All posts by Procurious HQ

Why Procurement Should Give Cognitive Tech A Warm Embrace

When you pushback on the advances of cognitive technology, you’re buying yourself, and procurement, minimial time. Working side by side in a warm embrace is the way to do it! 

Our webinar, Beat The Bots: How Being Human Will Win The Day, takes place TODAY at 1pm BST on 24th October 2017. Register your attendence for FREE here.  

There’s no question that procurement teams needs to prepare for their own cognitive journeys, to consider what their company’s digital transformation will look like, and then think about how to prepare, or even influence it.

But in doing so, are they also mapping out a talent journey?

The 2017 Deloitte CPO survey interestingly revealed that whilst the vast majority of procurement leaders see the need to train and develop their people, only 31 per cent were planning to focus on training in digital skills in the coming year.

John Viner Smith, Principal, Mercer and speaker on today’s webinar has some thoughts on why this is the case, “I think part of the reason is that there’s no consensus at present as to what the skills people need to acquire are to be ready for this [cogntive] world.  It’s just not clear for the leaders concerned yet.”

Last week we outlined the key soft skills procurement professionals should be developing to prepare for the cognitive age.  But what about the attitude on the ground? Procurement professionals are still wary of the impact cognitive technology will have on the function, which results in a level of pushback and reluctance to accept the changes that are coming.

The warm embrace of cognitive technology

“It may be reasonable to look at the state of technologies today and think ‘No worries, I can’t see anything out there that could do my job’, but that’s not the risk.” John explains. ” The risk is that these technologies, coupled with other disruptors, could make your job obsolete and truly redundant. Imagine being a farrier at the very beginning of the 20th century; if you were thinking ‘Thank goodness they haven’t invented a machine that can shoe horses better than me’, you were kind of missing the point.”

So what is Justin McBryan, Learning & Development, Strategy, Communications Manager- IBM ,seeing in terms of pushback within his organisation?

“I don’t know if I would characterise it as a pushback so to speak.

“We see it as a warm embrace across the organisation but a wary embrace as well. As we digitise the organisation and continue to march forward into the cognitive era, certainly the technologies on the horizon are noticed and seen [by our employees.]

“But I say a warm embrace because a lot of the technologies we are building, have built and continue to build need the procurement skills and institutional knowledge that we’ve built over the years including all of our great people. In terms of where we are today and as we’ve been rolling out Watson Supply Chain etc. we see it as more of an embrace.”

Cognitive tech is “not necessarily a replacement of the person, it’s someone sitting next to you and helping you.”

The environment that Justin describes is one of collobaration, with seasoned procurement pros looking to help machines learn and work alongside them. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t doing so with the wary eye of “what’s next?”

But as Justin points out, as procurement teams embrace and integrate these cognitive technologies, they can also be asking themselves “What can I do to begin to point my skill development in the right direction?”

Exploiting the advantages of cognitive technology

There’s a lot of scare mongering out in the field that says that if you’re not a data scientist, you don’t have a future in Procurement.

But we’re reassured by the fact that IBM is working hard on developing its employees’ soft skills and is a strong advocate for how cognitive tech will allow professionals to better perform their roles not seek to replace them.

When it comes down to data scientists versus soft skills experts, Justin believes they’re sequential from each other and likens it to climbing up two different kinds of hills, “We want the majority of our organisation to build up on their soft skills. We’re happy if everyone builds up their analytics skills. We certainly need a solid group up at the top who can drive the innovation and integration of the cognitive tools.

“We need our best and brightest from a data scientist perspective but not all of us need to be there.”

“If we continue down the cognitive path we’re going to have a lot of tools to add to the procurement portfolio. The digitisation of our organisations  free up time for our employees to focus on two big things that are important for procurement:

  1. Getting closer to clients
  2. Creating time and space to innovate on our processes and innovate on the solutions that we’re delivering to our client

“The more we add to the digital cognitive portfolio of tools that procurement pros can use, the more time that is freed up on the innovation and client engagement space, [which is an opportunity for procurement] to exploit the advatages of the cognitive era.”

Our webinar, Beat The Bots: How Being Human Will Win The Day, takes place TODAY at 1pm BST on 24th October 2017. Register your attendence for FREE here. 

Big Ideas Summit Lands In Marvellous Melbourne!

Toot tooooot! After wowing audiences in London and Chicago, Procurious is steaming into Melbourne to bring the first ever Big Ideas Summit to Australia! With only one week to go, now is your chance to buy a ticket or join the Digital Delegate Group to follow the action online. 

If you’re interested in getting involved but still not entirely sure what’s going on, look no further – we’ve compiled a list of our most frequently asked questions to get you fully up to speed!

What is it?

The Big Ideas Summit is a unique online event uniting procurement and supply chain professionals from around the globe to drive innovation and inspire change. At the Big Ideas Summit in Melbourne we’ll be driving the conversation on the following topics:

  • Procurement in the digital age
  • Trend-spotting and pattern-hunting in procurement
  • Human skills in a machine world
  • The Conversational Century

Our international line up of speakers includes BBC Broadcaster and Visiting Professor at Kings College, Nik Gowing (UK); IBM’s Global Client Centricity Leader and cognitive expert Anita Karlsson Dion (USA); A.T. Kearney Partner, Board Member and data lake guru Patrick Van Den Bossche (USA); and Founder and CEO of the Conversational Century & Facebook’s advisor to the Royal Family, Elizabeth Linder (UK).

When and where is it?

The Melbourne Big Ideas Summit kicks off on Monday 30th October at the stunning Telstra Theatrette at 242 Exhibition Street, Melbourne. If you’re in Australia, there’s still time to reserve your seat! Visit the event website to learn more and secure your ticket today.

If you’re not in Australia or can’t make it to Melbourne, simply join the Digital Delegate Group here on Procurious to follow the action live and access valuable content after the event. Expect to see most of the action in the Group between 08.30 – 18.00 (AEDT) as we share video insights, quotes, photos and summary articles direct from Melbourne.

If you can’t join the action live, not to worry. The thought-provoking discussions and debate will continue long after, and we’ll be sharing video footage of all our Influencers’ Big Ideas throughout November on Procurious.

How can I join in online?

To become a Digital Delegate, you’ll need to be a registered member of Procurious – register here for free if you haven’t already. Then simply join the group to access Big ideas, participate in insightful discussion, connect with our Influencers, access exclusive podcasts and interviews and share your own Big Ideas with the Procurious community.

We’ll also be live tweeting throughout the day, so make sure you’re following @procurious_ to share and respond to our tweets using the hashtag #bigideas2017.

Do I have to be a member of Procurious?

Yes. Participation as a Digital Delegate is free and open to all members of Procurious. By joining Procurious, you will not only have access to all the exclusive Big Ideas Summit content, but you will join a community of 23,000 like-minded procurement peers and gain access to all Procurious’ free resources, including being able to:

  • Upskill on the move with dozens of eLearning modules
  • Get your procurement questions answered by experts
  • Find out about relevant professional events around the globe
  • Become a digital delegate in the global think-tank, Big Ideas Summit 2017

Will Big Ideas be live-streamed?

Procurious boasts a global audience of 23,000+ procurement professionals, from more than 140 countries. If we were to cater to all of these time zones, it would be a tough job – so rather than live-streaming (and keeping you awake at awkward hours), we’ll share exclusive video and podcast interviews with Digital Delegates.

 I’m on the fence – why should I take part?

Here are some compelling reasons to join your fellow Procurians and stake your claim to the wealth of knowledge on offer:

  • Get your questions answered by world-class experts
  • Make powerful new contacts around the globe
  • Share your own Big Idea and make your voice heard
  • Access exclusive content & learnings.

Who are the sponsors?

The Melbourne Big Ideas Summit is made possible by our partners Telstra, IBM, A.T. Kearney and The Source.

 I’ve got a Big Idea of my own…

Great to hear! You can Tweet us your Big Ideas @procurious_ remembering to use the hashtag #BigIdeas2017.

Leave your Big Idea on Facebook – you can find us at www.facebook.com/procurious .

And of course you can tell the Procurious community all about it by joining the Big Ideas Group page and posting it to the community feed.

Who is behind Procurious?

You can read all about us in Our Story.

Join the conversation and register as a digital delegate for Big Ideas 2017 in Melbourne.

Workplace Inclusion: Cut the Fluff!

3 Practical Ways to Move the Needle on Inclusion in the Workplace..

Illin Denis/Shutterstock.com

On 30th October, we’re bringing The Big Ideas Summit to Melbourne! Want to join us? Grab a ticket here to secure you seat!

Business Leaders are tired of hearing about the “D” word. Tired of hearing about diversity initiatives, forums, unconscious bias training, statistics. We get it; leaders are probably tired because all of the hype is on the problem.

As D&I (Diversity and Inclusion) Practitioners we are tired also of the “fluffy” responses to inclusion that are labelled as solutions. We’ve all participated in some of the fluff: Cultural Diversity Week, Harmony Day, International Women’s Day, Gay Pride Marches, coin collections for paralympians!

The reality is that by and large Australian businesses already have diverse workforces. Walk into most workplaces, and you will see some form of workforce diversity: age, gender, physical ability, sexuality, culture, thought. Although these staff members are “celebrated” with seasonal activities like Harmony Day, we are just not including these diversities where and when it counts in business.

Why?

  • Australian leaders who hold the power are not from diverse groups
  • There is no real business motivation to drive inclusion
  • There is a lack of know-how on launching and driving sustainable change to move the needle on inclusion.

AUSTRALIAN LEADERS & DIVERSE TEAM MEMBERS: “Feeling like an onlooker at work”

Inclusion can’t happen if we continue to have a distance in structure and relatability between Australian leaders and diverse team members. Figure 1 shows the distance in structure – Australian businesses are still run by Anglo-Celtic men who may have little relatability to people from diverse backgrounds.

Figure 1: Australia’s Anglo Celtic Men still hold the power

How do people from diverse backgrounds feel? It is ‘feeling like an onlooker at work, or more like an invisible spectator than part of a team’. This is the experience of ‘otherness’, or exclusion in the workplace, that might be subtle but is pervasive (Research by Catalyst).

My experiences … have made me far more aware of my “Blackness” than ever before. I have found that … no matter how liberal and open-minded some [people] try to be toward me, I sometimes feel like a visitor … as if I really don’t belong. – Michelle Obama

The impact of exclusion can affect everything from morale to career advancement. Diverse individuals report being more likely to withdraw from full participation and contribution (engagement) to the business. At a business level, this typically means lowered productivity or at the very least, less discretionary effort. The problem is Anglo-Celtic male leaders may not even be aware that this is happening.

 

How do we get the attention of Anglo-Celtic male business leaders?

Unfortunately, we will get their attention mostly with business statistics that link to financials. So here are some compelling statistics:

Gender diverse and ethnically diverse companies return 15% and 35% better financial performance than their competitors. 

Sounds like a no brainer to get motivated to do something, right? However, Australia has got to have the diversity represented first and in the right senior roles. At present, every diversity category you pick is under-represented and our lagging shows on a world-stage, especially with women: Australia is only at 14th place worldwide for women on large, publicly listed companies; and 17th place for women in parliament. Once we improve this, then we can talk about leveraging inclusion to get Fig. 2’s financial success stories.

Figure 2: Diversity Matters 

3 steps to cut the fluff and make inclusion matter

Do we wait to get representation first and then work at inclusion? No, start now – here is how: If you are at the top, the middle or indeed in any leadership role, here are three steps to cut the fluff on inclusion:

  1. Understand the diversities you are dealing with (MBWA)

Listening to the unique experiences of diverse employees (MBWA: management by walking around) and adopting inclusive behaviours will reap immediate benefits for your employees and your business. Do not fall into the trap of forming a view about the current state by using data based on outdated personal experience, assumptions and anecdotes or by talking a merit approach.

  1. Translate the potential business impact of continuing exclusion

For example, if you continue to have low levels of women or CALD (culturally and linguistically diverse) women represented across your organisation, what does that mean for your reach with customers (51% of Australia’s population are women and we are one of the most multicultural nations in the world). Do you know how your engagement scores translate across diverse groups? Are your staff feeling like onlookers and are these hidden within a 70+ average engagement score?

  1. Commit to act with transparency and accountability

At a senior level, engage the right stakeholder to develop policy, set targets and then make the right leaders accountable for communicating and embedding the policy and the targets into the organisational operating rhythm. All other levels: start with simple acts of inclusion: don’t talk over someone, learn to pronounce someone’s name, encourage an opinion and be open to listening fully – basically invite an onlooker in and keep the door open.

So, cut the fluffy celebrations, events and festivals – instead, take some concrete steps to make inclusion happen on an organisational and individual level, in ways that allow people to be valued and encourage others to step up.

This article was written by Div Pillay & Michelle Redfern, Co-founders of Culturally Diverse Women.

Join us LIVE at The Big Ideas Summit Melbourne to discuss the big-ticket trends affecting procurement – grab a ticket here to secure your seat!

5 Soft Skills Procurement Pros Should Be Developing…NOW!

If you want to hold on to your procurement career  in the long term, you ought to be worrying about mastering your soft skills!

Africa Studio/Shutterstock.com

Our webinar, Beat The Bots: How Being Human Will Win The Day, takes place at 1pm BST on 24th October 2017. Register your attendence for FREE here.

We got wind of the fact that IBM, arguably the world’s most robotically advanced procurement team,  is focussing on its employees’ soft skills.

As Justin Mcbryan, Learning & Development, Strategy, Communications Manager- IBM, explained,  why would IBM need a high volume of data scientists in their midst when they have Watson!?

Technological advancements will soon permit the automation of our processes; handling the sourcing and the market intelligence. In this environment, it’s the softer skills procurement professionals must master to ensure a long-term career.  That’s the real skills gap procurement should be worried about!

Ahead of next week’s webinar Beat The Bots – How Being Human Will Win The Day,  we outline the specific skills procurement pros should be mastering to prepare for the post-cognitive age, with the help of Justin and our second webinar speaker John Viner Smith, Principal-Mercer.

1. Design Thinking

There are some “incredible and transformative technologies that offer solutions to problems that were unimaginable just a few years ago ,but they’re just half of the puzzle.” begins John.

“Subject matter experts will have a role to play in framing  [these problems] in the most efficient way.”  It’s important that the solutions aren’t simply “sticking plasters but fundamental root cause fixes”.

This is a role for procurement’s best and brightest, and the skill needed to fulfil this role is Design Thinking; “the process of being at the forefront of bringing new technologies to bear on business problems.”

2. Thinking at the speed of digital!

Joh asserted that procurement must recognise that “thinking of digital solutions requires some understanding of new processes and ways of thinking.”

“Procurement people should be learning about methodologies like Google’s Design Sprint or Eric Ries’ concept of Intrapreneurship as defined in the Lean Startup that are used in other types of digital business.

“Too often procurement thinking is slow, bound in process and incredibly risk averse. Technology problem solving is experimental, iterative and views failures as key to learning. The idea of developing hypotheses, testing them, failing fast and iterating or pivoting in the course of a week, as per Google’s Sprint methods, would be alien to many Procurement people.”

Procurement has worked at a certain pace,  thus far. And it’s going to  have to get faster!

3. Active questioning and listening

This wouldn’t be a piece about soft skills without a mention of communication! We already know how important this skill is for procurement people but it’s going to be all the more valuable in a post-cognivite age.

Justin reminded us that communication is vital for everything “from presentation skills to phone etiquette and how to ask probing questions to your suppliers.”

In a post cognitive world you’re “going to become more of an owner and less of a process facilitator” asserts Justin, which is where active listening comes in.

When it comes to managing negotiations with suppliers, clients and colleagues, “We all have scripts e.g. How many widgets do you need, when do you need them by etc.”

“Every now  and then, you’ll have  been in a situation where a client has given a little bit more than you asked for. This is where the active [and critical] listening comes in.” How do you use that information to do the best job possible?

4. Negotiation

“We rely on the threat of competitive pressure to do our negotiating for us” says John.

“We source the spec and don’t always listen to challenges from Suppliers. When we’re engaging them to help solve complex problems, we will need to be more commercially empowered and highly skilled negotiators; able to get the best from our suppliers by offering the best of ourselves while optimising value.”

5. Imagination

“The future role of procurement can be solved in one phrase: problem solving” says John.

But procurement’s problem solving needs to take on a more innovative and imaginative approach.

“Not every situation is going to call for an RFX” explains Justin. “That speaks directly to the change we’re looking for [at IBM].” Too often “we see a need and our reaction from a process point is let’s go and do the RFX.”  Instead professionals “should take a deep breath and start understanding the client and exactly what they need,” and approach the problem in alternate ways.

John concedes, arguing that “running tender might be the solution (increasingly rarely!) but collaborative innovation with the suppliers we have is important.”

Procurement peoples’ jobs will largely focus on bringing innovation to the supply chain in the first place and really helping the business to understand their demand.

In short, Procurement needs to have a relationship with the organisation that is much more strategic and puts the function in a partnering and consultative role.  As Justin sums up, ‘ [at IBM] We’re still looking for the procurement experts, we’re still looking for people who can do the job. But we’re adding to the soft skills portfolio.”

Our webinar, Beat The Bots: How Being Human Will Win The Day, takes place at 1pm BST on 24th October 2017. Register your attendence for FREE here. 

Sprinting Outside Your Comfort Zone

When ultra-athlete, World Vision Ambassador and Melbourne Big Ideas Summit speaker Samantha Gash ran 3253 kilometres across India in scorching heat and punishing humidity, she discovered that even best-laid plans will always go awry. But, as she tells Procurious, any challenge can be overcome by adapting your plan, recalibrating and moving forward.    Hear Samantha Gash LIVE at the Melbourne Big Ideas Summit on Monday 30th October. Click here to learn more.

Who could be a better pick to talk about endurance than an ultra-marathon runner? As a former lawyer turned athlete, Samantha Gash has experienced challenges that require an enormous amount of persistence both within a corporate environment and on the running trail. She has seen first-hand how projects and big ideas will fail without the right mindset strategies, and the extraordinary achievements we’re capable of when we step outside of our comfort zone and tap into our hidden reserves of persistence.

As a World Vision Ambassador, Samantha Gash ran 3253 kilometres in 76 days across India, raising over $150,000 to fund education programs and creating a global digital campaign around the barriers to quality education for children across India. Her other achievements include a 1968km expedition run along South Africa’s Freedom Trail and four 250km desert ultramarathons as part of the Racing The Planet – Four Deserts Grand Slam.

It’s an impressive list, and reading it on paper doesn’t do justice to the heat, flies, exhaustion, injuries and sheer discomfort Samantha must have experienced on these ultramarathons. As she will tell the audience at the Melbourne Big Ideas Summit on October 30th, things never go to plan – but that’s okay, particularly if you have the right mindset to adapt and push onwards.

Adaptability

“You need to be incredibly prepared in the lead-up to a challenge, but upon execution you also need to be highly adaptable,” says Samantha. “Both components are important, because it’s likely that you’ll need to completely change what you thought you needed to do once things really kick off.”

Samantha isn’t exaggerating when she says that in India, not one day went to plan. “From weeks two to four, I was physically and mentally shaken by the fact that I had to walk for considerable periods at a time. I was experiencing body shutdown, brought on by the stress of running across India in 44 degrees and over 90% humidity, combined with trying to keep up with a demanding content schedule to meet stakeholder obligations when it would be optimal for my performance if I could rest”.

For two of the eleven weeks in India, Samantha says she was pretty much crawling. “My stomach blew up, I was getting injuries, and I wasn’t giving myself the recovery I needed. My body wouldn’t let me move beyond a power walk and short running sections. Eventually, I realised that I had to roll with it, and accepted that this was the reality for that part of the challenge. And that’s when my body started to heal itself. Seventy-seven days later, my body was injury free and powerfully running up the mountains in the east of India”.

Samantha says that when you’re doing projects of this scale, you’ll inevitably go through a breakdown period before you get to the adaption phase. “You have to be calm and kind to your body – it’s essential to get through this anxiety-ridden period.”

Relentless forward motion

The language Samantha uses – adaptability, stakeholders, execution – comes across as highly professional and wouldn’t be out of place in a corporate environment, reflecting her background as a lawyer. But there’s one over-used business catchphrase – “moving forward” – that takes on a different meaning when used by an endurance athlete.

“’Relentless forward motion’ is the idea that it doesn’t always matter how fast you’re moving; so long as you’re moving forward, you’re always moving towards your goal. It’s important to think about the strategic parts of the project when you’ll need to devote 100% of your focus and greater energy. When the odds are stacked against me in endurance racing, I rely on the strategies I have prepared that allow me to move forward.

“In a long term endurance event, whether physical or mental, people inevitably burn out and choose to opt out of the challenge. However, if you can’t mindfully push past the challenges, it’s irrelevant how fast you went.”

Strategic vulnerability

Samantha recommends that leaders should put on their “armour of toughness” at challenging times to make sure a project continues to move forward. This is particularly important at the start of a project, but down the track it’s often a good idea to show some vulnerability.

“Effective leaders know that it’s important to be able to show vulnerability, and also to accept vulnerability in others, in order to reach your goal,” says Samantha. “Sometimes the strongest leaders are the ones who can show their team a degree of vulnerability. Reversing the roles of leader and follower enables the team to step up and support you, because you won’t get the best out of your team members if you always show strong solid leadership and direct workflow.”

Samantha Gash is part of an incredible line up of inspirational, international speakers appearing LIVE at the Procurious Big Ideas Summit Melbourne on Monday 30th October. Time is running out – reserve your seat today!

Are You One Of Procurement’s Gen NEXT?

Did you know that 50 per cent of procurement professionals don’t trust their bosses to help them win promotions? No wonder most of us are going online to proactively manage our own careers! Exclusive to Procurious members, the Procurement Gen NEXT report shares career-boosting insights from 500+ global professionals. Get your copy today.

Looking for the Procurement Gen NEXT report? Register for free or log in to Procurious, then click on the banner to download!

Evidence of a divide has emerged between procurement professionals who are proactively seizing control of their career management, and others who are waiting for a promotion or big break that may never come. At Procurious, we’ve labelled the proactive group “Procurement’s Gen NEXT”.

This is not a generation defined by year of birth. On the contrary, it’s defined by a positive attitude that can be found across every age group, from Baby Boomers to Gen Z. The members of Gen NEXT are using a whole range of levers to supercharge their careers. From developing vital mentoring relationships, to building social media profiles that have eclipsed the importance of CVs, to seamlessly leveraging their professional networks to find a new role, to crowd-sourcing a solution to a procurement challenge, the members of Gen NEXT are collaborative, proactive and ambitious.

When Procurious put out the call for participants, we were delighted when 500+ professionals across more than 50 countries shared their insights and wisdom through the survey. The result? Confirmation of the ever-growing need for members of the profession to proactively manage their own careers – online – as the profession hurtles towards Industry 4.0.

The Gen NEXT report is packed with data, insights, recommendations, and links to over 20+ Procurious articles that further explore many of the findings raised in the report.

Five ways Gen NEXT does it

  1. Make a long-term career plan, but keep it flexible

Over two-thirds of surveyed professionals are unclear about their long-term career plans. As many organisations move towards agile methodology, why not do the same with your career plan? This means being crystal-clear about your long-term goals and aspirations, but ensuring you have the flexibility to continually adjust and improve those career plans as you progress in short, culminative stages.

  1. Don’t wait for your boss to act in your best interests

The fact that over half of survey participants indicated that they don’t trust their bosses to help with their career progression demonstrates that waiting for a promotion is no longer a viable career strategy. Don’t be passive about your career advancement – seize control and take every opportunity to progress. Remember, the only common denominator in your career is YOU.

  1. Is your online profile up to scratch?

You may have the best-looking CV in the world, but if your online profile isn’t up to scratch, you won’t stand a chance of landing that job. Two-thirds of survey respondents regard their online profile to be equally important as their CV when job-seeking. It’s not only about deleting those embarrassing party photos from Facebook – candidates should ensure their professional profiles on sites such as LinkedIn and Procurious tick all the right boxes.

  1. Don’t neglect your professional network

Results show that professional networks are equally important as on-the-job performance when it comes to career advancement, confirming the adage that it’s not what you know, but who you know that will help you get ahead at the office. Alternately, if you happen to find yourself out of work, results show that your professional network is the number one pathway to finding your next role.

  1. If you’re a manager, it’s time to shift your thinking

Think you’ve built a procurement team that’ll be with you for the next five years? Think again. Managers can expect to see just under 40% of their procurement team leave the organisation within the next two years and 70% within the next five years. It’s time to throw away the retention plan and accept the reality that today’s workforce is increasingly mobile. But this doesn’t mean giving up on developing your team. If you’re known as a supportive manager who gives others the opportunity to go on to a stellar career, you’ll become a talent magnet in the profession.

And that’s not all…

The Procurement Gen NEXT report has insights into the biggest career hurdles faced by procurement professionals; trusted sources of career advice; the most common routes to finding a new role; connectivity within the profession; crowdsourcing solutions on social media; personal development and eLearning; online collaboration platforms; using communication tools to drive change; opinions on the value of professional memberships and certifications; and much more.

Get on board!

Download the report to discover how you can join Procurement’s Gen NEXT by seizing control of your own procurement destiny and charting a career course to the top. You’ll discover how to:

  • overcome career hurdles and take advantage of career springboards
  • tap into the power of your professional network to supercharge your career
  • reap the benefits of being truly connected with peers inside and outside your organisation
  • solve any challenge through the power of crowd-sourced solutions.

How do I get hold of the report?

Did we mention that this report is for Procurious members only? But don’t worry, signing up is quick, easy and FREE.

  1. Simply register or log in to your Procurious account.
  2. Click on the banner, which looks like this:

3. Your download will begin automatically.

Procurious will share insights from this report at GovProcure 2017 in Sydney on 6th December. Click here to learn more and download an event brochure.

Cognitive Process Automation Is So Much More Than Robots

With 45 per cent of business processes having the potential to be automated, it’s of little surprise that organisations are embracing the opportunity presented by technology.

On 30th October, we’re bringing The Big Ideas Summit to Melbourne! Want to join us? Grab a ticket here to secure you seat! 

Shifting business landscapes, a relentless focus on cost reduction and the intensification of competition to even retain, much less grow the customer base, means every opportunity to optimise needs to be explored.

For many robotics and robotics processes, automation is the starting point. To unlock full and sustainable value, organisations need to look beyond a point solution approach. Re-imagining the way the organisation operates at its core and using technology to enable new ways of working is what cognitive process automation is really about and that is how the magic can really start to happen.

You really do need a strategy

Identifying a potential process and even deploying a robot, can be done very quickly. In the absence of a strategy however, many organisations are often faced with the question of how they actually measure the value. Are the benefits real? Why am I not seeing the impact in my downstream metrics and performance? Once answered, the next discrete process component should be how and where to deploy robotics at scale to drive the business outcomes that impact the company performance.

Having a strategy is a fundamental building block. It enables the agenda to be defined, set and consistently reinforced. It becomes the reference point for what, how and why things are being done and this shift is what elevates the automation opportunity beyond simple cost take-out. A robust strategy should articulate how process automation (robotics + cognitive computing) can drive strategic growth, optimisation of the customer experience and enhanced employee engagement. It’s a formula for significant and sustained benefits and more importantly, they can be captured quickly.

Even virtual systems can cast a shadow

The idea that technology on its own is all that is needed often leads organisations to failing to consider the impact on people and processes. Legacy systems and functions set up to support them, and often work around them, means the people and process component are intrinsically linked.

Organisations need to fundamentally rethink their current operating models and envisage the framework they need to put in place to enable automation of business processes. In the cognitive computing world, business processes can be reconfigured in minutes not months. When this is not done, the ‘shadow’ organisation emerges. People and processes remain the same, or even more disappointingly, grow in complexity to accommodate the technology that has been implemented.

Where does cognitive computing fit in? 

In the automation agenda, cognitive computing can unlock new sources of value. Insight driven decision making becomes the way of doing business and simulation capability enables testing of ideas and hypotheses quickly for agility. For one client, this means 50M+ calculations in under 10 sec.

Adding natural language processing and the ability to leverage data that has never been used before from unstructured data sources becomes the way of doing business. Robots adjust and adapt using cognitive self-learning capabilities.

And what does this mean for people? Talent is key enabler of organisational value and in the world of cognitive process automation, it’s all about enabling people to focus on high value work. The relationship between people and machine becomes one of continuous learning from one another, enhancing the work that people do. People + Process + Technology; it’s a formula for competitive advantage.

This article was written by Alice Sidhu – Partner, Digital and Cognitive Business Transformation, IBM.

 Join us LIVE at The Big Ideas Summit Melbourne to discuss the big-ticket trends affecting procurement – grab a ticket here to secure your seat!

Eyes on the prize: 5 ways soft skills can help you focus on the big-ticket projects

From guest contributor Shaun Hughes, Chief Procurement Officer, Telstra.

In a complex and hyper-connected world, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to juggle every demand on your time without losing sight of important projects. The solution doesn’t lie in downloading the latest time-management app, or introducing the latest project management methodology, but in the development of five key soft skills. 

TK 1980/Shutterstock.com

I’ve always been impressed by jugglers. Otherwise known as multi-taskers, the best jugglers are seemingly able to keep an unbelievable number of projects and tasks in the air at once. But underneath the whirl of frenetic activity, impressive as it might look, is it really effective?

Firstly, trying to juggle too many projects at once often leads to short-termism. Rather than make hard prioritisation decisions on what really matters, we often fall into the trap of focusing on the most urgent task at hand.  Meanwhile, the big-ticket projects that really make a difference are lost in the swirl of activity.  Busy-ness leaves no room for effectiveness.

You may be able to get every task done on your list, but does it really add value?  We all know what our best work looks like, but are we setting ourselves up for success?  Creating the time to think and to prioritise is essential, but how do we know that we’re working on the right things?

Soft skills remove ambiguity.

Modern procurement is about driving a change agenda.  Great organisations have great talent and great talent doesn’t always agree.

I used to think getting things done was about getting everyone to yes, now I believe it’s about getting the “NOs” to neutral and maintaining enough momentum in the “YES camp” to move things forward.

But the task of converting all those NOs to neutrals can sometimes seem overwhelming. If you don’t have existing relationships in place, you’ve simply got no idea why individuals (or entire functions) are resisting your change agenda. Confronted with so much ambiguity and complexity, it can be hard to know where to start.

What I’ve found is if you simply roll up your sleeves, start talking to people and understand their perspectives it’s amazing what you learn about what is important to them and why.  Understanding this takes a bit more time sometimes, but change is much more likely to stick.

Five soft skills that will help you win back your time

1. Make the effort to really connect – see the person, not the task. Take the time to understand those around you, what is important to them, their fears and aspirations, what motivates them.  While the degree of connection each of us want at work will vary, when we connect as people in a real and authentic way the whole human dynamic of that relationship changes.  When our focus is only on the task, it’s much harder to see the person and the impact your agenda might have on them.

2. Ask not tell – start with a question, and then keep asking questions. Even if you want to talk about your agenda, when we ask permission to do so, something changes.  We are now being invited into the conversation. The dynamic shifts from one of pushing our own agenda and position, to a pull dynamic where we are being asked to explain it.

When the conversation pauses, inquire with curiosity.  It never ceases to amaze me how different things can be in reality to how they appear on the surface.  When we simply listen with a view to finding space to talk ourselves, I wonder do we always hear what is being said to us?

When a really important idea that I just don’t want to forget hijacks my ability to listen, one thing that works for me is the simple act of writing that thought down. This seems to remove the need to keep trying to remember it, or the urgency to blurt it out, and allows me to listen. 

3. Reasonable people acting illogically – most people in business are smart, pragmatic and reasonably rational. Admittedly, we all have moments when we lapse a little, but corporate norms of behaviour tend to reinforce pragmatic rationalism.  So, when we see behaviour that doesn’t quite make sense to us, it’s often because we don’t fully understand what’s important to those around us.  What should we do?  Start back at point 1 and build a relationship.

Throughout my career I’ve taken many opportunities to do many different things in many different parts of the businesses I’ve worked in. Different roles in different industries, but always coming back to my core skill in commercial / financial management. Breadth through rotation provides a wider perspective on the world around us and I’ve certainly benefited from this. It’s amazing how much you can enjoy learning something new; the broader our own experiences, the easier it is to understand the perspectives of others. 

4. Learn to let go – for many overworked jugglers, the problem can be of our own making. If your leadership style means controlling every decision and rewriting everything your team produces, you will always have too much on your plate. Learn to recognise talent, enable it, establish a set of principles to work by and communicate these clearly. Then, simply get out of the way and let talent be talent.

You may be surprised to find that the quality of work goes up as people feel more empowered and valued.  Do any of us do our best work when we know the boss is going to get out the red pen and rewrite the whole thing?

5. Know when to call in the umpire – we have umpires in sport for a reason. Sometimes in the heat of the moment the desire to win distorts the player’s perspective of what’s really happening.  Imagine a tennis game without an umpire ….
                In            out!
               In!          Out!!
               IN!!        OUT!!! 

Nothing can stall a project quite so much as an unresolved disagreement.  So, rather than let the relationship falter, or prosecute the same issue repeatedly, be pragmatic about when to find an umpire.  Make your respective cases, accept the decision and move on.

Is there anything wrong with acknowledging where you are and saying “Hey, we’re not going to agree on this, how about we get a third party to be an umpire?

Good communication, transparency and investment in relationships may seem like a counter-intuitive way to lesson your workload, but your soft skills are the most effective method you have of bringing those multiple projects under control, focusing on the big-ticket items that will really move your business and your career in the right direction, and driving lasting sustainable change.

Telstra is a leading Australian telecommunications and technology company, offering a full range of communications services and competing in all telecommunications markets. Hear more thought-leadership from Telstra at Procurious Big Ideas Summit Melbourne on Monday 30th October. 

Does Your Procurement Team Have The Human Touch?

We’ve had quite enough of the scare-mongering out there that says the robots are coming to steal our jobs! We’ve got some inside info that suggests having a human touch in your procurement team is by far the most important thing!

Our webinar, Beat The Bots: How Being Human Will Win The Day, takes place at 1pm BST on 24th October 2017. Register your attendence for FREE here. 

We’ve heard it all before, right? Cognitive technology is coming and, in case you hadn’t gathered, it’s a pretty big deal.

By 2020 all of our important procurement decisions will be made with the assistance of artificial intelligence. We know that our teams must “transform or die” if we don’t want the function reduced to the back office,  facing extinction.

Given the scare mongering and hype around AI, most procurement professionals have accepted that they must map out their cognitive journeys, hone their skills and prepare for a very different future.

But what does that future look like?  Are procurement teams of the future made up entirely of savvy data scientists? Can you even have a future in procurement if you’re not a data whizz?

Can you beat the bots with the human touch?

Our latest webinar, in partnership with IBM, takes the more optimistic, and realistic, approach that humans can, and will, win the day!

The idea that everyone needs to be a data scientist is a total  fallacy. In reality, only a very small percentage of the workplace actually needs these skills. The rest of the procurement workforce will need to be managing relationships with the supply chain ecosystem.

If cognitive technology like IBM’s Watson can handle the sourcing, the market intelligence and the data, the biggest gap for procurement to worry about is soft skills.

Beat The Bots: How Being Human Will Win The Day examines how procurement’s role is transforming. We explore why the function needs to develop arelationship with the organisation that is much more strategic, placing it in a partnering and consultative role.

Think you could do with learning more about the importance of soft skills in the cognitive age, and which ones you should be concentrating on within your teams?  Sign up for our webinar on 24th October and check out our FAQs below for all the information you require:

What content can I expect from the webinar?

We’ll be discussing:

  • What cognitive tools are on the horizon?
  • How will the advancement of cognitive technology be an enabler, and not the disabler, of your procurement career?
  • Why  is the most robotically advanced procurement team in the world, focusing on their employees soft skills?
  • How can procurement teams map out their cognitive and talent journeys alongside each other?
  • If soft skills are king, which ones should you be developing?

Who are the guest speakers?

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.

John Viner-Smith – Principal, Mercer 

John earned his masters in international procurement from Kedge Business School in Bordeaux in 2003 and went to work at JPMorgan Chase as HR Sourcing Manager for EMEA.

After a couple of years at JPM he moved into consulting with ATKearney, specialising in Procurement work and stayed in Consulting until 2009 (he moved to Deloitte) until moving back into industry with Dixons Stores Group, where he was Senior Category Manager for Marketing and IT.

After that he spent two years as a Principal at KPMG in Shared Services and Outsourcing Advisory, where he became involved in work around Robotic Process Automation and Cognitive Computing in Shared Services environments before moving to Mercer to focus on a commercial excellence again.

He writes and lectures in leading business schools on the topic of Commercial Negotiation. John  currently live in Oxfordshire with his wife and two children.

Justin McBryan-  Learning & Development, Strategy, Communications Manager, IBM

Justin has 20 years of Supply Chain experience and currently serves as IBM Procurements Learning & Development and Strategy Leader at IBM.
He has most recently been a Supply Chain Consultant for IBM specialising in logistics and procurement across numerous Industry verticals around the globe, including extended work in China, Mexico, Canada and Europe.
Justin’s passion for learning and development stems from his desire to collaborate and scale expertise through large organizations. Justin is a proud graduate of Loyola University-New Orleans and currently resides in New York City with his wife.

How do I register for the webinar?

Registering for our webinar couldn’t be easier (and, of course, it’s FREE!)

Click here to enter your details and confirm your attendance. We’ll send you a confirmation email with a link to the webinar platform and a handy reminder one hour before we go live!

I’m already a member of Procurious, do I still need to register?

Yes! If you are already a member of Procurious you must still register to access the webinar via this platform. We’ll send you a confirmation email with a link to the webinar platform and a handy reminder one hour before we go live!

When is it taking place?

The webinar will take place at 1pm BST on 24th October 2017

Help! I can’t make it to the live-stream

No problem! If you can’t make the live-stream you can catch up whenever it suits you. We’ll be making it available on Procurious soon after the event (and will be sure to send you a link) so you can listen at your leisure!

Can I ask a question?

If you’re listening live, our speakers would love to hear your questions and we’d love for you to pick their brains . Questions can be submitted throughout the live stream via the webinar platform, or via Twitter when you tag #Beatthebots @procurious_

If you think of a brilliant question after the event, feel free to submit your question via the Discussion Board on Procurious and we’ll do our very best to ensure it gets answered for you.

Our webinar, Beat The Bots: How Being Human Will Win The Day, takes place at 1pm BST on 24th October 2017. Register your attendence for FREE here. 

Supercharge Your Intelligence

How can technology improve the savings, scope and speed of your supplier searches by supercharging your intelligence

The event might be over, but you can still  register for The Big Ideas Summit Chicago to access footage  from the event. 

“There’s a tremendous opportunity [for procurement] to leverage technology and data to accelerate processes and bring insight into the organisation.” says Stephany Lapierre, founder and CEO of tealbook.

After 10 years building a successful strategic sourcing consulting firm, Stephany launched tealbook in 2014, a cloud-based platform that uses machine learning to enrich supplier master data and accelerates supplier identification and qualification by as much as 90 per cent.

At The Big Ideas Summit last week we interviewed Stephany to learn the results of a recent partnership with The Hackett Group:

What’s the big problem?

We know that procurement processes need to be more agile. Particularly in larger organisations, which are threatened by disruption, the ability to adapt and be more flexible is of paramount importance to ensure survival.

But, as Stephany points out, when it comes to identifying qualified suppliers, agility is not procurement’s strong point…yet!

“By the time a business comes to procurement with supplier requirements, it takes an average of 41 hours of effort to come back with a list of qualified suppliers,” she begins.

“I was with a Fortune 500 CPO recently and asked him one question:

“When the business comes to procurement, what’s the process for getting back to them with a vetted list of qualified suppliers?”

“He spoke for ten minutes, listing all of the internal and external sources used by procurement!

“We have a portal, we use our analysts, third party analysts, we buy market intelligence reports, we use Google, as our stakeholders, and the list went on.

“If it takes 41 hours of efforts (typically taking 5 to 6 weeks), procurement is a bottle neck. You can now make that information available in real time… that changes the conversation. It’s game changing!”

If traditional approaches to decision making are broken, what does that mean for the future of procurement?

The Upside Of Supplier Intelligence

tealbook recently partnered with The Hackett Group to research the cost, effort, and business impact of supplier discovery and qualification. The resulting data became the foundation of a four-city series of executive roundtables focused on exploring and capturing the strategic impact of having access to actionable supplier intelligence to meet the demand of the business that requires speed, agility and innovation.

Over the course of those four evenings, The Hackett Group data came alive through the diverse perspectives of over 40 procurement thought leaders. Their combined insights are now available in a new white paper, The Upside of Accessible Supplier Intelligence, which was launched at the Procurious Big Ideas Summit in Chicago.

The paper addresses the transformative potential of supplier intelligence based on the themes we heard loud and clear from our executive participants, as well as discussion around the following points:

  • 15% of the sourcing process is spent identifying and qualifying suppliers.
  • It takes an average of 41 hours of effort per sourcing event, which translates into 23,165 hours for the average enterprise.
  • Over 60 percent of supplier discovery & qualification efforts are handled by strategic resources (category managers and senior category managers).
  • Applying machine learning and peer-driven intelligence to this challenge creates a strategic opportunity to accelerate and improve this process while increasing procurement’s total impact on the top and bottom line.

Procurement: The Guardian of Enterprise?

Procurement must find a way to reduce tactical work and reassign hours to strategic opportunities which will allow procurement to deliver better savings while aligning with the speed and expectations of the rest of the business.

Having instant access to trusted, actionable intelligence will therefore be a mandatory piece of the procurement technology landscape in market leading companies.

As Phil Ideson (Art of Procurement), the moderator for all four cities, stated in one of the roundtables,

“…Procurement is a function ripe for disruption. We have to be careful not to disrupt ourselves by being rooted on our traditional ways.”

Download the full tealbook white paper here.

Want to see more from The Big Ideas Summit Chicago.  Register now  (It’s FREE!) as a digital delegate to gain access to all of the day’s action including video interviews with our speakers and attendees.