A True Pro to Know: Keelvar’s CEO Makes Waves Across Global Supply Chains

Rich Wilson

April 6, 2022

Dr. Rich Wilson is a non-executive Director at Keelvar and a veteran leader in advanced sourcing technology solutions.

The vision of Keelvar’s Irish Founder and CEO, Dr. Alan Holland, has always been to push the boundaries of Sourcing Automation to a level that is unrivaled elsewhere in the industry. I think it’s fitting then that on St. Patrick’s Day -- a day where many parts of the world celebrate the wonderful things about Ireland -- Alan has been named a Pro to Know 2021 by Supply & Demand Chain Executive, and included among the innovators making waves in the global supply chain.

I’ve long maintained that one of the essential capabilities of a sourcing automation provider is a solid foundation in sourcing optimization, yet many would-be pioneers in this area underestimate the degree of effort and discipline required to refine a fully functioning optimization offering. In order to have a mastery of sourcing automation, you must first have a sound understanding of the complex decision-making and logic behind the hundreds if not thousands of business rules that come into play in optimization technology; and yet, true expertise around the application of Artificial Intelligence and the theory behind it remains relatively uncommon among leaders in the industry.

Alan is one of those rare experts, and he is one of the reasons that I was so impressed with Keelvar prior to joining the board. As an academic turned entrepreneur, Alan’s specialist knowledge in Game Theory and Mechanism Design is what has given our company a real edge in developing innovations that exceed the technical capabilities of Keelvar’s competitors.

Alan Holland, CEO of Keelvar

Yet even as a spin-out from one of the world’s top AI-laboratories, when Keelvar was established in 2012, Alan and his team of AI-experts first set their sights on revolutionizing sourcing optimization technology before turning their attention to sourcing automation. It’s a winning formula for a long-term strategy: start small, start sustainably, and allow for the learning of lessons that will unlock greater success down the line.

Under Alan’s guidance in the years since, Keelvar has focused on building software that leverages intelligent systems to further optimize the procurement sourcing process -- solutions that have completely transformed how suppliers engage with large enterprises and allow sourcing teams to shift their attention from mundane, time-consuming tasks to innovation management and risk assessment.

A prime example is Keelvar's Intelligent Sourcing Bot technology, which has been instrumental in helping to address many of the challenges felt by buyers in the past year. When the pandemic hit and dramatic drops in air cargo capacity disrupted virtually all manufacturers, retailers, and wholesalers, the bots helped Keelvar customers handle an increased quantity and pace of bidding events – all without placing an additional burden on their workforce. 

Having already guided Keelvar to the top of the leaderboard in the category of Intelligent Sourcing Automation, I’m delighted to see that Alan’s contributions to the industry have now seen him named a Pro to Know winner. The award is a true testament to the vision that Alan has had for the company since day one: to deliver powerful sourcing automation backed by real expertise that can fundamentally change and dramatically improve how sourcing teams do their business across the globe.

Dr. Rich Wilson is a non-executive Director at Keelvar. He is the former CEO of CombineNet, and founded and led operations research at USAir

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