With world-class talent and unlimited potential, a career in procurement can be brilliant … but you’ll need a plan to make it happen. That’s why we’ve launched our “My (Brilliant) Procurement Career” survey to understand how YOU will manage your own career into the future.
Ten minutes is all it will take to put yourself in the running to win this quadcopter!
We need your input to discover:
In what ways are our peers across the globe seizing control of their own career management?
Do procurement professionals expect the profession to thrive, or to disappear by 2030?
Is crowdsourcing answers on social media an effective way to get the solution you need?
Do individuals in procurement feel isolated, or well-connected with the wider profession?
We’ve kept the survey to under 10 minutes – we know you’re busy!
Want to know more about the quadcopter? Check out this video review:
Cool, right? But you’ve got to be in it to win it! My Online Career is only open until Thursday 31st August. You’ll also receive a copy of the report summarising the findings of the survey.
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.
Procurious’ Hugo Britt shares his experience of what happens when you truly disconnect – whether it’s on an extended career break, or just a short trip away.
Our webinar, Out of Office: Your Career Break (Through), takes place at 1pm on 10th August 2017. Register your attendence for FREE here.
It’s 2009. I’m sitting alone in a tent perched high in the Italian Apennines, listening to the roaring of wild boars on the other side of the canvas. I’ve been scribbling away at my journal by torchlight in an effort to capture my experience hiking the 400km, 23-day Apennine Trail, when something makes me pause mid-sentence. I flip to a clean page at the back of the notebook and, in full caps, write the words “LIFE PLAN” at the top of the page.
I’ve still got that journal, but I remember tearing that page out a few days later, a bit embarrassed at how self-indulgent it seemed. What was I up to when I wrote it? I’m not normally one to come up with grandiose life plans – in fact, I usually have trouble planning more than a week or so ahead.
Here’s my theory.
By that point in my hike, I’d been trudging along for nearly 20 days. This was to be the last hurrah after nearly a year of travel. My then-girlfriend and travel partner (now, happily, my wife) was working in the UK, and I’d taken the opportunity to do something I’d always wanted before heading back to Australia – one of Europe’s spectacular long-distance trails. I was going it alone, not only in the sense that I didn’t have a hiking partner but because the trail rarely passed through towns. It was off-season, so I barely met anybody over those three weeks in the mountains apart from the odd deer hunter. I had a phone, but rarely had reception – and (it being 2009), I was yet to upgrade to a smartphone.
In short, I’d disconnected. I hadn’t thought about the job I’d resigned from for months – nor was I worrying about finding another job when my shoe-string travel budget inevitably gave out and I had to head home. If I did think about my career, it tended to be through a wider lens (“What do I really want to do with my life”) rather than the practical details (“I need to update my CV, line up some interviews, buy a new suit…”). Thoughts like this didn’t even occur to me, probably because they’d have been so incongruous with what I was doing at that moment, whether it was trudging up a slope or cooking dinner on a fuel stove.
My point is that if you do manage to properly disconnect, you stop sweating the small stuff. From memory, the four or five points in my so-called life plan weren’t about getting practical little jobs done – it was more of an epic to-do list. It included asking my girlfriend to marry me, deciding what city we wanted to live in, whether I really wanted to finish my current course of study – in other words, the big-ticket items.
Switching off on a short break
2017 – eight years later, I’ve just returned from a very different sort of trip. Our family of four took in the frenetic sights and sounds of Hong Kong for two weeks, which gave me a short, but invaluable, chance to disconnect from the office. Unlike back in 2009, I was very much employed this time around and must admit sneaking a glance at my inbox a couple of times in those first couple of days. Eventually, I made the conscious decision to switch off and did so by disabling just about everything on my phone apart from the camera app.
Switching off helped me zoom out. It helped me put some common-sense context around the unanswered emails and unfinished projects sitting in my inbox. While I can’t claim to have completely stopped thinking about work during that two-week break, my thought process shifted from the detailed level (sweating the small-stuff) to discovering the bigger picture. Almost subconsciously, I was rearranging the tasks on my plate into a realistic order of priority, and even had a couple of “aha” moments – not by sitting down at a laptop and working, but while I was doing something completely unrelated, like lining up to purchase a ferry ticket.
Find your holiday brain
There’s some science behind this. Earlier in 2017, Procurious interviewed James Bannerman, a Creative Change Agent and phycologist about the best ways to unlock creativity. He said “Trying to be creative is like trying to go to sleep. If you’re too busy focusing on going to sleep, you’ll stay awake because there’s all sorts of brainwave activity linked to beta waves that will keep you from falling asleep.”
Bannerman explained that there’s a sweet-spot that allows creativity to flourish. “We tend to be most creative when we’re focused but not over-focused, and relaxed but not too relaxed. You’re more likely to think creatively when you step away from your desk, and do something like go for a run, or go for a drive, or simply look out the window. It’s about finding that optimum state.”
So, there you have it. Stepping away from your career allows you to perform better in that career. Time to book my next trip.
Our webinar, Out of Office: Your Career Break (Through), takes place at 1pm on 10th August 2017. Register your attendence for FREE here.
When was the last time you reached out to a Procurement Guru? Although the battleground is changing, those among us with scars have a lot of relevant insights to share.
We knew we’d be in for a treat when we locked in an interview with ISM board member Ann Oka. Ann is the former senior VP of supply management (CPO) for Sodexo, Inc. in North America where she was responsible for a whopping US$5.5 billion spend.
While working, Ann believed in contributing beyond her formal role, and served on the board of trustees for the A.T. Kearney Center for Strategic Supply Leadership at ISM, the board of the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation, and was a member of the executive committee of the GS1 Foodservice Initiative. She retired in June of 2014, and other than the ISM board, now occupies her time with family and leisure.
Of course, she has a wealth of knowledge to draw from thanks to decades of procurement experience but, interestingly, she’s objective about its value to the next generation of procurement professionals. “Some things don’t change over time; motivating and leading people, looking at evolving tech and enlarging the sources of value. But, whilst there might be a lot of insights those of us with scars can give, the battleground is changing.”
The battleground may well be changing but surely that means Ann’s insights, as a seasoned pro, are all the more significant? As such, we were fascinated to learn how she has seen the profession develop over time and what she believes the future holds.
The evolution of procurement
Ann explains how drastically procurement’s role has changed over the years, both in terms of job responsibilities and external perceptions of the profession. “Where people were once identified as buyers or negotiators, they became category managers as the implementation of strategic sourcing evolved. These developments redefined the role of the average procurement person – they became professionals; their strategic impact increased and they had a broader scope.”
It’s a tricky and lengthy transition to lead any team through. “There’s a big task in the up-skilling of your people, particularly when you want to bring as many of them along with you as you can.”
Of course, some things don’t change. “The major evolution of procurement that we’re currently experiencing is comparable, in many ways, to what happened twenty years ago” Ann begins. “It was in the mid-90s when I first realised the importance of systems, technology and data. There was a tremendous amount of data available to procurement and category management, but harnessing it and getting it into the hands of the supply professionals was the challenge.”
What does the future hold?
Ann believes that the most competent procurement professionals will take the onslaught of Artificial Intelligence entirely in their stride. As she puts it, in a message to “The Change Resistant”:
“The train has come to the station. You have the choice of getting on it – and we’ll help you with the ticket – or you can be run over.”
The bottom line, she says, is that “people may well have been successful in the past, but the world is changing and you need to change with it, or it will pass you by.”
As far as procurement roles being totally displaced by AI, Ann is sceptical at best. “I don’t think the advent of new technology really changes a procurement role. Those with an ability to look at the long-term picture will be able to incorporate that into their strategies. Look at how the future is evolving and the possibilities it presents and work out how you’re going to work with the firm and with your supply base to extract the maximum value.”
Permission To Fail, Please!
It’s apparent that Ann rates a good procurement leader as much as, if not more than, someone who’s AI-ready. “The harder thing for many organisations is having a management team that allows employees room to stretch and fail, that lets them try new things without instilling a fear of repercussions. There is such a thing as a successful failure. People are loath to say a project they’ve run hasn’t worked out, fearing they will be judged on its success or failure. But occasionally encountering a failure is a part of the journey to improvement.”
Procurement leaders can effectively work as safety nets for their teams. They should allow enough flexibility but know when to pull the plug to avoid too much fallout.
“I was in my position at Sodexo for 11 years. It allowed us to do things like put in some industry-leading systems, change the way we worked with suppliers, and harvest a culture of continuous improvement. In this time the continuous improvement team came up with several far-fetched ideas and used the leadership team as a sounding board. It’s useful to invite new ideas and to have an off-the-wall ways of looking at things.”
Of course, not everyone thinks in this way. The key is finding people who have strategic vision. “Leaders should be on the look out for hires who have an intellectual curiosity and the courage to tickle the edges of things that are scary. Embracing functional diversity is important in achieving this – perhaps your next star will come from legal, or IT, or straight out of college?”
Once a CPO, always a CPO
She might be retired, but its clear to see Ann still lives and breathes procurement. “I have people from past roles who, surprisingly, come back and approach me for our old heart-to-hearts”. She holds board positions and still mentors younger professionals. Safe to say there’s a spot for her on our board any day!
We concluded the interview with a final piece of advice from Ann; “If you’re a CPO, think about how you best position your company for tomorrow. Keep an eye on emerging technologies and bring the conversation to the table.” In other words, don’t miss the train!
Why are organisations so keen to bury their heads in the sand and pretend blockchain isn’t happening – it all starts with a severe case of NIH syndrome…
There are certain market analysts who would have you believe that the benefits of Blockchain technology are “Hype” and the real benefits are still 10-20 years away. There are several reasons for this:
Although many believe such firms to be thorough and knowledgeable about every leading edge technology, they are not. This is evident in a lack of participation in key consortiums and conferences and a lack of good research leading them to a parochial view of Blockchain’s Global impact which they put in print.
NIHS (Not Invented Here Syndrome)
“Coin the Term and Own the Market” has always been the mantra of some these firms. “If we don’t say it is so – then it ain’t so.” There has been at least one attempt to rename the Blockchain market “Metacoin”- “Meta” meaning “about or referring to itself.” This shows a clear misunderstanding of the market.
It’s not “about the Coin”…
…whether Bitcoin, Ether, Zcash, or any others. Again, this is a very narrow view of what Blockchain is all about. What are most important are the underlying capabilities of Blockchain technology that enable those cryptocurrencies, but also enable many other unrelated and far reaching benefits.
Blockchain is not synonymous with Fintech or Bitcoin
Currently, Financial institutions arguably stand to gain the most by adopting Blockchain technology and stand to lose the most if they don’t. The major global financial institutions, especially those in the U.S. also face the biggest challenges in getting their objectives achieved.
Blockchain technology can resolve many inefficiencies inherent in the trade settlement process that cost them and customers time and estimated $20 billion per year. There are three major prohibitive factors in achieving this:
1. Existing Technology infrastructure
Understandably financial institutions don’t want to start over redesigning their systems from the ground up so they are trying to select bits and pieces of Blockchain and integrate it with existing technology. History has shown this approach has never worked very well and could take years to accomplish if they are ever successful. This is one area where market or analyst skepticism is derived from. On this they are correct.
2. Current Legislation
Mandating human intervention and oversight in settlement processes that Blockchain can negate the need for has hamstrung efforts even more than the technology issues.
3. Ownership & Control of the processes and technology
Financial institutions want to own and control these processes via “private Blockchains” so they can make the rules and control the economy. “Public Blockchains” are like the Internet and are not controlled by anyone. We know how well “private internets” worked – remember “intranets”?
Ironically the public gave that “trusted intermediary” role to financial institutions years ago and they have abused it time after time. It was the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-2008 which motivated Satoshi Nakamoto to invent Blockchain to enable technology to do what we could not blindly trust banks to do for us. In spite of Dodd-Frank oversight legislation, the recent Wells Fargo debacle has shown that not much has changed.
With all of these challenges for Financial Institutions to adopt Blockchain technology, one might say, “Ok, now I understand why Blockchain is more hype than reality – lots of discussions, lots of promise, and a handful of promising but limited test-scenarios. Lots of investment, but not much to show.” Yes. One could clearly have that view if :
1. You didn’t look beyond the Financial Industry,
2. You thought Blockchain was the same as Bitcoin,
3. You didn’t look beyond the borders of the United States, and
4. If you ignored or were unaware of the implications of Blockchain security, record immutability, Smart Contracts, micro-units, micro-payments, and digital identification already implemented and working in many other countries in hundreds of applications across every industry sector.
Michael Shaw is CPO and Executive Board Member of Sourcing and Procurement Executives (ACSPE) and Chief Information Officer at Blockchain Executive. This article was originally published on LinkedIn.
100 days of being a CPO….What’s on your to-do list, where do you start and how do you develop your action plan to transform the procurement team?
You’re hired! After the jubilation of accepting a job wears off and you’re successfully on-boarded to your new company, you learn you have 100 days to develop a plan. This plan that will begin a journey of procurement transformation that surpasses the expectations you shared during the new hire process. The opportunity is ‘greenfield’: building out a procurement function where one didn’t previously exist or where the function never took hold for one reason or another.
You’ve been appointed CPO. You have 100 days to develop a plan. What’s first?
There are various approaches to transformation and the key is to find the right one for your project. The approach I will share is based on my personal experiences building out the procurement function (source-to-settle) at a Fortune 50 company, at a hyper-growth entrepreneurial company, and (most recently) at an established, well-diversified healthcare company.
First course of business – assess the current state if you didn’t do so during the interview process. Have a conversation with anyone willing to engage starting with your new team, executive leadership, and cross-functional stakeholders. You need to understand your inherited brand firsthand – including the perspectives and opinions of your inherited procurement function. These discussions are important on several fronts because they:
Baseline the present-day function and capture a snapshot of where you started your journey. This will be key as you look in the rearview mirror to see how far you’ve come;
Identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats across the categories of people, process, and technology;
Provide key insights on brand perceptions and the history behind them;
Help identify advocates, influencers, and distractors; and
Finally, provide insights to what ‘should’ be next and offer a semblance of preferred timing
I recommend partnering with a change management guru and a project manager to articulate the business requirements that will form your vision, set a definition of success, and develop a communication strategy and cadence. Do not underestimate impact of change and the new behaviors that are required to effect better business outcomes.
At my current company, we took a slightly different approach to transformation based on our unique combination of vision, culture, and employee demographics. Early on we reached out to Marketing to create a ‘drip campaign’ comprised of video vignettes, campus signage, and direct outreach. The whole effort centered on our mascot – Moolah, a big fury, purple creature that was accompanied by a tag line – ‘Spend It Like It’s Yours’ (loosely based on the acronym ‘SILIY’ – pronounced silly).
The objective was to have fun with the initiative, which is one of our values. The result was celebrity status for Moolah and greater acceptance of the initiative. Frankly, it was fun to see employees taking selfies of Moolah at all-hands-on-deck meetings.
Included below is a checklist based on my experiences to help develop your plan. Again, model or pivot based on what you observe in front of you and the expectations of procurement. There is no absolutely right answer.
‘Why’ is the initiative being undertaken and why now
‘Who’ – who is the advocate and what role to they play and their plans to stay active
‘What’ is the motivation, business reasons for the initiative
‘When’ – expected timing – launch for the initiative and drivers
‘Where’ what is the geographical, business reach for the initiative, i.e., domestic only, certain BUs only, etc.
‘WIFT/M’ – beneficiaries?
Vision, Mission and Values
Story – market, penetration, success, competitors, …
Existing function and talent
Who plays the role today within the business
Partner with HR to run a title & role search across the company
Ask the pre-existing talent to provide their CVs and interview them
Needs of the organization from the perspective of the business
Brand (good, indifferent and what needs to change)
Successes and failures
Identify partners and executive support to advocate for the initiative
Subset – players
Active vocal participants (supporters)
Points of dissension (naysayers)
Bandwagoneers – those on the sidelines waiting for results and uncommitted in the interim
Performance to date
Skills and gaps
Investments to date
HIPOs (High Potential Employees)
Investments and jettisons
Does one exist?
Are there accountabilities?
Document signing authority
What do you have?
To what extent is it implemented?
What is next and why?
Buying behaviors of customer
Willingness for change
Other Shared Services Centers
Initiative governance structure
Agree roles/oversight for initiative, for example:
Advocates within the business
Other key constituents
Change Management strategy, approach, methodology
Partner with Marketing on drip campaign (pre-planned, gradually released communications)
Change management leader
Business case to effectuate a different outcome
Executive summary – overview of the initiative
Detailed description of the initiative
Why – what is it in for them/me – market analysis
Necessary executive support
Gain support for initiative
Celebrate your successes
Appreciate that procurement transformation is a journey with a starting point that is unlikely to ever end. You iterate, detour, and adapt to meet the needs of the organization. Investment is required in the three buckets of people, process, and technology – and most importantly, the leadership team – to stay relevant.
You will encounter setbacks, and your ability to recover will test the team. How they (and you) respond will determine the overall success of the initiative. Most importantly – have fun if you are fortunate enough to have that as a key value at your company.
So you think you’re some kind of procurement genius? In this day and age, there ain’t no such thing and that’s ok!
We all like to think we’re geniuses, that we can single-handedly solve all the procurement problems of the world.
We now know that the concept of the ‘solo genius’ is largely a myth. True creativity comes from collaborative partnerships such as Jobs and Wozniak, Lennon and McCartney, or the Wright Brothers. Even the most famous ‘solo’ geniuses – Einstein, Newton, Mozart – didn’t operate in a vacuum, but built upon the work of countless others. Today, we’re lucky to live in a world where all the answers and ideas we need are only a click away.
Let’s face it, procurement’s most pressing issues (slavery, child labour, unsafe work practices, exploitation, neglect for the environment and copyright) are too big for any one person, or even any one company, to solve alone.
Even at the best of times, working in procurement can be a lonely place, even when we’re working as part of a team. You might be the only person managing your category in your company, in your industry, maybe even in your whole country!
Clambering out of Einstein’s basement
If you have a problem that you can’t fix and need some breakthrough thinking, don’t be like Einstein and barricade yourself in a basement waiting for genius to strike.
Remember that you are part of a vast, virtual, global procurement team full of millions of talented professionals with ideas – help is only a click away.
Get yourself out of isolation, onto the global playing field and ask the universe for inspiration.
Solving the world’s problems, together.
Over five thousand Procurious members visit our discussion board every month to share ideas and offer advice to their peers. Our blogs spark debate, with members feeding their own commentary and ideas into the global community.
We are still seeing the ripple effects of these events with high levels of member engagement and interaction within the community; the feeding back of vital intelligence on alternate sourcing, suppliers, freight, logistics, on-the-ground contacts and changing regulations.
The hurried and helpful responses to these challenges by the global procurious community has proven that many hands make light work of disruption.
It’s clear that we want to talk online about the issues affecting procurement and are keen to help each other. It would seem that global “team procurement” is alive and well – but are you part of the flow?
Leveraging the Power of 23,000
There are now 23,000 Procurious members across 145+ countries, all with different strengths, weaknesses and experiences. Somewhere, out there, is someone who has had the same experience as you and some wise words to share.
Leveraging the wisdom of the crowd is the beauty of social media. By building your online presence and contacts you can craft a network of thought-leaders, influencers, and experts around you, to provide fantastic ideas and insights.
Even if you have a truly unique problem, there will be someone who can provide a fresh perspective that creates a lightbulb moment for you.
Take the lead
As a successful leader, you don’t have to have all the answers – but you do need to have the best questions….and know who to ask for the answers!
Whichever business icon or “genius” you admire – whether it be Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Elon Musk………you know they are not the only person providing the brain power to conjure their vision, there are teams working day and night to deliver the dream.
Like me, you’re probably “blown away” (pardon the pun) by the rapid progress of the SpaceX program. But as you admire Elon’s vision, just remember this is not solo genius, no one talented employee finding all the answers – there have been thousands of people working over decades to get these game-changing rockets to the launch pad who have been collaborating globally online to solve a millions of small and large challenges on the journey to space.
It’s exactly the same story in procurement. Behind every apparent genius (aka Global CPO), there’s a team of procurement pros behind the scene helping come up with solutions. Even if you don’t have a real team helping you – you have a secret weapon – you can consult your global team of procurement buddies to help you find the answer.
Be the smartest guy in the room
To shockproof our profession and become the smartest guys in the room, we need to move out of our silos and work together.
Procurement needs to be ahead of the curve – to be agile, to be savvy and to be bold. We are the avengers, the rock stars, the movers and shakers negotiating the deals that guarantee supply, quality, cost, ethics and sustainability. But we can’t do it on our own.
When you’re next faced with a challenge or struggling with the beginnings of a great idea. Don’t just sit there. Do Something. Get online and ask questions. The answer is only a click away.
Obtaining access to high quality consultancy services can often be the crucial factor in the success of a project. But buying advice is also one of the most confusing challenges for procurement. How can we overcome this?
Despite some consolidation in the financial consultancy sector, the overall market for consultancy services continues to grow, with the global consulting market valued at $250 billion.
While technology consultancy is leading the continued growth curve, other sectors including HR, operations and strategy are making strong contributions to overall value. For those seeking consultancy services, the market however can be complex. Is there a way to simplify the complexity of procuring consultancy services?
Why are consultancy services so confusing for buyers?
Much has to do with the breadth and depth on offer. Consultancy services are available in just about every industry possible and the sector continues to grow. The broad reach and sheer volume of suppliers can make it difficult to identify the best consultant for your needs. Take ‘Digital Transformation’ consultancy services as an example. It was barely recognised a sector just a few years ago, now it’s worth over $23billion and represented over 15% of the global consultancy market last year.
Consultancy services are provided by organisations large and small,- from multinational organisations and specialist niche providers to freelance independent consultants – often with much crossover in between. Many of the companies started life offering a single specialism but have grown and added additional services to their portfolios as their sector and market experience has developed.
Consultants often use a variety of language and definitions to describe who they are and what they deliver. With no single regulatory body on board to help define the market, its no wonder that buyers can find drawing comparisons a challenge.
As procurement budgets decrease globally, the lack of resourcing and specialisms often means that in-house buyers are generalists not specialists. As a result they may not have the insights into specific markets to be able to evaluate different consultancies meaningfully.
As a professional buying organisation, ESPO’s recent experience in building its largest ever public sector consultancy services framework highlights just how crowded and complex the marketplace is. It received a record number of tenders from suppliers – evaluating over 240 tenders before awarding 135 to the framework. As part of the process ESPO found that the marketplace is so complex that public sector buyers often remain with the same consultancy provider for years to avoid going through the procurement process again, putting budgets at risk.
Top things to consider when buying consultancy services
Utilising a team of 12 procurement experts with cross sector experience drawn from across the organisation and externally, ESPO was able to effectively evaluate the tenders before awarding the successful organisations a place on the framework. Here are its top considerations for buying consultancy services:
Closely define your outcomes or objectives. By identifying the outcomes, procurement teams can work backwards from the end goal to define the exact service required.
Request case studies. This will help you understand the process for delivery and ensure that the consultant has the right experience.
Review technical capabilities. Whether you’re buying financial, waste disposal or even logistical advice, ensure that the consultants are specialists with the technical capabilities needed to deliver. This may mean that you are required to use a different provider for each project.
Consider using a specialist framework for complex service procurement needs. Framework providers operate under strict due diligence rules and processes so you’re assured of the suppliers’ capabilities.
Sheena Kocherhans is Category Manager for Professional Services at ESPO
From connected healthcare to retail and water management, the IoT will revolutionise the way we live. It’s already having some pretty major impacts…
This article was written by Gauri Bapat.
The wave of connectivity had extended beyond phones, laptops, and tablets and is permeating into our daily lives. With an explosion of connected devices in the market and a healthy adoption rate, we can safely assume that we are taking confident strides into the ‘connected life’ made possible by the IoT.
A report by Gartner suggests that by the year 2020, the number of connected devices across technologies will touch 2.6 billion. As we move towards an increasingly automated world, this technology will be used to improve the productivity and quality of life and industries alike. The IoT is poised to grow from a technological phenomenon to one with a more global and social impact…and the cogs are already turning in that direction. Things that we once saw only in sci-fi movies and Steven Spielberg specials are a reality today.
Let’s take a look at how the IoT is already changing the world we live in.
IoT in manufacturing is ushering in the fourth Industrial revolution (Industry 4.0) that aims to make manufacturing smarter. Smart manufacturing involves the use of sensors that are retrofitted on existing manufacturing equipment to improve efficiency and performance. Siemens ‘ PLC manufacturing plant in Amberg, Germany, has implemented the principles of Industry 4.0 and has completely automated the production of their automation systems. Post this implementation, they witnessed a 99.99885 per cent “perfect” production quality rate. Now that’s impressive!
The airline industry has seen massive adoption of the IoT in order to increase operational efficiency and drive the age of ‘connected aviation’. Virgin Atlantic has every single component of its Boeing 787 attached to a wireless airplane network. These incredibly connected airplanes use IoT data to evaluate everything right from the airplane’s performance to issue identification.
So, if a Virgin Atlantic jet reveals low-performance mid-flight, this information is related to the ground staff real-time. Thus, when the flight lands, the airport engineers are ready to solve the problem. Other airlines such as KLM, Qantas, Lufthansa, and Delta are also using IoT to improve aircraft performance, discover new business insights, and maintain greater efficiency.
Airports such as Miami airport, London City airport, Helsinki Airport, amongst otherS, use IoT to track passengers, prevent bottlenecks and queues, offer personalised services to the customers, track assets and also deliver location-based services to the travellers.
One of the areas where IoT has made a tangible difference is in water management. Proper use and management of water have been a problem that many cities across the globe have been battling. IoT has been put to work in cities such as California and Bangalore in India to not only identify the cause of water shortage but also to identify avenues as to how water management can be optimised. The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewage Board (BWSSB) employed an IoT monitor to manage the complex water distribution system by creating an operational dashboard using IoT. They realised that almost 45 per cent of the water supplied by BWSSB is unaccounted. San Francisco employed smart meters to measure water consumption and notify their customers when their water consumption exceeds the specified limit or if, for example, the water is left running continuously for 24 hours.
The retail industry has witnessed a huge adoption of IoT. IoT implementation in retail has been done to not only improve the supply chain or to create more engaging and tailored marketing campaigns, but also to make shopping a more interesting experience. Retailer Rebecca Minkoff created the ‘connected store’ using RIFD tags on each piece of clothing and used smart mirrors in the dressing rooms. The customers could try on the product, and also take a look at other looks, available colors and sizes without even leaving the dressing room!
Target has been using beacons across 50 stores to provide personalised offers and present their customers with hyperlocal content to make shopping more exciting for their shoppers. Ralph Lauren’s Polo Tech apparel, which is a smart workout shirt, monitors vital activities of the user on a real-time basis and enables ongoing health monitoring.
2016 saw us looking towards connected energy solutions to help us save energy. IoT products such as Google Nest, ecobee3 thermostat, the heating system Hive by British Gas have seen huge adoption to track and measure energy consumption. 46 per cent of technology enthusiasts in Germany and 42 per cent in the US already own a connected energy solution and save almost 72 per cent on their monthly utility bills – that amounts to a USD $80 reduction in the monthly bill.
Moving beyond the smart lights of a connected smart home, smart lighting control can generate huge financial savings by controlling street lights. Mayflower CMS successfully employed IoT to control and monitor an excess of 180,000 street lights, bollards and signs in the UK and Ireland with its largest installation in Hampshire that has over 90,000 nodes. The Hampshire City Council has been able to reduce energy consumption by 21GW/hr per annum which is a reduction of 40 per cent and has successfully reduced carbon emissions by approximately 4000 tons per year.
The global IoT healthcare market is expected to touch USD 160 billion by 2020. The last few years healthcare has witnessed wellness sensors to surgical robots to improve efficiencies and better patient outcomes. Ingestible sensors help measure if patients are taking their pills on time and helps medical practitioners manage their patients remotely. Barton Health, a 62-bed health system in rural Lake Tahoe, California, is one of the first users of the ingestible sensor by Proteus Discover, a Digital Medicine to help patients suffering from diseases of the central nervous center such as schizophrenia and place the patient in the driver’s seat regarding their health management with the help of technology.
“When wireless is perfectly applied, the whole earth will be converted to a huge brain, which in fact it is, all things being particles of a real and rhythmic whole. We shall be able to communicate with one another instantly, irrespective of the distance.”– Nikolai Tesla
This famous statement by Nikolai Tesla predicts the invention of the smartphone at a time when the mere thought of such an advanced device was nothing but unimaginable. Take a closer look at the statement and you can see that Tesla foresaw the impact of the Internet of Things (IoT)… a world that becomes so connected that it becomes one ‘huge brain’.
What Tesla spoke of decades ago, we are experiencing today
Gauri Bapat is Director, Strategic Business at Inteliment. This article was orginially published on LinkedIn.
B2B or B4B? Does it really matter? After all, what’s in a title? Perhaps everything….
Isn’t that a bold idea?
What’s in a title? Maybe everything.
Something that is very personal and possibly deep. A worldview that can shift our thinking and inspires us to do few things totally different.
Nah. How can that be? How is it possible?
How can you change a word, a preposition, ‘to‘ and replace it with ‘for‘ and call it a game changer?
We have seen it all. Haven’t we all been in business far too long to be moved by play of words. A small change from ‘To‘ to ‘For‘ means nothing.
Well, I don’t think so. And I’ll tell you why in a moment.
Let’s dive deep inside and explore the nuances that can help shape the idea.
Defining Business to Business (B2B)
Business to business, also called B-to-B or B2B, is a type of transaction that exists between businesses, not consumers. This term got popular around the 1998 dot com era when the internet phenomenon was at its peak.
It was an acronym used to communicate how commerce flowed between two business entities. This term became so popular that it prefixed everything that connoted a transaction between two businesses.
B2B procurement, B2B buyer, B2B marketing, B2B sales, B2B market place, B2B e-commerce, B2B market research, B2B Software, B2B Offering and many more.
The idea caught on. It flourished. It also spawned into other variants. Say B2B2C or even B2B2G (where G is Government).
It was going well. Until now.
So why do I think that this terminology should die?
Simple reason. The word ‘to‘ in B2B is no longer relevant. To explore why this is not relevant we will need help of a dictionary.
Here is the English dictionary meaning for the preposition ‘to‘:
“expressing motion or direction toward a point, person, place, or thing approached and reached, as opposed to from”.
In line with this meaning, so far businesses have marketed to, sold to, pitched to, offered services and products to and provided support to other businesses.
This was very much needed as businesses needed to take their products, services and support to other business. It metaphorically meant the direction was from left to right. Just like this arrow mark ‘—->’. One was the seller and the other was the buyer.
The word ‘to‘ is so ingrained in our psyche, like the arrow, the stress was more on ‘motion or direction‘. Our entire organisation structures were built to make, sell and service our customers. Along with it came top-down command and control, various functions/departments, centralised structures, and standardised routines.
‘To‘ was programmed deep in the business model. Resulting in a path dependency.
We are all perfectly ‘ locked in‘ by behaviours that connote – motion and direction from left to right.
Now, let’s use another lens to see the world.
The new world order – Business For Business (B4B)
Before we explore this new terminology, let’s understand the meaning of the preposition ‘for‘ from English dictionary.
“with the object or purpose of “
“suiting the purposes or needs of”
In the digitally connected era, as Nilofer Merchant points out in her book “11 Rules for creating value in the Social Era“, successful businesses like Uber, AirBnB, Tesla, GE Digital, Alibaba, Etsy, KickStarter create value through a different paradigm – networks, collaboration, community, social purpose and openness.
They are businesses built FOR businesses and consumers.
They are businesses built suiting the purpose and needs of their customers. There can be many sellers and buyers across a community.
Quoting General Electric, a 124 year old company, was once a seller of products to customers. Now it is a digital platform company with many buyers and sellers. It has now transitioned to a B4B company.
When you do something FOR somebody you do care for the other business or person. Not just for yourself. The preposition ‘for‘ humanises the act.
Suddenly you shift from providing ‘action and direction‘ to a business and think about what can you do for another business. You can even ask, ‘Can I exist for my client’s success?“. This right away injects empathy into your business.
Business For Business. B4B. Injects empathy in the language.
In doing so, you will allow yourself to ask fundamental questions that can shift your thinking and behaviours:
What should be our business model that allows our customers be successful?
How can I structure my organisation for my customer’s success?
How can I create products, solutions and services for my clients to be successful?
How do I create a Go to Market model for my customers to engage, experience and buy?
How do I create experiences for my customer so that I can partner for an extended life time value?
B4B shifts thinking from you to your customer. It brings purpose and empathy in everything you say and do.
Over a period of time it perhaps will bring your business closer to the customer. Isn’t that we all want?
It all starts with one change in preposition – substitute ‘to‘ with ‘for’.
Magendar Rajasekaran is People Success Evangelist at Agility Nexus This article was orginally publishd on LinkedIn.