Big Ideas in UK & Public Procurement

Social value and collaboration – just the tip of the iceberg for the professionals in UK and public procurement.

Public Procurement

Ahead of the Big Ideas Summit 2016 this Thursday, we are taking a look at the key issues facing procurement in the coming years. We have asked experts and influencers in our community to share their Big Ideas on the themes we will be discussing on the day.

The concept of social value is one that has gained more traction, driven by public procurement professionals across the world. It also links heavily into the idea that procurement as a whole needs to collaborate and work together, something that we’ll also be discussing at Big Ideas.

We spoke to some of our UK-based professionals in the Procurious community to understand the big ideas in the UK and public procurement.

Helen Mackenzie, Head of Procurement, Scottish Local Government

Power Profiles - Helen MackenzieAs those of us working in or with public bodies across the world move forward through our journey of procurement reform, our challenge is now shifting from one where tackling corruption, compliance and procedures are key to one where we’re must add value whenever we can.

At the front end of the process, there’s been some innovative work looking at commissioning services using open problems. Barcelona and Stockholm have had some great results by shifting from specifying the service they wanted, to specifying the problem they wanted to solve.

Adding social value to public procurement contracts continues to be expected by policy makers. In Scotland, we’re including requirements to ensure fair work practices, including the payment of the living wage, and community benefit clauses, which have been used to create added value. For instance 1,000s of apprenticeships have been created as part of our contracts.

Ensuring our communities are involved at the heart of our procurement processes is perhaps the holy grail of public procurement. It’s something which isn’t easy to do, it’s going to require us to stretch our stakeholder engagement skills. The prize will be contracts which target resources where they are needed, people who feel public spending is actually being targeted at them and outcomes which will deliver real improvements in people’s lives.

If we’re successful in shifting our focus away from what we’ve always bought, to what we need to solve with community engagement and social value at the heart of what we do, we’ll certainly secure great contracts and we’ll make the savings we need to deliver in the process.

Jane Lynch, Lecturer, Cardiff Business School

Jane LynchLeading organisations today redesign processes for improving customer experience. This, they argue, leads to more effective business operations.

However, this may lead to initial process inefficiencies (i.e. higher process costs). Who and what should drive process improvement for our business? Is it the supply chain, the organisation’s strategy or is it all about the customer?

Chris Cliffe, Director, CJC Procurement Ltd

Power Profiles - Chris CliffeBig Ideas and innovation in procurement is certainly needed. However, not at the expense of the basics.

Think of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and apply it to procurement. As a profession, and as individual professionals, we cannot ‘self-actualise’ until we have satisfied the more fundamental needs of our roles. 

As a professional collective, we need to get a lot better at collaborating as individuals, and as a profession, to ensure that the ‘physiological’ and ‘safety’ needs are met, which in our scenario is the basics such as spend analysis, market knowledge, proficiency at transacting procurement processes (particularly the regulated public sector processes).

With that foundation satisfied, we can move on to the ‘Love & Belonging’ and ‘Esteem’ needs, which for us is where many of us still struggle. Being invited to the top table at our organisations as true business partners remains a consistent challenge. 

At this level, we need to be more proactive in demonstrating and promoting contract management and supplier relationship management achievements, not just (but also) procurement process cost savings and force our way in to the strategic conversations. 

From this point we can dream of ‘self-actualisation’.  All contract spend is compliant and being managed well.  Our deep market knowledge is maintained, valued and collaborated on with peers and suppliers alike.  We are highly valued by our executives, and the ‘go-to’ people for business advice and guidance. 

Many of us can only dream of that utopia, and unless we work together on the basics, it will only remain a dream and no amount of retweets will improve our futures.

There’s still time to register for Big Ideas 2016. Visit www.bigideassummit.com, join our Procurious group, and Tweet your thoughts and Big Ideas to us using #BigIdeas2016.

Don’t miss out on this truly excellent event and the chance to participate in discussions that will shape the future of the procurement profession. Get Involved, register today.

Big Ideas in Procurement in North America

The procurement profession in North America is thriving. But what are the Big Ideas coming from one of the profession’s biggest regions?

Cliff Palace North America

Ahead of the Big Ideas Summit 2016 on April 21st, we are taking a look at the key issues facing procurement in the coming years. We have asked experts and influencers in our community to share their Big Ideas on the themes we will be discussing on the day.

Here, our experts and influencers share their thoughts on the Big Ideas impacting organisations and industries on the other side of the Atlantic, in North America.

Justin Plokhooy, Director – Supply Chain Management, USAA

Power Profiles 1 - Justin PlokhooyTalent Management – It is clear, and has been for a couple of years, that supply is outstripping demand when it comes to the Procurement job market.  In 2016, firms will be challenged to do a better job in working with their current employees to better develop career plans (up to and including a path to the C-suite), and find challenging work to keep them from looking elsewhere. 

A work environment that has the right pay and benefits is always important, but even more important is the opportunity to have a more flexible work arrangement. Millennials have hung like a Sword of Damocles over the entire job market, and with that generation entering the workforce, firms must offer more mobility tools in how they execute work.

Procurement as a Service – Procurement organisations are struggling to get the right to execute on the work they have. The use of outsourcing and ProS has exploded over recent years and will continue to grow in 2016. 

Procurement organisations will continue to ask their employees to conduct more value added work and as a result the administrative functions will need a place to live. Moving those to a service provider will become a growing trend. This will also allow firms to become much more scalable and flexible in response to changing market conditions, quickly finding skills that may have taken much longer through a permanent hire. 

Driving out labor costs should not be the deciding reason to move to a ProS model, but that may end of being a benefit as well.  The “as-a-service” economy is here to stay and Procurement leaders should embrace the possibilities.  

Anna Spady, Marketing Manager, RFP365

Power Profiles 1 - Anna SpadyMore millennials = more mobile – Now that Millennials have outranked Boomers as the dominant workforce, we believe there are big waves in store for procurement.

We’re convinced this next generation of CPOs will demand mobile and agile everything, and simply won’t be content with the clunky processes we’ve had to use to compare, select, and communicate with our suppliers.

Even our clients in the most traditional of industries (government, healthcare, finance) are feeling this necessity. They’re creating iPhone apps to administer benefits packages, and using Twitter as a consulting platform. Similarly, Procurement will also be forced to pivot, because ultimately more millennials means a need to be more mobile.

Innovative evaluation – One big trend we anticipate in North America is a more innovative way to evaluate procurement technology. 

As a Marketer, I know that paid analysts and reviews are simply not as trusted as organic reviews from real customers. So it was interesting to read this Procurious discussion on the pros & cons of using review sources like Gartner. 

We’re convinced technology assessment methods like the Magic Quadrant will become increasingly obsolete. Because there are two big problems with these pay-to-play systems. 

First, they’re too niche, and the evaluations are exclusive to platforms that cover every area of procurement, excluding platforms who specialise in part of the procurement process. Their outdated criteria also makes makes outdated technology look like winners, and the factors aren’t up-to-date with what is actually on the market.

The second problem is their hefty price tag, which often excludes valuable options like newer, smaller companies, who might actually offer the best functionality. We believe the future holds more relevant and dynamic ways to find e-procurement solutions. 

Leveraging Technology for Vendor Selection – We’ve noticed nearly all the technology and tools on the Procurement market today focus on vendor maintenance (invoicing, contract management), while neglecting the critical process of selecting those vendors. 

Why have parts of the procurement process evolved (paper catalogs streamlined to the web, entire supply chains being monitored from a single console, etc), yet the actual selection and comparison process remains in something akin to the technology dark ages?

Our big idea is to see the rest of procurement catch up. To see the age of IOT and data applied to each part of the procurement process, starting with more sophisticated  vendor selection methods.

Do you work in North America? What’s your Big Idea for the future of procurement? Let us know and we could be discussing them on April 21st.

Want to know more about Big Ideas 2016? Then visit www.bigideassummit.com, join our Procurious group, and Tweet your thoughts and Big Ideas to us using #BigIdeas2016.

Don’t miss out on this truly excellent event and the chance to participate in discussions that will shape the future of the procurement profession. Get Involved, register today.

Bringing Big Ideas to Fruition Through SRM

Why procurement organisations hoping to bring big ideas to fruition need to focus on supplier relationship management (SRM).

Supplier Relationship Management SRM

CPOs who want to supercharge supplier-enabled innovation need to be joined at hip with business stakeholders through common goals and KPIs. Together, we can drive down costs and find efficiencies using best-practice supplier relationship management.

According to CSCMP’s 2013 research, organisations that involve suppliers in the early stages of the product lifecycle are able to reduce product development costs by 18 per cent, and improve their time-to-market cycle by 10-20 per cent. It’s therefore a no-brainer to invest in the creation of a robust and sustainable SRM program that meets your organisation’s unique needs.

However, successful implementation of an SRM program requires both senior management sponsorship and a focus on change management. Culturally, your organisation needs to be open to new ideas and have the ability to look at existing arrangements differently. The key to success lies in a dialogue-rich environment, with continuous stakeholder engagement both internally and externally.

Four areas of focus for successfully implementing SRM:

1. People and culture – senior level sponsorship of the program and clearly defined roles and responsibilities for managing suppliers.

2. Process and systems – a process toolkit to reduce risk, improve performance and decrease total cost.

3. Strategy – total alignment of SRM goals and targets through joint business plans with suppliers.

4. Governance – managing strategic suppliers in the best-possible way.

Supplier relationship management sits at the very heart of driving innovation, and the success of any SRM program is directly tied to the ability of your team to truly connect with suppliers and uncover innovative solutions. Therefore I can’t stress enough the importance of investing in your team’s soft skills to boost their ability to seize innovative opportunities.

Finally, it’s my view that the most successful future leaders in procurement will be those who have mastered the intricacies of SRM and are able to demonstrate real value to their wider organisations.

Keith Bird_croppedKeith Bird is the General Manager at The Faculty Management Consultants, helping to support The Faculty Roundtable, an influential group of Australian procurement leaders, who gather to share their experiences and insights.

The Faculty will be hosting their ninth Asia-Pacific CPO Forum, the region’s premier procurement event dedicated to accelerating commercial leadership at the highest level. 

For more information on The Faculty Roundtable or CPO Forum, contact Program Manager, Belinda Toohey.​

[1] Tate, Wendy, The Definitive Guide to Supply Management and Procurement, Pearson: New Jersey, 2014.

Big Ideas in Procurement Technology

Procurement technology – you can’t get away from it! But what Big Ideas can we expect from this area in the coming years?

Procurement Technology

Ahead of the Big Ideas Summit 2016 on April 21st, we are taking a look at the key issues facing procurement in the coming years. We have asked experts and influencers in our community to share their Big Ideas on the themes we will be discussing on the day.

Here, our experts and influencers share their thoughts on the Big Ideas impacting organisations and industries in the field of procurement technology.

Meghan Huynh, Content & Marketing Associate, Winddle

Meghan HuynhWhen we discuss the importance of collaboration, interdepartmentally and with external partners, it is a case for visibility and how it is key to better procurement process.

Not all processes are broken, but most are inefficient. This is where technology comes in – to connect contributors in a project and make sure that their status of the entire operation is updated in real time.

The bottom line here is let’s get everyone on the same page so that we can all perform to the best of our abilities. Procurement technology needs to give the opportunity to identify and eliminate inefficiencies through connectivity. When people are better connected, relationships can effortlessly develop which is known to increase productivity and accuracy.

The main idea to remember is that this can only be executed to it’s intention if end users and upper management truly believe in the possibilities that collaborative technology can bring, and are committed to improving the procurement process.

Anya McKenna, Marketing Manager, Market Dojo

Anya McKennaMarket Dojo‘s Big Idea for the Procurious Big Ideas Summit 2016 is that there will be an increased focus on the information companies hold on suppliers.

The Modern Slavery Act 2015 consolidates previous legislation and introduces new measures to combat slavery and human trafficking.

We’ve already seen companies take extra measures by adopting supplier on-boarding solutions. We predict this will become the focus of many more organisations.

Oliver Oram, Founder, Chainvine

Oliver OramPhysical flows captured and identified by digital finger prints through one shared ledge, would help achieve greater visibility of all corporate assets. One could imagine a scenario of fish being traced from tackle to table, via Blockchain technology. This near real-time tracking of elements in the supply chain have been, until today, too costly and difficult to audit.

Blockchain as a shared ledger among supply chain connections could today be identified as one of the best means of applying such a management interface. What is needed is that companies identify the most optimal meta-data structure to enable effective and simple ways of search and retrieval of such data.

The best way to implement such a change would be in picking small non critical business areas in which to apply this technology first, but ones that can show a real tangible value in using such a technology. Chainvine is now involved in more projects where we have begun to merge both digital and physical aspects of the supply chain and are exploring both transparency and efficiencies.

Simona Pop, Head of Sales & Marketing, InstaSupply

Simona PopIncorporating an online network aspect to the procurement process is a key move in simplifying buyer-supplier relationships. We are so accustomed to the efficiency of ‘one-click’ interactions in our personal lives, that not extending this technology into our business practices is nonsensical. 

Working smarter, not harder, and making use of clever online tools will be the main procurement trends going forward. Eliminating paper, a real time view on all spend, and cloud based location purchasing management will be the staples of successful, efficient procurement. 

Kate Lee, Senior Director of Research & Strategy, Fronetics

Kate LeeThe B2B buying process is not what it used to be. Unfortunately, many companies have not adapted their sales and marketing strategies accordingly and are, therefore, missing out on attracting, engaging, and acquiring customers.

Today, B2B buyers are spending more time researching and evaluating products than ever before. Key places where they turn to conduct research are social media and vendor-focused content (e.g. case studies, white papers, product data sheets). Given this, the average buyer now progresses nearly 60 per cent of the way through the purchase decision-making process before engaging with a sales rep. 

Given this new reality, it is important for companies to recognise that content marketing should be a part of their strategy. Content marketing gives companies a way to meet buyers where they are (online) and provide buyers with the information for which they are looking (knowledge). 

Do you work with, or have a passion for, procurement technology? Tell us your Big Idea in this critical field and we could be discussing them on April 21st.

Want to know more about Big Ideas 2016? Then visit www.bigideassummit.com, join our Procurious group, and Tweet your thoughts and Big Ideas to us using #BigIdeas2016.

Don’t miss out on this truly excellent event and the chance to participate in discussions that will shape the future of the procurement profession. Get Involved, register today.

Why Thinking the Unthinkable is a Wake Up Call for Leaders

The Great Wake Up – Nik Gowing, co-author of Thinking the Unthinkable, explains why these findings should keep us all awake at night. 

Thinking the Unthinkable

What if the very people we appoint – in business and government – to foresee, identify and handle the most unexpected, cataclysmic, and disruptive events, are shown to be perilously inadequate at the most critical of moments?

This is precisely the nightmare finding of research study: Thinking the Unthinkable – A New Imperative for Leadership in the Digital Age, co-authored by Visiting Professor at Kings College London, Nik Gowing.

The Great Wake Up

Setting the context for the Big Ideas Summit, and the C-Suite agenda more broadly, “Thinking the Unthinkable, is the ‘Great Wake Up’ for leaders – current and future.

Speaking ahead of his appearance at Big Ideas Summit, Gowing explains a proliferation of ‘unthinkable’ events has revealed dangerous fragility at the highest levels of corporate and public service leadership.

“From just the first weeks of 2014, a dramatic series of ‘strategic ruptures’ revealed the old assumptions for decision making and promotion to the top in public or corporate life were seriously wanting or worse, irrelevant,” explains Gowing.

The ‘unthinkable’ events Gowing refers to include critical moments such as: President Putin’s seizure of Crimea; the rise of the so-called Islamic state; the devastating outbreak of Ebola; the surge of refugees to Europe and the seemingly uncontrolled tumbling of the Chinese stock market.

None of these events had been seriously considered or tabled, let alone planned for by those at the highest levels of corporate or public leadership.

Failure in Leadership

And yet occur they did, one unthinkable event after another, sending shock waves reverberating around the globe and prompting concerns about the capabilities of those ‘in charge’ to foresee unthinkable events and handle their impact.

“The rate and scale of change is much faster than most are even prepared to concede or respond to. At the highest board and C-suite levels, leaders confess to often being overwhelmed,” says Gowing.

Recognising the strangeness of this new world, Gowing, alongside co-author, Chris Langdon, set out to understand why our leaders appeared to be in free fall at these most critical of moments. And finally, why it remains so difficult for leaders to think the ‘unthinkable’.

“The global pace of change is overcoming the capacity of national and international institutions”

– Chris Donnelly, Director, Institute for Statecraft

Gowing reflects: “What started as a modest research project 14 months ago has grown fast and exponentially into something far more substantive and deeply disturbing.”

Compiled through a series of over 60 one-to-one interviews with C-suite business leaders and top-level public servants, the findings of Thinking the Unthinkable reveal fragility at the uppermost levels of global leadership.

Thinking the Unthinkable confirms the current cohort of top leaders feel overwhelmed and under equipped to understand and work with the enormity of ‘unthinkable events’ that are unfolding.”

A terrifying level of wilful blindness, or ‘executive myopia’, to see and contemplate even the possibility that unthinkables might happen, let alone prepare to respond to them, is perhaps the most alarming finding of the research.

During their candid interviews, Gowing reveals the majority of leaders agreed that the decision-making norms and behaviours which got them to the top in the first place, no longer suffice.

Gowing emphasises: “Leaders need to be liberated from that conformity which guaranteed their career progression. The challenge is how to achieve that.”

Why TTU is Must-Read for Procurement Leaders

There are three key reasons why TTU is a must-read for all leaders – current and future:

First, relevance: Unthinkable events are happening with greater frequency and our leaders are less and less well equipped to handle them.

Second, rigor: Thinking the Unthinkable could not be more disturbing but do not mistake its alarmism for a mere piece of ‘click bait’. Serving as unprecedented database for the private, the research provides in-depth views of some of the world’s most influential corporate and public sector leaders.

Third, impact: Just as it sets the agenda for conversations at Board-level, Thinking the Unthinkable will help guide the conversations for Big Ideas Summit and will underpin our challenge to all delegates: What are the ‘unthinkable’ challenges we face next, and what do they mean for our models of leadership?

 To download the report and access additional content and context, visit the Thinking the Unthinkable website. 

At the Big Ideas Summit on the 21st of April, Nik Gowing will challenge current procurement leaders to consider what their ‘unthinkable’ events are, and how they are planning to tackle them.

If you’re interested in finding out more, visit www.bigideassummit.com, join our Procurious group, and Tweet your thoughts and Big Ideas to us using #BigIdeas2016.

Don’t miss out on this truly excellent event and the chance to participate in discussions that will shape the future of the procurement profession. Get Involved, register today.

Tea Farmers Text Their Way to Supply Chain Collaboration

From tea growing to real-time supply chain transparency, collaboration and online networks are creating tangible value and benefits for organisations.

Martin Chilcott - Supply Chain Collaboration

How do you get 50,000 tea farmers and distributors in regional India working together to build collaboration and supply chain transparency? Through a digital platform, of course. 

Collaboration for the “common good” is reaping real benefits. In some retail and organisational collaboration hubs, there are over 300 companies involved, with estimated operational savings at a combined total of €100 million.

Martin Chilcott, 2degrees CEO and Founder, gets to the point about the type of collaboration needed to cut costs, reduce risks and drive innovation within complex supply chains.

Why is collaboration so important, perhaps even uniquely important to sustainable business?

There are 3 main reasons why collaboration is more important than ever before in helping businesses survive and thrive in what are increasingly chaotic and uncertain times.

1. Firstly most of the environmental and social sustainability challenges businesses face are part of the challenge of the commons. No one company owns the atmosphere, the oceans, the fish stocks, or fresh water reserves. These are resources common to us all. And because of that they can only be managed sustainably through collaboration.

2. Secondly, today most businesses, have subcontracted or out-sourced and off-shored their purchases and operations to such an extent that they have become totally dependent on a geographically dispersed, and increasingly fragile supply-chain. For many companies up to 80 per cent of their risks and impacts lie in this supply-chain. You can’t coerce your suppliers (not for long anyway); and you can’t audit them into submission and compliance. Ultimately you have to work with them.

3. Lastly, brand reputation is no longer something solely in the control of the brand company. It’s one of those risks that lies outside the company in the supply-chain. That makes mitigating brand risk something that can only be done with the co-operation of your suppliers. It becomes a collaborative exercise.

Collaboration is perhaps an over-used word. What do you mean by collaboration and how is it changing?

At 2degrees, we think of collaboration as a strategic function. Traditionally it has been very expensive to do this with more than a few strategic partners because it involved being face to face. But technology is changing that.

Digital technologies and collaboration platforms like ours are enabling companies to work closely with thousands of their suppliers at a depth that was previously impossible. But more remarkably they are allowing those suppliers to work with each other unlocking knowledge and capability that was previously hidden in silos up and down value chains.

Large scale supplier-to-supplier collaboration, with operational managers from different organisations working together to solve problems, share best practice and find solutions, is now possible. To help differentiate it from traditional ways of collaborating and to capture the incredible connectivity and scale it is creating, we call it ‘fully-linked collaboration’.

What kinds of companies and individuals are involved?

The companies that are leading the way are the major FMCG and food companies like Unilever, and retailers like Asda-Walmart and Kingfisher; some banks like RBS; and pharmaceutical giant GSK. Still relatively small numbers right at the vanguard. They are bringing together their enormous supplier webs to work together.

When you get in to the detail, it is individuals that are working together of course. Operational middle management: energy managers, waste managers, factory managers, Health and Safety. All from different companies asking each other for insight and advice on whether to use a particular technology, or how to engage colleagues, or build a business case. It’s the solving of really practical problems together, that makes sustainable business happen.

How do collaboration platforms like 2degrees create value for the companies involved and what are the tangible benefits?

Well if you think about it, if you bring together 1,000 plus engineers and managers involved in say food manufacturing from different companies; that’s an extraordinary amount of experience and know-how. Normally that knowledge remains hidden, but collaboration platforms enable one company/one manager with a problem, to tap into that collective know-how to find someone who has already solved that particular problem.

The vast majority of problems that exist within a supply-base have already been solved by someone somewhere. It’s just a matter of being able to connect up with the right people and persuade them to help you. In some of our programs 100,000s of exchanges of knowledge have taken place, identifying solutions on technical matters like waste water separation or how to build a business case for LED lights, or voltage optimisation.

And these sorts of exchanges have led to investments being made. In one community of 300 companies, for example, we estimate they are generating over €100m of operational savings directly from these exchanges.

Is 2degrees part of a new wave of collaboration platforms in sustainability and if so what other ones are in your opinion worth noting?

Yes 2degrees is one example of how digital technology is supporting a new wave of fully-linked collaboration. But some really interesting others are WeFarm, which uses text message and cell phones to connect up small holder farmers in emerging economies to share know-how.

We partner with them on our Tea 2030 programme, and they claim to be connecting up approximately 50,000 farmers and growing fast.

Another interesting business is EcoChain that uses a technology called Blockchain (the technology behind Bitcoin) to create real-time transparency in supply chains around CO2, water, materials etc. Those are my favourites.

What are the strategic implications of this new wave of collaboration?

I think what is really exciting is that these technologies are enabling really big problems to be solved by co-ordinating thousands of companies and making the most of their hidden capabilities.

For instance, at the COP 21 talks in Paris, over 100 companies, including IKEA, Johnson & Johnson, Mars and Nike, committed to powering their operations with 100 per cent renewable energy by 2020 – supply base collaboration will be a key ingredient needed to makes this commitment a reality.

Helping suppliers face what is now inevitable, transition to becoming low carbon, sustainable businesses, represents a significant opportunity for large companies to cut costs and impacts, reduce risks and drive innovation across their supply-base. It provides an opportunity for Chief Procurement and Chief Supply-Chain Officers to transform their value-chains and generate a sustainable competitive advantage for their businesses.

The implications and possibilities of digitally enabled collaboration are very powerful indeed.

Martin Chilcott will talk about these topics in more detail during one of our panel discussions at the Big Ideas Summit on April 21st.

If you’re interested in finding out more, visit www.bigideassummit.com, join our Procurious group, and Tweet your thoughts and Big Ideas to us using #BigIdeas2016.

Don’t miss out on this truly excellent event and the chance to participate in discussions that will shape the future of the procurement profession. Get Involved, register today.

Procurement and The Conversational Century

The social media revolution has allowed for traditional institutions to create personal digital conversations with their audience. We are in the era of ‘The Conversational Century’.

Facebook Conversational Century

When he was born in July 2013, Prince George of Cambridge became the first royal baby to have a hashtag. There were over 3.5 million Facebook mentions of the young Prince in the 24 hours leading up to his birth.

And it’s not just royalty on social media. Pope Francis is the first Pope to engage with a wider audience through Twitter.

Elizabeth Linder, a Princeton University graduate, is at the forefront of the social media revolution. She has described the intersection between Facebook and the 21st century governance as ‘The Conversational Century’. Linder started working for Facebook as their Government and Politics specialist in 2008, when the company had fewer than 100 million users.

She built up Facebook’s Politics and Government Programme for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Her role includes advising political representatives, government agencies, public administrators, and think tanks on the intersection of Facebook and modern governance.

What is The Conversational Century?

Conversational Century

Social Media and networking play an important role in the practice of public diplomacy. Facebook, with its individual and country pages, presents opportunities for the public diplomacy sector to engage the public audience in a number of diverse ways. This engagement is part of the conversational century.

Linder defines ‘The Conversational Century’ as the new era in leadership, where leaders are turning outwards to have conversations with the public, aided by the latest social media technology. Social media is forcing traditional institutions and influential leaders to change their communication channels and dialogue.

Traditional institutions, such as the British monarchy, are actively using social media to engage with audiences, using a personal tone to create a digital conversation. The impact of the conversational century is seen through the shifting nature of communication, from a traditional, one-way channel, to a diverse, two-channel communication channel.

Back in 2010, when there were 500 million Facebook users, politicians running for office were only just beginning to explore new technology and start the transition to ‘digital elections’. Now, there are 1.39 billion Facebook users, hailing from a diverse range of backgrounds, languages, and socio-economic classes. This gives political candidates and institutes the opportunity to speak to a very broad range of people, all at once.

Linder described the British General Election of 2015 as a “conversational election“, during which politicians used social media to engage in real and authentic discussions with the public. A shift is occurring in the relationship between politicians, leaders and people in power and social media. These leaders now face the situation where they must contribute and engage with social media in order to stay relevant with their audiences.

Conversational Century and Procurement

Procurement leaders, much like political leaders, need to embrace the Conversational Century and the power of social media, in order to engage with a wide range of people and contribute to live dialogue.

Procurement itself will play an active role in the Conversation Century. Social media platforms, such as Procurious and Facebook, offer a unique opportunity for procurement professionals to share knowledge of what is happening in procurement. Companies and industries can showcase what they have done and what they are working on to an active and engaged audience.

Furthermore, as social media is increasingly integrated into corporate life, procurement can use it to play a key role in observing and analysing all sides of the business. It can be positioned between the customer side, internal stakeholders and the supply side.

The increased visibility of data resulting from the management of social customer relationships, social internal stakeholders, and social supplier relationships, will provide procurement with information-rich data which can potentially lead to increased collaboration, agility and faster decision-making.

Elizabeth LinderElizabeth Linder is a keynote speaker at Big Ideas Summit 2016 powered by Procurious. Elizabeth will be continuing the discussion about ‘The Conversational Century’ and how it will become an integral part of procurement.

If you’re interested in finding out more, visit www.bigideassummit.com, join our Procurious group, and Tweet your thoughts and Big Ideas to us using #BigIdeas2016.

Don’t miss out on this truly excellent event and the chance to participate in discussions that will shape the future of the procurement profession. Get Involved, register today.

Procurement’s Future: Upskilling in Supplier Relationship Management

Why upskilling in Supplier Relationship Management is key to the future success for the Procurement profession.

Supplier Relationship Management

The rapid development of artificial intelligence and cognitive technology is completely redefining the boundaries of what is possible for procurement. To fully take advantage of this new era and remain relevant, CPOs and their organisations will have to react very quickly and re-orientate more than ever their focus towards supplier relationship management.

Why is SRM fundamental to Procurement?

The traditional and archetypal focus of the CPO has been on cost savings, whilst arguably neglecting the supplier relationship. We have reached the point where applying pressure to suppliers to cut costs is unsustainable. It has been proven that working on improving relationships with suppliers is the key to fostering innovation; to go beyond just savings and develop more value adding capabilities.

Secondly, with artificial intelligence and technological advances comes an increasing level of automation, not only of tactical and operational procurement tasks, but also complex sourcing activities, such as RFX creation, analysis, or even scoring. Even market research or negotiation can be improved, to a point where technology will perform these tasks in a better, more efficient and secure manner.

This will allow more time for procurement to focus on supplier activities after contract signature, such as performance management, or supplier collaboration and innovation programs.

In addition, procurement teams will be equipped with the tools to navigate the procurement process more quickly, easily, and in an even more compliant way. It may lead to the point where there is less of a necessity for a full, dedicated team. It is therefore important that the role of supplier management remains within the remit of the Procurement function, to avoid inefficiency and over-complication.

This is especially true for companies where part of this process is handled by different organisation. To improve in this area, there must be one owner who can efficiently coordinate the strategy, the training, and the performance management.

Another benefit of becoming more skilled at Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) is reducing risk. With a strong SRM process, Procurement can not only very quickly identify potential supply chain disruption, but also proactively mitigate any event that may occur, by fostering a collaborative and transparent relationship with suppliers.

Generating Innovation Through SRM

Supplier collaboration has also become an increasing focus for Procurement, especially where cost savings have been stretched to breaking point, and yet there is still requirement to go beyond this.

Suppliers and Procurement organisations have to work hand in hand to be even more cost effective and extract additional value from their relationship, and this on a long term basis. SRM is an invaluable approach to promote and generate innovation.

There is a well-known anecdote regarding a multinational car manufacturer, just one example amongst many others, of the benefits of good supplier relationship management. The company wanted to cut the cost of the window trim on their car, and turned to their suppliers for help. The suppliers created a new resin which would streamline the manufacturing process.

The result was a reduction of 2,700 gallons of diesel fuel and 60,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, by removing 19,200 truck miles transporting the parts between factories. It was a move that was both good for the environment (look at that carbon dioxide reduction), and dramatically cut costs.

Undeniably, in this context, by leveraging partnerships and collaboration, procurement teams become the customer of choice. They can therefore encourage and gain access to new innovations or insights, which could stand to be an important competitive differentiator.

What skills does the future Procurement workforce need to develop?

With this in mind, CPOs need to assess how their staff interact with suppliers, in order to determine whether they have the right skills, and also to understand what is missing, to fully unlock these supplier relationship management capabilities.

On that basis, and with the new direction that Procurement is taking, future procurement professionals should be looking to develop such skills as influencing leadership, change management and creativity. These are, arguably, not amongst primarily targeted skills in a current buyer profile.

With the advent of data insight and technology enhancing Procurement activities, CPOs will also have to upskill their teams to be able to fully maximise the potential of the tools available to them, as there is little doubt of the value available here.

Aside from data and tool utilisation, the human side is equally as important. Acting on insight and fostering the ability to listen, earn trust, and foster a high level emotional intelligence and creativity should also be part of the soft skills of the new buyers.

In an environment where technology will be ever-present, it will be even more important to master these skills, as maintaining customer satisfaction and high value relationships will continue to rely on the human side of the service management.

It becomes urgent not only for CPOs but also for the professionals working in Procurement today, to ask themselves about what should we do if we want to stay relevant to our organisation in 5 years’ time? How will we be able to fully endorse roles such as Supplier Relationship Manager and deliver value? Should we go on new training courses, and re-skill completely? What type of skills should be developed, and where and how can we acquire them?

These questions will need answers, and those who will address them first will obviously be ahead of the crowd in fostering innovation and adapting to the Procurement world of the not-too distant future.

IBM are one of the sponsors of the Big Ideas Summit, being held in London on April 21st. 

If you’re interested in finding out more, visit www.bigideassummit.com, join our Procurious group, and Tweet your thoughts and Big Ideas to us using #BigIdeas2016.

Don’t miss out on this truly excellent event and the chance to participate in discussions that will shape the future of the procurement profession. Get Involved, register today.

Big Ideas in Procurement in Africa

Procurement in Africa receives a lot of press, not necessarily all of it positive. But as the profession develops, more ideas will be generated by its professionals.

Procurement in Africa

Ahead of the Big Ideas Summit 2016 on April 21st, we are taking a look at the key issues facing procurement in the coming years. We have asked experts and influencers in our community to share their Big Ideas on the themes we will be discussing on the day.

Here, our experts and influencers share their thoughts on the Big Ideas impacting organisations and industries in procurement in Africa.

Elaine Porteous, Freelance business writer in Supply Chain and Procurement

Elaine PorteousHow can procurement foster innovation from its key suppliers? Is it a case of triangulation or strangulation?

My contention is that many of the creative suggestions and innovative ideas arrive and die in procurement. Why?

  • I’m too busy for this
  • Not my job
  • Don’t know who to pass it on to
  • What is the supplier trying to get from us?
  • What’s in it for me?

If we talk about supplier innovation, we are asking our key suppliers to help us with a problem that we need to solve. But who engages with the supplier to discuss his ideas? Procurement.

And then what? The cycle begins again. My Big Idea is that procurement leaders need to teach procurement people how to deal with supplier innovation.

Procurement - Where Innovation Goes to Die?
Procurement – Where Innovation Goes to Die?

Mervyan Konjore, Managing Director & Social Change Measurement Specialist, Measure Value Ltd

Mervyan KonjoreMy Big Idea looks at Corporate Social Responsibility programmes and the gap between aspirations to make the world a better place, and creating a better world.

Many companies have adopted and integrated Michael Porter and Mark Kramer’s premise about the link between competitive advantage and corporate social responsibility (CSR), by finding ways to incorporate suppliers in their value chain, upskill, train and capacitate staff and give back to communities where they operate. 

However, the impact of these social programmes are still largely assessed using either financial metrics or anecdotal reports, both of which fall short of capturing changes in behaviour such programmes strive to effect. 

As companies come under greater scrutiny regarding whether their social programmes transcend statutory compliance, the realisation that there is a need for different measurement metrics is slowly starting to dawn. 

There is a need for measurement metrics capable of helping companies determine the gap between aspirations to make the world a better place, and creating  a better world. Such metrics need to capture, quantify and determine the impact of and value created by CSR programmes. Quantifying the changes in behaviours can allow organisations to see the impact of these programmes in people’s lives.

Do you work in supply chain or procurement in Africa? What’s your Big Idea for the future of profession? Let us know and we could be discussing them on April 21st.

Want to know more about Big Ideas 2016? Then visit www.bigideassummit.com, join our Procurious group, and Tweet your thoughts and Big Ideas to us using #BigIdeas2016.

Don’t miss out on this truly excellent event and the chance to participate in discussions that will shape the future of the procurement profession. Get Involved, register today.

Fast Fashion, The Supply Chain and The True Cost

Fast fashion helps sate deeply held desires among young consumers in the industrialised world for luxury fashion, even if it embodies unsustainability.

Fast Fashion

Trends run their course at high speed, with today’s latest styles swiftly trumping yesterday’s, which have already been consigned to the waste bin. Fast fashion has allowed for the constant supply of fashion trends, captured straight from the catwalk, at a cheap price.

What is ‘The True Cost’ of Fast Fashion?

The True Cost movie is a 2015 documentary that focuses on fast fashion and the supply chain. The documentary discusses several aspects of the garment industry from production – exploring the life of low wage workers in developing countries – to its after-effects of river and soil pollution, pesticide contamination, disease and death.

The True Cost is a collage of interviews with environmentalists, garment workers, factory owners, and fair trade companies and organisations, promoting sustainable clothing production.

Lucy Siegle is an author, journalist and Executive Producer of The True Cost. Her research into the fashion supply chain lifted the lid on the pollution and blind exploitation, inspiring her book To Die For. The deeper she dived into the fashion supply chain, the bigger the story became.

In an interview for The True Cost, Siegle comments that the most surprising thing she discovered was how quickly a sustainable system can be undone and destroyed forever. She had discovered that most western buyers were using completely nonsensical calculations when they placed orders in first tier factories.

This meant that factories could not possibly complete the enormous orders that had been placed, and would turn to outsourcing. This was where sweatshop labour became the reality.

“I realised there were a number of flashpoints in the supply chain that were adding up to extreme exploitation and possible catastrophe and that this was a standard business model.”

Garment manufacturing is estimated to be a $3 trillion industry. Yet factory workers are subjected to poor working conditions, low salaries and minimal to no rights. The True Cost documents the events of the 2013 Savar Building, or Rana Plaza, disaster, when an eight-story commercial building collapsed, killing over 1,000 people.

The event sparked the investigation into fast fashion on a global scale.

The Supply Chain and Fast Fashion

There is pressure on the supply chain to manufacture garments quickly and inexpensively, allowing the mainstream consumer to buy current clothing styles at a lower price.

fast fashion and the supply chain

Fast fashion very quickly became disposable fashion, due to the relatively low costs needed to deliver designer products to the mass market. The consequences of the trend became noticeable through increased pollution from manufacturing of the clothes and the decay of synthetic fabric, poor workmanship, and the emphasis on brief trends rather than classic pieces.

Recently, Australian surfwear brands have been urged to publish a list of every factory used in their supply chain. This follows an investigation that revealed some garments being made for the Rip Curl brand had been manufactured in North Korea, where factory workers endured slave-like conditions.

Rip Curl claimed to have no knowledge of their garments being produced in North Korea, as the clothes were shipped to retail outlets and sold with a “made in China” logo on them.

Rip Curl blamed one of its subcontractors for the practice, stating this was a case of a supplier diverting part of their production order to an unauthorised subcontractor and country. This was done without their knowledge or consent, and in clear breach of supplier terms and policies.

Rip Curl and North Korea

After the 2013 Rana Plaza collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Australian firms’ garment-sourcing policies came under intense scrutiny. More than 90 per cent of garments sold in Australia are estimated to be sourced from Asia, while a huge proportionate of Asian garment workers are women who are paid minimal or poverty wages.

The event promoted a number of global brands to speak openly about their CSR efforts. Lucy Siegle comments that Public Relations efforts around company CSR efforts are getting more sophisticated. However, in many case, the business models stay the same. This is a concern when the business model is based on furious expansion, and companies are investing in pilot schemes in new low-wage fashion production hubs.

The fast-changing and glamorous image of the fashion industry presented to consumers is the very aspect which poses significant challenges for supply chain professionals. Companies are increasingly opting for a similar supply chain network, allowing them to easily and quickly replenish and rotate stock, and align with local market trends.

Sourcing location is one of the biggest challenges posed in the fashion industry. Sourcing from further afield can bring lower costs, but results in visibility and traceability challenges. Sourcing close to key markets guarantees a fast response, but has much higher costs and capacity constraints.

Lucy Siegle and Big Ideas Summit 2016

Lucy Siegle - True Cost

Lucy Siegle is a key note speaker at the Big Ideas Summit 2016 powered by Procurious. She will be sharing her thoughts and experiences on the ethical supply chain and the true cost of doing business in the fashion industry and a number of other industries.

Want to know more about Big Ideas 2016? Then visit www.bigideassummit.com, join our Procurious group, and Tweet your thoughts and Big Ideas to us using #BigIdeas2016.

Don’t miss out on this truly excellent event and the chance to participate in discussions that will shape the future of the procurement profession. Get Involved, register today.