All posts by Kevin Collon

The Four Topics Procurement Conferences Should be Addressing

Future trends in technology

Last week I wrote a post about my (very positive) experience at the Procurecon Asia 2015 conference. You can read my thoughts here.

Attending the conference and indeed, writing up my thoughts, got me thinking about what I would have liked to have heard more about. So with this in mind, I’d like to present four topics that I feel upcoming conferences should be addressing.

1. Social Procurement and Ethical Procurement

This has a different meanings across different countries, something I came to understand at the Procurecon event. Luckily, there is now a consistent way to measure it. An organisation called the Centre for Citizenship Enterprise and Governance has developed the go-to metric for measuring social value. The metric is what sits behind the UK Social Value Act 2012 and Modern Slavery Act 2015. The organisation works with more than 20,000 members and has measured the social value of organisations with a combined value of £2.7 trillion

Given the rise of modern slavery and exploitation of vulnerable people globally (especially within Asia), CPO’s, leaders and progressive companies need to be more active. We need to discuss this at our conferences and measure progress every year.

2. Anti-Corruption

Currently Thailand, China and Japan are going through an anti-corruption push. This topic should always be on the agenda at major procurement conferences to share insight, provide support and continue to show leadership to eliminate criminals from our profession.

Total transparency of procurement and supply chain is the future and will reduce the opportunity for fraud. Technology is helping us achieve this high standard of accountability.

3. Business Analytics

Procurement has an amazing opportunity to create significant commercial value with world-class analytical tools and technology that can provide 360-degree visibility and business reporting of your corporate data.

We can be seen as key facilitators and leaders by adopting cloud computing, data analytics and machine learning which have been instrumental in recent times. These areas will continue to hold strategic importance as procurement becomes increasingly viewed as trusted business advisors.

4. Disruption technologies – The Internet of everything and 3D printing

Much has been written on these topics so I won’t recover them much, i.e. (read: http://www.topfunded.com/iot/internet-of-things-iot-growth-in-southeast-asia/)

Technology is driving significant change in business and all things. It would be great to hear from procurement thought or industry leaders on the topic. Both will have major impacts on procurement and supply chain in the future.

Procurecon Asia: Evolution from Operational Procurement to Strategic Procurement

procurecon asia

At this time of year, the events season is well underway and many of us are already starting to think about applying what we’ve learnt to our 2016 activities.

I recently attended the ProcureCon Asia Conference 2015 at The Amara Hotel in Singapore. I wanted to share my pre and post event thoughts on Procurious.

The ProcureCon Asia conference is aimed at CPO’s and senior strategic procurement leaders within Asia Pacific. I was fortunate enough to have secured a pass to the event. This is third year the conference has run and my first time in attendance.

According to company’s website: “ProcureCon Asia has firmly established itself as Asia’s only gathering for global and regional CPOs and Asian heads of procurement actively engaged in the evolution towards full strategic procurement”.

This event is one of the more important dates on the Asian procurement calendar. Procurement professionals from across the region flocked to Singapore to network and listen to an impressive list of speakers.

I was personally looking forward to meeting new and old procurement colleagues and hearing from thought leaders on how our profession is progressing in Asia Pacific. I was particularly interested to compare how Asia stacks up against the rest of the world in terms of our procurement best practices especially given the technological changes driving business.

How did our region compare globally and what are the opportunities now and in the near future? What does it mean for procurement as a profession?

Developing Procurement Maturity in Asia  

The conference theme was about progressing procurement strategically in Asia (to reach 3rd generation procurement and beyond) and there were many workshops that discussed that in more detail. I had also seen various industry data to indicate that Asia Pacific was behind other regions in procurement maturity (e.g.)

Report from Procurecon Asia

Having been a procurement professional working in the technology and automotive sectors for many years and having led a number of innovation projects (i.e. regional Ariba and MSP rollouts etc.), I was aware of that there was some differences between the maturity of procurement functions in Asia vs. the rest of the world.

Asia has seen massive economic progress in the last decades with impressive innovation and developmental steps taken by many companies and countries. A lot of the conversations at the event focussed around whether procurement was maturing at the same rate as the rest of the Asian economy.

There are a great number of individual industry leaders in Asia and there is no reason why Asia cannot be seen as global leader across industries in future years. We just need to be clear around how to get there.

Maturity Requires Talent

I think one of the most important steps to achieving procurement maturity in Asia is the development of future talent. We need top talent to ensure we have an ongoing skill base our companies require and as a driver of innovation and high standards into the future.

I know CIPS has a development plan with thousands of new students enrolled in China, I am not sure about other countries? CIPS now has an office in Singapore, which is great. ASEAN countries definitely need more procurement graduates entering into our profession, as those countries will provide strong growth, both now and into the future.

Innovation is Critical to Success in Asia 

The path to procurement maturity is unique to each business and industry sector. All companies and entities are coming from different starting points and have different drivers and priorities. What is common to all procurement teams based across Asia is the need to come up innovative solutions to the regions unique challenges.

While there was some discussion and workshops covering innovation and disruption topics, I felt the event could have gone into a little more detail on these areas. Something to think about when it comes to themes for next year’s event perhaps?

Measuring Procurement Maturity in Asia 

Going forward, how can we measure regional progress in Asia as a whole? It was possible to get some gauge at the conference, but given the vast size of the Asia Pacific region, the event was a tiny sample size.

It would be good to be able to out measures in place that would us understand regional procurement development in Asia Pacific.

The Role of China 

There were many questions and discussions about China throughout the conference. What is happening within? Have they come to the end of the growth road with rising costs and what it means for our profession? All agreed China has many years of progress ahead still, along with many challenges. Second tier Chinese cities and regions are already beginning to grow and play a role in the complex China story. This will continue for many years to come.

In summary, the event was a great experience; there was an impressive line-up of speakers and a room full of regional and global colleagues in attendance, so it was well worth the trip just for that.

During my three days in Singapore, I was able to have many one and one discussions and understand how these Asian based procurement professionals were managing their challenges.

Sadly, a couple of days does not really allow the time needed to have deep discussion on many topics but I am sure everyone had personal takeaways and made many new contacts as I did.

See you all there next year.