Reach Your Summit at Big Ideas Zurich

Sign up as a digital delegate to be in with a chance of winning a Parrot Bebop drone worth £449.99!!

Sign up as  a digital delegate for Big Ideas Zurich (it’s free)  

On the 10th December we’ll be donning our hiking boots, picking up our trekking poles and embarking on a new adventure.

Brace yourselves, because Big Ideas is about to get truly digital!

For the first time ever, we’ll be filming and streaming the entire day’s event via the Digital Delegates group on Procurious. If there was ever a time to register for one of our summits, it’s now. Featuring presentations and interviews from some of Europe’s top procurement leaders, we’ll be discussing:

1. Procurement and Supply Management Towards 2030
2. The Talent Equation
3. Automating Procurement out of a Job
4. Time Enough at Last: where would top practitioners focus energy if tactical elements of procurement were automated?

Prizes for procurement pros – WIN Parrot Bebop drone worth £449.99

You probably don’t need any added incentive to sign up, but everyone loves a prize, right? And believe us when we say we’ve got prizes falling from the mountaintops.

We’ll be doing seven prize giveaways throughout the day to digital delegates actively participating in our online discussions. And, by joining the group you’ll be automatically entered into our prize draw to win  a Parrot Bebop drone.

To be in with a chance of winning…

Step 1: Sign up as a digital delegate for Big Ideas Summit Zurich

Step 2: Get automatically entered into our prize draw to win a Parrot Bebop drone worth £449.99

Step 3: We’ll reveal the winner during Big Ideas Summit Zurich on 10th December

6 reasons to become a digital delegate

Registering as a digital delegate for Big Ideas Zurich is totally free and will give you access to the entire day’s event. Here’s what you can expect from the day:

Drive your peak performance 

As we charge towards the new year, this is your final chance in 2018 to fulfill your personal development goals. Learn how YOU can reach the summit of your career in a whole range of critical areas, from business partnering to engaging with the latest game-changing technology.

Watch from anywhere 

We’ve pushing the digitisation of this event to the limits! Big Ideas Zurich will be streamed on Monday 10th December via Procurious. Become a Digital Delegate to watch from wherever you are, whether you’re at the office, on the bus, or at home enjoying a glass of wine.

Win a Parrot Bebop Drone worth £449.99 

All Digital Delegates that engage in the Procurious Big Ideas Zurich Group on Monday 10th December will go in the running to win a drone! Procurious will also be giving away a whole range of prizes on the day – but only to those who get involved! Follow Procurious on social for more details on prizes and giveaways.

Get the latest research

Be one of the first to get hold of Procurious and Michael Page UK’s final installment of the Procurement 2030 report. This much-anticipated research paper will be released on Monday 10th December, with a live discussion of the findings with one of the report authors.

Engage with the hottest topics facing procurement and supply 

What skills do I need to drive peak performance in my procurement career? What’s the latest intel on blockchain? What steps can I take to close the gender pay gap? Digital Delegates tuning into Big Ideas Zurich will hear about the latest, hottest topics that are challenging procurement and supply professionals around the globe.

Hear from procurement’s top thought leaders

Watch presentations and interviews with inspirational speakers including blockchain guru Olinga Ta’eed, gender equality champion John Everett and supplier innovation expert Jeurgen Nelis. But that’s not all! This event will be packed with bite-sized content including research updates, top picks from the Procurious Blog, and CPO interview compilations.

FAQs

When is it?

10th December 2018. But a lively conversation has already begun on Procurious! Expect to see most of the action between 10am-3pm GMT when we’ll be streaming all of the action from Zurich.

Where is it?

Although our top influencers will be meeting in Zurich, due to its digital nature Procurious members across the world can watch the whole event from the comfort of their office, armchair or even from the beach!

How can I join?

Simply sign up to Procurious to become a digital delegate. You’ll instantly gain access the Big Ideas Zurich Group and the live stream on the 10th December

Does it cost to attend as a digital delegate?

It is completely free to join Procurious and to be a Digital Delegate! Simply sign up or enrol here.

Do I have to be a member of Procurious?

Yes. Participation as a digital delegate is free and open to all members of Procurious. You’ll be joining a community of 32,000 like-minded procurement peers and gain access to all Procurious’ free resources.

Help – I can’t make the live-stream on 10th December!

No worries! If you can’t join the action on the 10th December, you’ll be able to catch up when it suits you, on demand, via the digital delegates group.

Sign up as  a digital delegate for Big Ideas Zurich (it’s free) 

How the Rise of AI Will Lead to a Pay Rise in Procurement

It may seem that the AI reduces human labour and eliminates the need for manual intervention, however in order to fully exploit the AI functionalities, human skills are a must. Here’s how the rise of AI could be lucrative for procurement professionals…

With the advent of transforming technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and data science, the landscape of businesses has seen a tremendous change in the last couple of years.

In fact, some of the industry giants are already enjoying the many benefits of AI.

Amazon has been using transactional AI for quite some time now. It has been using predictive analysis for understanding a customer’s purchase behaviour. Tesla cars and their self-driving features, is yet another example of AI being utilised for enhancing the user experience. Another powerful example of AI being used for human interaction is the technology used by Cogito. It uses behavioural adaptation and emotional intelligence for customer support.

According to a recent research study by Ivalua, a leading spend management cloud provider, about 55 per cent of the organisations are about to make a significant investment in AI in the coming two years. If we go on consulting industry trends, these figures clearly point out that AI has already started paving its way towards all the major industries including supply chain management and procurement.

Why is AI essential for procurement?

Procurement workers spend a large chunk of their time binding together fragmented information coming from myriad transactions, something that technology can easily take care of within a fraction of a second. Repetitive, labour-intensive transactions, cost negotiations, supplier performance monitoring etc. add further to the woes.

So how exactly has artificial intelligence strengthened the functioning of various tasks in procurement organisations? Let us find out:

  1. Automation for Repetitive Tasks: One of the trickiest parts in the procurement process is the number of repetitive tasks that consume a substantial amount of time and energy. AI technologies like machine learning, cognitive learning and robotic process automation not only make these iterative tasks faster but also more economical.
  2. Efficient Strategic Sourcing: With a robust machine learning technology, the data acquisition, cleansing & classifying of data and spend analysis become extremely efficient. It is even possible to analyse the spend patterns using real-time classification technology.
  3. Improving Engagement with Bots & Virtual Employee Assistant Chatbots a.k.a conversational interface is capable of incorporating both written messages as well as voice messages that can emulate chatting with a real person. Because of their recall abilities, they can even identify the users they’ve talked with before, thus improving the engagement. The voice assistant technology, on the other hand, is changing the way the user experiences the procurement process altogether.
  4. Handling Supply Management: Through AI, it has become possible to tell the overhead cost by gauging the stocks beforehand. This means that the AI technology intelligently balances the supply and demand by optimising the goods delivery. All this can be done by merely defining the action parameters through machine learning.
  5. Taking Care of Risk Management: AI also helps the enterprises to manage risks related to sourcing from suppliers during procurement. Supplier selection is made more predictive and intelligible. It is also capable of integrating the external data and financial risk scores to chalk out the potential threats.

Investment Required for AI in Procurement

The efficacy of AI in procurement is undebatable. However, setting up AI for procurement comes at a cost. The complex technologies that AI envelopes require application by trained professionals. Here are some of the technologies that come under the purview of AI in procurement:

  • Machine Learning (ML)– This is the most sought-after and most investment consuming technology for organisations today. This consists of APIs (Application Program Interface), development tools and algorithms. ML constantly keeps evolving and improving itself using a given data.
  • Deep Learning– It is actually a type of machine learning. It mimics the human brain in the sense that it observes a large amount of data and learns from it. The learning thus comes here from observing patterns in the given data.
  • NLP– It is a software that helps machines to understand human language and interact accordingly. It is capable of understanding the structure of the sentence, intent and meaning.
  • Virtual Agents– They are the computer programs that are capable of having meaningful conversations with humans. Alexa, Cortana, Siri are some of the popular virtual agents.
  • Decision Management– Decision Management architecture includes systems that can make information-driven automated decisions.

Investing in Human Skills

It may seem that the AI reduces human labour and eliminates the need for manual intervention, however in order to fully exploit the AI functionalities, human skills are a must. Procurement organizations cannot overlook the need for hiring dedicated professionals who master data science and have logical skills for using AI technology appropriately.

Despite the rapidly growing need of AI in major industries, the demand for data scientists and data engineers are not meeting the supply. As a result, the rise in the salary structure for these professionals stands inevitable. A recent survey of 50 best jobs in the USA by Glassdoor ranked data scientists at number one with a median salary of about $110, 000.

This also means that procurement organizations that are looking to get a stronghold in the industry with AI-driven technologies will have to loosen their pockets to get the best team on board.

Time is Money

The transformational footprint of AI on procurement and supply chain operations today has made it the most coveted technology. What the organisations fail to realise is, they are unknowingly shedding big bucks in the guise of time when they are manually performing the procurement functions.

Smart procurement can positively trigger efficient decision making, reduce human errors and save your precious time. This time can then be utilised in taking more strategic initiatives such as building influence within the organisation, improving relationships with suppliers, focusing on innovation, upskilling teams etc.

These initiatives will ultimately give you a bigger ROI and also an edge over your competitors. So if you consider the eagle’s eye view, investing in AI at this point in time is like securing your place as the world rides the digital transformation wave.

This article was written by Ethan Scott

Can We Tell You A Procurement Story?

When we say a story, what we really mean is five stories.

In Bravo, a new five-part procurement podcast series, we interview five inspiring and courageous women to discover the secrets to their success.

Discover why you should become a master storyteller, learn how to focus on your strengths, and listen as we debate critical issues including the salary gap, key procurement skills and the greatest challenges facing the profession.

What is the Bravo podcast series?

Bravo sponsored by Telstra, is a five-part procurement podcast series celebrating women in procurement. The series features five, fifteen-minute podcasts that have been designed to give you some inspiring insights from five top thought leaders in the profession.

How do I listen to the podcast series?

Simply sign up here and you’ll be re-directed to the Bravo group where you can access all five podcasts. You will also join a mailing list, which will alert you each time a new podcast is released.

How will I know when each podcast is published?

The series will run for one week, starting on 26th November with a daily podcast released on Procurious each day. We’ll drop you an email to let you know as each podcast becomes available.

Is the podcast series available to anyone?

Absolutely! Anyone & everyone can access the podcasts and it won’t cost you a penny to do so. Simply sign up here!

When does the podcast series take place. 

Starting on the 26th November the series will run for five days. The podcasts will be accompanied by daily blogs from speakers plus group discussions and articles on Procurious. When the series is complete, all five podcasts will be available for registrants via the Procurious eLearning hub, FREE of charge.

Podcast speakers

1. Thomai Veginis – CPO – Telstra

Thomai is the CPO of Telstra, and as such holds one of the very top CPO roles in Australia, with an eye-watering total spend of $14 billion, a portfolio of 36 categories, and nearly 200 procurement and supply chain staff reporting through to her.

2. Julie Masters, CEO – Influence Nation

Julie Masters is a globally recognised expert in influence, authority and thought leadership. She is the CEO and Founder of Influence Nation and Founder of ODE Management – responsible for launching and managing the careers of some of the worlds most respected thought leaders. Julie is also the host of the weekly podcast Inside Influence.

3. Carlee McGowan, GM Planning – Telstra

Carlee McGowan is a strategic manager with extensive Supply Chain end to end business acumen and a passion for driving and delivering best practice opportunities. She has worked for over 25 years in the field, with profession extending across fast moving consumer goods, retail, telco and international environments.

A change leader who has established, mentored and lead teams, and is known for her passion in customer centric Supply Chain Management using Sales and Operations Planning principles to create end to end business plans to exceed business objectives.

4. Tania Seary, Founder – Procurious

A true procurement entrepreneur, Tania is the Founding Chairman of Procurious, The Faculty and The Source. Throughout her career, Tania has been wholly committed to raising the profile of the procurement profession and connecting its leaders.

After finishing her MBA at Pennsylvania State University, Tania became one of Alcoa’s first global commodity managers.

In 2016, Tania was recognised by IBM as a #NewWaytoEngage Futurist and named “Influencer of the Year” by Supply Chain Dive. She hosts regular procurement webinars, and presents at high-profile events around the world.

5. Nicky Abdinor, Clinical psychologist and show-stopping motivational speaker

Nicky Abdinor is an international keynote speaker, registered Clinical Psychologist and founder of the non-profit, Nicky’s Drive. She is based in Cape Town, South Africa, where she runs her clinical practice. Nicky travels globally for keynote speaking events and has spoken at conferences across Africa, Europe, the USA, Australia and the Middle East.  Nicky is always commended on being a “credible” agent of change whether you are connecting with her one-on-one or from an audience. When you meet Nicky, it is hard not to recognise that she puts her message into practice. She was born without arms, not without attitude!

Bravo, the podcast series sponsored by Telstra,  goes live on 26th November 2018. Sign up now (it’s free) to access the series.

How To Enable Smarter Procurement Today

If AI is the light at the end of the tunnel, why are there so few success stories to be found? How do we enable smart procurement?  

Success with today’s broad set of complex objectives requires Procurement leaders to think strategically and process ever greater volumes of diverse information. Unfortunately, this is an area with significant room for improvement at most organisations. A survey of over 400 procurement leaders by Forrester found their top priority to be “improv[ing] business insight on purchasing activity through reporting and analytics.”

The obstacles to more informed, strategic decision-making are quite consistent. The study, entitled “Enabling Smarter Procurement” found three common issues

1. Firstly, despite efforts at automating processes, too much capacity is still consumed by operational or manual activities. Teams must free capacity to work on new projects, conduct analysis and plan, but are struggling to do so.

2.  Secondly leaders struggle to access relevant insights when and where they are needed. The volume of information now available is of little help if not digestible, simply leading to information overload.

3. Compounding this, respondents also cited poor data quality as a key challenge. Duplicate supplier records, inaccurate data and poor integration between systems all were cited as sources of data quality issues.

Fortunately, new technologies are available that can empower procurement to address these and other challenges and rise to the occasion. AI in particular is finally coming of age and often viewed as the answer to many of Procurement’s challenges. The same survey found that 71 per cent of business leaders plan to adopt AI in procurement over the next 12 months. Yet if AI is the light at the end of the tunnel, why are so few success stories to be found?

A key reason is the approach taken to implementing AI solutions to date. As vendors struggle to burnish their innovation credibility, there has been significant marketing ahead of capabilities which has led to unmet expectations post implementation. As capabilities are now coming in line with past marketing, this problem will subside. Of greater concern, the innovation race has led to nearly an exclusive focus on the algorithms, leading to poorly designed implementations. Less innovative but equally important areas, especially data quality, are being ignored. AI relies on a solid foundation of data, in terms of volume and quality, so solutions that offer clever applications alone are sure to disappoint.

To remedy this problem, organisations must implement AI in conjunction with cleaning up their data, rather than using poor data quality as an excuse for inaction. Source-to-Pay suites that are built upon a unified data model partially address the challenge by generating clean data that can be mined by AI applications across all processes. For example, suites with a single supplier record can provide true 360 degree visibility of supplier performance and activity, and enable AI applications to predict potential risks.

That still leaves issues with existing data or data in other systems. Here, master data management solutions should be leveraged that can actually fix issues in back end systems, linking vendor and item master records across systems. This further improves visibility and the potential for new and better insights.

Empowering procurement to make more informed, strategic decisions is no longer an option. There is simply no other way to effectively meet the broad set of objectives now expected. Fortunately, new technologies are finally reaching the level of maturity where they can have a transformative impact. By implementing AI applications in parallel with initiatives to improve their data foundation, leading organizations are both enabling smarter procurement today and ensuring they are well positioned to leverage tomorrow’s innovations.

Ivalua sponsored today’s London CPO roundtable. If you would like to attend or sponsor a Procurious roundtable please contact Olga Luscombe via [email protected] 

Three Ways To Make An Impact In Your Procurement Career

Procurement professionals are in a unique position to step up and make a positive impact. Here are three areas where procurement professionals should direct their attention… 

In an age when people want to work for companies who are doing good in the world, when consumers vote with their wallets and achieving supply chain transparency is easier than ever before there has never been more pressure for procurement professionals to commit to, and prioritise, making a difference in the world with the work that they do.

Tom Derry, CEO – ISM, discusses three areas where procurement professionals should direct their attention…

1. Sustainability

There was a time when sustainability was merely a PR strategy with minimal corporate effort put behind it. But those days are long gone and we’re at the tipping point where businesses can finally see the financial benefits of operating sustainability.

I’m familiar with the CPO of a major food manufacturer here in the United States,” says Tom.  “One day the Rainforest Action Network was protesting on their corporate campus. It came down to the sustainable sourcing of palm oils, which is a major food ingredient. What we’re realising now is our supply chains can create unexpected consequences. In this case, palm oil was being sourced from Indonesia, which incentivised local farmers to burn down the rainforests in order to plant palm trees. The food manufacturer was jeopardising the existence of this incredible biodiverse resource, without any sense of the consequence of sourcing palm oil to make their products.”

Tom also mentions the importance of catering to customer demands.  “My own daughter makes her consumer purchase decisions based on how she views the sustainable practices of the companies. Companies have realised that if they lose that customer, consumers walk away and you never get that business back.”

But, according to Tom there’s another reason key you have to take sustainability seriously. “In the stock market, companies like JP Morgan are publishing reports on companies based on ESG – which stands for Environment, Sustainability and Governance. So it’s no longer just financial metrics that are driving stock prices. It’s your score on your environmental performance, how sustainable you are, and your governance around your sustainability strategy.

“When that starts to drive stock price, that gets everyone’s attention. Believe me!”

2. Modern slavery

With 21 to 46 million people in slavery around the world, procurement professionals have a huge responsibility in weeding it out of their supply chains?

As Tom points out, it’s a sobering statistic but companies are  beginning to do amazing things. to tackle modern slavery.  “Nestle, for example, investigated their own supply chain for fish used in pet food products and found that the Thai fishing flight was using impressed labour. They identified the problem and proactively went out to address it rather than waiting for someone else to discover it.”

This approach allows companies to avoid appearing defensive and reactive and Tom believes we’ll see more and more companies taking that kind of stance, “because they have to!

“It’s not just about protecting your company’s reputation, but it’s also a recognition that we all share as humans that it’s a morally reprehensible practice – and none of us want to be a part of it.”

3. Diversity and Inclusion

A third way procurement and supply chain professionals can make an impact in their organisations is to improve supplier and workplace diversity.

“We need to make sure our supply bases reflect the kinds of communities where we do business,” argues Tom. “We also need to make sure our teams, internally – and our leadership teams – reflect those communities too.”

“Diversity broadens our point of view. We become more sensitive to cultural issues.”

Remember the backlash last year when PepsiCo released an ad featuring Kendall Jenner that somewhat insensitvely echoed a Black Lives Matter protest? Criticised for trivialising and exploiting the movement the ad was soon removed but not without significant damage to the PepsiCo brand.

As Tom points out,  “a diverse team will heighten your awareness to those issues before they get out into the public domain and embarrass you. You have a multitude of perspectives on how to solve problems.”

“ISM has got a long standing leadership position in this area . We’ve got a formal statement on the value of diversity to the profession we organise a conference and sponsor a certification to help people become leader of diversity efforts.”

Part 3 of Tuesdays with Tom is available now. Click here to sign up and hear ISM CEO Tom Derry talk on sustainability, modern slavery, and diversity. 

What Procurement Dangers Are Lurking In The Shadows?

Just as the organisation’s CIO has been struggling with “shadow IT” the CPO is now faced with similar challenges as company employees armed with a credit card and a browser can buy almost anything online.

For years the enterprise CIO has been struggling with Shadow IT which has been described as “IT systems or solutions used within an organisation without the approval, or even the knowledge, of corporate IT” . This is often referred to as the consumerisation of IT.

Various IT industry analysts reports state that Shadow IT is somewhere between 30-50 per cent of the total IT spend in large organisations and this is a large number considering that this is IT spend that has not gone through the sanctioned IT function.

Shadow IT has transitioned into Shadow Procurement thanks to the rise of digital cloud marketplaces

The ‘shadow’ problem is no longer confined to the CIO with
the CPO also facing a growing population of enterprise staff
that procure and subscribe to many services in the cloud that havent been through the sanctioned process and often they are not allocated to the correct budget codes.

Thanks to the public cloud there are many new digital marketplaces that have lowered the barrier to entry for the end user for procuring a range of products and services (e.g. Amazon, eBay, Alibaba, Google, Rackspace, Microsoft, even crowd sourcing).

Also of concern is that shadow procurement can also include the teams of people hired by the business to provide various services across the business (often these costs are hidden in project budgets or expense codes and not shown against the correct budget categories).

While the CPO aims for compliance the shadow procurement means a further loss of control

For the CIO the issue of Shadow IT often means they are excluded from the decisions of how the IT services are supported as well as assessing the risks of what is being purchased such as security.

Similalry for the CPO the issue of Shadow Procurement often means that they are excluded from important commercial decisions particulalry when the staff member blindly clicks the “accept terms and conditions” button when buying products and services online. These online terms will always favour the supplier and may not satisfy the commercial appetite or the target price point. Only when things come unstuck will these accepted terms and conditions see the light of day.

The rise of shadow procurement flies in the face of the respected analysis of CPO surveys over recent years that continue to place “Procurement Compliance” as one of the top three challenges that the CPO is focused on addressing*.

When Procurement is seen as beeing a blocker then Shadow Procurement is likely to be, or become, an increasing problem

While I have discussed that the rise of the easily accessible digital marketplace has contributed to the increase in shadow procurement there are likely to be a range of other factors that will also determine the size of the problem in your own organisation:

Business and Procurement mis-alignment

Where procurment is seen as a blocker and the process takes too long then the employees will find a way to work around Procurement to achieve business and project goals

Lack of clear roles and responsibilities and an inneffective governance structure

Where the roles are not clear and the governance is inneffective, or not well understood, then the employees may take this as a green light to hire a shadow team within their project or business unit. In some organisations it can become an unnofficially sanctioned fixture

Many organisations are decentralised and large programs/projects operate separately to the Business-as-usual functions such as Procurement

Because many companies are decentralised and indirect spend is spread across departments and projects, there is typically little input from procurement.

Little or no use of big data analytics to understand the indirect spend occuring as part of the Shadow Procurement problem

  • Indirect spend is often very difficult to understand as the shadow procurement buyers don’t use a formal process in purchasing goods and services for the indirect spend. indirect purchases are often made off contract.
  • Therefore spend data is not effectively leveraged or analysed, or spend data is typically incomplete and not coded by the commodity or category.
  • Instead, spend data is linked to accounting or expense codes, and purchase orders are either not created or if they are created they can be vague or created “after the fact.”

Procurement have not leveraged digital disruption putting themselves in front of employees like their “shadow suppliers” have done

  • If your employees rely on digital and mobility solutions to buy, then you have to have a procurement solution that is mobile-centric and digitally-enabled
  • Automation of a quicker quoting and approval process is just one key factor

The Bottom Line For The CPO

  • Partner with stakeholders to better understand their needs, supplier relationships and processes. Show them that you’re not just trying to find a lower price at the expense of their quality requirements, supplier relationships or the time they have available to move
  • Embed procurement staff into their project teams to bridge the misalignment gaps
  • Adopt an “agile procurement” approach to shorten the time it takes to complete the procurement cycle. An RFP is not always required and there are many opportunities to leverage flexible and agile thinking
  • Invest in big data analytics to understand the company’s indirect spend amount, categories and how many suppliers are currently being used in each category. Leverage consultants spend analysis tools or request data from suppliers to achieve better visibility into your spend data
  • Implement an eSourcing tool to better manage indirect categories supported by automated processes

Is It Time For Procurement Pros To Go To Market?

Going to Market (Place) : The Future of Procurement goes live on 13th November. Sign up now.  

Could a  B2B e-marketplace transform the lives of your procurement team? What are the key benefits of using a marketplace and why are some procurement leaders reluctant to take the leap?

We hear from Molly Dobson, Head of Enterprise Customer Success – Amazon Business and Mary Hetherington, Director of UK Group Procurement – AXA to get the low down on the future of marketplaces, how they can benefit procurement professionals and what reservations are still held by the profession.

Whist digital marketplaces have evolved over time, and come and gone with varying success, the core functionality remains in that they are a central place where people gather to buy and sell goods and services.

“The digital marketplace isn’t a revolutionary concept.” explains Molly. “But it definitely has been more prevalent in our personal lives than our professional lives – e.g. Uber, Airbnb and Amazon.”

Having said that, “early innovators really did introduce a concept in procurement that still underpins the business marketplaces of today. These are capabilities like electronic procurement, reverse auctions and buyer discovery.”

Molly outlines the three core components of any procurement marketplace:

  1. Breadth of choice

The  first core characteristic of a marketplace is having that “wide range of choice within a single interface, which is why we all like to use marketplaces within our personal lives. Within a marketplace like Amazon Business you can access 250 million products from toilet paper to precision test and measurement instruments, to professional medical supplies.”

2. Competition 

“Users of a marketplace get access to multiple sellers for the same offer. Each of these sellers is competing against one another to get your business and with this competition you can have reduced commitments to some of those long, inflexible contracts. We like to talk about a marketplace being dynamic in that sense.”

3. Transparency 

“In a marketplace you can have transparency of product and seller reviews and pricing and delivery options. You really get the capability to compare all of your options and make informed buying decisions.”

“In the procurement space, in particular, you have additional requirements with things like the ability to integrate with other procurement applications.”

Marketplaces and maverick spend

Mary recently began piloting a marketplace at AXA.

“In the short space of time that we’ve been [trialling a marketplace] it has really surprised me the depth of information that we can attain about who’s buying what, the types of goods and services we’re buying,  at a very low level which hasn’t always been that transparent in the past.

“This is really useful for a large organisation like mine where we’re supporting several different business units with very diverse sets of requirements and lots and lots of small purchases. It gives us the opportunity to consolidate information and identify rogue spend very quickly.”

Measuring marketplace success

AXA has been measuring the success of its marketplace with three metrics; customer satisfaction, billing and fulfilment and  management of information.

  1. Customer satisfaction

Customer satisfaction on the solutions and the process around Amazon Marketplace is one metric AXA have been using to measure success.

“We all know that Amazon is the go to place for purchases. We use it in our private lives and people like that experience so we want to try and give our business customers some of that experience and flexibility when dealing with business purchases.”

2. Billing and fulfilment

Making sure that billing and fulfilment of the goods is effective, [that it] interfaces neatly with our purchase to pay solutions  [and] that we get the granularity we want on our invoicing.”

3.  Great management of information

It’s important to ensure procurement leaders can make well informed decisions about their future spend and future requirements.

“It can take some work to get [a marketplace] off the ground, [fitting into] your strategy [to a point where  multifunctional leaders can buy into it.”

Marketplace adoption

So what’s holding procurement teams back when it comes to adopting marketplaces. Mary Hetherington, Director of UK Group Procurement – AXA believes part of the challenge is procurement’s need to achieve a healthy balance between enabling the business and applying controls.

“We need to show flexibility but also proportionality when we’re looking at different sizes of purchasing,” she argues.

“The challenge with a marketplace is ensuring we determine the appropriate level of control that gives that flexibility to the business but doesn’t compromise any of our existing  preferred supplier  arrangement or bypass certain checkpoints of governance as a finical services organisation that we need to carry out.

“The key here is pitching it at the right level to ensure both the procurement team and the business get the solution they want.”

Are marketplaces the future of procurement? What are the pros and cons? We discuss in new Procurious webinar. which goes live on 13th November.  Sign up now (it’s free!)

Superfinance – The Merging Of Mind And Machine In Finance And Procurement

Are we facing a future where automation displaces the human mind and traditional procurement  and finance careers?

By Gorodenkoff / Shutterstock

Technology is used to consolidate and analyse all finance and procurement information. It also offers insights to the new generation of professionals in their decision-making process and tasks that require abstract thinking rather than computation.

The worlds of finance and procurement are about to change forever, and we are now at the turning point of this revolution. Often regarded as the most conservative echelon of the modern enterprise, today’s CFOs and CPOs are embracing new technologies, deploying automation, deep analytics and machine learning techniques to simplify financial and procurement operations and spend smarter.

As technology advances into the workplace, the traditional roles of finance personnel are changing as more processes are automated and data “crunching” takes the heavy lifting out of day-to-day routines. The change challenges professionals too, whose previous core competencies are now the primary remit of AI algorithms.

The concern for many is whether we are facing a future where automation displaces the human mind and therefore the traditional careers within finance. A major challenge for the modern CFO and CPO is to transform teams to take advantage of these new technologies. Employees in our industry are concerned that jobs are threatened, but the upcoming era of artificial intelligence will enable a new partnership between mind and machine that liberates humans’ natural skills through superior intuition and decision-making.

The concept of Superfinance looks to the visible horizon of the future and defines a modern finance and procurement function that is based on a Mind-Machine partnership. Here, technology is used to consolidate and analyse all finance and procurement information. It also offers insights to the new generation of professionals in their decision-making process and tasks that require abstract thinking rather than computation.

Humans remain valuable because of our ability to reason in a way that goes beyond executing calculations on available data. Many examples exist where this new combined man-machine hybrid has been more powerful than either human or computer alone.

What we can do that computers can’t is combine information from AI with the information coming from the real world, apply creative and critical thinking, make decisions and take care of customers.

Making better decisions

So, the combination of Mind and Machine holds considerable potential to expose, streamline and automate financial operations from their current state, from purchasing to payment, and offer new levels of competitive advantage.

Of course, digitisation of business processes isn’t anything new and has been around for some time now. It has already dramatically changed how businesses operate and professionals perform. Finance and procurement functions have already been permanently affected by this change. So, what does the future of mind and machine really look like and what should industry professionals do now to prepare for the evolution?

Digitisation of finance and procurement is evident within distinct phases:

At the heart of financial digital transformation is, of course, data. By consolidating procurement and finance information into the cloud, the power of machine learning can be deployed to create impactful results. This data provides the foundation for automation. Many businesses have already embarked on this journey of standardisation, simplifying and outsourcing financial processes for greater efficiency and cost savings.

The final step involves insights-driven Purchase-to-Pay: Here, the result of automation is aggregated data from the entire Source-to-Pay business process, which is changing the trajectory of finance and procurement.

We are now entering the phase of cloud-based big data, predictive analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning. Professionals are already equipped with the timely, accurate and complete data they need to make better decisions and support business agility.

So, with the era of data-driven finance already here, does the increased amount of information really help us make better decisions?

Even with the advantage of data at our fingertips, our human condition can still get in the way when we approach decisions, and we may often look for confirmation instead of confidence.  Our gut feel is so real it can often override data-driven insights and enable us to make important decisions instinctively, and then retroactively fit information to support our conclusions.

Big promises

This behaviour hampers business results more than we are willing to admit. So, to make data-driven finance real, professionals have to become behaviourally aware and refrain from asking for the wrong answers from AI. AI can arrive at different results than we as humans would from the same data. Our role therefore is to try to connect the real-world phenomena into the results provided by the data, and make decisions that best benefit customers, as well as the business itself.

While the data era is making big promises about what the future may hold and what people and companies can do with the unlimited power of information at their fingertips, there are still many unknowns about what this will look like in practice.

But there are areas where finance and procurement professionals can focus to begin preparing for this future and developing our uniquely human talents. To achieve true Superfinance, finance teams need to upskill and develop in three specific new areas:

From a technology perspective it requires Automation through data, analytics, AI and machine learning. In terms of skills, behavioural awareness, data analysis and new job requirements are needed, before considering the final element of ‘Transformation’, which includes managing change, cultural shifts and talent development.

On a more granular level the following is a good roadmap for the transformation:

  • Improve data: Collecting and aggregating 100 per cent of financial data is always the first step to being ready for the future, as emerging technologies feed on that data. But presuming you’re doing that today, the next steps are cleansing and augmenting that data. This includes purchase orders, invoices, collaboration between suppliers and customers, and supplier information. All of this data can be improved by creating a team structure for data ownership, delegating maintenance to the data owners and augmenting the data sets with third party data for completely new insights.
  • Leverage cloud solutions: As businesses get a unified and accurate view of their data, they will be better equipped to answer new questions and challenge their colleagues with better reasoning. You can build confidence using cloud-based solutions so that procurement and finance professionals rely on their data and analysis of that data to make decisions and recommendations.
  • Become a business partner: Having data is one thing – using it effectively across the business is another. Data must be properly analysed for the right insights before collaboration across finance, procurement and business units to effectively deliver that information in a meaningful way – building and nurturing relationships across the business to hit strategic goals.
  • Make unbiased decisions: People often interpret information in a way that confirms their preconceptions today. It’s important to educate your teams to be aware of their biases and the right way to approach data analysis. This involves applying scrutiny and objective reasoning to the data-driven insights.
  • Manage talent: Moving from siloed execution to collaborative data-driven finance requires proper development and management of the right skills. You need to systematically manage talent, endorse an analytical mindset and improve financial processes and job descriptions to put data at the core.

Nimble and adaptable businesses that follow these steps will thrive, having rapidly sensed and responded to opportunities, and seized the advantage in the AI-enabled landscape.

Over the next decade, AI won’t replace people, but people who use AI will replace those who don’t. The future will transform us through organisational change, digital operations and better human capital management. Following these steps is a good start to building the foundation for a mind-machine partnership of the future, and hopefully making data feel inspiring as we celebrate the benefits of being human in an automated world.

This article, written by Louis Fernandes, VP & UK Country Manager, UK & Ireland – Basware was originally published here. 

Advocating For Inclusion Is The Best Way To Get It

Advocacy increases inclusion. Being an advocate makes a difference and you can increase inclusion by using your voice within your network… 

Small acts of advocacy are all it takes to make a social movement. The #metoo movement was for the 12 years prior to last year’s Harvey Weinstein scandal a very small force for change. It wasn’t one single event that caused the social explosion. But it was when sufficient people acted in concert that it became a social movement.

And it certainly isn’t just about hashtags. With the current US President’s finger firmly on the Twitter trigger, you might think It is. There are so many more voices advocating publicly for their position. That makes it even more important to make your advocacy effective, not just noisy. I’m not ruling out social media as a tool for advocating, but it’s a means, not a message.  I’m going to rely instead on a Gandhian approach –  ‘be the change you want to see in the world’.

Advocacy increases inclusion. You can increase inclusion by using your voice within your network. By speaking out more about the importance of inclusion, you can create more inclusion.  More people will feel included and more people will join you to advocate for inclusion. If you raise your voice with confidence you will be a social force for change. People will feel included and experience a greater sense of belonging.

Being an advocate makes a difference, yet many leaders don’t feel comfortable advocating.

Some people don’t advocate because they think that saying it once is enough. If you say it once, everyone will get it. If you’ve got or work with kids, you’ll see through that one straight away! It’s not that different if you work with adults.

Another reason we don’t advocate is because we believe others are advocating, their efforts will be enough for the message to get through. It won’t make any difference whether or not I do.

Still others don’t advocate because they don’t think their single voice has much weight; it doesn’t seem worth it.

The harder thing that stops people advocating is that they don’t believe they can be powerful enough to make change: a social movement seems to take a lot of effort to organise without a guaranteed outcome; it all seems too much.

Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette is an example of using your own story to advocate for change. Not all advocacy needs this degree of personal disclosure to be effective.

Advocacy that resonates with those around you is like a swarm of starlings, a murmuration. When the individual birds come together they create a powerful and amazing sight. The magic of it is that this happens because each bird pays attention to just seven of their neighbours. Starlings are ordinary birds, all it takes is for seven of them to pay attention to each other, to get in sync, and they create something extraordinary.

Just like the starlings don’t have to influence the whole flock, don’t try to influence a crowd. Focus on seven key people around you, and magically, you too will influence a social movement.

Procurement Careers and the Power of Intent

Jason Ng explores the power of intent when it comes to embarking on a procurement career…

StunningArt/ Shutterstock

In your career, you will come across procurement professionals with finance and accounting qualifications ranging from CPA, CA or even CFA – all of which are complimentary to procurement however unnecessary to enter.

If you dig a bit further and have a conversation with one of these professionals, you’re very likely to find out that they “accidentally fell into procurement” or “didn’t really know what procurement was, and before they knew it X years had passed”. These answers, although interesting, trigger a multitude of questions about the level of passion and commitment to the profession.

Do they like procurement? Or are they just happy with the pay check? Would this have changed if they were properly informed at the start and consciously chose procurement rather than have procurement choose them? Of course, the power of hindsight is a powerful thing unless you are early in your career and have the greater power of choice, which I am hoping you have at this point of your journey.

During my seven years in procurement I have come to realise that I am certainly part of the minority of people who embarked to learn and understand the profession before seeking a career in it. This has set me apart from my peers as the drive to understand what more I can learn about procurement excites me way more than waiting for my pay check as a means to an end.

As procurement is not a mainstream profession (unlike finance, accounting, law, marketing or economics) it took months of research, following industry news and embarking on a Masters of Supply Chain Management before I made the leap to switch from a money markets dealer on the trading floor of a major Australian bank to being a junior burger again in the procurement world.

Some of the articles I came across at the time included procurement divisions literally saving struggling companies by negotiating better deals and contracts with their suppliers.

It became very clear that during the tumultuous times post-GFC, procurement functions were leaned upon to save companies’ backsides by reigning in corporate spend to make them profitable and stay afloat (Profit = Revenue – Costs. Through reducing the costs components of this equation, companies stayed afloat). This intrigued me immensely as it was prevalent in grocery stores, department stores, aviation, banks, pharmaceuticals, car manufacturing, telecommunications, hospitals etc.

What I was seeing was that this function called procurement was a critical part of organisations whenever the proverbial sh*t hit the fan. It also made me imagine what it would be like to work for a famous brand like Microsoft, Louis Vuitton, Walt Disney or Starbucks because procurement was seemingly in every organisation. My imagination went wild with the ‘what if’s’ and lead me to my path of further discovery and thirst for understanding more about procurement.

If you have just started in procurement or have stumbled upon this article in your quest to understand more about a career in procurement, then what I leave with you is the power of intent. The intent to forge a procurement career will create an inner drive of learning and ultimately succeeding in this field that far outweighs the three lettered qualifications from people who fall into procurement.

Just to put into perspective how far procurement reaches, everything needs to be bought, whether it’s the seat you sit on in a plane, the parts that go into a McLaren on the F1 track, or the food to stock the shelves at the supermarket. Everything has a price and in this profession it is the role of procurement to negotiate what that price looks like and the terms around it.