Cloud Computing – Don’t Get Stranded with Sharks

If you think that cloud computing is not for you, you may be left stranded…with sharks.

The Cloud - Sharks

You can download the latest GEP white paper on the impact of cyber security, and the benefits of a cloud-based procurement technology solution here.

“If you think you’ve seen this movie before, you are right.” So said David Linthicum, author of ‘Cloud Computing and SOA Convergence in Your Enterprise‘.

He went on to say, “Cloud computing is based on the time-sharing model we leveraged years ago before we could afford our own computers. The idea is to share computing power among many companies and people, thereby reducing the cost of that computing power to those who leverage it. The value of time share and the core value of cloud computing are pretty much the same, only the resources these days are much better and more cost effective.”

In biological science there is a concept called convergent evolution, which essentially describes how different organisms have independently evolved the same solution to a particular problem.  The similarity in body plan between sharks and dolphins is a perfect example. Despite one arising from a fish and the other from a land mammal, the particular circumstances of life in the pelagic ocean have resulted in the gradual adaptation through survival of both groups into superficially similar morphologies.

New Era Solutions

The cloud computing model of this era is indeed offering a similar solution to a similar problem that the shared computer access model used to. Indeed I recall having to book computer time in my university days, and that on a machine with a fraction of the computing power of my wristwatch!

In that case it was simply a matter of limited availability of the machines themselves and sharing the cost between groups was the only model that made sense. Today the equation is a different one.  Raw computing power and data storage are dirt cheap…

As an aside, a quick sketch calculation confirms that data storage twenty five years ago cost around seventy thousand times the equivalent cost today. (To check my working: I installed a 100MB hard drive in a business system in 1990. It weighed 120Kg and cost about £1100 Sterling. Last week, I put a 1TB card in my camera for just under £140.)

…but it isn’t the cost of the machine resources any more that are the limiting factor. It’s the overhead. The cost of management and operation, the risk of failure and consequential loss, and the inertia lumped on the enterprise in times of radical and accelerating change.

Putting Software to Work

What is driving business systems into an effective shared computing model in the cloud is not the need for more resources at lower cost (although this is undoubtedly an unplanned upside). No, it is the need to decouple the business processes from the technology.

Yes, of course, the technology – and by that we mean software of course – is central to the business process. I mean, do we really need to say e-this and e-that anymore? But in the past our business processes were determined BY the software. Today cloud software can give us the flexibility to conduct business how we think best and the software can be put to work for us.

Perhaps that’s sounds a bit too rosy-tinted for some.  But the fact remains, the risk and cost of making the wrong decision in selecting a cloud software provider, is the merest fraction of what it was in the old, customised-behind-the-firewall days.

A recent conversation I had with a consultant suggested one client of theirs was looking to migrate their systems as-is to an SaaS platform over the next five to seven years. In that same time, a more decisive CIO could make the wrong decision about a cloud provider twice(!), and still be further advanced in ROI by the time that migration is over.

Overcoming Intertia

So, the imperative to move into the cloud is compelling but the skepticism around security can apply the brakes in many organisations.

Because cloud computing evolved from a different ancestor to the shared computer model – out of the chaotic, anarchic, everyman’s internet, run by nobody-knows-who, instead of out of the traditional, conservative club of private supercomputers run by accredited Systems Analysts –, and because of a slew of high-profile hacking cases, there remains a core of uncertainty in the procurement industry.

To that end we work closely with our customers to help them understand where the security risks today really lie, and the greatest of these is inertia.

As I think about the case of the company taking upwards of five years to take what they have today and put it online, I can’t get the image out of my head of a diver coming up from a leisurely reef excursion only to see the dive boat heading for the horizon.  Of course, if he can’t tell whether that fin belongs to a dolphin or a shark, you now know why.

It will take a company with very deep pockets and very great resilience in a rapidly changing world to be able to ride out the cost of being left that far behind.

There do remain reasonable questions around technical security that should be asked and answered in any selection process, and our two-part paper Securing Procurement in the Cloud of Tomorrow is designed to help that conversation.

Vivek Kundra, former federal CIO of the United States said, “Cloud computing is often far more secure than traditional computing, because [cloud providers] can attract and retain cyber-security personnel of a higher quality than many governmental agencies.”

The question is not whether, or even when. It’s how.

Enterprises should be moving their procurement processes to the Cloud, say GEP. For more on this, download the latest white paper research.

For more help on avoiding the sharks in procurement software, visit the Smart by GEP website.

Crewless Drone Ships Look Set to Uberize the High Seas

From crewless drone ships, to matchmaking between procurement and marketing departments, there are game-changing strategies afoot!

Drone Ships

In the past week, SpaceX have successfully landed a rocket on a drone ship, and both Coca-Cola and Target are playing match maker between procurement and marketing departments.

Uber-izing the High Seas

It’s a hot topic in the news when a rocket lands on a drone ship. Last year Amazon raised eyebrows when it announced plans to start drone deliveries. More recently they released a video showcasing a prototype of one if its delivery drones.

Drone technology is rapidly evolving and just this Friday, SpaceX successfully landed its Falcon 9 rocket on a crewless drone ship at sea. This is an even more impressive feat, given that the odds of a successful soft-landing were slim, due to the mission requirements for this particular launch.

Even SpaceX CEO, Elon Musk, expressed his doubts ahead of the launch on Twitter:

Drone Ships

To date, SpaceX has completed two successful rocket recoveries on a moving drone ship, and another when they successfully landed a rocket on a landing pad on stable ground.

The next important step, of course, is reusing a recovered rocket, which Musk has stated they hope to do in the next three or four months.

Remote Control

And while drone deliveries have been making the headlines for sometime, remotely controlled drone ships are just as much a game-changer for the shipping and logistics industry.

It’s a bet FTSE 100 Company Rolls-Royce are willing to make, backed by Tekes, Finland’s technical research funding agency. Rolls Royce is working with offshore engineer Deltamarin, marine certification body DNV GL, and Inmarsat, to develop the technology needed for commercial drone ships.

Speaking to The Guardian, Oskar Levander, Head of Innovation for Rolls Royce’s marine unit, says: “Drone ships will will support existing players to make their businesses more efficient and enable new entrants with new business models to the sector, with a potentially similarly disruptive effect to that caused by Uber, Spotify and Airbnb in other industries.”

Matchmaking Marketing And Procurement

Marketing is often seen as the creative, playful, visionary behind a big brand, while procurement is all too frequently positioned as it’s more serious, strict counterpart.

Marketing wants to spend the money on the big idea, while procurement wants to save as much money as possible. If marketing and procurement can’t see eye to eye, one party is bound to suffer.

Speaking at the ANA’s Financial Management Conference, Target EVP and CMO Jeffrey Jones acknowledged a serious cultural difference between marketing and finance and called out addressing this divide as “one of the top three issues [the business] has to solve.”

Jones criticised marketing departments for not really understanding how their own company makes money, which is a fundamental problem for a department with one of the highest spends in most organisations.

Jones believes that Marketing needs to take account of every dollar it spends in order to demonstrate greater cost consciousness. By taking this strategy, it allows Procurement to be part of the process.

However, Jones also believes that Procurement could loosen up a bit, and understand that sometimes monetary investment is required in order to deliver results, and time is needed to deliver proof of concept.

Jones highlights a simple solution: “Marketing needs to learn more about business; and finance – and through it, procurement – needs to take risks they can’t always calculate.”

A United Front

While Target continues to work out the kinks between marketing and procurement, Coca-Cola have already put the wheels in motion to unite the two departments.

Christina Ruggiero, CPO, Coca-Cola, has taken the step to move her marketing procurement team from the procurement department, into the marketing department. This has facilitated cross-functional learning opportunities, and enabled Procurement to get a grasp on Marketing’s priorities.

As a drone and robotic technology continue evolve, is this innovative technology disruptive to the supply chain. And what will be the repercussions on procurement? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

Meanwhile, we’ve been scouring the news to find the top procurement and supply chain headlines this week…

Maersk Predict Meagre Growth in 2016

  • The parent company of shipping giant Maersk Line is projecting meagre growth in demand this year.
  • Danish conglomerate, A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S’s shipping unit, the world’s biggest container line, saw underlying earnings of $32 million in the first quarter, far below the $710 million contribution a year ago.
  • Maersk’s shipping volume grew 7 per cent in the quarter, against 1 per cent growth for the broader industry, and
  • Group Chief Executive Nils Andersen says there is no relief for weak demand and falling freight rates on the horizon, and admitted the carrier will look more to the spot market to provide a revenue boost.

Read more at the Wall Street Journal

Billions Stolen in Nigerian Fraud

  • $15 billion, equal to about half the country’s foreign currency reserves, has been stolen from Nigeria’s public purse through fraudulent arms-procurement deals.
  • Africa’s top oil exporter is going through its worst economic crisis in decades due to the drop in global crude prices, and ministers say these problems have been exacerbated by the impact of fraud under previous administrations.
  • Endemic corruption over decades has enriched a small elite but left many Nigerians mired in poverty despite the country’s oil wealth.

Read more at the African Independent

Nordic Defence Procurement Agreement

  • Representatives of the major Nordic nations have come together to sign a new agreement relating to defence procurement.
  • An update to an agreement originally signed in 2015, it aims to promote joint development between Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark.
  • The agreement does not obligate a country to sign to any specific deal, but allows for greater collaboration between the nations.

Read more at Jane’s Defence Weekly

Small Businesses Suffering Brain Drain

A lack of employee benefits has been cited as one of the key reasons employees leave small businesses every year.

Small businesses employee benefits

Small businesses are suffering a staff brain drain, with nearly one in five workers quitting each year for new jobs blaming poor employee benefits, research from new online provider Pure Benefits shows.

The study by Pure Benefits found that 18 per cent of staff – around 450,000 a year – have switched in the past five years, saying a lack of benefits was a major reason.

Sourcing Employee Benefits

Small businesses with fewer than 50 staff employ more than 12.4 million people across the UK, and have total annual turnover of more than £1.2 trillion. However, these business often struggle to source employee benefits such as life insurance, income protection and private medical insurance for staff.

The Pure Benefits research found that 63 per cent of small business owners are confused by the employee benefits options on offer, and don’t know how to find cost-effective solutions for staff. More than a fifth of owners (22 per cent) say they do not offer any benefits.

Pure Benefits enables business owners to source cost effective benefits including life insurance, income protection, dental insurance, business travel insurance, critical illness and key person cover from leading providers including Unum, Aviva, Vitality, National Dental Plan and Millstream.

The company’s online service is designed to be quick and efficient and to address administrative and compliance issues for small companies focused on growing their businesses and protecting staff.

Employee Benefits Requirements

While there are some benefits that organisations are required by law to grant to employees, such as holiday allowance, minimum wage, working hours and sick leave, going beyond this for small businesses can be difficult.

In fact, starting this year in the UK, small businesses will be required for the first time to provide employees with a pension, something which is aimed at ensuring future provision for all workers in the country. However, in America, this still isn’t a requirement.

Other benefits, such as maternity or paternity leave, also differ from organisation to organisation, and country to country. In the UK, employees are entitled to up to 52 weeks of maternity leave, but in the USA, employees are entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave.

The strength of employee benefits will often swing a decision on where an individual’s next job is going to be. The promise of incentives (bonus, car, etc.) or benefits (pensions, leave, etc.) is said to be one of the deciding factors for employees, beyond company brand or other, intangible, factors.

Valued Staff

Stuart Gray, founder and chairman of Pure Benefits says: “The small business brain drain is a growing issue for small companies with nearly one in five staff leaving every year simply because they are not receiving the benefits the big firms provide

“That is a major brake on the ambitions of small business owners who our research shows are committed to expansion. Around 80 per cent of companies told us they want to grow, while 47 per cent say they want to protect their business.

“Well-designed and cost-effective employee benefits are a major driver in enabling businesses to grow and ensure staff feel valued and are more productive as a result.”

The table below shows the benefits on offer at firms employing up to 50 staff:

Small Businesses Employee Benefits

ANZAC Soldiers in WWI – What Supply Chain Leaders Can Learn

How did John Monash, a Jewish son of German immigrants, become one of the greatest leaders of ANZAC forces during the First World War? And what’s its relevance to Supply Chain leaders?

Sir John Monash - Supply Chain Leaders

Recently I finished listening to Roland Perry’s audio book on ‘Monash: The outsider who won a war’, and found it a fascinating insight into early Australian military and social history.

And it got me thinking about what it was that meant that modern day universities, freeways, suburbs, scholarship funds and monuments were dedicated to and named for John Monash.

He became very famous, and if the King of England wanted to be his mate, then there must have been something special about this West Melbourne-born bloke!

You could say that Monash was pretty smart – a civil engineer, lawyer, business and artillery officer by training and profession. These skills saw him eventually become the Commander of the Australian Corps, which, at the time, was the largest individual corps on the Western Front.

Technologically Savvy

Like great supply chain leaders today, Monash was fascinated with technology, and what it could potentially do to meet his objectives. The Tank intrigued Monash and, along with the machine gun, he used it as a new and powerful offensive weapon.

Monash, like a smart manager today, encouraged his subordinates to come up with innovative ideas. One of them was a smoke canister that could be fired from artillery, providing screening for advancing troops.

He even used his legal training and knowledge of legal patents to help that soldier get that invention patented!

Health, Welfare, Blood and Guts!

Monash recorded in his diaries seeing and hearing the agonising cries and moans of injured soldiers left for dead after many of the battles at Gallipoli. It was this that led him to demand the urgent need for post combat repatriation and emergency medical treatment.

He also strongly advocated for more nursing services for recovering soldiers, which would have been a tough gig in those days.

Nothing demoralises an Army more than poor trauma health care, and Monash realised this. And any HR professional working in the supply chain knows that Health and Welfare programs work!

Leading his People

Monash’s leadership skills were second to none, especially when it came to his troops. He valued them. He wanted them alive.

He didn’t want to waste them as dispensable shock troops, as some suggest the British Commanders used ANZAC troops as, and like the movie Gallipoli portrayed them.

He went out of his way so that his troops would be given public recognition for their wins, sacrifices and heroic deeds, as censorship, particularly in newspapers, was suffocating at that time.

And what employee doesn’t crave a manger’s public recognition for a job well done? Monash understood implicitly the positive psychological effects of this.

Planning, Forecasting and Communicating

Monash as civil engineer understood the importance of intact supply chains and the logistics of moving people.

This expertise proved invaluable on the Western front. Time spent rebuilding destroyed road and rail networks, and town infrastructures, enabled the carrying of much needed supplies and reinforcements where and when he needed them.

Monash was a meticulous planner. He used all available topographical maps, often venturing into the field to survey objectives, so his soldiers could use existing terrain to their advantage and safety.

Planning skills and forecasting are nothing new to supply chain leaders, and it’s especially effective when you let your “troops” know what’s expected and up ahead.

People, Procurement and Negotiating

One of the most important tools in the arsenal for supply chain leaders, and what Monash was exceptional at, was the ability to negotiate, schmooze and defer when necessary to his superiors and reports. Or win them over with a confident well planned strategy.

Personal Fortitude, Self-development and “sucking that gut in”.

Monash, like any great leader, didn’t magically acquire “grit” or fortitude. He worked on himself both physically and mentally.

He read. He studied those around him. He picked himself up after failures and setbacks. And he was able to overcome racial slurs and innuendos, about his religious and cultural roots used by his opponents and detractors. At one stage even the Australian prime minister had it in for him!

When John Monash died in 1931 approximately 300,000 mourners turned out to pay their respects. Given the small size of Melbourne at that time, it showed how revered this great man was.

Monash - supply chain leaders
Australian Stamp Celebrating Sir John Monash

So whilst today’s supply chain leaders may not be involved in terrible international conflicts, some of the aptitudes and skills that a great Australia demonstrated over his lifetime, could be inspiring.

You can catch up with more leadership and life and style thinking at www.productiveminds.com.au.

Inspirational Words from Women in Procurement 2016

The Faculty’s Hugo Britt shares some inspirational words and thought-provoking ideas from the 2nd Annual Women in Procurement conference. 

Women in Procurement 2016 Inspirational Words

Back in March, I attended Quest Event’s 2nd Annual Women in Procurement conference in Melbourne, representing Procurious as the event’s media partner.

Literally within minutes of the conference being opened by NBN Co’s Chief Procurement Officer Coretta Bessi, I was scrambling to keep up my note taking as a flood of ideas, inspirational words and thought leadership came from the podium. And this pace didn’t let up over the two days of the conference.

Why run a conference exclusively for women in Procurement in Australia? Because the numbers are dire.

According to Jigsaw Talent Management’s Trends in Gender Diversity, the average split in the Australian national workforce is 54 per cent to 46 per cent in favour of men. But in the Procurement profession specifically the numbers are much worse – 63 per cent to 36 per cent in favour of men. Let’s not also forget the widening gender pay gap – currently averaging 17.1 per cent.

All of these figures point to an urgent need to drive change through a gathering of minds such as that seen at Women in Procurement.

Rather than try to summarise the content of the key speakers’ presentations, I’d like to share what I took as the most inspirational words and thought-provoking quotes from the conference.

Coretta Bessi, CPO, NBN Co.

“Ask yourself every day: ‘What am I doing today that will make me better tomorrow than I was yesterday?’”

Kelly Irwin, Head of Procurement Australia and NZ, Holcim

“Have the courage to leap out of your comfort zone.”

“A boss depends on authority, but a leader depends on goodwill.”

Jonathan Dutton, Director, JD Consultancy

“The secret to success in procurement is staying relevant to the vision.”

“Corporate Social Responsibility has the potential to change the fabric of our decision-making in procurement.”

Dutton’s four big critiques of modern procurement:

  1. An unproductive focus on cost
  2. Organisational isolation with no customer focus
  3. Glacial pace of procurement processes
  4. Acting without enquiry and not asking WHY.

Margaret Ruwoldt, University of Melbourne, speaking on the “Working out Loud” movement

“Hierarchical boundaries are much more permeable in a networked world. You have personal development opportunities that didn’t exist five years ago.”

“’Working out Loud’ is ‘How to Make Friends and Influence People’ meets the internet”

“Don’t wait to be plucked from the crowd – make yourself stand out.”

Jackie Aggett, Head of Procurement, Laing O’Rourke and The Faculty Roundtable member

“Courage, for me, means believing in myself, and believing my ideas are worth sharing.”

Sharon Hoysted, Procurement Manager, Supplier Management, Boeing Aerostructures Australia

“Diversity and inclusion are key to fostering a culture of innovation in your business.”

Nelli Kim, Senior Supplier Management Specialist, Telstra International Group

“If you can get through the self-doubt and give something a try, it’s a win.”

“What are YOU doing to personally manage your development?”

Professor Margaret Alston, Monash University

“Australia’s gender pay gap has grown to 17.1 per cent differential. This is simply not equitable. To achieve the same wage in Australia, women would have to work 64 days extra per year.”

Jennie Vickers, Director Australia and NZ, IACCM

“Don’t be defined by your job title or you’ll find yourself disappearing.”

“Make the case and articulate the benefits of supplier relationship management.”

Honey Meares, Procurement Manager, Supply Strategy, Genesis Energy

On clarity of purpose: “It’s important to know what you are trying to achieve.” 

Sarah Collins, Chief Procurement Officer, NSW Roads and Maritime Services

“Don’t try to change everything at once – rather, concentrate on starting the momentum.”

You can check out the full programme for the event here.

Hugo Britt is a Research Consultant at The Faculty, 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.

Curbing Public Procurement Fraud in Africa

Are we making any progress curbing public procurement fraud in Africa?  The consensus seems to be very little, although there are pockets of not quite excellence, but at least some promise.

Public Procurement Fraud

The Anti-corruption Agencies

10 years ago the World Bank reviewed the activities of anti-corruption agencies active in Africa and came to the conclusion that they were not particularly effective, despite some significant funding.  They concluded that African governments, in general:

  • lack the know-how or the political will to control corruption and procurement fraud
  • want just to be seen to be taking some action, however ineffectual it is in practice

In reality, if a study was undertaken today, the results would be about the same. This is despite efforts by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Transparency International (TI) and Corruption Watch and others.

TI’s arm in Ghana, GII, says that their “vision is to make Ghana a corruption-free country in all spheres of human endeavour, where people and institutions act with integrity, accountability and transparency”.  Worthy sentiments, but is it just rhetoric?

The OECD tells us that “public procurement remains the government activity most vulnerable to waste, fraud and corruption due to the size of the financial flows involved”.  On average, 12-15 per cent of a country’s GDP is spent on public procurement. Some of this is wasted. However, there are no reliable statistics of how much money is lost to procurement fraud and corruption across Africa, as much of it goes unreported.

Kenya’s Procurement Woes

Despite an active but bureaucratic watchdog in Kenya: The Public Procurement Oversight Authority (PPOA), public procurement fraud and collusion in tenders is alive and well, and some say endemic. Many of the reported high value failures are in transport and logistics including railways and ports, and particularly in education.

PPOA has as its tag line “transforming procurement”. It has a laundry list of tender appeals awaiting attention and looks like it is losing the battle. Ask Haier Electrical or Hewlett Packard who together won a case against the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology in 2014 involving a project of more than US$400 million.

PwC says in a newly published report that one in every three Kenyan business leaders reported procurement-related fraud in the past two years, making it the most common type of economic crime in the country. The report faults Kenya’s procurement processes as not being robust enough to guarantee integrity at all levels.

The Politics of Preference – Women, Youth and Local Sourcing 

There is growing disquiet about preferential procurement rules and guidelines like those legislated in countries such as Nigeria.  The Nigerian government wants to help the local economy by developing emerging businesses, but new legislation on local sourcing may have the opposite effect if it is prescriptive.  Will “Made in Nigeria” allow suppliers to charge more for inferior products and services and will government buyers somehow be tempted to offer guarantees – for a fee or other benefit?

Initiatives being taken to tackle the scourge

The World Bank’s new procurement framework will allow it to better respond to the needs of client countries in Africa, while preserving robust procurement standards throughout Bank-supported projects. Since they have a portfolio of about US$42 billion in over 1,800 projects in 172 countries, this is significant.

There’s also some good news coming out of South Africa.  The Chief Procurement Officer, Kenneth Brown, has kept a low profile. Behind the scenes, his team are quietly reviewing all tenders over R10m for compliance to the rules and are looking for opportunities for cost savings.

On an expenditure of R500 billion annually, its target of savings of R25 billion looks achievable.

The State’s fragmented spending practices are now being centralised to reduce waste and get more leverage through technology. They have set their sights on some key categories: travel at R10 billion per annum, ICT, construction and leases.

The new online eTenders portal launches in April 2016 with a modest maintenance cost of just R16,000 a month. It introduces much needed transparency and will save a staggering R400 million a year that the government spends on advertising the tenders in newspapers.

Rio Olympics Focus on Global Supply Chain Sustainability

A focus on supply chain sustainability gives the Rio Olympics the opportunity to revolutionise global sustainability, and create a lasting legacy in Brazil.

Rio Olympics Supply Chain Sustainability

The Rio Olympics’ commitment to supply chain sustainability (with 100 per cent recovery, disposal and use of goods and waste) has the capacity to revolutionise supply chain sustainability worldwide as well as creating a legacy for positive change in the region, says supply chain consultancy Crimson & Co.

Despite a backdrop of political and economical uncertainty, Brazil has promised that the first South American-hosted Olympic and Paralympic Games, taking place in less than 100 days, will bring permanent changes to the city of Rio de Janeiro, with benefits spread throughout the country. Central to this has been the drive to ensure all suppliers are adopting sustainability practices.

“Most Sustainable” Olympics Ever

The London 2012 Olympics was billed as ‘the most sustainable ever’ but associations with key sponsors including BP, Rio Tinto, Dow Chemical and McDonalds, provoked a backlash from a coalition of campaign groups, keen to highlight the negative social or environmental impact of these firms.

In the run up to the Games in Rio, event organisers have been keen to ensure that all suppliers adopt sustainable practices, including managing waste, minimising the use of harmful substances, making conscious use of energy and water and maintaining ethical labour practices. Additionally, businesses are invited to participate in training sessions on sustainability as part of the bidding process.

For Richard Gurney, General Manager of Latin America for Crimson & Co, this commitment to sustainability represents the positive impact the Games can have on Rio and further afield:

“Sustainability throughout the Games’ management cycle – from initial planning to after the event – has been in the DNA of the Rio proposal since it first announced its interest in hosting the greatest sporting event on the planet.

Learning from Past Mistakes

“Brazil’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup in 2014 was not without controversy. More than $3 billion was spent on building five new stadiums and renovating seven existing ones, but many of these so-called white elephants are as likely now to collect dust as they are to generate ticket receipts. Brazil does not want to see a repeat of this and that is why there is such a huge emphasis on sustainability.

“When the Games finish, and until 2017, the Olympic Operations Committee will manage the dissolution process. This includes closing contracts, selling property assets and managing donations and returns. This planning, i.e. what will be done with each item after the Games, was part of the purchasing process and is considered part of the total cost of acquisition in purchasing decisions. The goal is 100 per cent recovery, disposal and use of goods and waste.”

Gurney continued: “In addition to reducing the environmental impact and the volume of waste after the Games, the initiative informed producers about how to get more sustainable alternatives to their products.

“Companies were invited to participate in training sessions as part of the bidding process to win contracts. Many companies still have the perception that sustainable products are more expensive. In fact, more often than not, the price of a product or service can be greater, but the cost reductions and elimination of waste in the value chain through sustainable practices lead to a lower total purchase cost.

“Time will tell on the impact of these decisions for Rio but, if carried out effectively, it has the capacity to revolutionise supply chain sustainability as well as creating a legacy for positive change. If that is the case, it will certainly have cause to rival London 2012 for the most sustainable Olympics ever.”

The Future’s Bright, The Future’s Niche Social Networks

Social media has enabled global collaboration on an unprecedented scale. But as attitudes towards the major platforms change, it’s actually niche social networks where the future lies.

Niche Social Networks

In the interests of full disclosure, I do work for a niche social network. So yes, I am slightly biased. But stay with me, as you’ll see why the argument for niche social networks holds weight.

It might seem strange to talk about a more narrow focus when technological advancements have ensured that we can speak to anyone, in any corner of the world, at any time. But as the world grows, it’s important to ensure that you are speaking to the right audience.

We only have a finite amount of time during the day to engage with colleagues, peers and stakeholders, read interesting articles, and share our experiences with others. If you’re spending that time talking to the wrong people, then you are potentially missing out on great new opportunities.

Facebook-isation

Does this post look familiar to you?

Niche Social Networks

How about this one?

Niche Social Networks

These and countless others pop up on the major social networks on an hourly basis. And while you may think I’m talking about Facebook, these were actually lifted from LinkedIn in the past week or so.

Yes, that’s right, the world’s largest networking site is now beset with endless maths problems, selfies, family photos and quizzes. While presumably posted by well-meaning members, they serve to create friction on what constitutes an ‘appropriate’ post for LinkedIn.

And it doesn’t stop at the main network feed either. Speaking to procurement professionals at conferences and events in recent weeks, many have voiced the opinion that LinkedIn’s Groups and Discussions have become “spammy”.

There are a couple of possible explanations for this turn of events. The first is that, with over 300 million members, the network has grown too large while trying to cater for too wide an audience. The other is possibly that for many users, LinkedIn represents their entire social media presence, which is why there are Facebook-type posts appearing on it.

Both LinkedIn and Facebook aren’t going anywhere. They are great networks for connecting with people and, on a professional side, LinkedIn remains the place to be for marketers and recruiters. But for individual professions, the future lies in niche social networks.

Finding Your Niche

For many professions, relevant discussions, content and connections are lost in the noise on the larger networks. This was one of the primary reasons that Procurious was founded, and why it has grown as it has. People know that the site provides up to date, relevant content for procurement and supply chain, all in one place.

Procurious caters to the procurement and supply chain audience, but there are many others you can find, depending on your profession and interests.

  • Spiceworks – A network for over a million global IT professionals, providing content, and a free IT help desk for all its members.
  • RESAAS – Over 300,000 global real estate professionals, providing leads and listings.
  • Doximity – Over 60 per cent of US-based doctors as verified members, and possible expansion to overseas markets.

The list doesn’t end there, and there are countless others for a whole host of professions that are getting started every week.

Benefits of Niche

The benefits of a niche social network are along the lines of what I have said already. Joining one of these network allows you the following:

  • Connections – Surely the Number 1 aspect of social media are the connections we make. Niche social networks offer people who could really help with your latest issues or questions.
  • Content – Is a post about global politics interesting? Probably. Is it relevant to your next negotiation? Maybe not. Niche social networks offer articles relevant to your day-to-day work (although we do throw in the occasional off-the-wall topic to keep you interested!).
  • Learning – Whether it is eLearning, or learning by asking questions to other network members, niche networks are more likely to offer a more focused, better answer.
  • News Feed – What all the sites I have mentioned have in common is a collated news feed. This means up-to-date, relevant headlines, brought together in one place.
  • Events – An events calendar for all the major events for your profession. Quickly see what is near you and decide which one you want to attend.

By being able to access all of this in one place, you can spend less time wading through irrelevant posts to find good information, and more time connecting and collaborating with the right people.

So if you’re only going to use one platform for your social media activities, why not think about a niche network.

Week In Tech: IoT Security Spending, Spiceworks & Drones

Does the future of IoT security lie in the Cloud? New research published suggested that security spending is set to take off.

IoT Security

If the latest research from Gartner is to be believed, security spending on the Internet of Things (IoT) is set to accelerate in 2016. The figure could well top $348m in 2016, meaning an increase of 23.7 per cent compared to $281.5m in 2015.

Research director Ruggero Contu, commented that the current IoT security market is small, but ripe for growth, as both businesses and consumers  migrate towards smart and networked devices.

“Gartner forecasts that 6.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide in 2016, up 30 per cent from 2015, and will reach 11.4 billion by 2018. However, considerable variation exists among different industry sectors as a result of different levels of prioritisation and security awareness,” he said.

Looking further afield, Gartner predicts that spending could rise to as much as $547m in 2018. This assumes that IoT adoption continues to gather at this same increased pace. These figures assume a march towards connected cars, heavy trucks, commercial aircraft, farming and construction equipment.

With more and more transport and equipment becoming part of the connected world, Gartner say that cyber attacks stemming from IoT will amount to 25 per cent by 2020. A lot more clearly needs to be done because as it stands IoT security spending accounts for only 10 per cent of IT budgets.

What can IT do then to better prepare itself for the connected future? Contu says we must look towards the cloud for answers to our security concerns, commenting:

“IoT business scenarios will require a delivery mechanism that can grow and keep pace with requirements in monitoring, detection, access control and other security needs.”

He goes on to say: “The future of cloud-based security services is in part linked with the future of the IoT. In fact, the IoT’s fundamental strength in scale and presence will not be fully realised without cloud-based security services to deliver an acceptable level of operation for many organisations in a cost-effective manner. By 2020, Gartner predicts that over half of all IoT implementations will use some form of cloud-based security service.”

Spiceworks Deploy Mobile Help Desk

Spiceworks has debuted a new app that takes its cloud-based help desk solution mobile for the first time.

The app will allow IT professionals to deploy and manage its services on smartphones and tablets, and allow push notifications to help them stay on top of tickets while on the go.

“We’re focused on helping IT professionals become more efficient by enabling them to run their help desk entirely from their phones or tablets,” said Sanjay Castelino, VP of Marketing at Spiceworks. “With a tool that’s easy to deploy and use on the go, IT professionals can now support their growing business in a way that works best for them.”

The platform also doubles as a social network and allows members to share their own technical know-how with others in the community. What’s more, users can submit requests for quotations for IT purchases to vendors direct from the app itself.

The Spiceworks Help Desk mobile app is available for download today on iOS- and Android-based smartphones and tablets.

When Will Drones Lead to Loss of Life?

As drone flight increases in popularity, and with Amazon’s delivery plans seeing no signs of abating, aviation officials say it’s only a matter of time before the inevitable.

On 17 April, a British Airways plane was believed to have come close to a drone that had flown into its airspace. James Stamp, global head of aviation at KPMG commented on the recent near-miss at London’s Heathrow Airport:

“People who fly drones in controlled airspace are potentially putting lives in danger, and should be subject to the strongest possible sanctions available under the law. A number of practical steps should be taken, including requiring drones to be registered, tougher penalties for irresponsible behaviour, and technology based solutions that will prevent the drones entering restricted airspace in the first place.

“More research is also required into the potential impact of collisions because, while the impact of bird-strikes has been well researched, the impact of drone impacts is less well understood.”

On Valentine’s Day, a drone came within 20-150ft of an Airbus A320 flying at 12,500 feet near Biggin Hill in Kent. The incident was made all the more serious by the fact that drones are permitted by law to fly only under a height of 400 feet.

Incidents are only gathering in pace – to put things into perspective, there were nine near misses in 2014, but this increased to 40 last year.

Have you got an interest in IoT security, networks and drones? Want to connect with fellow procurement professionals in IT? Then head over to Procurious’ dedicated Group for IT Procurement.

What Does Procurement Agility Mean in 2016?

Discussing the term ‘Procurement Agility’, and the ways in which procurement organisations can become more agile in their activities.

Procurement Agility

In various reports and papers published over the last few years the phrase “procurement must be agile”, appears on a constant basis. Indeed, there is even a regular publication called ‘The Agility Agenda’. It’s an excellent read and well worth subscribing to.

This article will try and give some practical takeaways for procurement professionals to consider when applying in their own environments.

When considering procurement agility, we need to consider internal and external environments for the two main themes that are emerging in 2016.

Procurement Talent

With the release of the recent Deloitte CPO Survey, attention has once again fallen on talent, and the acquisition, developing and retaining of it. According to the report over 60 per cent of CPOs feel that their teams do not have the skills needed to perform their roles. What is also interesting in noting that the report suggests that these CPOS are not looking to change their teams, but to develop them.

The report states that training budgets have largely stagnated, if not fallen. So how can CPOs develop their teams without a large training budget.

The answer could be an agile programme that blends the theories and methods of procurement with an increase in workplace based development. These programmes, sometimes called Active Learning Programmes, are a mix of short classroom based sessions, which are then immediately applied back in the workplace. When those skills have been applied, it’s time to move to the next set of skills.

These activities are supplemented with desktop video learning. Again, the importance is on the quick application back in the workplace. The idea here is to utilise more of the 70-20-10 learning methodology. Writers such as Tough (1979) and Kajewski and Masden (2012) have argued that the majority of adult learning (about 70 per cent) takes place outside institutional frameworks, while 20 per cent is supported by those who are not professional helpers, such as supervisors, colleagues, parents and friends. Professional helpers, such as teachers, trainers and counsellors, account for only 10 per cent.

For example:

  • 70 per cent – informal, on the job, experience based, stretch projects and practice
  • 20 per cent – coaching, mentoring, developing through others
  • 10 per cent – formal learning interventions and structured courses.

The application of this theory into development platforms has gained momentum in recent years, and this has impacted how people put together formal programmes. For example, according to Kajewski and Masden (2012), an Australian firm has 70 per cent of learning as experience on the job to integrate, practice and master new skills, knowledge or changes in behaviour.

20 per cent of learning is from exposure to others, such as learning through the observation of others (mentors, coaches), and reflection on the impact of this behaviour on one’s own practice. Just 10 per cent of learning is from formal programs designed for the acquisition of knowledge or skills through carefully programmed instruction.

Alternatively, an Australian public sector programme has been set out in a more simplistic way, in that 70 per cent of learning is experiential, 20 per cent of learning is relationship based and 10 per cent of learning is formal.

What is clear is that despite the differences in application the methodology allows multiple ways for practitioners to develop their skills as opposed to formal training alone.

Responsiveness

One of the constant gripes about procurement is the time it takes to “get things done”. Procurement therefore needs to be agile in responding to its stakeholders, both internally and externally.

The fundamentals of Just In Time suggest a review of the non-value and value-adding activities as a means of eliminating waste. If we apply this to our process and procedures, we may find that the need to ask the same question multiple times adds to the turnaround time in procurement, and frustrates suppliers.

Many procurement organisations decide, for a number of reasons, that they need to deal with a set of suppliers who have already passed the hurdle required to supply to an organisation. This could be supply chain transparency, insurance requirements, past history. The ‘barriers’ are yours to set.

Pre-qualification allows these questions to be answered once, and also will allow procurement to have pass/fail rates for areas such as supply chain transparency and accreditation. Ultimately this will also help to develop better relationships with those critical suppliers, to reduce lead times, allow for innovation, and allow procurement to focus on other value adding activities.

When considering the matter of procurement agility, it is imperative to understand the multiple ways we can be agile in meeting the changing needs of our organisations. From building better teams, equipped with the skills and knowledge our organisations require for the future, to ensuring that the suppliers we work with can help meet the objectives of the organisations, procurement agility comes in many shapes and sizes.