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Coca-Cola supply chain

Coca-Cola pledges $5bn investment

  • The Coca-Cola Company and its African bottling partners announced a new investment of $5bn during the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington.
  • The investment, to be made over the next six years, increases its total announced investment in Africa to $17bn from 2010 to 2020.
  • The Company and its bottling partners anticipate that this investment will fund new manufacturing lines, cooling and distribution equipment and production; create additional jobs and opportunities across Coca-Cola’s African supply chain; and support key sustainability initiatives and programs focused on safe water access, sustainable sourcing, women’s economic empowerment, community well-being and operational efficiency improvements.

Read more by Coca-Cola Company

KFC’s Indian ambitions hit by quality-control issues

  • The fast-food chain is already China’s biggest restaurant operator with 4600 outlets, but it appears that opening 2 new stores a day is beginning to take its toll – especially when it comes to quality-control.
  • KFC is reeling after a Chinese supplier was accused of selling expired beef and chicken to it, McDonald’s and possibly other restaurant chains.
  • “On the supplier side, people are not well-trained, or there is not good oversight,” said Ben Cavender of the China Market Research Group. “On the restaurant side, they have people checking the products, but they probably don’t have enough people who are spending enough time at the supplier sites.”

Read more on USA Today

APICS, Supply Chain Council merger completed

  • APICS has announced that it has completed its merger with Supply Chain Council, creating a global provider of supply chain research, education and certification programs.
  • “As APICS and APICS SCC, we now have the resources to ensure supply chain organizations are ready to address two of the most important topics in the global economy today – elevating supply chain performance and developing supply chain talent,” said Abe Eshkenazi, CEO of APICS.
  • The merger creates a global leader in supply chain solutions, poised to benefit members, customers, partners and employees in several ways.

Read more about the merger on Supply Chain Brain

Kimberly-Clark releases sustainability report

  • When it comes to sourcing, Kimberly-Clark has set lofty goals. The target is to source 100 per cent of its wood fiber from suppliers who have achieved third-party certification of their forestry activities by 2015.
  • A 2016 target is to achieve 100 per cent chain of custody certification. All of the Kimberly-Clark tissue mills in North America and Europe are already chain of custody certified.
  • The company also achieved a 26.4 percent reduction in water use in manufacturing in 2013, beating its 2015 goal of 25 per cent. Further reductions can be observed in areas such as greenhouse gas emissions, and energy use.

Read more on TriplePundit

World Bank’s procurement process to undergo reform

  • Under the changes a one-size-fits-all methodology will be replaced with a more tailored approach, with procurement made more “fit for purpose”. Christopher Browne, the bank’s CPO, said: “We’re making World Bank procurement fit for the future.”
  • The new framework introduces sustainability, use of procurement systems other than the World Bank’s, engagement with strategic suppliers and a more streamlined approach to complaints.
  • The bank has a procurement spend of £26 billion a year but its current procurement processes were established in the 1970s.

Read more on Supply Management 

Supply chains becoming increasingly vulnerable to cyber attacks

  • While natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis and flooding have disrupted supply chains around the world, cyber attacks pose even greater risks as companies rely more on computers and the Internet to conduct their business.
  • Companies need to be keenly aware of their cyber and supply chain risks as well as the limits of cyber, business interruption and general liability policies when buying insurance.
  • “Supply chains, especially critical infrastructure supply chains, can potentially be very vulnerable to hacking and malware attacks and, depending upon the attacker’s motivation, susceptible to business interruption and extra expense exposure,” said Ken Goldstein, Hartford, Connecticut-based vice president and worldwide cyber security manager at Chubb Corp.
  • “Space in warehouses is expensive, but what if somebody takes out your weekly shipment?” said Dena L. Magyar, Charlotte, North Carolina-based vice president and national practice leader in the professional risk group at Wells Fargo Insurance Services USA Inc.

Read more on Business Insurance

Drilling tower

Sasol enjoys 17% profit hike, eyes-up local suppliers

  • The world’s largest producer of gasoline from coal said full-year profit probably rose as much as 17 per cent as an increase in synthetic-fuels output exceeded its forecast and the rand weakened.
  • It was recently reported that it was looking to increase the number of local firms in its Mozambican supply chain. Benjamim Cavel, local content manager for Sasol in Mozambique, said the company had to “lead by example” and it was working with local suppliers to bring them up to the level where they can compete with multinationals.
  • Speaking at the CIPS Pan African Conference in Zambia, he said: “Sasol Upstream Oil and Gas intends to grow the economy of Mozambique. One way is to integrate the local supplier market into supply chain activities.

Read more on Bloomberg

Helen Mackenzie talks procurement reform in Scotland

Meet Helen Mackenzie: The self-confessed motorbike racing buff is pictured here sitting on Ian Hutchinson’s Supersport bike (incidentally the only rider to win 5 races at the Isle of Mann TT,’s). Helen dreams of buying some lovely race bikes from Yamaha or Honda for a racing team!

Helen hails from Stornoway in Scotland  and is the next in our #firstmovers series. Reach out to her – here, and say howdy!

Helen Mackenzie

Procurious asks: What is the procurement profession like in Scotland? How do you think procurement differs as opposed to elsewhere in the world?

Helen Mackenzie: Not sure about the Scottish private sector but public procurement in Scotland is really buzzing at the moment.  The Scottish Government’s just got the new Procurement Reform Act through the Parliament and so sustainable procurement is high up on our agenda.  

There’s never been a better time to be in public procurement.  At last many of us are getting to take up our seat right in the heart of corporate management and decision making.  Exciting times ahead.

Procurious: Should Scotland win independence in the forthcoming referendum, how do you see your business changing/will it be affected?

Helen: I don’t think there will be much difference for public procurement if Scotland votes yes.  We already have a different way of operating, different legislation etc.  

What might affect us is the whole question of whether Scotland stays in the EU and also whether we retain the pound.  To be honest I haven’t decided how I’ll vote yet.  I’ll have to get off the fence soon though! 

Procurious: Tell us a little bit more about your department/team (and do you envisage them getting on Procurious too?)

Helen: We’re a small council in the far North West of Scotland but we’re doing well in terms of procurement improvement and helping our colleagues to reduce costs and improve outcomes.  

I can see lots of public procurement people in Scotland using Procurious.  We’ve got a knowledge hub for Local Government but it’s a bit dry.  

I think the interaction that Procurious provides will be just what those of us who can’t get enough of procurement need to feed our passion and discuss ideas.

Procurious: Are you usually an early adopter? (Perhaps you’ve been a “first mover” with something else…) 

Helen: I must admit I have been a bit of a tail ender when it’s come to social media. I finally succumbed to doing a bit of Facebook and more recently LinkedIn but Twitter has been my main place for hanging out for a few years now.  

I love motorbike racing and so like a bit of Twitter banter with fellow fans.  I was a founding member of a network called Phinkit which operated for a bit last year.  It was like Procurious in structure but more general.  I think the general nature of it was its downfall in the end.

Why did you join Procurious?/How does it differ from other social networks currently out there?

Helen: I was desperate to find somewhere to hang out with other people who love procurement but wasn’t finding a lot of action on Twitter or LinkedIn.  Imagine my joy when I found Procurious!  At last a place just for buyers like me to talk about supply chains, contract management, invitations to tender and community benefit clauses.

You also get the feeling that people are actually listening to what’s being said.  What I’ve found with other networks like LinkedIn is that people post things, people answer but no-one is really engaging with each other.  Just a long long list of replies that no-one’s reading.  I haven’t come across that yet on Procurious. 

Procurious: What are you doing to help your peers to join the network? 

Helen: I’ve invited people I’m connected to on LinkedIn to join.  I’ll also be promoting Procurious through the Scottish Local Government Procurement Forum which I currently chair.  I’m mentioning it to anyone I know who’s into procurement.  Hopefully the word is spreading.

Meet our other #firstmovers:
Harold (Hal) Good
Farshad Bahmed
Sergio Giordano
Paul Smith
Richard Allen
Happymore Mambondiani
Jannine Wood

Why your business card is a piece of crap…

What’s your business card like?

We don’t know about you, but we like to feel quality between our fingertips. You can keep your flimsy sub 350gsm paper, we won’t settle for anything but your finest paper stock…

The business card is an important part of your relationship-building arsenal, if you’re wanting to create a lasting impression your card better be up to the task. If your calling card is sub-standard, it doesn’t say much about the quality of the service or products you’re flogging.

However let’s not get bogged down in talk of gsm, this Kickstarter project has gone one better. The swivelCard fuses the traditional business card with cutting-edge technology to create a truly smart card.

Not only does it feature a USB interface, but it provides you with remote access to the card (so you make changes to the card’s content on the fly, view usage info etc.)

That’s not a business card

This is a business card… Here are some of our favourites (thank you Internet!):

Sommelier business card

Now that’s a business card that every sommelier would be proud of… *hic*

Folding chair business card

This folding model chair was used to promote a London business which specialised in vintage/modernist furniture. Swish.

Divorce lawyer tearable business card

What better way for a divorce lawyer to sell his/her services to those with broken hearts?

Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook business card

Read the story behind Mark Zuckerberg’s infamous business card – here.

And finally: No-one knows whether the Chinese Tycoon Chen Guangbiao was being serious when he put in an order for 100+ of these beauties…

Chen Guangbiao business card
Image: Business Insider

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Let’s talk about social networking

Social networking infographic

Which social network?

Choosing your social network(s) of choice is not a decision you should make lightly… Once you begin to invest some time, build your profile, and expand your influence, you might as well have it tattooed down your arm.

Game of Thrones fans might liken it to pledging their allegiance to a house of their choosing (without the inevitable bloody wedding…)

Each comes with its own strengths and weaknesses – and we’re certainly not here to pit one against another, instead we’ll share some of our learnings

Twitter is arguably the most powerful online network of all (and the one that boasts the largest worldwide reach). News stories are broken on it, feuds are played out in front of the eyes of the public, and then there’s Nyan Cat.

Twitter also provides (almost instant) access to some of the biggest companies, celebs, businesspeople – such is its influence Germany’s World Cup win drew 280m interactions across the network (more than 2013 Super Bowl) with a peak of 618,725 Tweets a minute.

twitter.com/procurious_

Google+ has always been the butt of many jokes, but as this rather brilliant Forbes article points out – its usefulness should not be overlooked by Internet personalities and businesses alike.

Google pretty much owns the Internet so it should come as no surprise to learn that its own G+ pages rank very well among the rest of the clutter. Procurious’ very own G+ page has only been active a couple of weeks, and already it’s amassed a few thousand views. Testament to the power of ‘el Goog.

plus.google.com/+Procurious

Shakira - most popular celebrity on Facebook
Shakira – her hips don’t lie

Facebook is probably one of the more friendly and approachable networks. More so than others, Facebook users are also likely to become heavily invested in Instagram and Pinterest too.

Professionally-speaking Facebook has proved a particularly successful breeding ground for lifestyle brands and musical artists. In-fact Shakira just became the world’s most-liked Facebook celebrity – with over 100 million likes to her name.

facebook.com/procurious

And then there’s Procurious… but we’ll leave you to write this next chapter yourselves.

Shouldn’t you really be opting-in to more social networks, than out? Follow the links we’ve supplied and you’ll be well on your way.

Ignore this bustling social netherworld at your peril…

In pursuit of best practice

This is a guest blog post from George Vrakas – if you want to contribute to the Procurious blog please drop us a line – here.

“At its simplest, best practice means we are doing our job better than others. …that might translate to closing deals faster, achieving consistently good negotiated results, establishing terms and change processes that support high-performance relationships or realizing results that regularly exceed expectations. So we want to be better, faster, contributing greater value, making fewer mistakes” Notes on “What do we mean by best practice” by IACCM

George Vrakas

As already elaborated here, an essential aspect for becoming successful in the future, is creativity.

The term, creativity, most probably conjures up images of successful entrepreneurs that have a vision and the courage to pursue their dreams.

Outstanding entrepreneurship is a well-defined quality behind every successful organisation.

Entrepreneurs like Richard Branson are followed and their ideas celebrated in the public domain.

However, it would most likely be better for an organisation to not only try and maintain its competitive edge on the ideas of one or even a handful of forward thinking individuals, but also find ways to tamper into the creativity and ideas of every one of its employees.

Hence, organisations should also look into the promotion and support of intrapreneurship.

Read on if you want to find out more about this idea, as well as, get to learn about one way to harvest the concept of intrapreneurship as a means to pursue best practice within your own organisation.

Intrapreneurship

Jeroen de Jong and Sander Wennekers explored the concept here. According to them:

“Intrapreneurship refers to employee initiatives in organizations to undertake something new, without being asked to do so.”

There are a few companies that actively promote intrapreneurial behaviour e.g. Google allows its employees to spend up to 20% of their time to pursue projects of their choice. 3M and Intel appear to have programs towards similar promotions (see here).

However, intrapreneurship is not only about the pursuit of new products and revenue streams.

Intrapreneurship contains an element of innovation. Innovation refers to the production and implementation of useful ideas, including the adaptation of products or processes from outside an organization. As Antoncic and Hisrich highlights (see here)

“Intrapreneurship is about “emergent behavioural intentions and behaviours that are related to departures from the customary ways of doing business in existing organizations”

In other terms intrapreneurship is about the pursuit of best practice.

In parallel, it is also important to note that the support of the practice of intrapreneurship also helps maintain engaged teams that always challenge themselves and evolve the organisational practices, processes and results (read more about team engagement here and here).

Ideas Charter (a simple and practical way to pursue best practice)

As part of an effort to promote employee engagement and intrapreneurial behaviours, I developed the Ideas Charter.

This is a simple process which ensures that all new ideas are captured, evaluated, and then through a process that promotes and supports undertaking innovative projects, implemented.

The Ideas Charter process works like this.

i) A champion is assigned to capture all ideas that can enhance processes or contribute to efficiency and effectiveness in a simple spreadsheet called the Ideas Charter (see template here). This is done on a non-judgmental way to the perceived value of the ideas i.e. following Edward De Bono’s six hat definition – by wearing a green hat.

ii) The ideas are then evaluated and validated by a selected committee and approved or not approved for further development.

iii) If an idea is approved, then that idea is made available as a potential candidate for a future side project to be done by a team member or a team.

iv) Every two months the team is asked to select a side project to work on. Each team member is encouraged to pick one of the ideas in the Ideas Charter and work on it. A due date is allocated.

v) At the end of the allocated period each member presents his/her side project along with a benefits analysis.

vi) The side project outcome is placed into production. This outcome could be a change in process, a development of a business case i.e. it could be anything that promotes efficiency or effectiveness.

vii) After 3 side projects are completed and presented, the team is given the opportunity to vote for the best one. The winner is celebrated.

In pursuit of best practice by George VrakasThis is a simple but effective way to work towards best practice in small teams.

From personal experience this concept has the power to engage the team and also to elevate the level of efficiency and effectiveness as delivered by its outputs.

Finally, it works towards Yves Morieux’s vision elaborated in his presentation about “How to develop a winning organisation”. Yves elaborated that:

“The real battle is not against competitors. The real battle is against ourselves. Against our bureaucracy, against our complicatedness” – Yves Morieux (see here)

What systems do you have in place to promote and support the pursuit of best practice?

Short Biography

George is highly reputed in the fields of Services Procurement and Logistics with over 19 years experience. Based in Melbourne, Australia, George is a member of CIPSA, IACCM and is also serving as a Board Member of CILTA Victoria. George is passionate about Procurement, Team Development and Innovation, themes he has researched extensively. George is the author of the www.george-vrakas.com blog, a contributor to Procurement related publications such as TheSource e-news and has presented on Globalization, Procurement and Continuous Improvement at various venues and Universities in Victoria.

And the top 10 industrial supply chains are?

No more inky fingers! We’ve compiled the headlines so you don’t have to. Like what you see? Check out the freshly-pressed Procurious news service – you can find it here.

Factory (Jorge Franganillo)
Jorge Franganillo

Gartner announces top 10 industrial supply chains

  • After releasing the core top 25 list at its supply chain executive conference in May, Gartner has in the past few weeks also named its top 10 “industrial manufacturing” supply chains list.
  • Just three companies Gartner classifies as industrial manufacturers made the overall top 25 supply chain list this year, and all somewhat near the bottom of that list. Therefore it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that these take the top 3 positions in the new ranking…
  • Caterpillar comes in on pole position, while 3M and Cummins rank second and third respectively.

To view the top 10 in its entirety – pay a visit to SC Digest

Forrest Review is good news for Indigenous business 

  • Within the last few days, the Forrest Review has been presented to Australian Government. The 256-page report advocates for the Federal Government to purchase at least 4 per cent of its goods and services directly from Indigenous businesses.
  • The report recommends that this should be implemented over a four year period, with an annual increase of 1 per cent per year. Indigenous businesses could be contracted directly or through subcontractors.
  • The Forrest Review also pushes for tax-free status for Indigenous run businesses.
  • Another recommendation focuses on the establishment of a ‘Top 200 Employers’ policy. This recommendation states that the Federal Government should provide the top 200 companies in Australia, with a strong Indigenous employment record, with tailored contracts to increase the proportion of Indigenous employees within their workforce.

Source: Supply Nation
Read The Forrest Review in full – here

Supply chain and logistics vacancies climb 45 per cent

  • Jobs in UK supply chain & logistics are increasing sharply, according to new research from one of the UK’s leading professional specialist recruiters.
  • Q2 data from the Robert Walters UK Jobs Index, which charts vacancy numbers posted to online platforms, shows year-on-year openings for supply chain & logistics professionals rising by 45 per cent.
  • With this confidence building across the wider economy, projects that had been put on hold are being implemented, creating fresh demand for supply chain professionals.

Read more at Supply Chain Digital

ArrowStream employee shoots CEO

  • Tony DeFrances – the chief technology officer at supply technology firm ArrowStream, mortally wounded his company’s CEO after receiving a demotion.
  • The firm was in the process of downsizing and had demoted a number of people.
  • Steven LaVoie founded ArrowStream in 2000, and DeFrances had been with the firm “virtually since its inception,” according to the company’s website. ArrowStream was named one of Chicago’s best and brightest companies to work for by a business trade group earlier this year, an honour it had received every year since at least 2012.

Read more at Chicago Tribune

China bans Symantec and Kaspersky

Foreign security software off China’s govt procurement list

  • A Chinese government procurement agency has excluded Symantec and Kaspersky, two foreign security software developers, from a security software supplier list.
  • According to a report from Beijing Youth Daily, all the five antivirus softwares in the list are from China, including Qihoo 360, Venustech, CAJinchen, Beijing Jiangmin and Rising.

Read more at Ecns.cn and The Inquirer

Price is most important factor for consumers

  • 80 per cent of consumers believe it is important for companies and brands to behave ethically, however the most significant factors when shopping are price, value and quality.
  • The findings come from online sourcing and optimisation specialists Trade Extensions – and reveal UK and US consumers’ attitudes towards ethics and sustainability.
  • Despite consumers’ relatively low ranking of ethical and sustainability concerns, over 70 per cent say they are more likely or much more likely to buy from companies with strong and proven policies on sustainability and ethics.

Read more on Business Wire

And finally…

 Supply chain headache inspires £1m investment

  • A Norfolk glass manufacturing business frustrated with slow suppliers is chartering a fresh route to growth by investing £1m into a new production plant.
  • Alastair Clayton, managing director of Seaglaze Group, said: “When it became clear that the lack of a reliable supply chain was starting to jeopardise our production schedules we decided to take control of our own destiny.”
  • The new factory – based in a 5,000sq ft unit close to its headquarters – will produce toughened glass for the marine industry, creating six jobs.

Read more on EDP24

Here come the Millennials: Life as a junior category buyer

Today’s #firstmover is a true Millennial! Say hello to Jannine Wood – and go add her to your network while you’re at it. Read our article on Millennials – here.

Jannine Wood #firstmovers

Procurious asks: Procurement is a far cry from English Literature and Film Studies… When did you decide on procurement as a profession, and what attracted you to it?

Jannine: To be honest, procurement is something that initially I just fell in to. I had been floating around different admin jobs since university and couldn’t quiet decide what I wanted to do. I started working at Valueworks nearly two and half years ago and this is where I gain an interest in procurement.  

It was during my time at Valueworks that I realised that procurement was something that interested me and I had finally found my niche. I think the main attraction for me, is creating and building relationships with suppliers and clients.

Procurious: Could you explain your role within PfH?

Jannine: I’m the category buyer for finance and commercial category and there are five frameworks within the category. These include, debt management, bill payment services, decorating vouchers, vehicle lease and vehicle purchase.

I’m predominately responsible for vehicle lease and purchase.

Procurious: Some would argue that procurement suffers from an image problem; do you feel that there needs to be more education around the profession?

Jannine: I would agree that there needs to be more education around the profession, I think a lot of people are unsure of what procurement entails and often leaves them confused. However once you explain to what is it, the process and what the outcome is, I think it can be really appealing.

Procurious on social procurement: Do you feel that websites like Procurious help connect the procurement community/What have you used it for so far?

Jannine: I think websites like Procurious and LinkedIn are great for the procurement community and help build relationships with others (outside your inner circle). I have actually used Procurious to help build existing and new relationships.

Procurious: As a young female procurement professional – do you feel like there’s added pressure on you, or certain expectations?

Jannine: At times I feel there is certain expectation, especially within the vehicle industry (I worked predominately as a buyer for vehicle lease/purchase), which can be a male dominated industry at times. However I mostly feel pressure from myself, as I want to excel in what I do.

Procurious: We’ve recently written a piece on the millennial workforce [aka Generation Y – those born between 1980 and 2000], and discovered that young people often wrestle with career advancement. Do you have a different view; is there a clear path at PfH?

Jannine: I found career advancement difficult in the beginning, coming out of university and not having much work experience, I found it difficult to progress for the first few years.

However over the past two years I have found it easier to progress in my career and there is definitely a clear progress path at PfH.

Procurious: Is there a particular aspect of your role that provides you with job satisfaction? And can you recall your proudest moment?

Jannine: Seeing my relationships grown and develop over time is something that gives me great satisfaction, especially with the suppliers. Another aspect that is rewarding is helping a member resolve an issue/problem.

I think my proudest moment so far has been helping one of members conduct a mini competition in a very short space of time and working with the suppliers to ensure that the bids were completed quickly yet efficiently. The member was very grateful that the process had been completed so quickly.

Procurious: What’s your best advice for young people thinking of following in your footsteps?

Jannine: My best advice would be to any kind of work experience to begin with, although I didn’t get in to procurement for a while, the skills that I developed during my time in my other roles really benefitted me once I did move in to procurement and gave me great confidence when starting out in the industry.

We’d like to thank Jannine for taking the time to talk to us – and if you’d like to get involved too, send us a message.

24 of the most mesmerising machines

Working in procurement you are closer than most to the thing that ultimately ends up rolling off the production line. But have you ever thought to yourself ‘how DID that come to be?’

Lucky for you then that the inquisitive minds over at How It’s Made, and those kings of the viral tap – Buzzfeed, have put together a little video that shows 24 examples of the world’s most awe-inspiring machinery.

We bet you can’t  identify what all 24 of them do…

Procurement Virtualization

Jon Hansen is a guest blogger –  if you want to contribute to the Procurious blog please drop us a line – here.

I have been writing the Procurement Insights blog since 2007.  It currently has more than 21,500 followers.  (Note: the European Union Edition of the blog – which was launched in May 2013 – has just over 16,000 followers.)

Around the same time I joined LinkedIn ( 30,000 connections), followed by Facebook (5,000 connections), and finally Twitter  (17,000 connections) in 2008.

In 2009 I launched the PI Window radio show on Blog Talk Radio – which will soon air its 900th episode in which featured segments are downloaded between 25,000 and 30,000 times within the 24 to 48 hours immediately following the live broadcast.

Over time I have also expanded my virtual presence through various other platforms including YouTube, Sprout Social, Pinterest and on and on and on.

So one might reasonably conclude that as a procurement professional, I am deeply immersed in the virtual realms of the Internet.  While I would not disagree with this last point, if I were reading as opposed to writing this article, the first question I would ask is what does it all really mean?  More specifically,

what are the tangible benefits that a procurement professional can derive from being “connected” in the virtual world?

My response . . . it depends on how long you have been in the profession.

Jon Hansen on Procurious

For those of us who have been around for 15 or more years, the answer is not as clear as it is with the newer generation of procurement professionals.  I am talking about the ones 30 years or younger.

For this newer group the thought of utilizing a dog-eared catalog with stick-it notes of varying colors to source products from suppliers via telephone is unfathomable.  I would imagine that theirs would be a similar reaction to that of my young nephew, who upon viewing the black and white images projected through the old rabbit-eared television at his grandmother’s house, declared that the “TV was broken”.

In this generational context, the virtual  world is a comfortable given for the younger set, while an revolutionary development for the veterans.  This factor will to a large extent influence  our respective perceptions and considered benefits.

Rather than continue to focus on the obvious disparity in understanding, the purpose of this article is to identify the points of commonality.  Specifically, how can the web-based platforms  or elements of the virtual world that is the Internet, be best leveraged regardless of age or experience.

The Operational Element (Action)

I have no doubt that I could, with little effort, turn this into a long dissertation on the various technical aspects of the myriad of platforms that make up the networked world in which we do business.  From cloud-based B2B to P2P and B2C and everything in between, including big data and The Internet of Things, there is no shortage of material.

The irony of course is that in terms of impact, these present day technological advancements are no different than those from earlier eras such as the telephone and fax machine – both of which were quite revolutionary in their own time.  Quite simply, the only real difference from an operational standpoint, are the actual tools of the trade themselves.  The core principle upon which they are based is still centered on increasing capabilities and improving outcomes.

Therefore, what is really needed to understand how this transformation unifies generational  perspective and perception, is to find a common point of reference.  For me this would be ThomasNet.com.

ThomasNet.com is the current version of the Thomas Register.  First published in 1898, the Thomas Register was a simple yet powerfully useful buying guide which listed industrial products and services from an expansive list of potential vendors.

It was an indispensible tool for buyers who through one convenient catalog, could source needed products from reliable suppliers who had been researched and screened by the publication.

Fast forward more than 100 years to the here and now, and this core benefit is still the same, which is the ability to source products and services from a reliable pool of vendors.  The only difference is that instead of looking up a product in a hard copy catalog and then contacting the applicable supplier by the available means of bygone days,

the Internet has made it possible to locate, source and procure electronically by way of a few simple keystrokes.

Granted this is an oversimplification  of how a ThomasNet.com works in comparison to its earlier versions, but you get the idea.

The Socialized Element (Knowledge)

Where it once did, the value gained from the traditional Association model can no longer compete for my attention.  I need to collaborate bigger, faster, stronger – and at my convenience.

Associations could better leverage Web 2.0 to deliver a greater level of service to me as a supply chain professional by more actively, rapidly and efficiently aligning with the pace at which new, useful industry information becomes available – then delivering this information in an effective way, so as to keep me abreast of trends, best-practices and exchange ideas with fellow members; thereby making me a more valuable professional.

The above referenced text was a comment I had received from a listener who tuned into a April 2009 segment of the PI Window titled Is The Traditional Association Model Dead.

From my standpoint, the sentiments expressed by this individual explains perfectly the impetus behind the socialization of the procurement professional within the virtual realms.  It is also the reason why, when I was originally introduced to Procurious I took notice.

From “connecting to correcting to listening to learning” etc.,  platforms such as Procurious are as indispensible a tool as the operational platforms or technologies  we use to procure goods and services.

Ultimately, it is the socialized aspect of virtualization that ensures access to the needed insight and information that enables the procurement professional to maintain relevancy in an increasingly complex global marketplace.  In fact, the underlying value of these communities of shared interest is that they serve as a filter through which the information overload of the World Wide Web can be circumvented to ensure that you get the intelligence you need quickly and reliably.

The key point to remember is that these are truly “get out what you put in” virtual communities, in which the tangible benefits can only be measured by the quality of the relationships that help you to add greater value to your own career and organization.  This means that you have to get involved.  Whether it be in the form of a question posed within a group, or commenting on an article.  When you insert yourself into the conversation you gain knowledge well beyond your own experiences.  Or to put it another way, and regardless of your age, the old axiom that knowledge is power is as true today as it was when Francis Bacon originally coined the phrase back in the 16th century.

In the end, when you hear terms such as procurement virtualization or socializing procurement, what it really means is that the main objectives of the procurement profession are still somewhat the same…

– with some notable extensions.  The only difference is in the tools that are available to achieve the desired outcomes.