Category Archives: #firstmovers

Would You Order A Tesla Electric Semi?

Elon Musk promised that the Tesla Semi reveal would “blow your mind clear out of your skull and into an alternate dimension”. The truck is certainly a game-changer for the logistics industry, but Tesla faces some steep challenges if it plans to win over the commercial market.

We can’t wait to see these trucks on the road. The sleek, bullet-train shaped cab of the Tesla Semis will be instantly recognisable once they hit the freeways in 2020 – if Tesla can overcome the production delays which are increasingly plaguing the organisation.

What can the Tesla Semi actually do?

Equipped with a battery instead of a diesel tank, the Tesla Semi is capable of travelling 804km (500 miles) on a single electric charge – even with a full 36,000kg load. Its autopilot system will go a long way towards eliminating human error in truck accidents, with the ability to automatically:

  • detect instability and adjust each wheel individually to make jack-knifing “impossible”
  • maintain a set speed and slow down in traffic
  • keep the vehicle in its lane with lane detection and lane departure warnings, and
  • lock onto other Tesla Semis to travel in a convoy.

Charging will take place via a planned, worldwide network of solar-powered “Megachargers”, which will be added to Tesla’s existing network of 2000 Supercharger stations which are in place to power Model S sedans. For drivers in a hurry, a 30-minute charge will enable 640km (nearly 400 miles).

Inside the cab, the driver’s seat is positioned in the centre of the space (which has full standing room), allowing better visibility. The seat is flanked on both sides by touch screens that provide blind spot monitoring and navigation. The truck also comes with tracking features to be used by a fleet manager for routing, monitoring and scheduling.

What’s the cost?

Unknown – Musk didn’t reveal the unit price on stage, but claimed the Tesla Semi would cost 20% less per mile than a diesel-powered truck. Whatever the price is, it’s only likely to fall in the future as regulations on diesel continue to tighten, charging infrastructure improves and the costs of batteries fall.

Despite the unknown price, pre-orders have started flowing in from companies including Wal-Mart (15 trucks), Meijer (4 trucks), and J.B. Hunt (“multiple trucks”).

Will we see these trucks on the road in 2020?

“If you order now, you get your truck in two years”, Musk said at the reveal. The company, however, has been known to over-promise and under-deliver when it comes to production deadlines. The Model 3 sedan, for example, has been beset by 18-month delays. While the company’s consumer fans are apparently willing to tolerate delays, commercial trucking companies are likely to be less patient. The Tesla Semi notably represents the company’s first foray into the commercial vehicle market.


In other news this week:

NAFTA Negotiations Struggle Onward

  • Reports from the NAFTA negotiations reveal that little progress has been made on U.S. demands that could potentially sink the 1994 trade pact between the U.S., Mexico and Canada.
  • Officials are currently meeting in Mexico City for the fifth of seven planned rounds of talks. Upcoming presidential elections in Mexico mean that a deal needs to be reached by late March 2018.
  • New U.S. demands include a five-year sunset clause, and tightening of rules of origin to boost the North American content of autos. Other issues discussed include labour, gender, intellectual property, energy, and telecommunications.
  • While Mexican officials have said “the work is moving forward”, Canadian negotiators complained on Friday about inflexibility by the United States.

Read more: CBC News   

Calvin Klein Bypasses Retailers For Holiday Shopping

  • Calvin Klein is offering an exclusive line on Amazon only for Black Friday sales, in a move that reflects the increasing shift away from traditional stores.
  • The company has announced a holiday retail experience called “Calvin Klein X Amazon Fashion”, with underwear and denim available exclusively in an online Amazon brand store and in Amazon pop-up shops in New York and Los Angeles through to December 31st.
  • Amazon’s pop-up stores pose another threat to brick-and-mortar retailers, in additional to the sales shift to online retail.

Read more: Wall Street Journal

New Procurement Benchmarking Report Released

  • APEX Analytix has released its “Procurement Leaders’ Benchmarking Report”, with best-in-class performance data from global organisations with a combined revenue of $2.3 trillion. The report reveals:
  • Only 10% of organisations have a combined P2P organization under common leadership
  • 65% of businesses don’t authenticate vendors against public domain data sources prior to payment
  • Only 14% capture verifiable details of a vendor’s CEO, CFO or principals.

Get the report here.

Take the Positive Procurement Pledge

Eight months after its launch, the International Standard for Sustainable Procurement (ISO 20400) has the potential to help procurement professionals stamp out the worst aspects of supply chains worldwide. But what can be done to create a groundswell of support for this voluntary Standard?   

ISO 20400 creates a standard that will enable every organisation in the world, regardless of size, industry, and location, to have a flexible guidance framework on sustainable procurement. The Standard includes seven core subjects, including the environment, fair operating practices, labour issues and human rights, with a range of subtopics under those such as discrimination and gender inequality.

While some businesses have jumped at the opportunity since its launch in April, the voluntary nature of the Standard has meant that many organisations are yet to do so.

Take the Pledge

Kim Andrews, Sustainability Advisor at Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA), says that the earliest movers regarding ISO 20400 are the ones that will get ahead.

“The conversation has moved well beyond sustainability simply being the right thing to do”, Andrews says. “Business leaders now understand that there’s a whole spectrum of concrete benefits, ranging from building resilience, future-proofing your organisation, managing sustainability risks and getting ahead of future regulatory requirements.”

GECA has recognised the need to jump-start the conversation and education around ISO 20400. To do so, the organisation has launched a challenge for businesses, government agencies, industry groups and non-governmental organisations around the world to take the Positive Procurement Pledge. By taking the pledge, organisations agree to develop, document and implement a sustainable procurement policy to govern all purchasing decisions by 31 December 2020.

“This is a chance to differentiate yourself from the competition and demonstrate leadership and innovation within your sector”, says Andrews. “It makes a lot of sense from a risk-management perspective. Here in Australia, we’re dealing with gas supply problems, water shortages, rising temperatures in summer, and climate change directly affecting resources. Companies need to start looking at these factors, identifying their own risks and planning to build capacity against that, and the ISO 20400 provides the framework to do so.”

GECA provides certifications and ecolabels across a range of standards by working with organisations to ensure they comply across multiple criteria including environmental and social aspects.

“The ecolabels do the hard work for procurement”, says Andrews. “When you see our logo, it means that yes, you can trust that all of the compliance with legal aspects and international trade laws has been addressed. The global nature of supply chains means that having an internationally recognised label is crucial, which is why we’re part of the Global Ecolabelling Network (GEN) that includes 27 members spread across 57 countries and territories.”

With so many certified products available, there has never been a better time for organisations to start their positive procurement journey.

A sustainability roadmap

Complying with ISO 20400 will take time and commitment, which is why Andrews recommends that companies follow a three-year plan to do so:

Year one: Understanding ISO 20400 and how it currently aligns with your own policies. Identifying the risks in the Standard that apply most to your organisation, and how ISO 20400 can be integrated into your ways of working.

Year two: Using the tools and resources available for companies to help build new policies aligning with ISO 20400, and strengthening policies already in existence. Identifying roadblocks such as contracts, trade agreements or a lack of understanding among suppliers.

Year three: Refinement of your organisations’ policies and seeing how far you’ve come in increasing resilience and purchasing certified products.

“Sustainable products are now a $3 trillion business”, Andrews says. “Taking the Pledge gives organisations the opportunity not only to do the right thing but to get ahead of the competition as the sustainability mandate grows.”

Interested in taking the Pledge? Learn more here. Kim Andrews will introduce the Positive Procurement Pledge to attendees at GovProcure2017 in Sydney on 6 December. Click here to learn more and download an event brochure.

How to Make Sure You’re Not Being Sold Smoke And Mirrors

Can you spot the difference between theoretical and real ROI? Basware’s Eric Wilson gives the run-down on preventing value leakage in Purchase-to Pay. 

Register now free of charge as a digital delegate for Big Ideas Chicago!

Buying enterprise software is no easy undertaking – there’s a lot of factors to consider, multiple stakeholders to please and a lot of due diligence that must happen to ensure you can get the ROI that is being promised. Unfortunately, in the world of Purchase to Pay (P2P), most systems available today cannot truly deliver the ROI that is being touted across marketing channels and promised by sales reps because of inherent limitations in the solution.

So, how can you be sure that you are looking at real numbers when comparing P2P solutions and not some fabricated figure that is only attainable on paper?

Ask these two questions

There are two primary questions you should ask when reviewing solutions and providers:

  1. Is the ROI real, or is it fabricated?

Often what happens in the solution seeking process is that a business case is written, either by an internal person, or a consultant, or a solution provider.  The business case includes all kinds of detail about the cost savings and efficiencies the company will achieve by implementing the solution. In the case of P2P, these cost savings are in things like reducing off-contract spend, negotiating better pricing, taking advantage of terms discounts, eliminating paper from the process, reducing or redeploying accounts payable (AP) processing headcount, and similar cost efficiencies. But there are real obstacles to achieving the level of savings being promised, and organisations need to choose a provider that can meet those challenges with real answers (more on overcoming these obstacles later).

2. Will the solution continue providing value in the future, or will it be a short-term win that sends you searching for a replacement system in a few short years?

Too often we are only looking five inches in front of our face when making a technology investment decision. The organisation is only looking at the current problem, not the long-term value. Little functional enhancements in P2P may offer some incremental value, but are not what the future of P2P is about. The future of P2P is all about deriving more value from centrally capturing and leveraging all that transactional data, all those POs and invoices, across millions of organisations. The future of P2P (and even today to a large extent) is about using applications sitting on top of that transactional data to create a competitive advantage. Apps like these will empower you to answer questions like: How am I doing against industry benchmarks? Are there opportunities for better leveraging spend in buying groups to get better pricing? Can I fund company growth initiatives through working capital optimization solutions?

Find out if the solution can process 100% of your transactions

Back to the obstacles we mention above – where do those come from and how can you overcome these challenges? Obstacles arise because of one simple factor: all the cost efficiencies in the business plan are assuming you get 100% of your purchasing and accounts payable (AP) transactions running through the system, and most P2P systems cannot accomplish that level of automation.

You must choose a provider that can help you achieve:

  • 100% Supplier On-Boarding

First, you have to get all of your suppliers connected to your P2P system.  If you don’t, you can’t access all available terms discounts; you can’t truly eliminate paper; you can’t achieve all of the supply chain efficiencies from the business case. Most P2P systems are only designed to connect to the sophisticated suppliers, who can send XML or EDI transactions. What about that long tail of mid-size and small suppliers, who aren’t that technologically advanced? What about those suppliers that still send paper invoices? You must have a solution for connecting them to your P2P system, and it has to be easy for them to do so.

  • 100% User Adoption

Secondly, all your procurement must be processed through the P2P solution, which means the end users have to use it – not just some of the end users, or most of the end users, but truly all of your end users have to be putting 100% of their purchasing through the system. You can’t achieve that status by mandating it, and you can’t even achieve it by having a procurement system that is “user friendly.” The P2P system has to actually be designed to fit seamlessly into the way that end user is already doing their job. In other words, employees use the procurement system because it is truly the easiest way to get the stuff they need, not because it’s been mandated by the procurement department.

  • 100% Spend Visibility

Lastly, all your invoices – for both direct and indirect spend – must be running through the P2P system. This is very rare in the reality of most P2P systems. Most P2P systems are only good at automating the invoices that originated from the indirect procurement solution. What about all your direct invoices? What about all your non-PO invoices, facilities invoices, invoices generated from manufacturing? If the P2P system can’t effectively handle 100% of your invoicing transactions, your ROI just got reduced tremendously, or perhaps even eliminated. The AP side of the P2P system must be a true AP transaction hub for all your invoices, regardless of type of invoice.

So, what does all of this culminate to in the end? One word: data. If the system you choose can deliver real ROI, you begin building a critical asset – a data set of all your financial data in one single location. Then, you can begin using innovative add-ons, like predictive/prescriptive analytics, robotics, artificial intelligence, etc. and see that ROI multiply.

Interested in getting started with Basware? Register for our weekly demo to see how Basware can help you build the business case for real ROI.

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Attention All Employees: Report For Microchipping

Does the idea of a corporate microchip implanted into your body make you squirm, or are you fascinated by the possibilities?  

“Hold your breath – one … two … [stab].”

A Wisconsin-based marketing company (Three Square Market) recently hired a piercing professional to inject microchips into 50 of its staff. The radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips are encased in glass capsules about the size of a large grain of rice. They were injected into the fleshy part of participants’ hands, between the forefinger and thumb.

Sounds like something from a corporate dystopia, doesn’t it? Don’t worry, all of the microchipped individuals were entirely voluntary – along with a handful of journalists who were eager to see what it was like.

What can the microchips do?

At present, not much. It’s entirely internal to Three Square Market’s office, where microchipped staff can wave their hand to open doors, unlock computers and pay for items in the kiosk, provided the systems have the software installed and a contactless chip reader.

But in the future, the possibilities of human microchips are only limited by the scale of the technology’s implementation. Scannable items such as passports, drivers’ licenses and credit cards would no longer be necessary. Car keys could become a thing of the past, and of course home automation systems would be operable with a wave of the hand.

There’s a good example of microchips in play in Sweden, where a company named BioHax has implanted nearly 3000 customers with chips that enable them to ride the national rail system without having the show the conductor a ticket.

For data analysts, the potential flood of information from microchip use within a company is alluring – data could be collected every time an employee makes a purchase, enters the building, or uses a photocopier.

Can microchipped people be tracked remotely?

Not yet. The microchips aren’t a GPS device, but are entirely passive until they come within a few centimetres of a compatible reader, just like a bank card. Pet owners familiar with the technology know that microchipped pets can’t be located remotely if they go missing – instead, owners must wait until their pets are handed into a vet with a chip scanner.

Will employee microchips one day be compulsory?

At Three Square, over 60% of the company volunteered to be microchipped. The remaining 40% had a range of reasons for demurring, including a dislike of needles, a fear of having foreign objects in their bodies, and privacy concerns.

The concern is that if this technology becomes mainstream, a refusal to allow your company to embed you may lead to losing out on a promotion, raise, or simply being seen as “not a team player”. Forward thinking legislators in Pennsylvania have already introduced a bill to outlaw mandatory chip embedding, with a spokesperson saying: “If the tech is out there, what’s to stop an employer from saying either you do this, or you can’t work here anymore?”

Another issue is that with an increasingly mobile workforce, a chip that only works within the walls of a single organisation would become useless once that person leaves. One day, perhaps you would simply have your chip deactivated upon your exit interview and re-calibrated by your next employer, but this isn’t yet the case. Of those 50 volunteers at Three Square Market, it’s likely that a handful will move on to other roles within the next few months, but what becomes of their chips? The company won’t be happy with non-employees being able to open doors with a wave of their hands, so will the chips be (painfully) removed? Perhaps they will simply be deactivated, meaning users are left with a useless piece of “abandonware” technology embedded in their hands.


In other procurement news this week:

Are emerging professionals being paid more than experienced hands in procurement?

  • Based on 3808 responses across the United States, ISM’s 2017 Salary Survey revealed that emerging professionals (with under 9 years’ experience) are earning nearly $5000 more per annum than experienced professionals (with 9+ years).
  • This suggests that organisations are having to offer higher salaries to attract new talent.
  • The survey also revealed the following average salaries: CPOs – $259,340, VPs – $135,757, Directors – $153,347, Managers – $109,401.

Coupa appoints new Chief Marketing Officer

  • Cloud-based spend management company, Coupa Software, has announced that digital marketing executive and veteran software industry marketer Chandar Pattabhiram has joined the company as its chief marketing officer (CMO).
  • Named one of five CMOs to follow this year by LinkedIn, Pattabhiram has more than 23 years of experience in both fast-paced and large technology companies including Marketo, IBM, Badgeville, Cast Iron Systems, Jamcracker, and Anderson Consulting (now Accenture).

Intel to build a fleet of self-driving cars

  • Intel announced last week that it will build 100 high-automated cars to test self-driving technology.
  • The project will showcase Intel’s $15 billion acquisition of Mobileye, which closed this week. Israel-based Mobileye makes technology that helps vehicles “see”; collecting, analysing and transmitting data about the outside world.

Think Big, Think Business, Think People

“I’d rather regret the things I did, than the things I didn’t do.” Insights and wisdom from the career of Hans Melotte, Starbucks EVP Supply Chain and ISM Chair. 

Hans Melotte is less than one year into his “wonderful new adventure” leading Starbucks’ global supply chain. At the same time, he is nearing the end of his tenure as Chair of the ISM Board of Directors. We caught up with Melotte at #ISM2017 to discuss topics close to his heart, including the importance of intellectual curiosity for procurement and supply managers.

Melotte’s Mantra

“There’s a personal mantra I’ve always tried to adhere to,” says Melotte. “Think business, think big, think people.”

Think business: “Let’s not just daydream here – as a supply management professional, you’re not the centre of the world. Your role is all about enabling profitable growth for your company, and the only way to do that is for you to think in terms of business or customer centricity.”

Think big: “Starbucks’ aspiration is very bold, and very ambitious. If we agree our role is to help the company achieve its aspirations, then it’s up to us to be equally bold, or there will be asymmetry between the company agenda and our agenda.”

Melotte makes the point that thinking big should be inherent in any leadership position: “I don’t think any company would say it’s okay to be a mediocre leader.”

Think people:No matter what your agenda may be, everything starts and ends with people.” Melotte is delighted to see so many young professionals filling the halls of the #ISM2017 conference: “I’m so impressed by young professionals – their ambition, their resumes and their enthusiasm. It’s incredibly energising, and humbling as well.”

Moving between industries

Last year, Melotte took a significant cross-industry leap when he moved from Johnson & Johnson to Starbucks. His advice is that professionals – particularly those with high learning agility – should have confidence about moving between industries.

“There’s no right or wrong career. People have a tendency to stack-rank careers and give advice – ‘do this, don’t do that’. I believe you just have to follow your own passion and keep the fire in your belly lit. For me, this was all about starting a new adventure and seizing an opportunity that allowed me to step outside my comfort zone and grow. Life’s too short to not experiment by stepping off the proven path. I’d rather regret the things I did, than the things I didn’t do.”

The ISM Chairmanship

We asked Melotte why he took on the demanding role of ISM Chair, particularly during a time when he was transitioning his own career from J&J to Starbucks. “There was a pyramid of motives”, he replied. “I’d always recommend that people take on an outside-of-industry role. For me, one reason was that I felt grateful, and obligated to give back to the discipline. If the discipline has been good to you, be good to the discipline. Secondly, it has enabled me to access a lens to the world which allows an incredible amount of learning. The board itself is a wonderful network to be part of. Finally, there’s no denying that trying to be a worthy Chairman grows you as a person.”

What contribution is Melotte most proud of in his tenure as ISM Chair? “ISM is a well-known brand and institution, so it doesn’t need extra polish on the logo. What it does need is constant change and evolution – I took it as a great compliment from CEO Tom Derry when he told me over the phone that I’ve helped ISM think more strategically, and think more about the future.”

Intellectual curiosity

“You really owe it to yourself to constantly invest in yourself through continuous learning and continuous education,” says Melotte. “Learn from others, grow and develop. One of the pitfalls that companies step into is when they make statements like ‘we’re different, we’re unique, this doesn’t apply to us’. No matter how good you are as a company, you can always learn from other industries.”

“Intellectual curiosity means being on a learning journey that never ends. It should have no pause button.”

Image: Starbucks.com

Four Ways Business Can Step Up To Industry 4.0

The challenges of Industry 4.0 are also its opportunities, writes John Pollaers, Chair of the Australian Advanced Manufacturing Council.

The ideas behind the Internet of Things (or “Cyber-Physical Systems”, “Machine-to-Machine Interoperability”, “Industry 4.0”, or several other names), are not particularly new. What is new is the convergence of existing technologies and corporate strategies.

The term Industrie 4.0 was first used in 2011 at the Hannover Fair. It is both a prediction of the ways things are headed, and an actuality. It was coined to describe a number of trends and technological developments that are causing a quantum leap in the way things will be made, and how products are being transformed by technology. The “leap” is the key concept at play here, as industrial revolutions 1 through 3 were all driven by a technological leap that changed the manufacturing landscape, and society along with it. To summarise:

  • The 1st industrial revolution was about mechanisation.
  • The 2nd revolution was driven by electrification.
  • The 3rd centered around automation and IT integration – this transformation is still going on in many countries.
  • The 4th industrial revolution is about the merging of the cyber and the physical worlds.

How will Industry 4.0 transform manufacturing?

The basic principle is that by connecting machines, work pieces and systems, businesses are creating intelligent networks along the entire value chain. This means greater flexibility – with information gathered in real time, and factories able to adapt more easily to changing requirements.

It enables customisation and servitisation of products; and a customer-specific production operation.

As factories, supply chains and products become networked, the lines between the physical and digital world will be increasingly blurred. Virtualisation enables the so-called Smart Factory by linking sensor data (from monitoring physical processes) with virtual plant models and simulation models.

There are many challenges ahead – and perhaps the most significant among them is developing global industry standards. The world’s two industrial powerhouses, Germany and the United States, recently came together to work collaboratively on aligning global standards and technologies. Australia’s own Prime Minister’s Industry 4.0 Taskforce is closely supporting that effort – aiming to ensure Australia is connected globally.

The flexibility tipping point 

The future for advanced manufacturing is high value, high margin products – but this will require constant innovation and flexibility. The good news is that technological developments are beginning to enable that flexibility on the factory floor and throughout the entire manufacturing system. Some examples of flexibility include:

  • Production becoming increasingly distributed.
  • A greater reliance on smaller-scale manufacturing plants and micro-factories.
  • The market becomes the world.

This flexibility will deliver two key advantages for Australia and other countries looking to scale up their manufacturing sectors:

  1. The first is a greater ability to co-locate research, design and manufacturing – accelerating the innovation process.
  1. The second is a bigger market – we are no longer constrained by the size of our domestic market.

Four ways businesses can step up to Industry 4.0

If industry is going to lead the way into the world of Industry 4.0, there are four key shifts in thinking that need to take place in leading organisations:

  1. Where once your organisation may have needed to reinvent itself every few decades, today, an onslaught of shocks – technological, cultural, economic, and regulatory – will force you to transform every few years.
  2. Five to ten years ago, your CEO might have become a business icon through a single transformation. The minimum requirement now is being able to execute multiple transformations.
  3. Success today means fostering a culture of continuous reinvention—reinvention in your business models, customer interactions, employee engagement, and the markets you serve.
  4. We need to fully appreciate the power of analytical systems, be able to establish employee familiarity and ensure organisations have the right talent to leverage technology opportunities.

The Australian Advanced Manufacturing Council is a CEO-led private sector initiative pursuing Australian success in advanced manufacturing. The AAMC brings together industry leadership to drive innovation success and resilience in the Australian economy.

 AAMC Chairman John Pollaers will deliver a keynote speech at PIVOT: The Faculty’s 10th Annual Asia Pacific CPO Forum.

Game-changer: Elon Musk intervenes in Australian energy crisis

Energy politics has reached fever pitch in South Australia, where an increasingly fraught situation has been disrupted by a single tweet from Elon Musk.

Take a moment to feel sorry for your procurement colleagues working in the Australian energy sector. Since former Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s now-famous “axe the tax” campaign against a national carbon trading scheme in 2011, Australia has been without a clear federal energy policy, leading to very little certainty about future direction for the sector.

This is a problem, as power companies plan three to four decades ahead. A lack of bipartisanship on this issue means that even if a policy is put in place, any future change of government (from Coalition to Labor) would mean a rollback of the hard-won legislation of their predecessors. Power companies know that at some stage in the near future, a carbon trading or emissions intensity scheme will need to be put in place, but they don’t know what form it will take, when it will happen and what the targets will be.

Compounding the issue, the Federal Coalition government is at odds with Labor-majority state governments around Australia on energy policy, culminating in this tense exchange last week between South Australian Premier and the federal energy minister, Josh Frydenberg. South Australia has drawn the lion’s share of criticism from the federal government on its energy situation. The state has an aggressive renewable energy target of 50% by 2025, with a high reliance on wind power.

South Australia’s energy crisis started in earnest on 28th September last year, when the state experienced a once-in-50-year storm event. Gale force and storm force winds, including tornadoes and 80,000 lightning strikes, damaged 23 pylons on electricity transmission lines. As a result of the initial damage and automatic safety features shutting down undamaged parts of the network, the entire state power grid cut out for at least three hours while emergency repairs were underway. 

Power gets political

Even before the power was switched back on, a number of politicians in the federal government commented on the crisis, linking the storm damage with the state’s renewable energy target. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said South Australia had paid “little or no attention to energy security”, while the Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce, told the ABC that “Wind power wasn’t working too well last night, because they had a blackout”. One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts took the opportunity to urge all government to “exit all climate change policies.”

Much of the news cycle following the storm was dominated by a debate over renewables and energy security, and whether the storm damage or the state government’s policy was to blame. The situation was compounded by a series of further blackouts while calls increased for an urgent review of energy security at the state and national level. The debate spilled over into the international media, with South Australia rapidly becoming a much-cited example of a failure for renewable energy. Renowned Danish wind farm expert Soren Hermansen, who helped create the world’s first 100% renewable island, defended wind power by saying, “I’d have to go to Australia to deal with a blackout. We have a very powerful grid – we don’t experience any failure.”

Musk intervenes

Dropping unexpectedly into this politically-charged debate, billionaire co-founder of Tesla and SpaceX Elon Musk presented a game-changer with a single tweet earlier this month:

The offer was originally made by Lyndon Rive, Musk’s cousin and Tesla’s vice-president for energy products. Tesla has offered to install the 100 megawatt hours of battery storage that would be required to prevent further power shortages, price spikes and blackouts in South Australia. When pressed on Twitter by Mike Cannon-Brookes (Australian co-founder of Silicon Valley start-up Atlassian) on the seriousness of the offer, Musk himself doubled down with the pledge to “get the system installed and working 100 days from contract signature or it is free”.

Tesla’s confidence in its ability to deliver stems from the stepped-up battery production out of its new Gigafactory in Nevada, along with a recently-completed installation of an 80MWh grid-scale battery farm in southern California. The Californian project took 90 days to complete and cost US$100 million.

After a flurry of tweets and an hour-long phone call between Elon Musk and Prime Minister Turnbull, the debate around energy policy in Australia appears to have switched to an entirely new (renewable) direction. South Australia has announced a $550 million energy package, with:

  • $150 million for a 100MW grid-scale battery
  • $75 million in grants and another $75 million in loans to eligible projects which support private innovative companies and entrepreneurs
  • A $360 million state government-owned gas-fired 250MW power station to provide energy security when needed.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Turnbull has unveiled $2bn expansion plans for the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme, aimed to add 2,000MW to the scheme’s 4,100MW  capacity, or enough power for 500,000 homes. In a sign that the tension between federal and state energy policies continues to play out, Turnbull told reporters that the hydro-electric scheme will provide 20 times the capacity of the South Australian battery system.

Encouragingly, in the past month the national debate seems to have shifted away from the decades-long opposition between renewables and coal, to the state and federal governments trying to outdo each other on renewable projects. Cannon-Brookes wrote the following in a series of tweets that capture this shift:

“The national energy conversation seems to palpably have changed. We’re debating lithium ion vs flow vs pumped hydro storage solutions … whether 100MW is enough [or whether] 2GW is too much. $150m [investment in grid-scale batteries] in South Australia, $30m in Victoria, $2bn Federally. I’m confident there will be a series of good bids [for battery storage tech providers] in South Australia. Super funds, power operators, HNWs and many individuals wanting to invest. Most importantly, Australian people and the tech community and speaking up, loudly, that they want change.”

In other news:

Heavy construction equipment manufacturers waiting on Trump’s infrastructure plan

  • Executives in the construction industry are concerned that President Trump has not yet invested time to win congressional backing for his $1 trillion spending plan for large road, rail and bridge projects.
  • Equipment manufacturers have experienced low activity from farming, construction and mining clients in recent years, and are reportedly impatient for information about what form the investment will take.
  • The administration has indicated that an infrastructure plan would come after Congress deals with complex health care and tax reform.

Read more at The Wall Street Journal.

Kids @ Work: Children crash professor’s live interview with BBC

  • In a now-famous video interview, Professor Robert Kelly’s children burst into his room while he is discussing the impeachment of South Korean President Park Geun-hye with a BBC anchor.
  • The interview was interrupted first by his daughter, who dances into the room to join her father, then a baby in a bouncer and finally by his wife rushing in to herd the children out of the room.

Read more about incorporating your children into your work day on the Procurious blog.

Helen Mackenzie talks procurement reform in Scotland

Meet Helen Mackenzie: The self-confessed motorbike racing buff is pictured here sitting on Ian Hutchinson’s Supersport bike (incidentally the only rider to win 5 races at the Isle of Mann TT,’s). Helen dreams of buying some lovely race bikes from Yamaha or Honda for a racing team!

Helen hails from Stornoway in Scotland  and is the next in our #firstmovers series. Reach out to her – here, and say howdy!

Helen Mackenzie

Procurious asks: What is the procurement profession like in Scotland? How do you think procurement differs as opposed to elsewhere in the world?

Helen Mackenzie: Not sure about the Scottish private sector but public procurement in Scotland is really buzzing at the moment.  The Scottish Government’s just got the new Procurement Reform Act through the Parliament and so sustainable procurement is high up on our agenda.  

There’s never been a better time to be in public procurement.  At last many of us are getting to take up our seat right in the heart of corporate management and decision making.  Exciting times ahead.

Procurious: Should Scotland win independence in the forthcoming referendum, how do you see your business changing/will it be affected?

Helen: I don’t think there will be much difference for public procurement if Scotland votes yes.  We already have a different way of operating, different legislation etc.  

What might affect us is the whole question of whether Scotland stays in the EU and also whether we retain the pound.  To be honest I haven’t decided how I’ll vote yet.  I’ll have to get off the fence soon though! 

Procurious: Tell us a little bit more about your department/team (and do you envisage them getting on Procurious too?)

Helen: We’re a small council in the far North West of Scotland but we’re doing well in terms of procurement improvement and helping our colleagues to reduce costs and improve outcomes.  

I can see lots of public procurement people in Scotland using Procurious.  We’ve got a knowledge hub for Local Government but it’s a bit dry.  

I think the interaction that Procurious provides will be just what those of us who can’t get enough of procurement need to feed our passion and discuss ideas.

Procurious: Are you usually an early adopter? (Perhaps you’ve been a “first mover” with something else…) 

Helen: I must admit I have been a bit of a tail ender when it’s come to social media. I finally succumbed to doing a bit of Facebook and more recently LinkedIn but Twitter has been my main place for hanging out for a few years now.  

I love motorbike racing and so like a bit of Twitter banter with fellow fans.  I was a founding member of a network called Phinkit which operated for a bit last year.  It was like Procurious in structure but more general.  I think the general nature of it was its downfall in the end.

Why did you join Procurious?/How does it differ from other social networks currently out there?

Helen: I was desperate to find somewhere to hang out with other people who love procurement but wasn’t finding a lot of action on Twitter or LinkedIn.  Imagine my joy when I found Procurious!  At last a place just for buyers like me to talk about supply chains, contract management, invitations to tender and community benefit clauses.

You also get the feeling that people are actually listening to what’s being said.  What I’ve found with other networks like LinkedIn is that people post things, people answer but no-one is really engaging with each other.  Just a long long list of replies that no-one’s reading.  I haven’t come across that yet on Procurious. 

Procurious: What are you doing to help your peers to join the network? 

Helen: I’ve invited people I’m connected to on LinkedIn to join.  I’ll also be promoting Procurious through the Scottish Local Government Procurement Forum which I currently chair.  I’m mentioning it to anyone I know who’s into procurement.  Hopefully the word is spreading.

Meet our other #firstmovers:
Harold (Hal) Good
Farshad Bahmed
Sergio Giordano
Paul Smith
Richard Allen
Happymore Mambondiani
Jannine Wood

Here come the Millennials: Life as a junior category buyer

Today’s #firstmover is a true Millennial! Say hello to Jannine Wood – and go add her to your network while you’re at it. Read our article on Millennials – here.

Jannine Wood #firstmovers

Procurious asks: Procurement is a far cry from English Literature and Film Studies… When did you decide on procurement as a profession, and what attracted you to it?

Jannine: To be honest, procurement is something that initially I just fell in to. I had been floating around different admin jobs since university and couldn’t quiet decide what I wanted to do. I started working at Valueworks nearly two and half years ago and this is where I gain an interest in procurement.  

It was during my time at Valueworks that I realised that procurement was something that interested me and I had finally found my niche. I think the main attraction for me, is creating and building relationships with suppliers and clients.

Procurious: Could you explain your role within PfH?

Jannine: I’m the category buyer for finance and commercial category and there are five frameworks within the category. These include, debt management, bill payment services, decorating vouchers, vehicle lease and vehicle purchase.

I’m predominately responsible for vehicle lease and purchase.

Procurious: Some would argue that procurement suffers from an image problem; do you feel that there needs to be more education around the profession?

Jannine: I would agree that there needs to be more education around the profession, I think a lot of people are unsure of what procurement entails and often leaves them confused. However once you explain to what is it, the process and what the outcome is, I think it can be really appealing.

Procurious on social procurement: Do you feel that websites like Procurious help connect the procurement community/What have you used it for so far?

Jannine: I think websites like Procurious and LinkedIn are great for the procurement community and help build relationships with others (outside your inner circle). I have actually used Procurious to help build existing and new relationships.

Procurious: As a young female procurement professional – do you feel like there’s added pressure on you, or certain expectations?

Jannine: At times I feel there is certain expectation, especially within the vehicle industry (I worked predominately as a buyer for vehicle lease/purchase), which can be a male dominated industry at times. However I mostly feel pressure from myself, as I want to excel in what I do.

Procurious: We’ve recently written a piece on the millennial workforce [aka Generation Y – those born between 1980 and 2000], and discovered that young people often wrestle with career advancement. Do you have a different view; is there a clear path at PfH?

Jannine: I found career advancement difficult in the beginning, coming out of university and not having much work experience, I found it difficult to progress for the first few years.

However over the past two years I have found it easier to progress in my career and there is definitely a clear progress path at PfH.

Procurious: Is there a particular aspect of your role that provides you with job satisfaction? And can you recall your proudest moment?

Jannine: Seeing my relationships grown and develop over time is something that gives me great satisfaction, especially with the suppliers. Another aspect that is rewarding is helping a member resolve an issue/problem.

I think my proudest moment so far has been helping one of members conduct a mini competition in a very short space of time and working with the suppliers to ensure that the bids were completed quickly yet efficiently. The member was very grateful that the process had been completed so quickly.

Procurious: What’s your best advice for young people thinking of following in your footsteps?

Jannine: My best advice would be to any kind of work experience to begin with, although I didn’t get in to procurement for a while, the skills that I developed during my time in my other roles really benefitted me once I did move in to procurement and gave me great confidence when starting out in the industry.

We’d like to thank Jannine for taking the time to talk to us – and if you’d like to get involved too, send us a message.

What does procurement mean to developing countries?

For our next instalment of the #firstmovers series, we’re travelling to Zimbabwe and catching-up with Happymore Mambondiani.

Happymore Mambondiani

Happymore has spent his past three years in the mining sector (exploration drilling) where he works as a Store Manager for Ox Drilling of Zimbabwe. He also holds a CIPS diploma.

Join Happymore as he tells us of an altogether different procurement journey…

Procurious asks: How do you think procurement differs in your country, as opposed to elsewhere in the world?

I am from Zimbabwe (and being a developing country) it means procurement is still in its early stages  of being adopted as both a profession, and a function within organisations.

Procurious: What does this mean for procurement in developing countries? What are the main challenges it faces? 

Currently procurement is undertaken by unqualified personnel in the majority of organisations in the country be it in the public or private sector. In Zimbabwe (unlike other countries where procurement has grown as a profession), procurement has not yet developed into a function. Instead it has been lumped into a wing under the finance department – this is true except for all but the biggest firms like Tangaat Hullets (a sugar producing company) in the South East Low veld of Chiredzi/Triangel.

At a National level procurement is undertaken by the State Procurement Board which is under the Ministry of Finance. The State Procurement Board should be a ministry dedicated to the handling of government purchases of goods and services.

Does there need to be more education around the procurement profession?

There are initiatives by the government to enhance procurement as a profession through the availing of degrees at two of the states university i.e Bindura State University and Chinhoyi University of Technology. These initiatives will increase the number of procurement professionals in the country, as of now this figure stands slightly north of 15000.

Procurious: It’s heartening to learn there are professionals such as yourself who are fighting to speak-up for procurement. Is this why you joined Procurious? 

I joined so as to develop as a person and a professional in the Procurement arena. I also want to learn about the global language since we are now living in a global community where knowledge is shared through interaction, and Procurious is just that platform for me.

In a dynamic world where there is a drive towards globalization, being an early adopter keeps me afloat.

It is important that I develop both as a person and a professional, because it is this ability to change that helps define the future success of our organisations and ourselves.

Procurious: What are you hoping to get out of the network?

Getting connected for me, means knowledge sharing. It will provide me with the opportunity to interact with people who understand the Procurement language and landscape. There is also a likelihood I will discover other suppliers that weren’t on my radar before I joined Procurious.

I also relish the opportunity to learn and share knowledge, together we can hope to enhance the level of professionalism within Procurement practitioners in Zimbabwe (and the rest of of the world).

Procurious: What are you doing to spread the word?

I connected to Procurious using my LinkedIn account so this means I can invite my existing contacts, and share the experience with them too.

I can only invite 10 LinkedIn contacts per day, but I’ve got around this by using the email invitation. You should try it!

We thank Happymore for contributing and for his time. Go and say hello to him!

Meet our other #firstmovers:
Harold (Hal) Good
Farshad Bahmed
Sergio Giordano
Paul Smith
Richard Allen