Flying Warehouses & Fashion Buyouts – Amazon Dominates Headlines

No sooner had 2017 started than Amazon appeared in the news in a big way. From flying warehouses, to buyouts of fashion chains, no-one dominates the headlines quite like the online giant.

flying warehouse

Disruption. It was a buzzword of 2016, and even if the word is falling out of favour, the activity looks set to continue this year. And the company at the forefront (again) of this disruption is Amazon.

The online giant has proven time and again it’s not content to rest on it laurels. So when the company appeared across the news headlines for a variety of reasons, you might not have been surprised. However, when you consider the headlines it was making, you might think again.

Flying Warehouses – The New Reality

Many companies will consider the cost of new facilities to meet demand trends in their strategies. Amazon, however, appear to have bypassed the real estate question with their proposed flying warehouse.

The company submitted patents late in 2016 for these warehouses, which would be serviced by a fleet of drones. The purpose of the “airborne fulfilment centre” would be to visit spectator-heavy events (think music festivals, sports events) where they could sell in-demand goods.

Analytics firm, CB Insights, were responsible for finding the flying warehouse patent, originally filed in 2014.  Additional patents serve to outline other plans in line with the warehouses too. These include a fleet of shuttles to keep warehouses stocked, the creation of an interconnected network of drones, as well as docking stations for drones to allow them to be picked up by the shuttles.

A diagram from Amazon’s patent (image courtesy of South China Morning Post)

The idea might sound a touch fantastical, but there are serious potential benefits that Amazon could realise. Not only would it save Amazon money in building warehouses, but it would also save on energy costs. Drones would be able to glide down to deliveries before being picked up.

Add to this using the airships as flying billboards, and Amazon could sell advertising space above some of the world’s biggest events.

This could represent a huge step change in the retail environment, with Amazon at the forefront. And you wouldn’t bet against them making it a reality. After all, it wasn’t long ago they completed the first drone delivery – something people dismissed when the idea was first proposed.

The Fastest Fashion of All?

It’s not just logistics and warehousing that Amazon are interested in disrupting either. There are strong rumours in the USA that Amazon are set to purchase American Apparel out of bankruptcy.

The clothing retailer went into bankruptcy in November for a second time. Now, with bids submitted late last week, it is suggested that Amazon might come out victorious. The move would fall in line with Amazon’s strategy to add to it’s nascent fashion arm.

The buyout would help to protect 4,500 jobs in America, and allow them to access American Apparel’s 100 plus stores across the country. It could also give Amazon a political boost following heavy criticism of its practices from President-elect Donald Trump.

Throughout his Presidential campaign, Trump criticised Amazon (amongst others) over its tax payments and business model. However, by purchasing American Apparel and maintaining its ‘Made in America’ promise, it’s thought that it may help smooth tensions between the company and the future President.

Technology Trends

Finally, Amazon has also been making headlines in the technology world. Even without attending the CES gadget show in Las Vegas, Amazon is making its presence felt.

Not only is Amazon’s ‘Alexa‘ AI assistant gaining in popularity, it’s also the chosen system for many other companies. Prominent companies, including Ford, LG, and Lenovo have all opted for Alexa as the AI interface in some of their products.

Increasing number of products are integrating voice commands, and Amazon’s decision to release an Alexa developer kit last year appear to be paying off. The company is seen as the early mover in this space, and looks set to continue its dominance over its rivals.

Even if there is still potential for glitches in the system delivering unwelcome surprises!

Do you think Amazon will make its flying warehouses a reality? Is this the next step in retail? Let us know in the comments below.

With the new year flying past, we’ve saved you some time by searching out this week’s top headlines…

Tesla’s Gigafactory Begins Mass Production of Battery Cells

  • In partnership with Panasonic, Tesla has begun producing lithium-ion battery cells for energy storage products and the Model 3 vehicle.
  • The Gigafactory is being built in phases, with manufacturing beginning inside finished sections. It is expected to be the largest building in the world when completed.
  • The current structure is only 30 per cent complete, yet houses 4.9 million square feet of operational space.
  • Tesla anticipates cost reductions through increasing automation, process design, locating most manufacturing processes under one roof and economies of scale.  

Read more on the Tesla website

Trump “Personally Involved” in Procurement Decisions

  • An analysis of Donald Trump’s campaign promises and policies has revealed that he is unlikely to make significant changes to U.S. Defence procurement policy.
  • However, he will seek to be personally involved in the negotiation of major acquisitions.
  • The President-elect tweeted about cost overruns of the Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jet, and encouraged Boeing to compete with its F-18 Super Hornet.
  • Trump’s focus appears to be on technology that is immediately available rather than future research and development, and leans towards Airforce and Navy investment rather than Army.

Read more at Defense News 

Top Supply Chain Universities Ranked in U.S.

  • SCM World has released the results of a survey ranking the top institutions for Supply Chain courses in the U.S.
  • Practitioners were asked to list their top three institutions that are “markers of supply chain talent”,
  • The top five places went to: Michigan State University; Western Michigan University; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Penn State University; and Arizona State University.
  • Connection to industry, through practical education and internships, was also flagged as an important factor in the results.

Read more at Forbes

Apple Removes New York Times from App Store

  • Apple has removed the New York Times App from its Chinese app store, in compliance with a request from the Chinese Government.
  • The Chinese Government began blocking the NYT website after a series of articles on then Prime Minister, Wen Jiabao, in 2012.
  • An Apple spokesperson stated the reason for the removal was “that the app is in violation of local regulations”.
  • Both Apple and Chinese authorities declined to comment on what regulations had been violated, or if the app would reappear in the future.

Read more at the New York Times

Financial Troubles Spell Tough Times for Small Businesses

The start of 2017 looks set to be a tough period for small businesses. With increasing number of businesses being wound up, it appears the high street’s suffering is far from over.

insolvency small businesses

The past twelve months have been hard for small businesses, and it doesn’t look as though 2017 will offer much respite. Changing consumer trends, and economic and political factors, are already taking their toll on the UK’s High Street.

Over 760 businesses ceased trading in December 2016, with a further 1093 small businesses scheduled to be wound up this month. And, according to a survey of the latest insolvency notices published in The Gazette, some industries are being harder hit than others.

Small Business Suffering

Between the companies wound up in December and January, as well as those which failed in the third quarter of 2016, it brings the total number up to nearly 5,500 failed businesses.

With the official figures for the final quarter of 2016 due for publication in January 2017, cause and effect is yet to be confirmed. But it is certain that wherever a business is unable to weather restrictions in cash flow, insolvency looms.

The research was carried out on behalf of London insolvency practitioners Hudson Weir. It reveals that some industries are being hit harder when it comes to failing businesses. The study revealed that 14.5 per cent of these companies were operating in the retail and food and drink sectors.

However, it’s in the construction industry where the impact is felt most acutely. According to data collected during the second quarter of 2016, 2450 construction companies ceased trading. Next most affected was the wholesale, retail and repair of vehicles sector, with 2065 company insolvencies.

And it’s not only small businesses suffering from lower trading towards the end of 2016. Retail giant, Next, has issued a warning over trading for 2017. The company saw a drop of 3.5 per cent in the run up to Christmas, and anticipates a similarly gloomy picture for 2017.

Brexit or Cash Flow to Blame

The reasons for company insolvency can be complex, ranging from unrealistic planning through fraud and unforeseen loss of market share. But the root cause of is it frequently simple: inadequate cash flow.

Financial trouble tends to strike early in the business life cycle. Only 41.4 per cent of the UK businesses started in 2010 survived to their fifth birthday.

But how much of an impact has the Brexit vote and uncertainty had on insolvencies? Although the UK economy seems to be surviving the immediate post-referendum period, vulnerable business sectors – like construction – have experienced contraction.

Restaurants, cafes and other food outlets are heavily represented in the latest insolvency reports, too, a trend which could reflect the recent well-publicised rise in food prices. Even large companies such as catering giant Compass have been affected by the consequences of a weaker pound.

Hasib Howlader, a chartered accountant at Hudson Weir Ltd, commented on the survey results.

“Brexit is unlikely to bring good news for small businesses, and it seems now it’s just a question of how bad it’s going to be. With more than 40 per cent of small businesses struggling to survive beyond five years even in a pre-Brexit climate, it’s now more important than ever for them to be looking for warning signs that their business may be unhealthy.

“If cash flow is a problem, and you can no longer pay your bills as they fall due, the earlier you speak to an insolvency practitioner the better.”

Mitigating the Effects

Even though businesses are at the mercy of circumstance, it’s possible to mitigate the effect of uncertain situations like Brexit. Hudson Weir recommends that business owners:

  • Get to know the normal patterns in cash flow data

When a business keeps good records of its cash flow over a period of years, it’s possible to identify seasonal and other trends, and plan for them.

  • Look to the future

The logical next step after record-keeping is making a cash flow forecast. A clear-eyed view of incomings and outgoings six months to a year in advance helps manage business expectations.

  • Keep up to date with invoicing and payments

Each invoice should be accompanied by clear payment terms, and it’s well worth enforcing these. It’s also worth getting to know customer payment habits, since any unusual delays can be early indicators of financial trouble.

  • Make long payment terms the exception, not the rule

30- and 60-day terms make cash flow management more complicated.

  • Focus on managing cash flow

This is something even highly profitable business should do, as out-of-control cash flow undermines profitability and jeopardises future prospects.

Big Ideas Summit 2016: Big Idea #29 – Hug a Maverick

Need a different solution to help stop maverick spend in your procurement organisation? Why not hug a maverick?

At the Big Ideas Summit 2016, we challenged our thought leaders to share their Big Ideas for the future of procurement.

From ideas that have the potential to change the very nature of the procurement profession, to ones that got the assembled minds thinking about the profession’s impact outside of the organisation, the response we received was amazing.

Give Them a Hug

Stuart Brocklehurst, Chief Executive at Applegate Marketplace, argues that procurement’s importance to the organisation has never been greater. However, it still only has influence over a small proportion of the spend area it’s responsible for.

Stuart also believes that this change cannot come about by ordering changes and laying down the law. But procurement can start the process by “hugging a maverick” – engaging with people and enabling them to understand the benefits of working closely with procurement.

Catch up with all the delegates’ Big Ideas from the 2016 Summit at the Procurious Learning Hub.

Want to find out more about Big Ideas 2016? And maybe what we have planned for 2017? You can visit our dedicated website!

If you like this (and you haven’t done so already) join Procurious for free today. Get connected with over 18,750 like-minded procurement professionals from across the world.

Trade War Against China? A Supply Chain Perspective

Comments made by President-elect Trump last year sparked talk of a trade war with China. But what impact will this have on supply chains?

This article was originally published on My Purchasing Center.

The Chinese government recently raised a “tit for tat” challenge to new U.S. President-Elect Donald J. Trump over a potential trade war against China, in an editorial published on China’s international state news outlet Global Times.

The op-ed states that “[a] batch of Boeing orders will be replaced by Airbus. U.S. auto and iPhone sales in China will suffer a setback, and U.S. soybean and maize imports will be halted…” if Trump decides to impose a proposed 45 per cent trade tariff.

A Special Trade Relationship

To overstate the significance of the U.S.-China trade partnership is quite difficult.

In 2015, they accounted for $659.4 billion in bilateral trade, of which $161.6 billion were Chinese imports of U.S.-produced goods. As the largest, and yet still one of the fastest-growing consumer markets in the world, China is vital to the strength and prosperity of America’s export economy.

Most notably, of the American-made products included in the Global Times statement, agricultural products ($20 billion), aircraft ($15 billion), and vehicles ($11 billion) are amongst the highest value U.S. export categories. They are therefore critical to the success of American companies operating in these industries.

From China’s perspective, it is no longer the emerging market economy of decades past. It can instead rely on its own considerable production capabilities, rather than sit by the wayside as the U.S. attempts to push a trade agenda through its considerable economic muscle.

iPhone Impact

Amongst the multi-billion-dollar trade categories, the iPhone may seem like a curious inclusion. However, despite FY2016 sales of nearly $50 billion in China market, Apple’s Chinese revenues are still projected to grow.

Beyond the obvious consequences of an iPhone sales freeze, or a 45 per cent trade tariff on Apple’s top line, there are also significant economic implications behind China’s statement from a supply chain perspective. In particular, from the viewpoint of a procurement specialist.

As the most valuable company in the world, Apple’s tremendous growth in recent years has primarily been driven by sales of the iPhone. The device made up over 63 per cent of Apple’s FY 2016 revenues.

Analyst estimates of the iPhone’s profit margins have put it at over 70 per cent of retail value. This makes it by far the most lucrative amongst Apple’s products, and likely across the spectrum of consumer technology products.

According to a recent report by BMO Capital Markets, the iPhone took an astonishing 103.6 per cent of smartphone industry profits in Q3 2016. What enables the iPhone to reap such staggering margins is largely due to Apple’s global supply chain. It entails near end-to-end cost minimisation, and an integrated procurement strategy from its hundreds-strong global supplier network.

Value Chain Activities

Apple’s value chain, from its inbound logistics and manufacturing through outbound logistics and marketing, all go through China in one way or another. Procurement plays a central role in providing each activity with the necessary resources to operate efficiently and at low cost.

A proposed 45 per cent Chinese trade tariff would fundamentally alter how, and from where, Apple procures the majority of these resources. It would also significantly drive up costs and logistical complexities throughout the whole of its global supply chain.

It is important to note that very few companies possess the in-depth supply chain practices of Apple. Therefore, integrating a centralised procurement structure into such companies’ supply chains becomes even more critical.

The prevalence of global supplier and distribution networks, like Apple’s, across modern manufacturing companies relays the important role of procurement specialists in the development of integrated strategies. These strategies must not only generate value, but also mitigate the multitude of risks associated with maintaining international supply chains.

In the event of significant geo-political and economic shocks, such as a potential U.S.-China trade war, procurement can work closely with companies to ensure manufacturing processes are harmed as little as possible.

This means that across affected countries, companies can rest assured that their sourcing, manufacturing, distribution and sales activities can be substituted quickly and cost-effectively through alternative sources, while maintaining similar levels of cost and operational efficiency.

Ultimately, no one can say for sure whether President-elect Trump will initiate a trade war with China. Or to what extent Apple and companies like it will be affected. However, companies with an established supply chain and sound procurement practices can sleep in comfort knowing that they will be prepared to face similar challenges that may come their way.

What Does Your Ideal Company Look Like?

Many graduates embarking on the world of work think their ideal company is a large, corporate company, with great offices. But is this the best route to fast track success?

small or large company

Many of us have experienced working for large organisations and been given the opportunity to change positions multiple times within that same business. Larger organisations tend to have sites in different locations, allowing individuals to be more flexible with living and travel choices.

Within Procurement, corporate organisations exhibit strong brand awareness and recognition resulting in strong negotiation with suppliers leveraging economies of scale. Larger organisations bring greater resources enabling better technology infrastructure and subsequent commercial advantage.

Large Company Pressures

Having previously worked for a large international company for a decade, one of the challenges I experienced was establishing social cohesion and culture. It can be harder to get to know your colleagues and co-workers due to the large volume of employees.

For people who appreciate a familiar environment, this can be a disadvantage. High performers and confident individuals get noticed, gaining new opportunities and promotions seemingly more easily. However, this can put pressure on individuals to perform and stand out, creating a stressful working environment.

Change within a large organisation can sometimes be difficult to implement and occurs at a much slower pace. The numerous levels of communication and various approval structures agreeing the transformation mean larger organisations are not perceived to be as agile and responsive as some smaller entities.

These are just some of the challenges leading employees to consider working in a smaller business.

Transitioning from Large to SME

The transition from employment with a larger to smaller business can prove to be a considerable learning curve. Frequently, the cultural behaviours and habits deemed necessary and acceptable in larger organisations do not translate to an SME.

Behaviours such as empire building (often considered a sign of success in a large corporation) can also be detrimental in a smaller business. Instead, it is essential to create a culture of mutual interest and success instead of territorial defence.

In my experience the benefits of working within an SME significantly outweigh any habitual adjustments. You instantly realise that it is more personable, with the ability to build relationships across all levels with direct access to your colleagues.

There is more opportunity to broaden your skill set with exposure to broader roles, which in turn keeps it interesting. Additionally, you can make a real impact daily, and be recognised for it. Everything happens with more agility and ability to respond, implementing change and new ideas with momentum.

When transitioning from a large organisation to a smaller workforce it can be uncomfortable, adjusting to the culture and a more personal working experience. Great opportunities come with this transition: more chances to exhibit your abilities; increased responsibilities and exposure, meaning your hard work gets noticed.

Finally, flexibility with home working and desk-bound hours is something I have personally found immensely refreshing. Trusting individuals to manage their own workload and day creates incredible loyalty and motivated employees.

Emma Lambert is a Resourcing Manager at Procurement Heads, a UK-based procurement recruiter. Procurement Heads is all about getting to know great Procurement people and bringing them together to make outstanding Procurement teams.

Following the eISM Yellow Brick Road – A Guide to Guided Learning

We’re at the beginning of the yellow brick road, folks. This course is the foundation of all ISM’s educational offerings.

yellow brick road

Time zones can make things difficult. When I first signed up for ISM’s Fundamentals of Purchasing Guided Learning, I was resigned to the fact that I’d probably need to get up in the middle of the night here in Australia to join a series of four live webinars, broadcast from ISM’s head office in Arizona.

Luckily, it didn’t turn out that way at all. ISM ran their webinars after work hours in the US, which meant I could join them at the very civilised time of 9.30am. So, with headphones in and a cup of coffee within reach, I started my first foray into guided eLearning.

The Yellow Brick Road

When Dr. Wade C. Ferguson, (President, Erv Lewis Associates, LLC) compared the course to the beginning of the yellow brick road, he was referring to ISM’s comprehensive Mastery Model, a set of competency-based standards for the profession.

At first glance, the model is dauntingly large, with 16 main competencies and over 70 sub-competencies to choose from. However, once you break it down to essentials that are relevant to you, and chart out the competencies you wish to specialise in, it all begins to make sense.

Every competency in the Mastery Model is linked to one or more ISM Training (or eLearning) offerings. In addition, this particular course sits across a whole suite of introductory-level sub-competencies.

Access Anywhere, Any Time

Essentially, Guided Learning is self-paced eLearning with an instructor. The course ran over four weeks, with 16 modules, four of which were live webinars facilitated by the procurement and supply management veteran, Dr Ferguson.

The remaining 12 modules were homework, to be completed between the webinars. Each of the “homework” modules delivered information in an engaging mixture of multimedia, including ISM’s micro-learning videos, voice recordings or plain reading. The modules then always ended with a quiz to check knowledge and comprehension.

The main benefit of guided learning would have to be that you can take the course without leaving your home or office. This is vital for professionals who don’t have the time, or travel budget, necessary to attend training in-person. It also means that people like me can join from over 13,000 kilometres away.

The flexibility this offers is fantastic. One of the four live webinars caused a clash in my schedule, but this wasn’t a problem at all. I simply accessed the recording from the learning portal to watch later in the day.

The Guided Experience

Dr Ferguson drew upon his 40 years of industry experience to pepper his instruction with illustrations from his own career in supply management and education. The course covered, as expected: fundamentals of supply management; legal considerations; category management; contract formation and management; and finally, negotiation skills.

Here are some gems from Dr Ferguson’s webinar commentary:

  • Future-oriented procurement: “We have to be proactive, anticipatory, and not just react to a buy signal. It’s about the identification of what is needed, both now and in the future.”
  • Changing business priorities: “You know, flexibility has got to part of what we do every day. At some point you’re going to have a new CEO coming and totally upsetting the apple cart. What are you going to do?”
  • Vision statements: “When organisations express their cultural aspirations, they typically flow down through the organisation and find a home in the supply function.”
  • Social responsibility: “Find some small areas where your function can really make a difference”.
  • Strategy: “A roadmap without a destination isn’t very useful – it’s just spinning your wheels.”

The only thing I felt I was missing out on in the eLearning experience was getting to know my classmates. It’s like sitting in a movie theatre full of invisible people all watching the same thing. You know they’re there, but there’s no way to see them, or talk to them.

The instructor had a great deal to get through, but I would have appreciated him pausing for a moment to talk about who was online, where they’re from, what they do and the companies they represent. That being said, there was a discussion board available in the learning portal where you could introduce yourself.

On My Way

To circle back to Dr Ferguson’s ‘Wizard of Oz’ analogy, I feel I’ve taken some significant steps along the Yellow Brick Road of ISM Mastery over the past four weeks. There was a huge amount of information compressed into the course’s 16 modules, but the self-paced aspect made the workload feel very manageable.

Find out more about eISM here. Registrations are also now open for ISM2017 – click here for more information.

Throwback Thursday – Who Gives a Tweet? Social Media for Procurement Executives

Still not sure about giving a tweet? Procurement professionals and executives need to be on the social media front line – and here’s why.

social media for procurement professionals

This article was first published on taniaseary.com.

Will I ever get on top of social media? Slack is the latest team collaboration tool that my 25-year-old whiz kids are pushing me into now. It’s a never-ending cycle of trying to keep up with the Jones’s (in the social media sense).

Since posting my “Who gives a Tweet” blog a few months ago, I think I’ve heard just about every reason why procurement professionals are finding it hard to “pick up the slack” and get social.

We’ve been really fortunate on Procurious to build a strong community of procurement professionals committed to sharing and building the knowledge base of the profession. However, there is still a lot of opportunity for more involvement.

Avoid the Excuses

For the uninitiated (and probably the offline) there are many excuses offered for avoiding being online.

But the most popular excuses are lack of time and not knowing what to talk about.

So, I’m putting forward a “Seary Theory” that is the “Two T’s” – Time and inTimidation (OK, not quite a second T) – are stopping more procurement professionals for being on-line. But more on that later…

procurement-executives

First, let’s all agree that social media is not going away.

I don’t need to explain to this educated group how social media is “disrupting” and “enabling” just about every type of business on the planet. We’ve seen retail, banking, communications and entertainment, and we will soon be finding out what it means for supply chain and procurement…

The way I look at it, social media is something we need to take VERY seriously.

The procurement profession is hosting conferences focussing on digital disruption and talking about the speed of change in today’s world. But I need to ask – are we walking the talk?

Yes, social media could be a fad, but then again, it could be the new way of doing business and therefore we need to embrace it.

I know a lot of procurement professionals think that social media is something that other people do. It’s all selfies on Facebook, cat videos on YouTube, and a plethora of Kardashians on Twitter. All true.

But the reality is, it’s not just Justin Bieber, Oprah and Grumpy Cat that are using social media. Do you realise who else is out there?

So why aren’t the rest of us “out there”? Putting ourselves in the fray? Why should I, as a procurement professional, be on Social Media?

Your Professional Development

By creating a strong network around yourself, you will be stronger for it.

It’s how you can stay informed and get ahead. Be it via LinkedIn, Procurious, Twitter or even Facebook, access the news as it’s posted, discover the world around you, keep abreast of industry gossip.

You need to have your finger on the pulse of the profession; anticipate things before they’ve happened, know who has changed jobs (and where they’ve gone to), identify issues others are experiencing, hone-in on the issues and questions.

You can also use social media to actively seek out information. Identify experts in your specific category or industry and follow their updates. Reach out directly to your network for answers.

Your Personal Brand

Be noticed for being clever and insightful. Don’t let people forget about you. Maintain a consistent and persistent presence on social media.

Social media gives you a voice. It has the potential to transform you into an authority figure. When you share something on social media (or in real life) and people respond, it demonstrates influence.

I appreciate not everyone wants to post their holiday snaps or selfies online and you don’t have to. Sharing online need not be so different to sharing offline.

If you’re feeling a bit hesitant, I suggest you join forums and websites to discuss the things that interest you.

This shows your professional nous, and keeps you front of mind with our clients and lifts your profile personally. It also demonstrates that you’re plugged into the industry, and will have the required knowledge to talk candidly about breaking issues affecting the profession.

What are the topics that only you can talk about? Every procurement professional has a unique vantage point from which they are gathering really interesting information that is unique to the industry, communities and businesses they work in.

Recognise your unique position and share some of the amazing learning’s and insights that come your way.

Your Daily Habit

The easiest way to get social is to incorporate a little bit of social “exercise” every day. Yes, every day. It shouldn’t be a chore and it doesn’t need to take more than 10 – 15 minutes. To prove that’s no exaggeration, here is what you can do in 15 minutes – I timed it.

1. News Scan

Check the latest news and happenings. We’ve made that easy on Procurious with our news tab which sifts through all the major business and procurement publications, so you don’t have to.

Keep your eyes peeled for “water cooler moments”, mentions of your competitors or suppliers in the headlines and be ready to dazzle colleagues and clients with factoids you’ve found on the commute to work.

2. Share

What did you find that was interesting? An article? A comment? A quote? Well, post it to Procurious – get people talking.

3. Be an expert

Start a discussion topic or contribute to a burning issue. There’s already a bustling discussions area on Procurious to dive into, take the initiative!

4. Grow your network

If we are going to be world’s best, then we need to be the most connected. You can invite people to Procurious via a direct email. You should also scan LinkedIn and review the suggested connections often. It is very exciting to see the wide range of procurement professionals present in these forums.

And once you’re in the swing of that maybe consider some of the real pro-moves, for example:

Register for any events you are thinking of attending. Send the invite around your network as others might want to join in.

When you’re at the event, post your thoughts to your network on Procurious. Keep the conversation going even when the party’s ended! On Twitter? Tweet about it.

Want to write something and see your name in lights? Send our Community & Content Editor Euan Granger an email and propose an interesting topic for our blog. Become a published writer!

Givers Gain

Recognise your unique position and share some of the amazing learnings and insights that come your way.

You are all in very fortunate positions but you’re not sharing these insights, so how will people (outside) know the amazing things we’ve all been doing? Feel free to blow your own trumpet, and together we can all be heard!

You are all ambassadors for the procurement profession; you should be using these new tools to help tell our story. What’s more, use Procurious to stay current and remain connected to your fellow procurement professionals.

Looking Back: 3 Top Supply Chain Tech Trends In 2016

To look forward, we first need to look back and learn. What are the key supply chain trends from 2016 procurement needs to take account of in 2017?

As we look ahead to the New Year, this is also an opportune time to take a look back at the trends and innovations that began reshaping the supply chain in 2016. These trends will continue to impact procurement professionals throughout 2017 and beyond.

A Stronger Focus On Digital Supply Chain Networks

Many supply chains still utilise a mix of paper-based and technology-driven processes. However, more and more companies are moving towards fully-digital supply chain models.

In fact, in a recent survey, more than 75 per cent of respondents said that it was important or very important for their organisation’s supply chains to undergo a digital transformation.

An all-digital supply chain provides procurement teams with more visibility into their supply chain. This enables them to better understand their data, their processes, and their overall operations. Armed with this insight, it is much easier to address issues and implement improvements.

These are advantages that all supply chain professionals seek. As a result, the adoption of digital supply chain is expected to increase in 2017.

The Rise Of Blockchain Technology In the Supply Chain

All businesses are at risk of a cyberattack. Recent large-scale DDOS attacks that crippled sites like Netflix, Paypal, Reddit, Twitter and thousands of others proved a sobering reminder.

That is why many organisations and supply chain teams have started to adopt blockchain data structures to protect their valuable information.

A blockchain is a data structuring approach that groups data together into ‘blocks’. Every block cross-references the previous block and the following block to ensure the data is valid, creating a “chain.”

In addition, the full chain is not stored in a central location. Rather different blocks are stored on different computers and networks at the same time. Only those who have authorised access to the blocks within the chain can access other blocks and implement changes.

As a result, data stored in blockchains are very resistant to tampering, making it extremely secure in the face of cybersecurity risks.

Major companies are beginning to incorporate blockchain into their supply chains as part of their invoicing, auditing, and inventory-tracking processes. For example, IBM launched a platform to test blockchain technologies to track high-value goods. And Walmart used Blockchain to tackle food safety.

Blockchain gives supply chain professionals a means of combating cybersecurity threats while ensuring that items can be tracked in a transparent and secure way.

“Uberization” Takes Hold

If you’ve ever taken an Uber from the airport or rented a vacation home through a service like AirBNB, you are already familiar with the benefits of an on-demand, pay-per-use service. Now, the supply chain is getting familiar with them as well, as procurement professionals seek to leverage the approach to manage inventory and reduce costs.

For example, companies are now offering on-demand warehousing services, which could reduce (or eliminate) the need to maintain expensive distribution centres.

Just as procurement professionals are looking to benefit from the trend, companies are looking to capitalise on it. Boeing is betting big on the pay-per-use model and is leasing their planes to Amazon for its Air Cargo network. In the retail space, companies such as Nordstrom’s, Costco and Whole Foods are implementing new options for customers.

About a third of all supply chain professionals see Uberization as a disruptive and important element of the supply chain.

In the past year, these three technologies had a big impact on supply chains and the people who work in them. And they will continue to shape the supply chain in 2017. However, they aren’t the only ones. What other technologies do you think will play an essential role in supply chains in the New Year?

How to Leverage Procurious to Boost Your Career in 2017

2017 is already a few days old – how are your resolutions coming along? Make Procurious one of yours this year, and boost your career!

2017

Halfway through the first week of 2017, and already the Procurious team are struggling with resolutions. But perseverance is the key, as is creating new habits to stay on track.

We’re all about making those habits as easy as possible to keep. Especially when it comes to your procurement career.

2017 – New Year, New Procurious

2017 promises to be a huge year, not only for procurement, but also for Procurious. With events galore, cracking content, and more knowledge sharing than you know what to do with, you need to know how to put it all to good use.

So here are some easy steps to help you make the most of Procurious this year.

1. Complete your Profile

Yes, ok, we’ll admit it. We do keep going on about this one! However, we do this with good reason. A completed profile will gather much more interest than one with just the basic information. Take 5 minutes to fill in your location, industry and category, and write a bit about yourself.

We’re not talking an essay here, just a short paragraph telling people who you are, and what you’re up to.

And if you don’t already have one, add a great picture to your profile. It’s all about your personal brand on social media, so make sure it shows the image you want to portray.

2. Connect, Connect, Connect

Over the past 12 months, we’ve added nearly 10,000 new members to our community. That means there are over 19,000 other people you can connect, share, and chat with.

We’re not suggesting for a second that you connect with everyone. But why not use the filters on our ‘Build Your Network‘ page, and find the people in the same industry/category/country as you. It won’t take you long, but it will give you a rich network to help with all those new, complicated issues!

3. Download our App

Want to get Procurious on the go, wherever you are? Well, you can with our great App. We launched the App in August after requests from our community, and so far, people have loved it!

Unfortunately, we only have an iOS App currently, but we have big plans for Android in the near future. It’s got all the same functionality as the main site, so you’re never going to miss out!

You can find and download it in the Apple Store.

4. Join the Conversation

The Discussion forum is consistently one of the most popular areas on Procurious. New questions are being asked all the time, and community members are quick to share their knowledge.

To see some of the top discussions from 2016, take a look at Monday’s article. Is there a conversation you can add to? We’re sure we haven’t covered everything, so if you have a burning question, now’s the time to get involved.

5. Join a Group

We have an ever-expanding list of Groups on Procurious, catering to an array of categories, associations and causes. Can’t find one for you? Then create one and invite people to join it – it’s really easy, and a great way to create your own little community.

Want to help celebrate Women in Procurement? Join our dedicated group, Bravo.

Work access to great procurement policy templates? Join the Procurement Toolkit group.

Or maybe you want a say in what’s next for Procurious. Then the ‘Procurious – Make it Work for You!!!‘ Group is for you.

6. Elevate Your Skills, Boost Your Career

Start 2017 as you mean to go on, and learn something new every day. Procurious has great eLearning content for you to watch and listen to. And the best thing about it? It’s all completely free to our members!

From hearing what industry leaders consider as the Big Ideas for procurement’s future, to catching up with our ‘Career Boot Camp‘ podcasts, there’s a wealth of information at your disposal.

7. Get Involved on Social Media

Finally, we bring this all back to getting new, great habits in place. Make 2017 the year you really push your social media presence for procurement. It only takes 10-15 minutes per day to do this by sharing an article, listening to a podcast, or connecting with new people.

You can also follow Procurious on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, and get access to all our content there too.

That should keep you busy for the next few weeks! As ever, if you have any questions, comments, feedback, or issues, on the site, you can get in touch with the team. We’ll make sure that Procurious is working at full speed, to help you work to your full potential in 2017.

10 Must-Read Articles to Kick-Start Your New Year

Happy New Year! Looking for a way to ease yourself into 2017? Then check out our 10 must-read articles to help kick-start your brain.

must read new year

The bells are barely over, and the new year party is still fresh in your mind. But it’s time to get back to work, and we want to help you start 2017 right. We’ve selected some top articles from 2016 to ease you in, and sharpen your brain on your first day back.

The articles come from a variety of sources, and cover the array of topics that the Procurious Blog is becoming known for. From cognitive procurement, to procurement careers and more. This will also help to showcase some of the topics we’ll be covering in more detail this year.

1. Career Espresso – 5 Minutes a Day Fast-Track to Success

Tania Seary gets you in the best career shape of your life.

Feel like you need an espresso to get going today? Well how about a shot of career espresso to get on the success fast-track in the new year?

The only person responsible for your career success is you, so this year, make sure your not stuck in a rut. Get involved with online learning to help fire your personal and professional development. It doesn’t take long to get involved – no longer than it takes to drink an espresso. What’s stopping you?

2. Can Introverts Really Thrive in Procurement?

Read Hugo Britt’s highlights from Susan Cain’s ISM2016 keynote.

Concerned that, as an introvert, you might be left behind in procurement? Worry no more, said Susan Cain, renowned author and speaker, at ISM2016.

There are huge benefits to an introverted personality in the procurement space. Cain argued that introverts make better leaders, and also can help organisations avoid potential ‘groupthink’. Procurement really does have opportunities for everyone.

3. Planning Procurement’s Response to the Millennial Generation

The Hackett Group’s Chris Sawchuk discusses how procurement can work with Millennials.

Talent management was a hot topic for 2016, and the focus on this will continue in 2017. So how can procurement make sure it engages with Millennials to ensure it hires the best talent?

Chris believes that there are a number of changes procurement needs to make to maximise its Millennial reach. One starting point is changing how training is offered with procurement organisations.

4. Working from Home – The Great Productivity Debate

Procurious Community & Content Manager, Euan Granger, shares tips for maximising working from home.

Another way to engage the Millennial generation is through flexible working practices. Working from home has become far more common in recent years. But does it come at the expense of innovation?

Offering tips to both organisations and individuals, Euan shares his experience in maintaining your work, and your sanity.

5. Women and Indirect Procurement – A Perfect Fit

Read about Pauline King’s journey in indirect procurement.

Indirect procurement is the perfect fit for women, and organisations who have women in indirect procurement can reap major benefits.

Roles in indirect procurement tend to focus on visibility and flexibility, and are results oriented. Pauline sees a definite match up in skill sets, plus a chance for women to break into senior management in a big way.

She also explains why more women should follow in her footsteps.

6. Is Indirect Procurement Really So Complex?

Talking of Indirect Procurement, is it really as complex as it seems

The way some solutions providers talk, you would be forgiven for thinking Indirect Procurement was akin to rocket science. However, it’s hard to argue against the complexities indirect sourcing can encounter.

So let the experts help shed some light on an often opaque topic. And you should see that, if your strategies are in place, it needn’t be as complex as it seems.

7. How to Solve the Extended Payment Term Problem

Ed Edwards discusses a particularly sticky procurement issue.

Extended payment terms – a huge burden on both parties, not to mention the negative press for procurement. So what’s to be done about this practice? And can we consign it to the past for good?

Audience Outreach Manager at THOMASNET, Ed Edwards, focuses not only on the negatives of extended payment, but also the potential solutions.

8. 12 Ethical Questions to Ask in Supplier Pre-Approval

How to ask the right questions to maintain a good reputation.

Extended payment terms might not be considered ethical by a wider audience. However, it’s definitely not the biggest ethical conundrum procurement can face. In the digital world, scrutiny on organisational practice is on the rise, as are expectations.

Procurement needs to be open, honest and transparent, says Alis Sindbjerg-Hemmingsen. In order to do this, we need to be asking the right questions of our suppliers? If you need some guidance, you can find some here.

9. Procurement Will Be ‘Cognitive’

There’s a cognitive revolution coming – will procurement be on board?

We couldn’t start the new year by just looking back. So now we look further into the procurement crystal ball and see an impending revolution.

Technology, and more specifically cognitive technology, stands to make a huge impact on procurement and supply chains. What does it mean for procurement? And what will the profession look like on the other side of the change? Nathalie Fekete of IBM shares her thoughts.

10. The Three Laws of Robotics Aren’t. So What Now?

Where does procurement stand in an automated world

Finally, we would be remiss to not talk about automation and robotics. Last year saw drones, robots and AI all play a major role in the supply chain. And if the experts are right, this change will continue to accelerate.

According to GEP’s Paul Blake, the sky is the limit for procurement when it comes to automation. Procurement can map out its own future – a future you can read more about right now.

Feel like you’ve kicked off your new year at work in the right way? Don’t forget you can also contribute to the Blog this year and share your knowledge with the Procurious community.