All posts by Barry Padgett

Golfing for a Spectrum of Opportunity

We’re seeing people on the spectrum unleash their intellect, experience and creativity across the company and around the world.

By bbernard/ Shutterstock

Recently I was invited to participate in a golf tournament. Golf is more than a game to me: it’s social; it’s outdoors; and it’s competitive. I’m always up for some good competition! Unfortunately, I just don’t get out there as much as I’d like, but in this situation, it’s not just about competing in a beautiful setting with friends and colleagues.

This tournament has a purpose that is meaningful, powerful and valuable: Els for Autism Golf Challenge. Not only do I get to play golf and feel good about supporting a great cause, but this helps people, communities and businesses. It’s a trifecta!

In the software industry, the network effect occurs when new participants join a digital platform, and the entire collective reaps the benefits — the more inclusive the network, the richer the experience and the greater the value. The same can be said for inclusivity in the workplace. Both serve as opportunity multipliers enhancing the experience and value for all.

I aspire to create a corporate culture that is welcoming to and respectful of all. For me, this aspiration is modeled through SAP’s Autism at Work program, one of our many great diversity and inclusion programs at SAP.

We’re seeing people on the spectrum unleash their intellect, experience and creativity across the company and around the world. People with autism are realising more than gainful employment; they’re forging professional careers. Here’s an amazing feature highlighting the program:

Of course, in the procurement business, where matching supply with demand is our specialty, we know a mismatch when we see one. There is upwards of eighty-five per cent unemployment rates for adults on the spectrum — people with skills and ambitions and dreams — which indicates that our colleagues, customers and communities are missing out on a huge untapped pool of talent. It’s also an opportunity denied to people with a tremendous amount to offer.

When I think about these people with skills, ambitions and dreams, I think of Dennis, a quality assurance specialist at SAP Ariba. Dennis has muscular dystrophy and struggled to fit in. He always assumed it was because of his wheelchair.

A diagnosis of autism after college gave him better insight into why making friends was so challenging, but it didn’t change the fact he couldn’t land a job. Lucky for us, Dennis found his way to SAP through the Autism at Work program. He has said, “I’m sad to have lost the ability to walk, but I’m an optimist and don’t let it get me down. Now, I live life without thinking too much about my physical disabilities… Autism is neither a disability or an ability. It just makes a person like me different.”

Now that is the caliber of colleague that I want on my team — someone who spends more time thinking about what he can do than what he cannot. Not to mention that as a quality assurance specialist, Dennis is an expert at catching issues way before customers experience them!

Dennis, in foreground, with colleagues

At SAP, we hire people like Dennis because we’re better for it. We develop the best products because we hire the best people. It’s as simple as that.

Though I am looking forward to a great day of golf, it’s really not about the game. It’s about providing opportunities and presenting the realm of possibility. American writer and lecturer Dale Carnegie once said, “We all have possibilities we don’t know about. We can do things we don’t even dream we can do.” Dennis is doing his thing, and I’m doing mine. We can all do something. The Els for Autism Foundation is a valuable resource to educate ourselves on autism, to donate and to volunteer. Each of us can play a role in helping our communities and companies be better. The possibilities are simply waiting to be seized.

Procure with Purpose

Procurious have partnered with SAP Ariba to create a global online group – Procure with Purpose.

Through Procure with Purpose, we’re shining a light on the biggest issues – from Modern Slavery; to Minority Owned Business; and from Social Enterprises; to Environmental Sustainability.

Click here to enroll and gain access to  all future Procure with Purpose events including exclusive content, online events and regular webinars.  

How Your Network Can Turbocharge Procurement

Networks have the power to transform procurement teams and turbocharge the businesses they link together. So how do you get the best value from your network?

Since you’re here reading Procurious, I can already tell you appreciate the value of networks.

And you’ve probably realised that the wider your network of professional connections, the greater its value to you.

This network effect, where the benefit of a product or service increases as more people use it, has fuelled the growth of leading Internet companies for decades.

In procurement as elsewhere, networks enable participants to reach across the world, think big, and magnify their impact.

Meanwhile, as networks embrace cloud-based technologies, they allow buyers and suppliers to think even bigger — and to make an exponentially greater impact on the buyers, sellers, and ultimately customers who rely on them.

As innovations like artificial intelligence, machine learning, the Internet of Things, and blockchain reshape entire industries; networks are becoming not only faster but actually smarter at drawing meaningful insights from sprawling troves of seemingly unrelated data.

Envisioning the world as it could be…

In the process, these advances are helping procurement professionals to envision the world not just as it is, but as it could be — including their own role in it. When cloud-based applications take on many of the function’s day-to-day tactical activities, they free up procurement professionals to focus on strategic priorities such as strengthening supply chain resilience, safeguarding the brand from third-party risk, and cultivating new sources of innovation.

As a result of this digital transformation, procurement is evolving from its traditional role of generating cost-savings to fostering collaboration and, ultimately, driving much of the strategic value that fuels growth.

What does it mean to a business — to all its trading partners and other stakeholders — when, for the first time, cognitive insights allow it to get ahead of problems before they occur?

The implications extend well beyond operational risk. Consider the reputational risk associated with forced labour upstream in one’s supply chain. A network instills confidence across the value chain when it offers visibility not only into inventories, cycle time, and turnover ratios but also into the criteria that gauge whether a trading partner’s brand values align with one’s own.

Does a supplier have, for example, the governance structures in place necessary to root out forced labour, human trafficking, and inhumane working conditions? Customers and investors alike demand transparency into all these factors, and networks provide a comprehensive, real-time glimpse to simplify compliance. The result is peace of mind when advances in machine learning provide buyers and suppliers with options instead of data so that they can create ethical, sustainable supply chains, all while extending their competitive advantage.

At its best, technology enhances our business relationships, our personal ones, and the quality of all our lives. Yet, as anyone who’s ever experienced a hard-drive crash can attest, technology can sometimes serve at cross-purposes to this goal.

The same holds true for the software industry. The world’s most powerful networks can evaluate immense amounts of information, but unless they’re designed with the customer in mind they may as well possess the processing power of an abacus.

Procurement professionals have every right to expect that the network they rely on be intuitive, reliable, and — above all — consistent in delivering on their promises.

Does yours?

Demand it!

Procure with Purpose

Procurious have partnered with SAP Ariba to create a global online group – Procure with Purpose.

Through Procure with Purpose, we’re shining a light on the biggest issues – from Modern Slavery; to Minority Owned Business; and from Social Enterprises; to Environmental Sustainability.

Click here to enroll and gain access to  all future Procure with Purpose events including exclusive content, online events and regular webinars.  

This article was originally published on LinkedIn.