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The Art of Cross-Cultural Negotiation

Negotiations can be tricky. A cross-cultural negotiation presents an entirely different challenge, one with countless pitfalls and potential faux-pas.

Cross-Cultural Negotiation Roundtable

Negotiations in a business setting can be difficult at the best of times. Throw cross-cultural diversity into the mix, and the difficulty level rises again.

The way you speak, behave, control your body language, and operate can change hugely from culture to culture. This increases the chance of making a mistake, or accidentally offending the other party.

Some people may also make the mistake of assuming that when we talk about culture, we are limiting this to a purely geographical standpoint.

When referring to a cross-cultural negotiation we often talk about different nationalities as a primary characterisation. But this is not the only element that affects culture.

Culture is the unique characteristics of a social group, and the values and norms shared by its members. This social group may be a country, a corporation, a religion, gender, an organisational function, or one of many others.

Dealing with Cross-Cultural Negotiation

How can you prepare for a cross-cultural negotiation? What do you need to know? What do you need to prepare in advance? And how should you approach negotiating with different cultures? This is where expert advice can help.

Procurious were lucky enough to be invited to listen in on a cross-cultural negotiation roundtable, organised by Giuseppe Conti, Founder of Conti Advanced Business Learning. Participants came from a range of businesses and diverse backgrounds, and comprised 8 different nationalities. The discussion was fascinating, and provided some great insights into a complex subject.

In this series of articles, we will examine key factors to be taken into consideration during cross-cultural negotiations, and see some real-world examples straight from the experts.

Power Dynamics and Balance

Giuseppe kicked off the discussion by asking the participants to talk about their own experiences of cross-cultural negotiations.

Jonathan Hatfield, Director of Purchasing, EMEA at PPG Industries, talked about his first trip to Russia to purchase chemicals.

Supplier power played a large part in the negotiations. Jonathan visited factories in Siberia, where no-one spoke any English. In line with the strong hierarchical culture of the country, he was also dealt with several junior product managers before he could access more senior people.

While Jonathan’s aim was to create a relationship with the supplier, the supplier cut straight to the point. They only wanted to know what he wanted to buy, where it was going, and what the price would be.

Jonathan left Russia not even knowing if he had managed to secure any materials (happily he did!). It taught him about power balance, and also to make sure that he had approvals lined up in advance.

Language Barriers and Coffee

Two other participants gave examples highlighting the difficulties of language barriers and body language.

Thierry Blomet, Senior Vice President at Kemira, took part in a negotiation with an Indian customer, who appeared to be shaking their head from side to side at every argument that was presented. This left Thierry feeling that none of his ideas had been accepted.

When he questioned this with his local representative however, he was told that he was doing fine. The shake of the head was actually a sign of agreement with what he was saying.

Matthias Manegold, Head of Procurement and Supply Chain Practice at Kinetic Consulting, talked about a situation where language barriers played a major role.

He was negotiating with an Asian business to bring new technology to Europe. Each statement in the negotiation was met with a “Hai” (Japanese for yes), but it wasn’t until later on that Matthias was told that this actually meant, “Yes, we hear you, but we don’t necessarily agree”.

Jean-Noel Puissant
Jean-Noel Puissant

One final example came from Jean-Noël Puissant, Head of Procurement EMEA at Monsanto International. Jean-Noël highlighted the difference in how negotiations start in different cultures.

In one negotiation in the South of Italy, the owner of the supplier arrived with his wife, listened to the agenda being laid out, then suggested everyone get a coffee.

It was his way of starting the negotiation by getting to know the other party better with some conversation before the business discussions kicked off.

Company Cultures

The participants also reflected on company cultures, and how current or former employers’ cultures had shaped their own negotiation approaches.

Stephane Guelat, Senior Director – Supply Chain at Pentair Valves and Controls, spoke about one of the key factors for procurement and supply chain – ethics.

Stephane said that, while many organisations will put employees through ethics training, the ethical standards may be different across cultures. For instance, the exchange of services or gifts may be perceived as completely unethical in Western Europe, while fully normal in India.

Xin-jian Carlier Fu, Strategic Sourcing Commodity Manager at Honeywell, argued that there are likely to be many different cultures within the same organisation.

This was confirmed by Jonathan Hatfield, who said that this is ever more the case as organisations from different cultures and countries merge. He added that it was something buyers needed to be cognisant of when dealing with companies which had been taken over.

Finally, Giuseppe highlighted how his first job with a large multinational with a very competitive culture shaped his initial approach to negotiation.

When working later in his career with a smaller, family-owned organisation, he learned to adapt and broaden his approach to negotiation. According to Jean-Noël, we cannot assume one-size-fits-all. We need to understand the specific culture of each large or small organisation.

There’s much more to come on this topic, including tips on negotiating with different nationalities, and applications of cross-cultural research in negotiations. Come back next week for more.

This roundtable was organised by Conti Advanced Business Learning (www.cabl.ch), a Swiss training company that specialises in Negotiation & Influencing training. Giuseppe Conti, has over 20 years of Procurement experience and 10 years of negotiation teaching experience at leading Business Schools (including Oxford, HEC Paris, IMD and ESADE).

Gotta Catch Them All! But Is Pokémon Go a Cyber Crime Target?

Pokémon Go is the new craze sweeping the world. It’s just a game, but how does it relate to real-life laws? And could it really be a target for cyber criminals?

Pokémon Go

Last week, Nintendo launched its new ‘augmented reality’ game, Pokémon Go, across the world. Nintendo spread the launch dates out, with the USA, Australia and New Zealand first, and Europe and other parts of Asia launches in the following days.

For the uninitiated (and you’ll be hard pushed to be one of those with the blanket media coverage), the game blends digital characters from the successful Pokémon franchise, with GPS and location based technologies on smart phones.

Global Craze…and Growing

Within 24 hours of its US release last Tuesday, Pokémon Go had already overtaken its competition to be the biggest game of 2016. It moved to number 1 on App Store, and after 3 days had become the biggest mobile game in US history.

The game surpassed Twitter in terms of daily active users, and Facebook in terms of user engagement on its app. It’s also estimated that it may overtake Google Maps as the largest user of Alphabet’s mapping data.

The incredible growth has also helped Nintendo’s market value jump. It marks the end of a difficult period for Nintendo, who’s market value has been in decline since October 2015.

Nintendo’s market value increase by 10 per cent when the game went viral in the first week of July, with a further 25 per cent added by last Tuesday. This equates to nearly $9 billion added to the market value in less than a week.

Safety First!

The new craze has not been without its hiccups, however. In addition to people walking into walls and falling down holes while glued to their phones, there have also been reports of muggings and armed robbery facilitated by the game’s geolocation software.

Police in Australia have also issued a couple of public announcements in light of these incidents. They have asked the public to be aware of their surroundings while hunting Pokémon, that they shouldn’t use the app while driving, and that “I was collecting Pokémon” is not a defence for trespassing.

The final point brings into focus the issue of how augmented reality games will cope with country laws. As users are collecting characters in the real-world, the potential for trespass grows.

How this will be handled by businesses (some of whom are taking advantage of the craze) and locations (like Arlington National Cemetery) in the future will be interesting to see.

Pokémon Go a Cyber Target?

A number of experts have also argued that Nintendo’s launch could leave some users potentially vulnerable to cyber criminals. With a staggered launch, some users may have been tempted to download a version of the app from unverified third-party app stores. This could subsequently leave them vulnerable to malicious apps and malware.

These apps could then allow criminals to access smartphone data, spy on users, or even control phones remotely. Another report by security software company, Trend Micro, highlighted the risk posed by the game to individuals’ data.

Gamers who downloaded Pokémon Go and registered using a gmail account, could inadvertently give third parties access to private data. However, this issue could be mitigated by ensuring the correct privacy settings in the app.

Connected Devices

While the cyber crime risk for Pokémon Go seems fairly low, it may signify the start of a larger issue. The growth of augmented reality games, smartphone technology, and connected devices via the Internet of Things, does pose a cyber security risk.

But what is certain is that as the technology leaps forward, security provisions and investment needs to move forward too.

Have you jumped on the Pokémon Go bandwagon? Do you think talk about cyber crime for these games is realistic? Let us know. 

We’ve dragged ourselves away from virtual creature capture long enough this week to bring you the weekly headlines…

General Motors Deal with Bankrupt Supplier
  • GM’s contract dispute with Clark-Cutler-McDermott Co. (CCM) has forced the parts supplier into bankruptcy protection, with plans to sell its remaining assets.
  • CCM has argued that unprofitable contracts have led them to lose $12 million since 2013.
  • GM will purchase a quantity of critical factory equipment and parts necessary to continue production across their North American factories.
  • The well-publicised dispute in the bankruptcy court has shed light on the uneven power dynamic between car makers and parts suppliers.

Read more at the Wall Street Journal

Retailers Struggling with Reverse Supply Chain
  • Customer returns and product recalls are becoming increasingly common, with the most notable recent event being IKEA’s massive recall of 36 million dressers worldwide.
  • Returns and recalls pose a significant challenge for the retail sector to build a ‘reverse supply chain’.
  • This term can be misleading, as it is not simply the usual supply chain run backwards, but a complex network of transportation and resellers.
  • Retail Industry Leaders Association VP Adam Siegel warns: “You’re not going to succeed if you’re losing money on your reverse supply chain because, inevitably, the reverse supply chain is going to grow.”

Read more at PYMNTS.com

Palm Oil Industry Rife with Human Rights Abuses
  • The palm oil industry has come under further scrutiny for human rights abuses.
  • The Rainforest Action Network (RAN) has released an animated video that highlights the organisation’s largest criticisms of the palm oil industry.
  • The video focuses on the non-compliance of a PepsiCo joint venture and endemic labour abuses in Indonesia. 
  • RAN claims workers at palm oil plantations have been subjected to excessively long work hours for low wages, dangerous exposure to agricultural chemicals, confiscation of passports, and child labour.

Read more at Triple Pundit

IBM Pushes Blockchain in Supply Chain
  • IBM has launched a platform for companies to test “blockchain” record-keeping technology in their supply chains.
  • The service is an attempt to expand the use of blockchain beyond the financial services industry.
  • IBM’s new service lets supply chain customers build and test blockchains using a version of the company’s LinuxOne system.
  • The service is aimed at companies that need to track high-value items through complex supply chains.

Read more at the Wall Street Journal

5 Things To Know When Looking for a Job Abroad

Moving and finding a job abroad is something that many people do during their lives. But what do you need to know before you start looking?

Job Abroad

Leaving your home, friends and family behind and moving to another country, where everything that surrounds you is completely different from that to which you are used to, is not an easy task.

New countries have different people, different cultures, different food and sometimes even a different language.

However, for some people leaving their country of origin and traveling to settle down for a while on the other side of the planet represents a personal goal or even a milestone they need to achieve.

In order to get established in a new country, there are some important things you will need to take into account: finding a job, a house, a room or an apartment, learning the native language, basic cultural norms, and so much more! But let’s focus on finding a job for now.

Follow these simple recommendations and you will be well on your way to successfully finding a job abroad:

1. Do your research

Before applying for a job abroad, you need to be informed about how they manage resumes in the country you are moving to. Do you need a cover letter? Short or long resume? Do you need to attach your certificates? Or is your resume acceptable as is?

In some countries including a photo is the norm, in others it is frowned upon. In some cases, you will need to translate and notarise your degree and other certificates, so it is very important to do your research.

2. Spread the news

Once you make a decision about the place you are going to be living next, tell every single person you know. This way, you will probably meet people who went through a similar experience or that are native of the country you chose.

Your aunt will always have a friend of a friend who spent their summer in a far away and exotic country.

3. Consider all your possibilities

Before quitting your job and booking the first ticket to Timbuktu, find out if the company you are currently working for offers exchange programs, or if you have the possibility of being transferred to another branch.

Other options are searching online for a job abroad, as well as searching your alumni networks and social network connections. Volunteering is also a great way to work abroad – it’s also a very rewarding experience.

4. Be smart

Always let the employer know, in your cover letter or during the interview, that you have done your research about the different aspects of their country and that you are willing and prepared to start working. Furthermore, assure them that you are flexible enough so as to adapt to a foreign environment.

5. Don’t be scared, relax

You have done your research, and have talked to every person you know about working abroad. You have looked for jobs online, and you know everything there is to know about your target country. And you have saved enough money to survive at least two months without a job. You are officially ready.

Of course it is scary to live somewhere completely new, but it will probably be the most exciting adventure of your life. So go for it!

Vanessa Fardi is the Leader of US, Central America, and Latin America Team for Canadian startup neuvoo. Neuvoo is a job search engine that indexes jobs available online in one unique platform, without any charge for the source of the job. It was created in 2011 and is currently available in more than 60 countries.

Big Ideas Summit 2016: Big Idea #5 – Eliminating Supplier Enablement

Gabe Perez believes that procurement needs to move towards real-time services, and eliminate traditional supplier enablement processes.

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

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

Gabe Perez, Vice President, Strategy & Market Development at Coupa Software, believes now is the time for procurement eliminate supplier enablement, and move towards the real-time services we have in our personal lives.

Gabe also believes that it’s now time for procurement, and the wider corporate world, to refocus their objectives to place value at the centre of all activities, as well as create and participate in open networks where collaboration can thrive.

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

If you want to find out more about Big Ideas 2016, and what we have planned for 2017, you can visit our dedicated website!

If you like this (and you haven’t done so already) join Procurious for free today, and connect with over 15,500 like-minded procurement professionals from across the world.

Throwback Thursday – 3 Easy Steps to Become a Procurement Networking Guru

Are you a procurement networking guru? If you need some tips to help up your networking game, this is the place for you.

Networking Guru

We’re looking back at some of Procurious’ most popular content from the past 12 months. This week, we revisit an article that speaks to the fundamental core of Procurious – effective networking.

Becoming a Networking Guru

The benefits of networking are many. However, many people still struggle with the concept and the motivation to get going.

At Procurious, we want to create one huge, global network of procurement professionals, all of whom have the opportunity to learn from one another. We want everyone to realise the benefits of networking, so I thought I would share my three easy steps to becoming a networking guru to help everyone get started.

1. Network from the heart

Why from the heart? Because networking has to be authentic, and you need to have the other person’s interest as your priority.

Firstly, your networking has to be based on absolute authenticity – that is, a real friendship or genuine interest in what someone else is doing.

As a networking guru, if you want to form a relationship with another person, you first need to show them how they’ll benefit. If you focus on how you can help others, more than how they can help you, you’ll always be approaching people with the best motivation.

A study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that workers who help others feel happier about their work than those who decide not to help. By asking someone for help, you give them the opportunity to display their skills and knowledge, and, at the same time, give their self-esteem a boost.

If the person asking the question wins, and the person answering the question wins, what’s stopping us from asking more questions. Despite all these  benefits, perhaps the fear of reaching out to someone and being rejected, is greater than the potential benefit.

When we face the fear of reaching out to someone else, we need to remember that networking is very much a two way street. Whether you’re at a face-to-face event, or on a social media platform, everyone is there for the same purpose – to network. So don’t be too self-conscious!

2. Be both social and formal

In the ‘old world’ getting to know someone and understand whether you had anything in common took a long time. You would meet someone at an event, follow-up via email and then organise a series of catch-ups to get to know them. You might have had to meet them quite a few times before you discovered the cross-over points.

In the world of social networking, the ‘getting to know you’ process is accelerated because you can see all this information on their profile. This fast-tracks the expansion of your network, because you can pre-qualify those people who you would like to join your network based on their experience.

Effective networking really involves a commitment of time, energy, and resources to produce meaningful results. Also remember that face-to-face meetings still play an important role in expanding your network.

You must also care for the network you’ve established (or are establishing). This includes personal contact through e-mails, telephone calls, scheduled meetings, or even a business lunch.

It’s only when we get to really know people through face-to-face contact, that we can understand both their motivations and their aspirations. You can then work out how you and other members of your network can help them achieve their goals. That’s when the magic starts to happen.

When you’re thinking about face-to-face networking, don’t just think formal meetings, corporate cocktail parties and conferences. A networking guru knows that you can literally network around the clock!

Just because you are “off duty”, doesn’t mean that you aren’t networking. Every interface you have is an opportunity to connect with interesting people who you can help, just as they can help you.

I once won a $1M contract from a wonderful woman I met at my son’s kindergarten parents’ evening. A few weeks back, I was at an Indian Ayurvedic Medicine discussion, and met a senior Facebook executive who has agreed to speak at one of our major events.

You always need to keep your mind and attitude open to these opportunities.

And once you have an established network, keep it active by using social media. The benefit to having an online network is that you can better maintain your network by keeping in touch much more easily.

By posting updates and information on your social media profiles, you are reminding people that you are still out there. Your posts also act as a prompt for them to reach out to you and connect. Or, even better, remind them to recommend you for a job!

3. Connect the dots

Once you have an established network, you need to understand the power of connecting the dots.

As Steve Jobs said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.

Many people equate having a good network with having a large database of contacts, or attending high-profile professional conferences and events. But they falter at the next step – actually doing something to make the connection real.

In other words, to create commercial advantage from your network, there’s no point in just being ‘connected’ with all these amazing people. You need to know what to do with the relationship.

Your network will live and thrive only when it is used. A good way to begin is to make a simple request, or take the initiative to connect two people who would benefit from meeting each other. Doing something, anything, gets the ball rolling and builds confidence that you do, in fact, have something to contribute.

Other actions to cement your network can include sending through articles or other things that might be relevant or of interest to a contact. Or, drill down even further and remember birthdays, acknowledge important achievements, or determine a contact’s favourite hobby or sports team, and use this information to build the relationship.

The fact that you’re thinking about a new contact can, and will, pay huge dividends.

Don’t Work in Isolation

Unfortunately many people don’t reach out to their network until they need something badly. A networking guru does exactly the opposite. They take every opportunity to give to, and receive from, the network, whether they need help or not.

For these reasons, and many more, I believe in the power of networking – for yourself, your contacts and the profession. That’s why we founded Procurious.

Apparently there are more than 2.5M procurement professionals in the world. But there are probably less than 500,000 who we can readily identify.

Many procurement professionals are working in isolation, unaware that there is a whole universe of knowledge and professionals available to help them do their jobs better, and learn more effectively.

There are so many problems we can solve together if we use the power of connection and leverage our network. If each and every procurement professional becomes a networking guru, there is very little that we can’t achieve!

Facts not Fear: The Impact of Brexit on US Business

Institute for Supply Management (ISM) CEO Tom Derry tells Procurious that people need facts, not speculation and fear, when it comes to understanding the impact of Brexit on US business.  

Brexit US Business

ISM took the unusual step this month of releasing a supplementary Report on Business, focusing specifically on the impact of the UK’s Referendum on EU membership on US business.

The decision was prompted by a flood of enquires from US business and media representatives about whether the data for this month’s highly anticipated and influential report would reflect the fallout from Brexit.

“We decided to go back to our panel of over 600 procurement professionals with a tailored series of questions about the net financial impact of Brexit on their organisations”, said Derry.

“More importantly, there has been an enormous amount of speculation about the impact of Brexit, fed by a sense of unease and uncertainty. ISM was in a position to gather real data and put the information out there so businesses can make informed decisions based on facts, rather than fear, concern or emotion.”

Negligible Impact

The report will serve to dispel much of the speculation around the impacts of Brexit on US business. The vast majority of those surveyed reporting that Brexit will have a “negligible” impact on their business. Only one in three thought their firm would be negatively, or slightly negatively, impacted.

The main concerns for those who do anticipate an impact include the exchange value of the dollar, changes in demand globally, financial market uncertainty, and currency movements.

“The report demonstrates that despite the speculation, the majority of US businesses feel that Brexit will have a negligible impact”, says Derry. “This is because the US has a comparatively low export economy at only 13 per cent of GDP, so we are relatively insulated from the impacts of currency movements and global demand. We’re not a huge commodity exporter, although the strength of the dollar is of course a concern for those who are in the exporting business.”

Derry says that in the short-term, trade relationships are stable. “For US firms doing business in the UK or EU, very little has changed. For now, we’re good – business is predictable, and we love predictability and certainty.”

Future Investment Shift

In the long-term, however, US businesses may not choose to invest additional dollars in the UK. Historically, a lot of companies (such as car manufacturers) have used the UK as their port of entry into the EU, due to its shared language and talented workforce.

Derry added, “That option may no longer be so attractive, and discretionary investment will probably shift to Eastern Europe – Poland or the Czech Republic – to have a presence within the EU, and take advantage of low-cost labour.”

Derry says that the Brexit referendum is a historical event. However, in 10 years it is likely to be seen as a political decision, rather than an economic one. “The ‘sky is falling’ scenario is certainly overdone”, he says. “I don’t think we’re going to see the fracturing of the EU over Brexit.”

“It’s important to keep our vision focused forward. As supply management professionals, we work in the global economy and a major shift, such as Brexit, forces each of us to recalibrate our global supply strategies and trade relationships. The EU is the largest single market in the world – we can’t ignore it.”

Click here to read the supplemental ISM Report on Business: Brexit Report.

Debate Over Renewed Focus on Career Guidance

Inadequate career guidance and advice from schools is exacerbating the UK’s skills gap, says a report published in the last week.

Good Career Guidance

A new report published at the end of last week by the Education, Skills and the Economy Sub-Committee, has stated that the skills gap in the UK is being worsened by poor career guidance given to pupils by their schools.

It was argued that poor career guidance was stopping young people making informed career decisions, which in turn was harming the country’s economy.

The report, the first published by the Sub-Committee, also argued that there needed to be greater oversight over the wealth of organisations, service providers, and websites set up to offer careers advice.

The report concluded that schools needed to be held to greater account when it came to careers services, and that this should make up part of annual inspections.

“Big Stick” Approach Wrong

However, the report came in for criticism from head teachers’ leaders, who argued the “big stick” approach of downgrading schools for poor performance wouldn’t solve fundamental issues with the careers advice system.

Malcolm Trobe, interim general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said that there were severe problems in the existing system that urgently needed fixed, while school budgets were frozen and under severe pressure.

It was argued by other leaders that the threat of downgrading and inspection was not an effective way of driving improvements in career guidance.

Effective Career Guidance

However, there was agreement that steps needed to be taken in order to better equip students and school leavers with the right advice for their careers.

As the business world continues to change and evolve, students need the best possible advice about experiences, qualifications, and training needed for chosen careers, or how to get involved with new and emerging industries.

And this is not necessarily about just encouraging school leavers to go on to higher education and university, a criticism which has been levelled at many schools, but also making them aware of apprenticeships and other work opportunities.

This could be done through giving pupils better access to employers while still in school, work experience opportunities, and career talks from former pupils and local business leaders.

Seamus Nevin, Head of Employment and Skills at the Institute of Directors, said: “The IoD welcomes the committee’s focus on careers guidance, which by all accounts remains an Achilles heel in the UK education system.

“Alarmingly, just 43 per cent of students currently receive any formal careers guidance before choosing their A-level subjects and yet the subjects they choose can severely restrict their employment options later in life.

“This is partly because only 83 per cent of secondary schools employ a qualified, full-time careers adviser, with many relying instead on other support staff to fill career guidance roles. The only way to solve this problem is to improve guidance, not punish schools for being poorly equipped.” 

Australia Next Victim of Political Uncertainty

The political environment in Australia is tense, even as the Liberal Coalition claims victory by the slimmest of margins. How the corporate landscape will be impacted by the outcome is merely a guessing game.

Political Uncertainty

It’s been something of a topsy-turvy year, and couple of months in particular, for political uncertainty around the world. The on-going US election campaigns ahead of the November election have polarised opinion, while in the UK the Brexit vote has individuals and organisations alike trying to uncover the full extent of the changes.

And while there is likely to be more instability in the coming months, the ongoing uncertainty around the Australian election has the business community and procurement leaders watching with baited breath, given that what elements of business trade could be impacted by this is anyone’s guess.

With 80 per cent of the vote counted, we do know that Malcolm Turnbull will be returned as Prime Minister, after opposition Leader Bill Shorten admitting defeat on Sunday, according to recent media reports.

The Liberal Coalition is expected to win just enough seats (76) to form a majority government. But the rest of the line-up could take weeks to finalise. And Turnbull has an uncertain and challenging year ahead, as he faces difficult negotiations with independent members of parliament, a hostile Senate, and potential mutiny within his own party.

Complicated Situation

The election was held against the backdrop of a particularly complicated political environment. Laura Tingle, the Australian Financial Review political editor, helped to outline why in her keynote address to the Asia-Pacific CPO Forum in Melbourne earlier this year.

Back in 2013, Australian voters wanted to get rid of the Labor government, with many viewing it as a “soap opera“, as Julia Gillard first took over from PM Kevin Rudd in 2010, before being challenged by Rudd twice, resulting in Rudd leading Labor again at the 2013 election.

However, Tingle explained that the ‘coup’ in 2013 from Rudd isn’t the only reason the electoral situation was in flux.

“Voters have been utterly disappointed by the Coalition under Tony Abbott, and confused and angered by what has happened since Malcolm Turnbull took over,” she says.

The highly respected journalist and political commentator told forum attendees that it’s rare for there to be a uniform swing across seats in an election, and that she can’t think of an election where there are so many unknown factors at play that could create wild outcomes.

For example, the Melbourne seat of Batman, once considered technically the safest Labor seat in Australia (with margins of 21 per cent), was only just held by Labor during the election. The significant change is due in part to rapidly changing demographics in the seat.

In addition, there was a lack of clarity in the state of Queensland as to how the votes would be cast, with independents including the hard-right Pauline Hanson picking up support from dissatisfied voters.

Political Instability Ahead

Tingle argued that Australia was heading into a period of instability.

“When I say ‘uncertainty’, I mean it in the sense that we really don’t known what the election outcome will be if we judge it purely by the numbers.”

Prior to the election, the question was really about whether or not the electorate really wanted yet another change in prime minister.

“Ironically, I think it is the Coalition – the current government – which is more of a policy unknown that the Labor Party.

“The Coalition has been thrown off course in the last couple of years. First by its political incompetence and lack of policy savvy. The 2014 budget has become the byword for this, but there was much that proceeded it in terms of policy towards business even before the budget was brought down,” she says.

Complex Issue Resolution

Even if the government is returned to power, and it looks likely that it will happen, Tingle argued that the major issues, such as health funding, schools funding, and universities funding, would have to be sorted out one at a time, due to the complexity of the issues in the political environment.

“None of this, in reality, leads you to think that either side of politics can have a real breakthrough moment. There has already been a lot of commentary to the effect that much will depend on the size of the majority Turnbull is able to command in the House of Representatives.”

The most basic measure Tingle has learned covering politics and policy making for so long is the capability of politicians to react to the issues of the day.

“When I say that, I mean it is assessing what you believe their underlying capability is to deal with the stuff that comes along every day when governing a country, rather than the set piece policy positions you draw up beforehand.”

Government Procurement

However, it’s not all bad news, particularly from the point of view of public sector spending and government procurement. Even in the midst of the political upheaval and turmoil, it appears to be a case of “business as usual” for procurement.

The Federal Bureaucracy, which is unelected, and as such unaffected by the election until a result is declared, has assured people that the chaos is mainly isolated to the parliament itself. 

They have stated that since the election, there have been a large number of state and local government authorities calling for tenders, announcements of grants, and new public works projects. In addition to this, there are tender notices still being issued for on-going projects, suggesting that business will continue however the final few seats fall.

What are your thoughts on the Australian elections? How will your business be impacted by the political uncertainty?

Meanwhile, we’ve been keeping track of the all the major procurement and supply chain news headlines this week…

China Cosco to invest in Port of Piraeus

  • One of the largest seaports in the world, the Port of Piraeus, was sold to China Cosco Shipping Corporation for €368.5 million in April this year,
  • The deal represented a major privatisation and was a central plank of the €86 billion bailout deal agreed with Eurozone partners.
  • This week, China Cosco announced its plans for the site, including an investment of over €500 million in the port over the next five years. The company will focus on developing the cruise and shipbuilding industry.
  • Chinese president Xi Jinping said this week, “We are certain that Piraeus will open new prospects for the broadening of Greece-China cooperation in transport, infrastructure, telecoms and shipping”.

Read more at the Wall Street Journal

Estonian Startup Tests Robot Package Deliveries

  • Robot maker Starship Technologies has launched a test programme for their self-driving robots.
  • The test will involve the robots delivering packages, groceries and goods in the UK, Germany and Switzerland.
  • The robots drive autonomously in a 2-3 mile radius and are monitored by human operators. 
  • Rolling on six wheels, the robots find their destination using GPS, radar and camera, and are able to navigate around obstacles and follow traffic rules. Customers open the secure compartment to access the delivery using their phone.

Read more at Engadget and Watch the Robots here

Hackers Use Social Media for Identity Theft

  • The number of victims of identity theft in the UK rose by 57 per cent in the past year, with more than 148,000 victims in the UK in 2015.
  • According to Cifas, the fraud prevention service, hackers are now using social media sites like LinkedIn and Facebook to harvest information on individuals.
  • Names, addresses, dates of birth, and names of banks are some of the information fraudsters are able to piece together from social media profiles.
  • Cifas has urged individuals to look at what information their profiles have on them, and to ensure that security settings on all networks are correct.

Read more at The Telegraph

Hyperloop “Proves” Cost Effectiveness

  • Hyperloop, the high speed transport solution and brainchild of Elon Musk, has released a feasibility study which makes the case for the affordability of the system.
  • The study examines the cost of connecting Stockholm and Helsinki using Hyperloop, and compares it to California’s high-speed rail project.
  • Hyperloop estimates this project to cost $40 million per km, while the rail project is estimated by The World Bank at $56 million per km.
  • The report is considered a significant step in proving the validity of the Hyperloop concept, with the technology due for its first test before the end of the year.

Read more at Engadget

Big Ideas Summit 2016: Big Idea #4 – Effective Technology Utilisation

Justin Sadler-Smith believes that procurement must improve its technology utilisation, or risk being left behind by the organisation.

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

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

Justin Sadler-Smith, Worldwide Sales Leader at IBM, believes that, in the past, procurement’s technology utilisation hasn’t been effective or efficient enough for the profession to access its full value.

Justin also believes that too many procurement professionals and leaders believe they still have time to build capability. However, many don’t realise that technology change, such as cognitive technology, is already upon them, and their technology utilisation needs to improve fast in order to keep pace in the marketplace.

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

If you want to find out more about Big Ideas 2016, and what we have planned for 2017, you can visit our dedicated website!

If you like this (and you haven’t done so already) join Procurious for free today, and connect with over 15,500 like-minded procurement professionals from across the world.

British Businesses Need to Respond to Brexit Now

British businesses can’t afford to wait before they take action and respond to the post-Brexit situation in the UK.

British Businesses Brexit

With uncertainty still abounding, and business implications not yet fully understood, two separate reports have confirmed that British businesses need to be taking action to prepare themselves for the Brexit.

Slowing UK Economy

The Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers’ Indexes for both construction (weakest performance in seven years), and services (lowest growth in just over 3 years) showed that the UK economy was already slowing down before the Referendum took place.

The economic uncertainty following the June 23rd vote is likely to lead to further falls for July. Experts have advised that businesses need to take immediate action to mitigate these falls, particularly in the service sector.

And despite a fall in purchasing associated with these industries, companies also reported on-going supply chain pressures, including lengthening lead times linked to transportation delays, and lower supplier stocks.

Challenges for British Businesses

At the end of last week, the Institute of Directors (IoD) launched a paper outlining a wide-ranging assessment of what the Brexit means for British businesses.

While the IoD suggested that the UK will most likely retain access to the single market for goods, albeit with some concessions, the real concerns raised were also for the service industry.

The report highlighted that 83 per cent of IoD members had a link with Europe, whether via export, import, supply chain, staff or otherwise, and that these businesses needed to begin conversations with EU clients and supply chain to clarify what these changes will mean.

However, the IoD paper also offered the following thoughts:

  • The UK is unlikely to be able to deal with new trade partners whilst re-negotiating with the European Union and amending existing third-party arrangements.
  • Passporting for financial services will be difficult to negotiation, as remaining EU members will see this as an opportunity to shift business to European cities.
  • The IoD expects EU nationals living here to be able to stay once the UK has left the EU, but called on politicians to clarify this status as soon as possible.

In the immediate aftermath of the referendum vote, IoD members considered the key priorities for the Government to be:

  • Take steps to stabilise the economy in the face of any negative reaction in financial markets.
  • Securing a new trade agreement with the European Union.
  • Prioritise new UK trade agreements with high growth markets and ensure preferential market access to third countries (via existing EU trade deals) is maintained
  • Clarifying the status of EU citizens in the UK, and UK citizens elsewhere in the EU.
Coherent Response

Simon Walker, Director General at the Institute of Directors, stated: “In the wake of the EU referendum vote, we now need politicians to respond coherently to provide stability as we work out our future path. We must not lose faith in the ability of British businesses to overcome these challenges. 

“The IoD is resolutely positive about the opportunities that globalisation brings. We were promised an open and outward looking country after Brexit. Whoever ends up in charge must deliver on that pledge – a Britain that continues to play an outsized, global role in a world that is coming together, not moving apart.”

Allie Renison, Head of Europe and Trade Policy at the Institute of Directors and author of the report, added, “In the wake of the referendum, the most pressing concerns for businesses are responding to the short-term consequences stemming from disruption to financial markets, and preparing for longer-term ramifications, and maximising any opportunities that a post-Brexit landscape stands to offer.

 “With such a high degree of integration into EU markets, British businesses need to consider the possible outcomes of negotiations and whether we have access to the single market. There are a number of areas outlined in this report where we can forecast a range of potential changes to policy that firms should take into account when making any adjustment plans in the wake of Brexit, with both short and longer-term perspectives in mind.”