from a bank to cover this period. They then incorporate this cost into their prices, pushing up costs for the buyer.This is very inefficient, because as a small supplier can’t always borrow money cheaply or easily as compared to a bigger company.

What keywords/industries describe your offering (AI, IoT, hospitality, Fintech, etc.]?

Fintech,AI, machine learning,

Why did you start the company?

The idea for Previse was borne out of a collective desire among the co-founders to end the scourge of slow payments. Billions of dollars owed to small businesses is trapped in the payment chain, with corrosive impact on the small business owners, their businesses, staff and the wider economy. Solving this problem in a sustainable way which will work for suppliers and large buyers is not simple, but that is the challenge the Previse team set itself.[/vc_column_text][us_separator size=”small”]

Was there an “aha moment” when you knew you had something?

This was when we realised nobody was looking at the huge amounts of historical data sitting in large buyers’ ERP systems. By applying machine learning to mine this data, we knew we would be able to predict what invoices are unlikely to get paid, so the rest can be paid instantly. We then tested our algorithms on a huge data set to see if this was possible which took around six months and found that it worked. Our name, “Previse” means the ability to predict the future, so we are predicting that a company will ultimately approve and pay their supplier and based on that prediction someone will finance that supplier.

Give a real-world example of a customer problem being addressed with your solution?

We are currently working with eight multinational organisations but can’t name them due to commercial reasons.We also have a strong pipeline of large buyers which are keen to reap the benefits of getting their suppliers paid instantly. Our focus is on providing the best service to our current customers, before expanding into other markets such as the US, where the slow payments problem is exacerbated by the use of cheques and Asia, where average payment terms are 120+ days.

Give a real-world example of a customer problem being addressed with your solution

We are currently working with eight multinational organisations but can’t name them due to commercial reasons.We also have a strong pipeline of large buyers which are keen to reap the benefits of getting their suppliers paid instantly. Our focus is on providing the best service to our current customers, before expanding into other markets such as the US, where the slow payments problem is exacerbated by the use of cheques and Asia, where average payment terms are 120+ days.

Let’s talk about your relationship with the Oracle Global Startup Ecosystem:

What appealed to you about the Oracle Global Startup Ecosystem?

We have a very ambitious mission: to ensure every supplier can be paid instantly and at the fairest rate. We want to completely reshape global B2B commerce to cut out the inefficiencies of payment terms, unlocking $650 billion every year. We’ve built the technology to do it and now we are looking to partner with the best organisations to help scale Previse and bring InstantPay to the world.

That’s why we have chosen to work with Oracle and became part of the Global Startup Ecosystem

What are the benefits you are receiving from partnering with the program?

Oracle has unparalleled scale, experience and expertise when it comes to delivering technology to global enterprises. It is helping us to grow and scale as we rapidly expand our client base. I think the Oracle Global Startup Ecosystem is just the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship between Previse and Oracle.

What advice would you give to a startup considering joining a corporate ecosystem?

We would highly recommend it based on our experience with Oracle to date. I have nothing but good things to say about everyone in Oracle that has been helping us. People have been very giving of their time and expertise. For any startup, having a big company like Oracle on their side is an invaluable thing. With the Oracle Cloud there is very much a two-way interaction, and we are getting a lot of help.

Can you quantify the benefits of partnering with Oracle?

The benefits are two way. As an example – if you were to take a typical Oracle ERP client, who has got £10 billion worth of payments to third party suppliers, then the revenue opportunity for Oracle and Previse on that client is 100 million pounds per year. So, it is a £50 million opportunity for both Oracle and Previse. The benefits are mutually exploiting that commercial opportunity – not only for ERP clients but also for Oracle database accounts because it is actually commercialising the data. So, who better to commercialise your data than the biggest database company in the world? Both Previse and Oracle benefit because we need each other – Oracle need the innovation/application of Previse and Previse in turn need the ERP and data connectivity from Oracle and Oracle’s clients. Therefore, by changing the way we use data both parties get a different economic benefit and this in turn also benefits the client.

In addition, Oracle will help us scale our business, which we wouldn’t be able to do on our own. For us that scaling could mean, in business terms, moving into new geographies, working with clients who have more complex ERP portfolios, and operating with a closer to real-time payment cycle.

For a company like ours, the potential benefits are wide-ranging, and unique to Oracle, for example:

  1. Programs such as ISV support, the OPN Partnership programmes and Start-Up ecosystem are well-structured and give us access to a wide range of experts to help us develop our product and priorities. We have been blown away by the calibre of experts aligned with us with the sole focus of helping us succeed.
  2. By showcasing our solution at events worldwide, and helping us illustrate potential benefits really rapidly for our clients to help them make well-informed decisions to sign up to our service.
  3. By potentially streamlining the access to ERP AP data, in insights into the behaviour of buyers particularly as more Oracle clients move to cloud ERP

What Oracle Cloud products/services are you using (or plan to) – and how are you using them?

We are dependent on the Oracle ERP (run by the client). In terms of deployment, we are looking at OCI, using OKE (Kubernetes) and we will be looking at the autonomous transaction processing database – these are the key components for hosting our application.

What benefits (before/after results) have you realized or expect to realize from Oracle Cloud?

In terms of Kubernetes, we envisage a much lower cost in terms of support staff. Similarly, with the autonomous database, it takes work away from us that we don’t really want to do. Another benefit is knowing that we have a platform that can scale on Oracle Cloud, which enables us to onboard clients and also helps us from a security perspective.

The headline is that, as an enterprise solution specialist with a strong pedigree in both applications AND technology, Oracle is perfectly placed to guide us in exploiting the whole SaaS and PaaS combination in a way that is innovative and beneficial for our mutual clients.

For our engineering team the benefits of a cloud services provider who subscribe to the whole philosophy of Open source rather than technology tie-in has helped us develop a cloud-agnostic design to offer agility to our architecture, development and delivery needs.

Did Oracle Cloud platform replace an existing application or infrastructure? Did you replace the system entirely or just certain parts? What was the primary reason for replacing your old system?

We are currently primarily on AWS, and have built our initial system on AWS. But we have taken an interest in moving onto Oracle Cloud which caused us to restructure our application and use more open technologies, such as docker and Kubernetes as opposed to AWS proprietary technology.Because the Oracle platform is based on open source software it encourages us to be cloud agnostic, which I like, so you don’t have the vendor lock-in that you do have on AWS.

What future thoughts do you have on how to exploit the Oracle connection ?

This is an exciting topic for our team. We will look at the extended benefits of Oracle in a number of domains such as self-healing and self-managing technology services, ERP-adaptors beyond Oracle itself, to better serve those buyers who may not have an all-Oracle AP landscape, links into the NetSuite ecosystem, and automated value assessments for clients.

So.. Oracle is for startups because…?

Oracle is for any startup whose foundations involve data. Because who better to partner with than the world’s largest database company?

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