All posts by Procurious HQ

Crewless Drone Ships Look Set to Uberize the High Seas

From crewless drone ships, to matchmaking between procurement and marketing departments, there are game-changing strategies afoot!

In the past week, SpaceX have successfully landed a rocket on a drone ship, and both Coca-Cola and Target are playing match maker between procurement and marketing departments.

Uber-izing the High Seas

It’s a hot topic in the news when a rocket lands on a drone ship. Last year Amazon raised eyebrows when it announced plans to start drone deliveries. More recently they released a video showcasing a prototype of one if its delivery drones.

Drone technology is rapidly evolving and just this Friday, SpaceX successfully landed its Falcon 9 rocket on a crewless drone ship at sea. This is an even more impressive feat, given that the odds of a successful soft-landing were slim, due to the mission requirements for this particular launch.

Even SpaceX CEO, Elon Musk, expressed his doubts ahead of the launch on Twitter:

Drone Ships

To date, SpaceX has completed two successful rocket recoveries on a moving drone ship, and another when they successfully landed a rocket on a landing pad on stable ground.

The next important step, of course, is reusing a recovered rocket, which Musk has stated they hope to do in the next three or four months.

Remote Control

And while drone deliveries have been making the headlines for sometime, remotely controlled drone ships are just as much a game-changer for the shipping and logistics industry.

It’s a bet FTSE 100 Company Rolls-Royce are willing to make, backed by Tekes, Finland’s technical research funding agency. Rolls Royce is working with offshore engineer Deltamarin, marine certification body DNV GL, and Inmarsat, to develop the technology needed for commercial drone ships.

Speaking to The Guardian, Oskar Levander, Head of Innovation for Rolls Royce’s marine unit, says: “Drone ships will will support existing players to make their businesses more efficient and enable new entrants with new business models to the sector, with a potentially similarly disruptive effect to that caused by Uber, Spotify and Airbnb in other industries.”

Matchmaking Marketing And Procurement

Marketing is often seen as the creative, playful, visionary behind a big brand, while procurement is all too frequently positioned as it’s more serious, strict counterpart.

Marketing wants to spend the money on the big idea, while procurement wants to save as much money as possible. If marketing and procurement can’t see eye to eye, one party is bound to suffer.

Speaking at the ANA’s Financial Management Conference, Target EVP and CMO Jeffrey Jones acknowledged a serious cultural difference between marketing and finance and called out addressing this divide as “one of the top three issues [the business] has to solve.”

Jones criticised marketing departments for not really understanding how their own company makes money, which is a fundamental problem for a department with one of the highest spends in most organisations.

Jones believes that Marketing needs to take account of every dollar it spends in order to demonstrate greater cost consciousness. By taking this strategy, it allows Procurement to be part of the process.

However, Jones also believes that Procurement could loosen up a bit, and understand that sometimes monetary investment is required in order to deliver results, and time is needed to deliver proof of concept.

Jones highlights a simple solution: “Marketing needs to learn more about business; and finance – and through it, procurement – needs to take risks they can’t always calculate.”

A United Front

While Target continues to work out the kinks between marketing and procurement, Coca-Cola have already put the wheels in motion to unite the two departments.

Christina Ruggiero, CPO, Coca-Cola, has taken the step to move her marketing procurement team from the procurement department, into the marketing department. This has facilitated cross-functional learning opportunities, and enabled Procurement to get a grasp on Marketing’s priorities.

As a drone and robotic technology continue evolve, is this innovative technology disruptive to the supply chain. And what will be the repercussions on procurement? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

Meanwhile, we’ve been scouring the news to find the top procurement and supply chain headlines this week…

Maersk Predict Meagre Growth in 2016

  • The parent company of shipping giant Maersk Line is projecting meagre growth in demand this year.
  • Danish conglomerate, A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S’s shipping unit, the world’s biggest container line, saw underlying earnings of $32 million in the first quarter, far below the $710 million contribution a year ago.
  • Maersk’s shipping volume grew 7 per cent in the quarter, against 1 per cent growth for the broader industry, and
  • Group Chief Executive Nils Andersen says there is no relief for weak demand and falling freight rates on the horizon, and admitted the carrier will look more to the spot market to provide a revenue boost.

Read more at the Wall Street Journal

Billions Stolen in Nigerian Fraud

  • $15 billion, equal to about half the country’s foreign currency reserves, has been stolen from Nigeria’s public purse through fraudulent arms-procurement deals.
  • Africa’s top oil exporter is going through its worst economic crisis in decades due to the drop in global crude prices, and ministers say these problems have been exacerbated by the impact of fraud under previous administrations.
  • Endemic corruption over decades has enriched a small elite but left many Nigerians mired in poverty despite the country’s oil wealth.

Read more at the African Independent

Nordic Defence Procurement Agreement

  • Representatives of the major Nordic nations have come together to sign a new agreement relating to defence procurement.
  • An update to an agreement originally signed in 2015, it aims to promote joint development between Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark.
  • The agreement does not obligate a country to sign to any specific deal, but allows for greater collaboration between the nations.

Read more at Jane’s Defence Weekly

Small Businesses Suffering Brain Drain

A lack of employee benefits has been cited as one of the key reasons employees leave small businesses every year.

Small businesses are suffering a staff brain drain, with nearly one in five workers quitting each year for new jobs blaming poor employee benefits, research from new online provider Pure Benefits shows.

The study by Pure Benefits found that 18 per cent of staff – around 450,000 a year – have switched in the past five years, saying a lack of benefits was a major reason.

Sourcing Employee Benefits

Small businesses with fewer than 50 staff employ more than 12.4 million people across the UK, and have total annual turnover of more than £1.2 trillion. However, these business often struggle to source employee benefits such as life insurance, income protection and private medical insurance for staff.

The Pure Benefits research found that 63 per cent of small business owners are confused by the employee benefits options on offer, and don’t know how to find cost-effective solutions for staff. More than a fifth of owners (22 per cent) say they do not offer any benefits.

Pure Benefits enables business owners to source cost effective benefits including life insurance, income protection, dental insurance, business travel insurance, critical illness and key person cover from leading providers including Unum, Aviva, Vitality, National Dental Plan and Millstream.

The company’s online service is designed to be quick and efficient and to address administrative and compliance issues for small companies focused on growing their businesses and protecting staff.

Employee Benefits Requirements

While there are some benefits that organisations are required by law to grant to employees, such as holiday allowance, minimum wage, working hours and sick leave, going beyond this for small businesses can be difficult.

In fact, starting this year in the UK, small businesses will be required for the first time to provide employees with a pension, something which is aimed at ensuring future provision for all workers in the country. However, in America, this still isn’t a requirement.

Other benefits, such as maternity or paternity leave, also differ from organisation to organisation, and country to country. In the UK, employees are entitled to up to 52 weeks of maternity leave, but in the USA, employees are entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave.

The strength of employee benefits will often swing a decision on where an individual’s next job is going to be. The promise of incentives (bonus, car, etc.) or benefits (pensions, leave, etc.) is said to be one of the deciding factors for employees, beyond company brand or other, intangible, factors.

Valued Staff

Stuart Gray, founder and chairman of Pure Benefits says: “The small business brain drain is a growing issue for small companies with nearly one in five staff leaving every year simply because they are not receiving the benefits the big firms provide

“That is a major brake on the ambitions of small business owners who our research shows are committed to expansion. Around 80 per cent of companies told us they want to grow, while 47 per cent say they want to protect their business.

“Well-designed and cost-effective employee benefits are a major driver in enabling businesses to grow and ensure staff feel valued and are more productive as a result.”

The table below shows the benefits on offer at firms employing up to 50 staff:

Small Businesses Employee Benefits

Rio Olympics Focus on Global Supply Chain Sustainability

A focus on supply chain sustainability gives the Rio Olympics the opportunity to revolutionise global sustainability, and create a lasting legacy in Brazil.

The Rio Olympics’ commitment to supply chain sustainability (with 100 per cent recovery, disposal and use of goods and waste) has the capacity to revolutionise supply chain sustainability worldwide as well as creating a legacy for positive change in the region, says supply chain consultancy Crimson & Co.

Despite a backdrop of political and economical uncertainty, Brazil has promised that the first South American-hosted Olympic and Paralympic Games, taking place in less than 100 days, will bring permanent changes to the city of Rio de Janeiro, with benefits spread throughout the country. Central to this has been the drive to ensure all suppliers are adopting sustainability practices.

“Most Sustainable” Olympics Ever

The London 2012 Olympics was billed as ‘the most sustainable ever’ but associations with key sponsors including BP, Rio Tinto, Dow Chemical and McDonalds, provoked a backlash from a coalition of campaign groups, keen to highlight the negative social or environmental impact of these firms.

In the run up to the Games in Rio, event organisers have been keen to ensure that all suppliers adopt sustainable practices, including managing waste, minimising the use of harmful substances, making conscious use of energy and water and maintaining ethical labour practices. Additionally, businesses are invited to participate in training sessions on sustainability as part of the bidding process.

For Richard Gurney, General Manager of Latin America for Crimson & Co, this commitment to sustainability represents the positive impact the Games can have on Rio and further afield:

“Sustainability throughout the Games’ management cycle – from initial planning to after the event – has been in the DNA of the Rio proposal since it first announced its interest in hosting the greatest sporting event on the planet.

Learning from Past Mistakes

“Brazil’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup in 2014 was not without controversy. More than $3 billion was spent on building five new stadiums and renovating seven existing ones, but many of these so-called white elephants are as likely now to collect dust as they are to generate ticket receipts. Brazil does not want to see a repeat of this and that is why there is such a huge emphasis on sustainability.

“When the Games finish, and until 2017, the Olympic Operations Committee will manage the dissolution process. This includes closing contracts, selling property assets and managing donations and returns. This planning, i.e. what will be done with each item after the Games, was part of the purchasing process and is considered part of the total cost of acquisition in purchasing decisions. The goal is 100 per cent recovery, disposal and use of goods and waste.”

Gurney continued: “In addition to reducing the environmental impact and the volume of waste after the Games, the initiative informed producers about how to get more sustainable alternatives to their products.

“Companies were invited to participate in training sessions as part of the bidding process to win contracts. Many companies still have the perception that sustainable products are more expensive. In fact, more often than not, the price of a product or service can be greater, but the cost reductions and elimination of waste in the value chain through sustainable practices lead to a lower total purchase cost.

“Time will tell on the impact of these decisions for Rio but, if carried out effectively, it has the capacity to revolutionise supply chain sustainability as well as creating a legacy for positive change. If that is the case, it will certainly have cause to rival London 2012 for the most sustainable Olympics ever.”

The Future’s Bright, The Future’s Niche Social Networks

Social media has enabled global collaboration on an unprecedented scale. But as attitudes towards the major platforms change, it’s actually niche social networks where the future lies.

In the interests of full disclosure, I do work for a niche social network. So yes, I am slightly biased. But stay with me, as you’ll see why the argument for niche social networks holds weight.

It might seem strange to talk about a more narrow focus when technological advancements have ensured that we can speak to anyone, in any corner of the world, at any time. But as the world grows, it’s important to ensure that you are speaking to the right audience.

We only have a finite amount of time during the day to engage with colleagues, peers and stakeholders, read interesting articles, and share our experiences with others. If you’re spending that time talking to the wrong people, then you are potentially missing out on great new opportunities.

Facebook-isation

Does this post look familiar to you?

Niche Social Networks

How about this one?

Niche Social Networks

These and countless others pop up on the major social networks on an hourly basis. And while you may think I’m talking about Facebook, these were actually lifted from LinkedIn in the past week or so.

Yes, that’s right, the world’s largest networking site is now beset with endless maths problems, selfies, family photos and quizzes. While presumably posted by well-meaning members, they serve to create friction on what constitutes an ‘appropriate’ post for LinkedIn.

And it doesn’t stop at the main network feed either. Speaking to procurement professionals at conferences and events in recent weeks, many have voiced the opinion that LinkedIn’s Groups and Discussions have become “spammy”.

There are a couple of possible explanations for this turn of events. The first is that, with over 300 million members, the network has grown too large while trying to cater for too wide an audience. The other is possibly that for many users, LinkedIn represents their entire social media presence, which is why there are Facebook-type posts appearing on it.

Both LinkedIn and Facebook aren’t going anywhere. They are great networks for connecting with people and, on a professional side, LinkedIn remains the place to be for marketers and recruiters. But for individual professions, the future lies in niche social networks.

Finding Your Niche

For many professions, relevant discussions, content and connections are lost in the noise on the larger networks. This was one of the primary reasons that Procurious was founded, and why it has grown as it has. People know that the site provides up to date, relevant content for procurement and supply chain, all in one place.

Procurious caters to the procurement and supply chain audience, but there are many others you can find, depending on your profession and interests.

  • Spiceworks – A network for over a million global IT professionals, providing content, and a free IT help desk for all its members.
  • RESAAS – Over 300,000 global real estate professionals, providing leads and listings.
  • Doximity – Over 60 per cent of US-based doctors as verified members, and possible expansion to overseas markets.

The list doesn’t end there, and there are countless others for a whole host of professions that are getting started every week.

Benefits of Niche

The benefits of a niche social network are along the lines of what I have said already. Joining one of these network allows you the following:

  • Connections – Surely the Number 1 aspect of social media are the connections we make. Niche social networks offer people who could really help with your latest issues or questions.
  • Content – Is a post about global politics interesting? Probably. Is it relevant to your next negotiation? Maybe not. Niche social networks offer articles relevant to your day-to-day work (although we do throw in the occasional off-the-wall topic to keep you interested!).
  • Learning – Whether it is eLearning, or learning by asking questions to other network members, niche networks are more likely to offer a more focused, better answer.
  • News Feed – What all the sites I have mentioned have in common is a collated news feed. This means up-to-date, relevant headlines, brought together in one place.
  • Events – An events calendar for all the major events for your profession. Quickly see what is near you and decide which one you want to attend.

By being able to access all of this in one place, you can spend less time wading through irrelevant posts to find good information, and more time connecting and collaborating with the right people.

So if you’re only going to use one platform for your social media activities, why not think about a niche network.

Week In Tech: IoT Security Spending, Spiceworks & Drones

Does the future of IoT security lie in the Cloud? New research published suggested that security spending is set to take off.

If the latest research from Gartner is to be believed, security spending on the Internet of Things (IoT) is set to accelerate in 2016. The figure could well top $348m in 2016, meaning an increase of 23.7 per cent compared to $281.5m in 2015.

Research director Ruggero Contu, commented that the current IoT security market is small, but ripe for growth, as both businesses and consumers  migrate towards smart and networked devices.

“Gartner forecasts that 6.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide in 2016, up 30 per cent from 2015, and will reach 11.4 billion by 2018. However, considerable variation exists among different industry sectors as a result of different levels of prioritisation and security awareness,” he said.

Looking further afield, Gartner predicts that spending could rise to as much as $547m in 2018. This assumes that IoT adoption continues to gather at this same increased pace. These figures assume a march towards connected cars, heavy trucks, commercial aircraft, farming and construction equipment.

With more and more transport and equipment becoming part of the connected world, Gartner say that cyber attacks stemming from IoT will amount to 25 per cent by 2020. A lot more clearly needs to be done because as it stands IoT security spending accounts for only 10 per cent of IT budgets.

What can IT do then to better prepare itself for the connected future? Contu says we must look towards the cloud for answers to our security concerns, commenting:

“IoT business scenarios will require a delivery mechanism that can grow and keep pace with requirements in monitoring, detection, access control and other security needs.”

He goes on to say: “The future of cloud-based security services is in part linked with the future of the IoT. In fact, the IoT’s fundamental strength in scale and presence will not be fully realised without cloud-based security services to deliver an acceptable level of operation for many organisations in a cost-effective manner. By 2020, Gartner predicts that over half of all IoT implementations will use some form of cloud-based security service.”

Spiceworks Deploy Mobile Help Desk

Spiceworks has debuted a new app that takes its cloud-based help desk solution mobile for the first time.

The app will allow IT professionals to deploy and manage its services on smartphones and tablets, and allow push notifications to help them stay on top of tickets while on the go.

“We’re focused on helping IT professionals become more efficient by enabling them to run their help desk entirely from their phones or tablets,” said Sanjay Castelino, VP of Marketing at Spiceworks. “With a tool that’s easy to deploy and use on the go, IT professionals can now support their growing business in a way that works best for them.”

The platform also doubles as a social network and allows members to share their own technical know-how with others in the community. What’s more, users can submit requests for quotations for IT purchases to vendors direct from the app itself.

The Spiceworks Help Desk mobile app is available for download today on iOS- and Android-based smartphones and tablets.

When Will Drones Lead to Loss of Life?

As drone flight increases in popularity, and with Amazon’s delivery plans seeing no signs of abating, aviation officials say it’s only a matter of time before the inevitable.

On 17 April, a British Airways plane was believed to have come close to a drone that had flown into its airspace. James Stamp, global head of aviation at KPMG commented on the recent near-miss at London’s Heathrow Airport:

“People who fly drones in controlled airspace are potentially putting lives in danger, and should be subject to the strongest possible sanctions available under the law. A number of practical steps should be taken, including requiring drones to be registered, tougher penalties for irresponsible behaviour, and technology based solutions that will prevent the drones entering restricted airspace in the first place.

“More research is also required into the potential impact of collisions because, while the impact of bird-strikes has been well researched, the impact of drone impacts is less well understood.”

On Valentine’s Day, a drone came within 20-150ft of an Airbus A320 flying at 12,500 feet near Biggin Hill in Kent. The incident was made all the more serious by the fact that drones are permitted by law to fly only under a height of 400 feet.

Incidents are only gathering in pace – to put things into perspective, there were nine near misses in 2014, but this increased to 40 last year.

Have you got an interest in IoT security, networks and drones? Want to connect with fellow procurement professionals in IT? Then head over to Procurious’ dedicated Group for IT Procurement.

Australian Shines Spotlight on Unethical Supply Chains

Australian fashion brands are bearing the brunt of increasing unwanted attention for unethical supply chains.

Fashion Unethical Supply Chains

No-one wants to talk about it. But if you’re working in procurement for the fashion industry, you’re in the hot seat.

Fuelled by consumers’ love affair for fast fashion, the fashion industry is finding ways to produce faster and cheaper apparel than ever before. The latest example of this is Kmart and Target producing school uniforms for $2 an item, in a marketing campaign that made recent headlines for all the wrong reasons, given that factory workers are paid below levels that can cover basic living expenses.

The broader industry is digging its own grave, and, in years to come, the fast fashion industry will cease to exist, warns an Australian fashion industry authority who has worked on both sides of the fence.

A Different Way to Do Fashion

Catherine van der Meulen (formally Taouk) worked her way up in her father’s teen, fast fashion brand SUPRÉ for 15 years, which specialises in mass-produced, cheap fashion. During those years, the potential issues of unethical supply chains never crossed her mind.

She’s since realised the error of her ways, designing the Raw to Store movement to educate businesses about the spectrum of impacts generated by the fashion industry globally.

“Since leaving SUPRÉ, I’ve realised that there’s another way to do business, and it’s not this ruthless, cut everyone down to make money style of business that’s operating in the fashion world today,” van der Meulen says.

“I wish I’d have known back then what I know now about ethical fashion and conscious capitalism in my days at SUPRÉ. I wish I knew that the impact of our decisions can have a negative impact on others without me even knowing it.”

Raising Awareness

But she’s making up for lost time. Late last year, van den Meulen landed the role as head of corporate sustainability at Clean Cut Fashion – Australia’s industry body for ethical and sustainable practice. The organisation connects Australia to the global sustainable fashion movement and encourages national retailers to be more mindful of their supply chain.

She has only been in the role a few months, and is starting by raising awareness and contacting the industry’s worst offenders in search of a commitment.

“I’m starting with exemplifying the ones that are doing well in creating positive impact in the industry. We want to empower the great work of the brands that are committed to change and use that to teach other brands,” she says.

Issues associated with unethical supply chains include building an entire brand on an unsustainable business model, bad publicity, consumers turning to social media to vent about brands doing the wrong thing and, of course, knowing that you’re paying workers less than they need to live on in their own countries.

Collective Responsibility

Cath-van-den-Meulen - Unethical supply chains

Cath van den Meulen

“It’s my job to look at the supply chain of these fashion brands here in Australia and open up discussions around what’s being done to improve the processes. There’s plenty of room for improvement out there. But there’s generational corporate resistance to work through,” says van den Meulen.

She hopes to bring about change among Australian fashion brands that rely on mass sales by producing ‘loss leaders’ (extremely cheap items that are highly publicised), which are commonly mass-produced in unethical supply chains and manufacturing establishments in third world countries, she says.

To highlight the sheer size of the issue of unethical supply chains in Australia, she points to the Australian Fashion Report prepared by Baptist World Aid Australia, which last year named and shamed Australian fashion brands that haven’t cleaned up their supply chain or protected workers overseas.

The report was released two years after the fatal Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh, which saw the lives of 1,129 factory workers die. This event has put a black mark against the collective fashion industry, and van der Meulen says everyone needs to take responsibility.

Australian Offenders

The Baptist report named iconic Australian fashion brands as worst performers, such as the Just Group (owner of Just Jeans, Jay Jays, Dotti, Peter Alexander and Portmans), fast retail brands like Ally, Valley Girl, Temt and Industrie, and low cost suppliers like Lowes and Best & Less.

These companies each received D or F grades because there was little evidence they were doing much, if anything, to protect workers overseas. Many had little or no publicly available information and/or didn’t respond to requests to engage with the research process.

Oxfam Australia also released a report late last year naming the Australian brands dodging workers’ rights. The report named Best & Less as making the least progress of all the companies Oxfam has been engaging and assessing. The Just Group was also named in the report as another company sourcing from Bangladesh, which has so far refused to sign the Fire and Safety Accord.

“The truth is that you can create a profitable and sustainable business model while also doing the right thing as a corporate citizen. And yet there’s so much toxic fashion out there that consumers can purchase clothing for the price of a coffee is utterly obscene. Everyone needs to take responsibility for there to be change.”

Procurement – Authentic and Transparent

And while almost impossible to put a figure on the cost of cleaning up unethical supply chains, she recommends that procurement professionals approach this mammoth task in an authentic and transparent way.

Procurement professionals need to take responsibility for what’s happening further down the supply chain, starting with an independent audit to uncover and document the issues, she says.

“Where the cotton is from that you’re using, for example, can have one of the biggest impacts on the cotton industry globally. These are questions procurement people should be asking that demand answers.”

“I recommend that fashion brands start out by doing the B Corp assessment, which take just 90 minutes and gives you a rating out of 200 to see where you stand today,” she says.

Next, work out where you can make the most impact within your supply chain, and commit to starting an improvement program.

“Just focus on one thing that will improve your supply chain by 1 per cent this year. This could include improving energy consumption or waste water, changing suppliers, or sourcing more ethically produced products,” van der Meulen says.

Good News-Bad News Week for Global Tech Giants

The good news is that one of your favourite social networks is booming, the bad news is that one of your favourite tech companies is not.

Good News Bad News

It’s been something of a good news, bad news kind of week for a number of major global organisations this week. On one hand, alongside the success of the Big Ideas Summit 2016 (we couldn’t resist one last mention…), Facebook is bucking the trend for growth in 2016.

On the other hand, continuing (and very public) supply chain issues, as well as declining sales, put Apple firmly in the bad news column. And outside of the tech industry there was bad news in global manufacturing, as it became clear that lessons don’t appear to have been learned in Toyota’s supply chain following recent earthquakes in Japan.

Golden Quarter

At a time when other technology companies are beginning to feel the pinch, and slow growth is causing some real concerns, Facebook appears to be bucking the trend with its good news announcement on its first quarter growth.

Q1 of 2016 was the company’s strongest single quarter growth since 2014, with an overall revenue increase of 51.9 per cent. Combined with an increase in user activity (it’s estimated that two-thirds of Facebook users are on the site or app every day), it served to place Facebook far out in front of its competitors in both the social media, and tech, fields.

The revenue growth has been put down to a marked increase in the sales of mobile advertising on both its original platform, and on Instagram, which it purchased for over $1 billion in 2012.

What’s more, there is plenty potential for more good news, as Facebook is yet to release advertising for it’s other 2 major platforms – its Messenger service, and Whatsapp. There is also the release of Oculus Rift, the company’s virtual reality headset, to be taken into account, although this is unlikely to happen until next year.

‘The Fruit’ in Decline?

Facebook’s good news came as welcome relief for investors and markets, particularly in light of other first quarter announcements from the large technology companies came in under expectations.

Twitter’s earnings fell short of Wall Street predictions, with $595 million, compared to an expectation of over $607 million. Bigger problems for Twitter were a less than expected growth in user numbers, hindering the platform’s ability to drive advertising revenues.

However, the biggest news (though some might say not as surprising) came with the quarterly announcements from Apple. For the first time in 13 years, Apple reported a fall in quarterly sales, at nearly 13 per cent, to $50.6 billion. The tech giant expects this trend to continue in Q2, with estimated sales falling to around $41 billion.

Apple were not alone in feeling the effects of the slowing Chinese economy, where its sales dropped by more than a quarter. However, there was some good news for Apple fans. CEO Tim Cook told analysts that, “The future of Apple is very bright”, with a 20 per cent growth in revenue from Apple Music and App Store areas of the business.

However, many analysts are concerned that, in a market saturated with smartphones, unless the iPhone 7 is a game changer, then this decline could continue. With an announcement, and launch, expected later this year, it seems we will just have to wait and see.

Vulnerable Supply Chains

Technology wasn’t the only bad news area this week either. Toyota have come under fire for not learning the lessons of Japanese earthquakes in 2011, with their supply chain again showing severe vulnerability following earthquakes in the country in recent weeks.

Following the events of 2011, Toyota set out to create an “earthquake-proof” supply chain, working with suppliers to create the RESCUE (REinforce Supply Chain Under Emergency) system, aimed at spreading the risk in the event of future natural disasters.

The new supply chain was put to the test in April, and despite early promise, it seems that the same vulnerabilities in the supply chain still exist. The manufacturer shut 26 of its 30 Japanese production facilities in the middle of April, only reopening 5 at the tail end of the month.

With both Honda and Nissan now operating at full capacity, with minimal shutdowns, it seems that Toyota has yet to learn its lesson.

Do you work in the technology industry? What do you make of the latest announcements from Facebook and Apple? We’d love to hear from you – you can get started in the comments section below.

As ever, we’ve been keeping an eye on all the major headlines just for you…

Congress Votes Yes on Russian Rocket Purchase

  • US Congress have voted to purchase $540 million worth of Russian rocket engines, despite a ban on trading
  • The intention of the 2014 procurement ban was to end US reliance on Russian-made RD-180 rocket engines
  • The US relies on these engines to launch national security satellites into orbit, as the US-built engines are still under development
  • Critics say the $540 million will be spent by Russian on modernising its military

Read more at Space Daily

Japan Fury at Australia-France Deal

  • Australia has awarded France the submarine ‘deal of the century’
  • The $AUS50bn submarine contract is the largest defence deal in Australian history, but the move has infuriated Japan.
  • Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Heavy Industries submarine had been seen as early favourites for the contract.
  • In an unusually blunt criticism, Japan’s defence minister Gen Nakatani described Australia’s decision as “deeply regrettable”.

Read more at The Telegraph

Slow Progress on US-EU TTIP

  • Progress is slow on negotiations for a comprehensive Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, between the EU and the USA
  • Negotiators said they would push for a comprehensive TTIP before US President Barack Obama leaves office in January.
  • Among the deepest divides concern Europe’s food safety rules that exclude American beef raised with hormones, genetically modified foods and Europe’s many local food naming rules.
  • The deal exclude European demands for greater access to US federal, state and local government procurement, which often carries “buy American” or local content standards.

Read more at Euractive

Gorman Failing Overseas Workers

  • Australian fashion brand Gorman has come under fire for not doing enough to protect overseas workers in its supply chain
  • The 2016 fashion report by Baptist World Aid Australia graded Gorman as an ‘F’ for policies on preventing exploitation of workers in overseas factories
  • Although the organisation has an ethical compliance statement on its website, fans and wearers of the brand have reacted angrily to the company’s alleged lack of action
  • The company’s founder, Lisa Gorman, has now stated that they will be publishing supply chain audit reports on its website in the coming months to help prove transparency

Read more at The Guardian

Innovating the Last Mile of the Supply Chain

From Amazon delivering your groceries, to a host of companies delivering your dinner, the competition for the last mile of the supply chain is heating up.

At the Big Ideas Summit 2016 last week, there were a whole host of discussions around the future of the supply chain. Paul Markillie discussed the future trends in manufacturing (and you can watch Paul’s Big Idea video too), while Lucy Siegle discussed the increasing need for transparency and ethics in the supply chain.

Ahead of the Summit, we also asked the Procurious community about their Big Ideas for the future of the supply chain, and logistics, industries.

David Weaver, Online Marketing Manager, INFORM GmbH

Big Ideas Supply Chain - David WeaverIt truly is an exciting time to be involved in the supply chain industry. Over the course of 2016, technological advancements in the field of robotics will continue to reshape manufacturing and warehouse facilities.

Based on what I saw at some of the events I attended in 2015, I believe picking bots in large warehouses will become a reality, sooner rather than later. Additionally, the migration of supply chain planning into the Cloud will continue to expand and the implementation of advanced analytics to successfully plan across all supply chain functions will experience an upward trend.

Furthermore, companies will have to get creative with their methods for increasing transparency across their value network. However, in order for companies to be successful, the 4 important T’s of transparency must be fulfilled:

  • The topic must have traction within the organisation,
  • Internal and external trust must be established,
  • Appropriate supplier training programs should be in place, and
  • Today’s available technology needs to be implemented.

Next to all of these leading topics, I expect some of the biggest ideas to be aimed at solving the “last mile” logistics problem. Over the last few years we have seen several last mile logistics providers introduce their innovative approaches to solving the problem (Doorman, Roadie, Deliveroo, etc.).

I expect the fight for control of this market to continue, and as a result of the high level of competition, we will continue to see new, innovative problem-solving methods. 

Even although the event itself is over, there’s still time for you to get involved with the Big Ideas Summit 2016. Visit theBig Ideas Summit website, join our Procurious Group, and Tweet your thoughts and Big Ideas to us using #BigIdeas2016.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing exclusive and unique thought leadership, Big Ideas, and discussion that will shape the future of procurement. Don’t miss out – get involved, register today.

Procurement Recruitment – Find the Needle in the Haystack

According to the experts, procurement recruitment can sometimes be like finding a needle in a haystack. But what are the trends in this area in the coming years?

One of the key topics at the Big Ideas Summit 2016 was people, and more specifically, how to attract and retain the best talent in procurement. Our experts and influencers discussed a number of ideas and concepts procurement could consider. You can read all about them here.

However, we also wanted to hear what the Procurious community thought were the Big Ideas in procurement recruitment, now and in the coming years. Here is what they had to say.

Tony Megally, General Manager, The Source Recruitment

Big Ideas - Tony MegallySpecialist roles – Procurement needs to consider promoting the profession as an exciting career path to non-procurement professionals already in relevant commercially focussed roles. For example, finance and legal (great for contract management), and possibly agency recruiters specialising in procurement.  

Commercially focussed accountants are highly numerate, analytical and offer great business partnering skills, and, in some cases, they are supporting sales teams with commercial analysis of bids and tenders. In house legal advisors are often partnering with Procurement overseeing contract terms, and could transition well to contract management roles.

Procurement recruitment consultants are generally great at negotiating, building relationships, are equipped with sound knowledge of the profession, and maintain strong soft skills all round. (I’ve know of a couple of recruiters who have made a career change to Procurement!).

The challenge will be getting CPOs and Procurement Heads to think outside the norm of recruiting just from our profession. Non-procurement pros are not typically thinking about procurement as a career change. But if we promote it on both sides this could change!

Senior and Exec Leadership Roles – Procurement should be recruiting for senior and executive leadership capability, rather than technical expertise. We have a great recent example in Australia, where Qantas has appointed a new CPO, Lisa Brock.

Lisa previously occupied executive roles with Jetstar as Chief Commercial Officer, and previously with Qantas in Strategy and Corporate Development, and she has a background in Corporate Finance at Ernst and Young.

She knows the business, is highly people focussed, is a great change agent, is financially literate and has built strong relationships across the organisation at a senior level. Perhaps this is easier to achieve with internal leaders with a proven track record of leading cross functional teams.  

Succession Planning – Succession planning is crucial for future leadership capability. There is a lot of material out there on this topic but it is relevant. The point to be made is around the changing demographics of the workforce, and the fact that Millennials now make up a significant number of the workforce. They generally want faster career progression  and development opportunities.

If we want to retain outstanding talent then it’s necessary for CPOs to actively identify a strong bench of potential leaders, and to actively provide opportunities that will enable a future leadership development path to those who are capable of attaining it.

Anna del Mar, Head of Learning & Development, Future Purchasing

Big Ideas - Anna del MarWith enormous pressure on businesses to streamline their operations and find ways of driving performance in increasingly competitive environments, the need to improve capability and maximise returns from L&D investment is critical.

A leading private equity firm confirmed to us that more than 75 per cent of value creation in their portfolio of companies comes from operational performance improvement.

Procurement has a large contribution to make to any performance improvement programme and increasing capability is often a critical step achieving this.

The procurement recruitment market remains increasingly challenging, and finding people with both the technical and change management skills to create performance improvement is often likened to ‘finding a needle in a haystack’. Future Purchasing is not a recruitment agency and as such we cannot comment on the state of the recruitment market. We can however, observe the methods our clients are deploying to get the best talent.

We have seen three interesting trends:

1. We are seeing some organisations recruit from other functions, and train individuals in Procurement approaches. The behavioural skills required to drive change and implement real category management are so important and less easy to learn than procurement process skills. Whilst that can work in some cases, in practice the value of real experience in commercial scenarios cannot be underestimated.

2. Finding people who will drive real change can be made much easier by using Network Analysis. This approach lets recruiters assess the level of connectivity and impact people have across the networks in which they work. Those people who are well networked, are often well suited to change management roles, as it is their natural tendency to drive change.

3. Thirdly we see procurement organisations recruiting excellent skills from other markets, in particular central Europe. One leading CPO who has outsourced transactional activities to Poland sees this location as a real talent pool for the rest of the global team.

Food for thought!

Tell us what you think about the future of procurement recruitment on Procurious. Even although the event itself is over, there’s still time for you to get involved with the Big Ideas Summit 2016. Visit theBig Ideas Summit website, join our Procurious Group, and Tweet your thoughts and Big Ideas to us using #BigIdeas2016.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing exclusive and unique thought leadership, Big Ideas, and discussion that will shape the future of procurement. Don’t miss out – get involved, register today.

Procurement Gives a Tweet – #BigIdeas2016 on Twitter

Likes, retweets and the #BigIdeas2016 hashtag being spread far and wide – taking a look at how the Twitter-verse reacted to Big Ideas 2016.

Whether you chose to follow the Big Ideas Summit 2016 on Procurious, or via one of our other social media channels, we hope you got just as much out of the day as we did in London.

The Big Ideas Summit was positioned as a digitally-led event, enabling us to include the global procurement and supply chain community in the day, even although we couldn’t have everyone in London (as much as we wish we could!).

Following the huge success of the event on Twitter last year, we were eager to find out just how far our conversations, learnings, interactions and Ideas reached. And we couldn’t have predicted just how widespread the Big Ideas conversation went.

Once again, we’ve been overwhelmed by the response from our followers. So, thank you, and here are some figures showing just how much you helped us spread the word:

Hashtag: Our #BigIdeas2016 hashtag was picked-up and mentioned 1,500 times throughout the day.

In total, tweets relating to the event were served to a potential combined audience of over 5 million people worldwide!

This map shows where the #BigIdeas2016 hashtag was being used worldwide:

This map shows the global activity on April 21 of #BigIdeas2016
This map shows the global activity on April 21 of #BigIdeas2016

If you’re not following us already, come and find us using @procurious_ and help to continue the conversation! We’ll be continuing to share your Big Ideas, and all the key thoughts and ideas from the Summit in the coming weeks.

We’ve also put together a sample of the tweets from April 21st which mentioned the Big Ideas Summit, and used the #BigIdeas2016 hashtag. See what influencers, thought-leaders, commentators, and fellow procurement professionals made of the day’s events.