Category Archives: Career Management

3 Attributes Of The Future CPO

Why are organisations appointing CPOs from outside of the profession, what’s the no. one category that will produce future CPOs and should there be a new label for the role of CPO. 

The modern day CPO is vastly different to the CPO of a decade ago – both in terms of management style and the expectations put upon them by the organisation.

And so we can only assume that CPOs in 10-15 years will be similarly unrecognisable.

Who will get the top job in the future , what sort of professional background will they have ?

Tom Derry, CEO – ISM discusses why companies are appointing CPOs from outside of the profession, the no. one category that will produce future CPOs and a new label for the role of CPO

It doesn’t take a procurement professional to be CPO

There’s been a real trend in recent years of CPOs being appointed from outside traditional backgrounds. A savvy marketing professional or a cost-conscious operations manager could make a very attractive candidate for the role.  Similarly, IT professionals – the innovation scouts who know how to drive change and understand key threats to the business like cyber security – could be chasing the CPO role.

“Requirements of the job and the definition of the job have to evolve over time and in the not too distance future,” explains Tom.

Tom outlines some of the key qualities of the CPO of the future.

Customer-facing expertise

“Customer-facing expertise, the ability to interact with, understand and even anticipate customer needs, is a critical skill”

One of the key themes in a recent CAPS research survey emphasised the importance of a demand-driven supply chain.          “[This] means an orientation toward, and a sensitivity to, the needs and requirements of the customer, flexing to meet the customers requirements and configuring your supply chain and your procurement activities to meeting those requirements.”

Market expertise

It’s so important for future procurement leaders to have clear vision and strategy – a strategy that your team can implement based on what you’ve identified.

“Another way of saying that is market expertise” explains Tom.  “Understanding where your company is, what markets you’re going after and the characteristics of those markets in terms of customer and suppliers [is really important]. [Someone with an understanding] of where markets are today and where they’re headed would be ideally suited to lead the supply chains and procurement activities of the future.”

Leadership

Tom stresses CPOs of the future do not need to be process experts. “We don’t need someone who has grown up in the ranks of procurement and has become very good at RF processes, scouting new suppliers, or understanding supply markets.  These are key skills but they are not the leadership skills that are required to lead the entire companies  effort-  they’re just necessary functional skills.”

So where does Tom think CPOs will come from in the future? “Some will become category managers and then move laterally into different positions, and then move into the top job. But it won’t be a straight-line path. You won’t be climbing a ladder within the function to get to the CPO job. You’ll have to leave the function and come back, or come from outside the function because you’ve got the vision and strategic skills to lead.”

Part Three of Tuesdays with Tom is available now. Click here to sign up and hear ISM CEO Tom Derry discuss CPOs of the future and how we might label the profession going forward. 

Big Ideas Zurich: 3…2…1… ACTION!

Big Ideas Zurich is now available to watch on demand. Sign up as a digital delegate to watch the event in full! 

We’re so excited to finally share Big Ideas Zurich with you. This truly digital event addresses what skills you need to perfect in order to drive peak performance in your career; what’s the latest intel on blockchain and how to close the gender pay gap in procurement.

The entire event is now available to stream on-demand via the digital delegates group on Procurious.

Check out the agenda below to see what tickles your pickle and watch some highlight videos from the event:

Tania Seary on Driving Peak Performance

Joelle Payom on Diversity and Inclusion

What is your favourite job interview question?

Big Ideas Zurich is now available to watch on demand. Sign up as a digital delegate to watch the event in full! 

Category Management – What’s The State of Play?

Do you know how to measure the performance of category management in your organisation? It might be a top three priority for 85 per cent of leading procurement teams, but only 5 per cent of teams have fully optimised their category management…

Category management, and in particular cross-functional category strategy development, is a central feature within procurement organisations – particularly where there is a desire to transform from a sourcing and price management focus.  This allows teams to work more closely with business stakeholders and co-create visionary category strategies that access the full range of value levers available. This maximises and broadens the range of value delivered in terms of total cost reduction, risk reduction and revenue increases.

Although category management was first introduced 30 years ago in procurement, there has been no playbook for implementing it. Approaches used vary from organisation to organisation and category to category.

Since 2012, over 1,100 professionals from 40 countries have taken part in our three previous global surveys in collaboration with Henley Business School.

Since we began doing this survey, our objective has been to develop this playbook, by identifying what causes that inconsistency and identify which practices are most effective, which are least well used, and how the delivery of results links to these areas. The comprehensive report we produce, is an invaluable guide to procurement teams wherever they are on their category management journey.

What is the survey?

A mobile-friendly 10-15 minute survey with multiple choice questions in five different sections. You can share your views on the current state of category management in your organisation. Your individual responses are collated and drive the report but are not shared with any third parties.

The insights coming out of the analytics will again be developed into a comprehensive actionable report, available early next year and published to participants in advance. You will also receive an immediate benchmark assessment at the end of the survey – comparing your organisation’s category management performance with the other participants.

Why do we do it?

We wish to provide insights that will allow participants to improve their organisation’s category management capability and build a business case for investment if needed. This includes:

  • Identifying the most powerful practices being used by leaders to make category management successful
  • Providing practical recommendations on how to implement the powerful practices identified
  • Quantifying the extra value and savings that category management leaders achieve versus followers

How does the 2018-19 survey and report help procurement leadership teams?

For leadership teams, the survey questions provide a checklist of topics that they should consider as a team when designing their operating model for category management. Topics include:

  • Providing category management awareness training for stakeholders
  • Aligning the category management process with related business processes
  • Prioritising projects to work on jointly with budget holders on an annual basis
  • Securing senior stakeholders as sponsors for key categories

Our experience is that many leadership teams do not formally plan their operating model for category management. The impact of this is that category managers can feel that they are operating in an ambiguous environment that limits their efficiency and effectiveness. Examples include extensive time being required to persuade business stakeholders to participate in cross-functional category teams and category managers being excluded from sessions where fundamental components of category strategies are being worked on by stakeholders.

Procurement leadership teams that invest the time to pro-actively design their operating model create an opportunity to consider the numerous and often interdependent moving parts that impact category management success. They remove ambiguity and address the design issues that often cause category management to operate sub-optimally. They provide a clear structure and defined environment for category managers to operate within. The team become clear on “what good looks like” and performance across the group is more consistent and reliable. Ultimately, they deliver better results than their peers – they are the category management Leaders. The report identifies which are the most important elements of a category management operating model to consider – derived from the survey results and detailed analysis conducted by Professor Marc Day from Henley Business School.

How does the 2018-19 survey and report help category managers?

The results from the last survey clearly demonstrated that category managers need to excel in two dimensions:

  • Behavioural skills: to develop excellent stakeholder relationships.
  • Technical skills: to build excellent category strategies.

The challenges of building excellence in behavioural skills such as building trust with stakeholders, communicating effectively and understanding needs is commonly understood by procurement teams, but the direct linkage to benefits delivered has only recently been evidenced from the analysis of 320+ respondents in our 2016-17 survey.

In the 2018-19 survey we have responded to feedback and have introduced questions that explore the specific attitudes and behavioural skills associated with stakeholder engagement. Our intention is to see which of these capabilities have most impact on business results created through category management.

We have also extended the questions about the technical skills required to create and implement category strategies. These include business requirements development, mapping technology changes, identifying market dynamics and understanding how to apply a range of relevant value levers.

For category managers, the survey and report provides a summary of the key skills that they will require as go-to-market activities get automated and the focus on category strategies intensifies.

Immediate Benchmarking

A new feature in this year’s survey is the ability to give participants instant feedback of their own performance against the other results submitted. For larger organisations, there is also the possibility to create reports focused just on that organisation – from a variety of respondents.

We believe that this survey gives a lot of value back to the category management community, and we’re hoping that a record number of people will support this edition. If you’ve any questions or comments please let me know. Also, please forward this blog to any members of your network that would benefit from participation and the benchmarking assessment.

Procurement Isn’t Lighting Up The World…Yet

“Procurement itself – let’s face it – isn’t going to light the world currently, but I believe it will be the new instrument in 2030 to change the world.” – Olinga Taeed, Visiting Professor in Blockchain at Birmingham City University

As we hurtle towards the new year, you might be starting to look ahead and reflect on your personal and professional development goals.

But why wait until January 1st to put your plans into action?

Next week, we’ll be addressing a huge range of critical areas for procurement and supply chain professionals at Big Ideas Zurich.

And, for the first time ever, we’ll be filming and streaming the entire day’s event via the Digital Delegates group on Procurious.

If there was ever a time to register for one of our summits, it’s now. Featuring presentations and interviews from some of Europe’s top procurement leaders, we’ll be discussing procurement and supply management towards 2030, the future of talent, automation, blockchain, diversity and so much more.

Check out our teaser trailers below for a little sneak peak of what’s to come.

Procurement isn’t lighting up the world

“Procurement itself – let’s face it – isn’t going to light the world currently, but I believe it will be the new instrument in 2030 to change the world.”

Olinga Taeed, the world’s first Professor in Blockchain and Social Enterprise, reveals how blockchain can be used for social good, why procurement isn’t currently lighting up the world and when that’s set to change. 

On December 10th discover…

  • What skills you need to perfect to drive peak performance in your career
  • The latest intel on blockchain 
  • How procurement can close the gender pay gap 
  • The latest updates on game-changing technology 
  • How to develop strategic partnerships 
  • Why supplier diversity is best for business
  • What procurement and supply chain will look like in 2030
  • How to stand on your supplier’s shoulders 
  • How to make your key business stakeholders love you
  • The ways to shift your procurement mindset 
  • The importance of having a digital endgame

Win a Parrot Bebop drone worth £450

We know that everyone loves a prize. And believe us when we say we’ve got prizes falling from the tops of the Swiss Alps.

As a registered digital delegate you’re in with a chance of winning one of eight amazing giveaways including the big-ticket item – a Parrot Bebop drone worth £450.

Plus, we’ve got Patagonia t-shirts, a Fjallraven backpack, stashes of Swiss chocolate and Herschel beanies up for grabs.

We’ll be doing eight prize giveaways throughout today with winners selected every half an hour. To put yourself in the running you simply need to get involved on the digital delegates group – posting your comments, insights and questions.

Sign up as  a digital delegate for Big Ideas Zurich (it’s free) 

8 Attributes Supply Chain Professionals Can’t Live Without

Supply chain is an excellent career destination, but it takes a particular skill-set to reach the top. For our fifth and final podcast in the “Bravo” series celebrating women in procurement and supply management, Telstra’s General Manager of Planning Carlee McGowan shares the top skills and attributes that every supply chain professional needs.

Would you regard yourself as influential in your organisation? Do you frequently put your courage to the test? Do you genuinely enjoy immersing yourself in data? If so, then you just might be destined for an incredible career in supply chain. Procurious interviewed Telstra’s GM Planning, Carlee McGowan, to learn the eight skills and attributes every supply chain professional should master if they want to get ahead.  

  1. Have an analytical mind

“Supply chain professionals must have the ability to look at the data, manipulate it and then come up with a recommendation”, says McGowan. “When I’m hiring new team members, sometimes I even go so far as giving them a study in Excel and asking them to determine what improvements could be made and what conclusions they would draw.”

“I truly believe integration of data and transparency of that data is the next big challenge  (and opportunity) for supply chain”, says McGowan. “But it needs to be correctly integrated within your planning, forecasting and operating tools. With full transparency of data you can identify where your risks are and galvanise the organisation to mitigate those risks to get the best outcome for your customer and ultimately your business.”

  1. Know how to influence

Having the ability to influence others is important in any career, but particularly important when trying to land a change program in supply chain management. According to McGowan, it’s an area where some of the top professionals really let themselves down. “You can have the smartest mind in the world, but if you can’t present your ideas in a way that your colleagues and stakeholders can understand, you won’t get the results you’re looking for.”

  1. Seek out continuous improvement

Being able to learn from failure is vital, says McGowan. “You’ll never get everything right all the time, which is why a continuous improvement mindset is so important. You need to be able to take learnings from your day-to-day work and apply them to the processes and procedures you’re working with. People in my team who can learn from their failures are really valuable – it also shows they have a bit of resilience.”

  1. Be courageous

Landing any significant change takes a great deal of ambition and courage, says McGowan. At Telstra, the supply chain team has the goal of being recognised as the most improved supply chain function and to become a benchmark for the industry. “To achieve this we’re engaging in a total supply chain transformation. We’ve built up the people, the systems and  the processes and changing our distribution centre – essentially we’ve decided to take something huge and make it bigger.”

 

“It’s a very significant change, and there have been many times when the team and I have had to call on our courage, really believe in ourselves and find the motivation to make sure we not only meet these targets, but to smash them out of the park. It’s a massive undertaking and not many organisations have embarked on something at this scale, so we have to remind ourselves how momentous it is to keep achieving results.”

  1. Embrace your transferable skills

“With supply chain, you can go anywhere in the world across any industry and apply the same principles, whether it’s in telecommunications, retail, or FMCG”, says McGowan. “You really can take your skill-set and apply it wherever you want to go.”

  1. Love tangible results

One of the advantages that supply chain has as a career is that you get to see real results as a result of your efforts. “It’s really tangible”, says McGowan. “Either you get the goods to their final destination in full and on time at the lowest cost, or you’ll learn how to achieve a better outcome next time – it’s a continuous improvement journey.”

  1. Earn your stakeholders’ trust

Supply chain managers should seek to become a trusted business advisor. “We want to be known as the function that forecasts where the business is headed and predicts what resources we’ll need to get there.”

  1. Be excited about technology

Technology has already impacted supply chain exponentially, but McGowan predicts that the best is yet to come. “Technology has raised customers’ expectations of supply chain – they want the 24/7 ability to shop and track items. As supply chain professionals we need to respond to this by acting faster, acting with urgency, using accurate data and enabling our customers to have that transparency. If you don’t have transparency of your end-to-end supply chain available to customers, they will judge you as untrustworthy.”

  1. Get close to the customer

“There are so many opportunities to better understand your customer. If you don’t try to understand what they really want, you risk setting up a supply chain that doesn’t provide the right service for them, or waste time on an area the customer doesn’t really value.”

“To give an example, one customer valued first in first out (FIFO) as a KPI, but we hadn’t been monitoring or tracking that at all. We had no idea it was upsetting the whole supply chain and causing wasted energy and time. But with a small tweak of our supply chain – setting different processes and systems – we were able to exponentially increase the satisfaction of that customer. Without understanding that need, we might have lost that customer because in their eyes we weren’t meeting the service target.”

In Bravo, our five-part podcast series celebrating women in procurement, five inspiring and courageous women share their stories and the secrets to their success. Sign up now (it’s free!)

7 Steps To Telling A Story

If you want anyone to take action from the information you’re looking to share or the change you’re trying to create, a story has to be an essential part of your communications armoury.
We live in an of Netflix, LinkedIn and Instagram.  A big impact of us spending time on these platforms is that our brains are being rewired for stories – we spend time consuming story, after story, after story.
Not only that, we’re able to be highly selective about the stories we consume.There are companies now that actually study what makes stories, and particular advertising stories, ”unskippable”, what makes them compelling. Because, as viewers of stories, we’ve become the connoisseurs.
But when it comes to telling compelling stories for ourselves, many people struggle, despite the fact that the ability to tell a story is becoming an ever more critical skill in our professional lives.
We live in an of Netflix, LinkedIn and Instagram.  A big impact of us spending time on these platforms is that our brains are being rewired for stories – we spend time consuming story, after story, after story.
Not only that, we’re able to be highly selective about the stories we consume.
There are companies now that actually study what makes stories, and particular advertising stories, ”unskippable”, what makes them compelling.
Because, as viewers of stories, we’ve become the connoisseurs.
But when it comes to telling compelling stories for ourselves, many people struggle, despite the fact that the ability to tell a story is becoming an ever more critical skill in our professional lives.

The importance of storytelling

Every single day, more information is created than existed from the dawn of time up until 2013. We’ve got hoards of information being streamed at us, which ironically doesn’t really work because we are not logical, linear people at our hearts.
Julie Masters, CEO – Influence Nation  believes humans are wired for stories because they are how we connect and how we engage. “They are the only way you build empathy and a connection with someone else – I tell you my story you tell me yours.
“If you want anyone to take action from the information that you’re looking to share or the change you’re trying to create then a story has to be an essential part of your communications armoury.”
On Day Four of the Bravo podcast series, Julie shares her top tips for becoming a master story teller.

1. Make it compelling

If you want some guidance on how to tell a great story, Julie advises that you start watching Netflix with an eye for storytelling. Consider how do they do it , what happens in the first 20 seconds of a compelling story. “It is a formula, so if you’re curious, watch more television!  Ask yourself, what is the last story that caught your attention and what is the last story that lost your attention?”

2. Make a clear structure

Julie believes that we put far too much kudos on how we tell or present a story and not nearly enough focus on how we structure that message in the first place. The most groundbreaking pieces of information will fall flat if they aren’t structured in a way that’s going to compel attention.

3. Be relatable

Julie advises that you organise your story into a few main points. “Are you using useful ideas and useful examples to illustrate those points – examples that [your listeners] can relate to.”

4. Have a clear beginning and a clear ending

“This one flies under the radar all too often” Julie explains . “It’s important to consider what you want us to do with your story as a result of your story. Is there something you want us to do differently, or believe differently?” Having a compelling opening is also important to draw in your audience. Julie suggests opening with question, which will “guide you into an interesting space and usually gets attention fast.”

5. Take it slow

“One of the key things we do when we’re nervous is speed up. So slow down, take a breath and remember to pause.” Julie advises that it is especially important to pause following an important point. “Our brains take a while to catch up with where you’re at and if you just keep on talking we’ll miss the fact that you believe this part was important.”

6. Monitor your movement

“Don’t be afraid to be still” Julie asserts. ‘If you’re constantly moving around  it’s like listening to the sound of a washing machine – you tune out.  Similarly, if you’re still and rigid we’ll tune out. Use your body for impact, move at certain points if you’re illustrating a point and then stand still and grounded for another point.”

7. Vary your Voice

It’s important to avoid speaking in monotone and varying your tone, pitch, volume and speed. “Up the energy of your voice and then bring it back down again. Use all the tools you have to get and maintain our attention.”

In Bravo, our five-part podcast series celebrating women in procurement, five inspiring and courageous women share their stories and the secrets to their success. Sign up to now (it’s free!)

Don’t Stick To Procurement – Adventure Is Out There!

Procurement professionals can, and should, move in and out of the profession – it will make you better at what you do! 

Shutterstock/ By Dudarev Mikhail

We all want to get the most out of our procurement jobs, but it’s easier said than done.

Should you stay in procurement for your whole career?

What key skills should you focus on developing?

And how do you aim high whilst maintaining a healthy work/life balance?

With 20 years’ experience in procurement, a team of 300 people and a total spend of $14 billion Telstra’s CPO, Thomai Veginis, knows a thing or two about successful procurement careers.

Moving in and out of the profession

One of the reasons Thomai has been so successful in her career is due to the skills she’s learnt outside of the profession. “You can – and should – move in and out of the profession. The skills are absolutely transferrable and personally, I’ve appreciated the profession more when I’ve been out of it.”

“A trait you sometimes see in procurement teams is a lack of empathy for people who don’t follow the process.”  Thomai notes that working in different areas of the business has taught her to have empathy, in particular, for sales and delivery roles. “Gaining experience in that kind of role will help you be a better procurement professional.” 

“If you want to develop empathy,” she advises, “go and do a front-line, customer-facing role, and you’ll understand how hard it can be. One of the compliments I receive is that people want to work with me because I understand the sense of urgency for the people in front-line sales. When [sales teams] call me in my procurement function, they’re often quite desperate and in need of some help, and I understand what that’s like – being in need of some support from a function that’s not your own . So I’ll prioritise that and work with them closely.”

And when it comes to working in other areas of the business, procurement skills are highly transferable. “Honestly the commercial that skills you get in a procurement role are transferable everywhere; relationship roles, managing contracts understanding the nuances of a deal, what makes a deal etc.  That’s the kind of stuff that you use in any role.  I’ve been in tech roles and been able to leverage my procurement skills to bring another perspective and more value. And then you become a better person when you come back into the function.”

Thomai also recommends that procurement professionals use any time working elsewhere as an opportunity to get to know the nuances of the organisation. It’s a chance to reach out to stakeholders, find out their business plans, what’s happening for them this year and discover their pain points.

Finding a balance

Thomai has worked in project roles focused on delivering to a customer which saw her working in the office from 8.00am until 8.00pm. “As a result of that work I had the opportunity to be promoted but realised I didn’t want to be in that career path because I couldn’t spend the time I needed with my children.”

“Over my career I’ve tried to manage my work-life balance. In procurement roles you can balance it better than people in a sales role who need to fit in with their customers’ schedules.”

She believes that procurement is an ideal career for parents returning to work. Not that you work less – it’s more about the opportunity to work flexibly in ways that work for you.

“When I came back from maternity leave after my second child, one of the first things I did was to stand in front of my team and explain that I’ve got two young children and I plan to leave at 5pm everyday. It’s important people understood how I  was going to balance my life. I can do the role if I’m in the office after 5pm or not.

In Bravo, our five-part podcast series celebrating women in procurement, five inspiring and courageous women share their stories and the secrets to their success. Sign up to now (it’s free!)

Millennials in Procurement: Immediate – Flexible – Precise

The leadership of tomorrow will need to consider a number of different factors creating the Millennials mindset and be an inspiration in order for them to become fully integrated.

Writer’s Note: These opinions are my own and I am not speaking on behalf of Johnson & Johnson.

Did you know that 70 per cent of adults, in all generations, want purpose from their work as Jeff Barrett CEO from Barrett Digital points out in his recent study?

We have been talking about Gen Y and the different stereotypes since 1987. It is a cycle which we are going through describing people which were born around 1982 and 1995. Gen Y, also known as Millennials are often accused of being difficult to manage, unfocused with a short attention span, lazy and entitled. What matters the most for them is constant immediate happiness, instant gratitude, creating impact and working in a place with purpose. Millennials face many challenges, especially in their workplace. When they start working, leadership gets confused why Millennials confound leadership so much.  What happened to a full 9am – 5pm honest day’s work? They have their mindset living in an ecosystem of instant gratification, purpose and clear direction and guidance. That’s why the leadership becomes so important and is crucial to create an environment of creating impact and enjoyment. It’s been three decades since the Millennials entered the stage of wanting to work with a purpose, creating impact, get free food, a flexible workspace and flexible working hours. Millennials are still seen as giving up too easily and not happy. As Simon Sinek says this may be due to Parenting, Technology, Patience and the Environment they live in. Immediate feedback and gratification may not always be on the priority list.  Millennials have different expectations and work in a different sort of ecosystem with collaboration, flexibility and having a mindset of sharing. `We` and `Co` become the new I. The leadership of tomorrow will need to consider all these different factors creating the Millennials mindset and be an inspiration for them to become fully integrated.

Mindset 1: Immediate

The work -life-balance has clearly shifted to work-life-integration. Millennials want to work in an environment looking after their personal needs in the company. Through immediate feedback and gratitude, Millennials flourish and get motivated working in this environment.  Some Millennials immediately want to take charge, work immediately for a purpose and create impact. This takes us to the second factor of flexibility.

Mindset 2: Flexibility

Millennials like to be flexible in their work environment. They grow up in a world with new technologies and business models, making their life more self-determining. Millennials want to keep life flexible and are ready to fully embrace the sharing economy. Leadership needs to create an environment and work environment which allows for a high degree of flexibility in terms of work place, work hours and work content. Gen X, which were born around 1965-1982 (the previous generation), were striving for a well-rounded work-life-balance before, but this Gen Y cycle has clearly shifted the mindset. Through simple flexibility and variety leaders can avoid boredom and increase creativity. It is important to have “can do principles” in place. For that, the management need to be open for digitalization, instant communication and the sharing lifestyle. It is a new style of interaction, which is shaped by instant feedback, precision and clear messages. This brings us to the next point.

Mindset 3: Precision

The world is overloaded with big data, information and offerings; therefore, Millennials seek precision and clarity. Everything must be instant, at your fingertips and always prepared. Changes happen a lot quicker, therefore leadership need to as a result dig through that heavy noise and make sure, their goals, feedback and information reach their team clearly. Modern leaders compete against the Millennials’ smartphones and social media, while being at work. With this factor leaders struggle to sustain the attention and motivation of Millennials. Feedback and instructions should be provided as quickly and precise as possible. Annual feedback becomes outdated, rather have regular alignments. If you want to provide precise feedback towards their working style, be clear and make sure you adjust their work methods and coach them on a regular basis. Through clear communication you can create a productive work environment. Proactive and precise communication is essential for good leadership, bringing us to the next point.

Millennials in Procurement

The role of procurement is changing, as more autonomous technologies will influence procurement of the future, leadership will also need to adapt to more communicative and direct negotiation strategies. Communication will become a virtue. Creating a work environment for Millennials in which they can succeed, receive frequent and immediate feedback. Millennials seek leadership from managers or co-workers but expect gratitude for their ideas. They like to get challenged in a variety of competencies to avoid repetition and boredom. At the same time, instead of micromanagement they expect inspirational leaders. They need a precise structure to understand the purpose. Seeing a career path to achieve their goals. Having a perspective on your journey opens your mind for greater challenges. It`s not an unknown fact, that Millennials are all very much interlinked and connected. Communication is accelerating and becoming more powerful as ever. Alexander Konovalov, CEO Technologies Improving the World (TIW) stated: Within the next decade, it is expected that more than a trillion sensors will be connected to the internet. This will increase global complex communication. Millennials embrace a flat structure, social workplace and flexible work-life integration.

Charlotte is a former ISM/THOMAS 30 Under 30 winner –nominations for 2018 are now open.

How the Rise of AI Will Lead to a Pay Rise in Procurement

It may seem that the AI reduces human labour and eliminates the need for manual intervention, however in order to fully exploit the AI functionalities, human skills are a must. Here’s how the rise of AI could be lucrative for procurement professionals…

With the advent of transforming technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and data science, the landscape of businesses has seen a tremendous change in the last couple of years.

In fact, some of the industry giants are already enjoying the many benefits of AI.

Amazon has been using transactional AI for quite some time now. It has been using predictive analysis for understanding a customer’s purchase behaviour. Tesla cars and their self-driving features, is yet another example of AI being utilised for enhancing the user experience. Another powerful example of AI being used for human interaction is the technology used by Cogito. It uses behavioural adaptation and emotional intelligence for customer support.

According to a recent research study by Ivalua, a leading spend management cloud provider, about 55 per cent of the organisations are about to make a significant investment in AI in the coming two years. If we go on consulting industry trends, these figures clearly point out that AI has already started paving its way towards all the major industries including supply chain management and procurement.

Why is AI essential for procurement?

Procurement workers spend a large chunk of their time binding together fragmented information coming from myriad transactions, something that technology can easily take care of within a fraction of a second. Repetitive, labour-intensive transactions, cost negotiations, supplier performance monitoring etc. add further to the woes.

So how exactly has artificial intelligence strengthened the functioning of various tasks in procurement organisations? Let us find out:

  1. Automation for Repetitive Tasks: One of the trickiest parts in the procurement process is the number of repetitive tasks that consume a substantial amount of time and energy. AI technologies like machine learning, cognitive learning and robotic process automation not only make these iterative tasks faster but also more economical.
  2. Efficient Strategic Sourcing: With a robust machine learning technology, the data acquisition, cleansing & classifying of data and spend analysis become extremely efficient. It is even possible to analyse the spend patterns using real-time classification technology.
  3. Improving Engagement with Bots & Virtual Employee Assistant Chatbots a.k.a conversational interface is capable of incorporating both written messages as well as voice messages that can emulate chatting with a real person. Because of their recall abilities, they can even identify the users they’ve talked with before, thus improving the engagement. The voice assistant technology, on the other hand, is changing the way the user experiences the procurement process altogether.
  4. Handling Supply Management: Through AI, it has become possible to tell the overhead cost by gauging the stocks beforehand. This means that the AI technology intelligently balances the supply and demand by optimising the goods delivery. All this can be done by merely defining the action parameters through machine learning.
  5. Taking Care of Risk Management: AI also helps the enterprises to manage risks related to sourcing from suppliers during procurement. Supplier selection is made more predictive and intelligible. It is also capable of integrating the external data and financial risk scores to chalk out the potential threats.

Investment Required for AI in Procurement

The efficacy of AI in procurement is undebatable. However, setting up AI for procurement comes at a cost. The complex technologies that AI envelopes require application by trained professionals. Here are some of the technologies that come under the purview of AI in procurement:

  • Machine Learning (ML)– This is the most sought-after and most investment consuming technology for organisations today. This consists of APIs (Application Program Interface), development tools and algorithms. ML constantly keeps evolving and improving itself using a given data.
  • Deep Learning– It is actually a type of machine learning. It mimics the human brain in the sense that it observes a large amount of data and learns from it. The learning thus comes here from observing patterns in the given data.
  • NLP– It is a software that helps machines to understand human language and interact accordingly. It is capable of understanding the structure of the sentence, intent and meaning.
  • Virtual Agents– They are the computer programs that are capable of having meaningful conversations with humans. Alexa, Cortana, Siri are some of the popular virtual agents.
  • Decision Management– Decision Management architecture includes systems that can make information-driven automated decisions.

Investing in Human Skills

It may seem that the AI reduces human labour and eliminates the need for manual intervention, however in order to fully exploit the AI functionalities, human skills are a must. Procurement organizations cannot overlook the need for hiring dedicated professionals who master data science and have logical skills for using AI technology appropriately.

Despite the rapidly growing need of AI in major industries, the demand for data scientists and data engineers are not meeting the supply. As a result, the rise in the salary structure for these professionals stands inevitable. A recent survey of 50 best jobs in the USA by Glassdoor ranked data scientists at number one with a median salary of about $110, 000.

This also means that procurement organizations that are looking to get a stronghold in the industry with AI-driven technologies will have to loosen their pockets to get the best team on board.

Time is Money

The transformational footprint of AI on procurement and supply chain operations today has made it the most coveted technology. What the organisations fail to realise is, they are unknowingly shedding big bucks in the guise of time when they are manually performing the procurement functions.

Smart procurement can positively trigger efficient decision making, reduce human errors and save your precious time. This time can then be utilised in taking more strategic initiatives such as building influence within the organisation, improving relationships with suppliers, focusing on innovation, upskilling teams etc.

These initiatives will ultimately give you a bigger ROI and also an edge over your competitors. So if you consider the eagle’s eye view, investing in AI at this point in time is like securing your place as the world rides the digital transformation wave.

This article was written by Ethan Scott

Can We Tell You A Procurement Story?

When we say a story, what we really mean is five stories.

In Bravo, a new five-part procurement podcast series, we interview five inspiring and courageous women to discover the secrets to their success.

Discover why you should become a master storyteller, learn how to focus on your strengths, and listen as we debate critical issues including the salary gap, key procurement skills and the greatest challenges facing the profession.

What is the Bravo podcast series?

Bravo sponsored by Telstra, is a five-part procurement podcast series celebrating women in procurement. The series features five, fifteen-minute podcasts that have been designed to give you some inspiring insights from five top thought leaders in the profession.

How do I listen to the podcast series?

Simply sign up here and you’ll be re-directed to the Bravo group where you can access all five podcasts. You will also join a mailing list, which will alert you each time a new podcast is released.

How will I know when each podcast is published?

The series will run for one week, starting on 26th November with a daily podcast released on Procurious each day. We’ll drop you an email to let you know as each podcast becomes available.

Is the podcast series available to anyone?

Absolutely! Anyone & everyone can access the podcasts and it won’t cost you a penny to do so. Simply sign up here!

When does the podcast series take place. 

Starting on the 26th November the series will run for five days. The podcasts will be accompanied by daily blogs from speakers plus group discussions and articles on Procurious. When the series is complete, all five podcasts will be available for registrants via the Procurious eLearning hub, FREE of charge.

Podcast speakers

1. Thomai Veginis – CPO – Telstra

Thomai is the CPO of Telstra, and as such holds one of the very top CPO roles in Australia, with an eye-watering total spend of $14 billion, a portfolio of 36 categories, and nearly 200 procurement and supply chain staff reporting through to her.

2. Julie Masters, CEO – Influence Nation

Julie Masters is a globally recognised expert in influence, authority and thought leadership. She is the CEO and Founder of Influence Nation and Founder of ODE Management – responsible for launching and managing the careers of some of the worlds most respected thought leaders. Julie is also the host of the weekly podcast Inside Influence.

3. Carlee McGowan, GM Planning – Telstra

Carlee McGowan is a strategic manager with extensive Supply Chain end to end business acumen and a passion for driving and delivering best practice opportunities. She has worked for over 25 years in the field, with profession extending across fast moving consumer goods, retail, telco and international environments.

A change leader who has established, mentored and lead teams, and is known for her passion in customer centric Supply Chain Management using Sales and Operations Planning principles to create end to end business plans to exceed business objectives.

4. Tania Seary, Founder – Procurious

A true procurement entrepreneur, Tania is the Founding Chairman of Procurious, The Faculty and The Source. Throughout her career, Tania has been wholly committed to raising the profile of the procurement profession and connecting its leaders.

After finishing her MBA at Pennsylvania State University, Tania became one of Alcoa’s first global commodity managers.

In 2016, Tania was recognised by IBM as a #NewWaytoEngage Futurist and named “Influencer of the Year” by Supply Chain Dive. She hosts regular procurement webinars, and presents at high-profile events around the world.

5. Nicky Abdinor, Clinical psychologist and show-stopping motivational speaker

Nicky Abdinor is an international keynote speaker, registered Clinical Psychologist and founder of the non-profit, Nicky’s Drive. She is based in Cape Town, South Africa, where she runs her clinical practice. Nicky travels globally for keynote speaking events and has spoken at conferences across Africa, Europe, the USA, Australia and the Middle East.  Nicky is always commended on being a “credible” agent of change whether you are connecting with her one-on-one or from an audience. When you meet Nicky, it is hard not to recognise that she puts her message into practice. She was born without arms, not without attitude!

Bravo, the podcast series sponsored by Telstra,  goes live on 26th November 2018. Sign up now (it’s free) to access the series.