Category Archives: Generation Procurement

Procurement Isn’t Lighting Up The World…Yet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Procurement isn’t lighting up the world

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

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

On December 10th discover…

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

Win a Parrot Bebop drone worth £450

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

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

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

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

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

Piracy Still Rules On The High Seas

Piracy may not quite be the world’s oldest profession, but for thousands of years plundering and pillaging on the high seas has struck terror into the hearts of more honest seafarers… 
Are you responsible for sending your people into danger? In a new Procurious blog series, The World’s Deadliest Supply Chains, we investigate the most high-risk supply chains out there.

Piracy may not quite be the world’s oldest profession, but for thousands of years plundering and pillaging on the high seas has struck terror into the hearts of more honest seafarers.

Along the journey – or should we say voyage – these seafaring brigands have developed a cuddly reputation as harmless Captain Featherswords with bushy beards and eye patches, bearing a Jolly Roger for show more than anything.

Even the feared 17th century English pirate Blackbeard was romanticised posthumously after a life of pillaging and murdering in 1718.

Of course, there’s nothing innocuous about latter-day piracy, which remains the scourge of merchant shipping in some of the world’s busiest transit lanes.

For a start, cutlasses have been replaced by high-speed landing boats, automatic weapons and even rocket-propelled grenades.

Modern cargo and tankers might not look vulnerable, but despite their gargantuan size they’re crewed by just a handful of people who – by convention – are unarmed.

The extent of piracy has always ebbed and flowed, but it re-entered the public consciousness when the disintegration of the Somalian state in the early 2000s spurred a surge in piracy across the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea.

Recent activity has focused on the Gulf of Guinea and, more specifically, Nigerian waters.

Other modern piracy hotspots are the Straits of Malacca, Gibraltar and the Philippines. There have even been reports of ‘river piracy’ on the Danube in Serbia and Romania.

The enforcement problem with modern-day Blackbeards is that most of the piracy occurs on international waters, with many countries willing to turn a blind eye.

Over the last 10 years, the trends look to be heading the right way: according to the International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre, in 2017 there were 180 reported incidents of piracy and armed robbery, compared with 267 attacks in 2007.

Of these, 15 resulted in 91 crew being taken hostage, with another 13 attacks resulting in 75 crew being kidnapped (that is, taken off the boat).

Sadly, three crew members were killed and six were injured.

The IMB’s updated figures suggest some slippage: in the first six months of 2018 there were 107 reports of successful or attempted attacks, compared with 87 for the same period last year.

Of these, 69 resulted in the pirates boarding and 11 in the ships being fired upon.  Across seven incidents, 102 crew members were taken hostage, compared with 63 previously.

Geographically, piracy is an ever-shifting activity: none of the 107 reported attacks was in the old hot spot of Somalia, while 31 were in Nigeria and 25 in Indonesia.

Unlike in Captain Phillips – the 2013 celluloid account of the US mariner’s struggle with Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean – the US navy is unlikely to steam to the rescue.

But the long-term trends suggest increased vigilance on the part of ship owners and a somewhat belated response from navies and maritime authorities.

In a celebrated case, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency recently apprehended 16 pirates attempting to board a tanker six nautical miles off the coast of Pulau Tinggi.

Given the vastness of international waters and extent of shipping activity, no boat can rely on protection being close at hand, and captains are adopting their own measures to protect crews and cargoes in vulnerable regions.

These remedies include razor wire on decks, hoses converted to sea water cannons, hardened bridges and even the use of mannequins as ‘armed’ guards. The high-end yachting sector has deployed laser dazzlers that can temporarily blind attackers before they board.

Not all of the solutions are high tech. Earlier this year, pirates attempted to board the merchant ship MV Kudos near the island of Sibago in the Philippines. They were fought off after the crew adopted the medieval siege trick of pouring boiling water on the assailants.

Of course, prevention is better than cure and crews in vulnerable areas are advised to maintain a 24-hour watch and radar vigilance.

The IMB’s not-for-profit piracy reporting centre provides an around-the-clock service for Masters to report hijack attempts and suspicious activity, with regular updates.

Despite the distress caused by modern pirates, at least their demands for monetary gains are clearer and easier to accede to than, say, the demands of politically inspired terrorists.

Unlike the chest of gold doubloons in the past, loot can take several forms.

In some cases, the culprits demand hostage money, leading to delicate negotiations as ship owners determine just how ambit the claims are.

(The 2012 Danish movie A Hijacking documents the bewilderment of a ship’s crew as the hijackers and the ship owner’s dispassionate head office bean counters quibble about what their lives are worth).

In extreme cases the pirates hijack the ship itself and take it to a friendly port for a new identity. In other cases, the contents of the ship’s safe and the crew members belonging will suffice.

The resilience of piracy is linked with poverty and upheaval resulting from civil war: they’re desperate acts carried out by desperate people. In the case of Somalia, fishermen became pirates after foreign boats took advantage of the lack of government by overfishing or dumping toxins in the waters.

In other cases, it’s the work of highly organised gangs.

Given the varying motives, we can never quite be sure why pirates are pirates, so let’s just say it’s because they ‘arrrr’.

Six Reasons You’re Still Stuck In Procurement 1.0

Robobai surveyed 250 procurement specialists and asked them what their pain points are within a growing organisation. Chairman and Founder, Julian Harris, shares the top six reasons you’re stuck in procurement 1.0…

Every business has the desire to grow and succeed and as a result of this targets are set to support the overall objectives of the GDP. It is natural to encounter many roadblocks along this journey and procurement is seen as an important area as it can both block or support growth.

We have recently surveyed 250 procurement specialists and asked them what their pain points are within a growing organisation. We then established the six biggest pain points from their perspectives.

1. The companies had outgrown their supplier base

79 per cent of the people we spoke to said that their businesses were not driving innovation in supplier relationships. The common theme being their existing suppliers weren’t adapt enough to support their growth model and that they did not have the correct systems in place to evaluate potential new supply partners in an efficient and fast manner.

2. Their current systems were inadequate

85 per cent of our survey said that they overall procurement process was to complex and resource heavy. The existing systems and processes simply aren’t up to the job and as a result Account Payable are constantly battling to keep on top of the processing and payments of invoices.

3. Poorly equipped for investment or acquisitions

According to our results, 76 per cent of procurement specialists said that with their current systems and processes, they would not be able to provide the relevant due diligence to any potential investors. This is a massive barrier to a company that is looking to expand in anyway.

4. Managing rising costs

81 per cent of companies admitted that they don’t challenge suppliers enough on cost or performance. The truth is, they are struggling with rising costs against income which is effecting profits, but they have inefficient systems in place that don’t allow them to manage their supplier contracts properly in these areas.

5. Ineffective supplier management

44 per cent of our specialists said that they need to manage their suppliers more effectively. They basically don’t have access to enough good quality data on suppliers to allow them to effectively challenge and negotiate the best deal for them.

6. Not enough control over spending

In our research 40 per cent of respondents said that they need to improve their budgeting controls. There are compliance issues surrounding using approved suppliers, and to fix this change is required to both their systems and culture to give the required visibility of spend.

Is Data really the answer?

For optimum results, you need optimized data

The benefits of good data are no secret. You will constantly see things written and hear conversations about how powerful data can be with regards to driving efficiency, reduce costs and even keeping customers within any business. But, in the world of procurement it is a must have. Why? Because with the right data you can massively improve your return on purchasing goods and services.

High quality, cleansed data helps to drive a more strategic view of procurement. It enables teams to make informed decisions, earlier in the procurement lifecycle. If you don’t have it, then sure you can view total spend, but in a very inadequate way doesn’t allow you to understand the size of the cost saving opportunities that exist. These opportunities may include variance in pricing, contract terms, consolidation, payment discounts or duration. You need cleansed, granular data to be able to provide good insights to make the right purchasing decisions. You simply can’t do this efficiently without having access to a platform that provides this quality of data in a timely manner.

Often, one of the biggest challenges in an organization sits in the realms of data. Without good quality data cleansing and data classification you will never have a genuine spend visibility.

When a company has good spend visibility they get timely, accurate, complete, and detailed data which offers invaluable intelligence and insight on their spending patterns, compliance and performance. These insights help them identify savings opportunities, drive compliance, and develop purchasing strategies which reduce cost.

Julian Harris, Chairman and Founder – Robobai, spoke at Big Ideas Summit Sydney. 

3 Steps To Kickstarting Your Marketplace Strategy

Our latest webinar, Going to Market(place): The Future of Procurement sponsored by Amazon Business is now available on Procurious. Sign up now to listen!

William Potter/ Shutterstock

Everyone’s talking about the benefits of procurement marketplaces, particularly when it comes to managing tail spend – but actually adopting one as part of a procurement strategy is another matter entirely. If it’s something your team is talking about, but not yet investing in, how do you get started? And if you’ve already taken the leap, how can you ensure you’re making the most of it?

In a recent webinar Going To market(place): The Future of Procurement we defined marketplaces, in short, as places where people gather (in person or digitally) to buy and sell goods and services. For B2B purchasing, marketplaces are gaining steam, with recent announcements indicating that millions of businesses globally use Amazon Business.

What’s driving this trend?

The global business environment is challenging organisations of all sizes to be increasingly agile and remain competitive with slim margins. Procurement teams have an opportunity to contribute to business performance through digital innovation, new technologies, and other strategic projects. However, they need the bandwidth to do so and that’s often a key challenge.

According to the 2018 Deloitte CPO Survey, 51 per cent of procurement leaders shared that they did not believe their teams had sufficient capabilities to deliver on their procurement strategy. And recent Procurement Leaders research found that administrative and non-strategic work can take up to a third of a category manager’s time.

A B2B marketplace offers the opportunity to offload a significant amount of time spent on administrative work through a solution that offers you choice, competitive offers, and transparent pricing – with tools that help you to maintain procurement control and visibility. Perhaps most importantly, this opens up your resource to focus on more value-adding strategic activities.

How do you get started?

We think about getting started as a three step process.

  1. Build your business case and understand the potential savings

We believe in working backwards from the customer. First, determine who your customer is – whether that’s your buyers, your procurement team, or your company more broadly. Then identify what your customer actually needs and the problem you’re trying to solve. From there, work backwards to ensure your strategy delivers on that customer need.

For example, if you’re looking to empower your end users by increasing stakeholder satisfaction and collaboration, and offload administrative burden so that you can focus your procurement team on strategic initiatives, build your business case there.

When you estimate your potential savings, consider both hard savings, including product costs and shipping fees, as well as soft savings: the cost of managing suppliers – with Hackett Group reporting the average cost between $700-$1400; the cost of search time in finding the items that are needed; and the cost of PO processing time. Make sure to consider both hard and soft savings when looking at your total potential value saved.

  1. Register for your account

With Amazon Business, registering for an account is free and takes minutes to complete. When you have registered your account, take some time to configure your account according to your needs. This could mean thinking through what categories you want to allow and those you want to restrict, including curating what’s available for buyers to purchase. For example, if you have an existing contract for IT hardware, you may want to restrict purchasing of those items, but leave office supplies, janitorial, and other categories open for miscellaneous purchases. Amazon Business also allows you to curate purchasing to only those items that offer a VAT invoice

You may also want to consider how to streamline payments on the marketplace. Do you have a p-card or corporate card programme, or do you wish to pay on terms? Do you need to set up shared payment between groups? Establishing these points up front will make purchasing easier for your buyers.

And depending on your set-up and internal initiatives, you may want to integrate a marketplace as a punchout catalogue in your eProcurement system rather than purchasing directly on the marketplace.

  1. Roll out

Rolling out a marketplace, like any other implementation, will require some change management with your stakeholders. However, the idea of using a B2C marketplace that is familiar and easy to use for B2B purchases requires little to no training. And it’s easy to convince your team of the benefits!

Keep in mind that it always takes more than one email to get your audience’s attention, and you should plan for a regular cadence of messages to reinforce the new process. In addition, we recommend that you plan milestone evaluations with stakeholders to reinforce adoption and review key metrics.

Finally, don’t forget to communicate often with your marketplace account manager to keep up to date on new releases. B2B marketplaces are quickly growing and developing, with new functionality frequently coming to market. If you want a feature that’s not available today, odds are that it’s around the corner.

Using a B2B marketplace for tail spend can save your team a great deal of time and money, and it doesn’t have to be complicated. And if you need help, you can always reach out to your Amazon Business account representative.

To learn more about Amazon Business and register for a free account, visit amazon.co.uk/business.

Our latest webinar, Going to Market(place): The Future of Procurement sponsored by Amazon Business is now available on Procurious. Sign up to listen.  

How To Enable Smarter Procurement Today

If AI is the light at the end of the tunnel, why are there so few success stories to be found? How do we enable smart procurement?  

Success with today’s broad set of complex objectives requires Procurement leaders to think strategically and process ever greater volumes of diverse information. Unfortunately, this is an area with significant room for improvement at most organisations. A survey of over 400 procurement leaders by Forrester found their top priority to be “improv[ing] business insight on purchasing activity through reporting and analytics.”

The obstacles to more informed, strategic decision-making are quite consistent. The study, entitled “Enabling Smarter Procurement” found three common issues

1. Firstly, despite efforts at automating processes, too much capacity is still consumed by operational or manual activities. Teams must free capacity to work on new projects, conduct analysis and plan, but are struggling to do so.

2.  Secondly leaders struggle to access relevant insights when and where they are needed. The volume of information now available is of little help if not digestible, simply leading to information overload.

3. Compounding this, respondents also cited poor data quality as a key challenge. Duplicate supplier records, inaccurate data and poor integration between systems all were cited as sources of data quality issues.

Fortunately, new technologies are available that can empower procurement to address these and other challenges and rise to the occasion. AI in particular is finally coming of age and often viewed as the answer to many of Procurement’s challenges. The same survey found that 71 per cent of business leaders plan to adopt AI in procurement over the next 12 months. Yet if AI is the light at the end of the tunnel, why are so few success stories to be found?

A key reason is the approach taken to implementing AI solutions to date. As vendors struggle to burnish their innovation credibility, there has been significant marketing ahead of capabilities which has led to unmet expectations post implementation. As capabilities are now coming in line with past marketing, this problem will subside. Of greater concern, the innovation race has led to nearly an exclusive focus on the algorithms, leading to poorly designed implementations. Less innovative but equally important areas, especially data quality, are being ignored. AI relies on a solid foundation of data, in terms of volume and quality, so solutions that offer clever applications alone are sure to disappoint.

To remedy this problem, organisations must implement AI in conjunction with cleaning up their data, rather than using poor data quality as an excuse for inaction. Source-to-Pay suites that are built upon a unified data model partially address the challenge by generating clean data that can be mined by AI applications across all processes. For example, suites with a single supplier record can provide true 360 degree visibility of supplier performance and activity, and enable AI applications to predict potential risks.

That still leaves issues with existing data or data in other systems. Here, master data management solutions should be leveraged that can actually fix issues in back end systems, linking vendor and item master records across systems. This further improves visibility and the potential for new and better insights.

Empowering procurement to make more informed, strategic decisions is no longer an option. There is simply no other way to effectively meet the broad set of objectives now expected. Fortunately, new technologies are finally reaching the level of maturity where they can have a transformative impact. By implementing AI applications in parallel with initiatives to improve their data foundation, leading organizations are both enabling smarter procurement today and ensuring they are well positioned to leverage tomorrow’s innovations.

Ivalua sponsored today’s London CPO roundtable. If you would like to attend or sponsor a Procurious roundtable please contact Olga Luscombe via [email protected] 

Superfinance – The Merging Of Mind And Machine In Finance And Procurement

Are we facing a future where automation displaces the human mind and traditional procurement  and finance careers?

By Gorodenkoff / Shutterstock

Technology is used to consolidate and analyse all finance and procurement information. It also offers insights to the new generation of professionals in their decision-making process and tasks that require abstract thinking rather than computation.

The worlds of finance and procurement are about to change forever, and we are now at the turning point of this revolution. Often regarded as the most conservative echelon of the modern enterprise, today’s CFOs and CPOs are embracing new technologies, deploying automation, deep analytics and machine learning techniques to simplify financial and procurement operations and spend smarter.

As technology advances into the workplace, the traditional roles of finance personnel are changing as more processes are automated and data “crunching” takes the heavy lifting out of day-to-day routines. The change challenges professionals too, whose previous core competencies are now the primary remit of AI algorithms.

The concern for many is whether we are facing a future where automation displaces the human mind and therefore the traditional careers within finance. A major challenge for the modern CFO and CPO is to transform teams to take advantage of these new technologies. Employees in our industry are concerned that jobs are threatened, but the upcoming era of artificial intelligence will enable a new partnership between mind and machine that liberates humans’ natural skills through superior intuition and decision-making.

The concept of Superfinance looks to the visible horizon of the future and defines a modern finance and procurement function that is based on a Mind-Machine partnership. Here, technology is used to consolidate and analyse all finance and procurement information. It also offers insights to the new generation of professionals in their decision-making process and tasks that require abstract thinking rather than computation.

Humans remain valuable because of our ability to reason in a way that goes beyond executing calculations on available data. Many examples exist where this new combined man-machine hybrid has been more powerful than either human or computer alone.

What we can do that computers can’t is combine information from AI with the information coming from the real world, apply creative and critical thinking, make decisions and take care of customers.

Making better decisions

So, the combination of Mind and Machine holds considerable potential to expose, streamline and automate financial operations from their current state, from purchasing to payment, and offer new levels of competitive advantage.

Of course, digitisation of business processes isn’t anything new and has been around for some time now. It has already dramatically changed how businesses operate and professionals perform. Finance and procurement functions have already been permanently affected by this change. So, what does the future of mind and machine really look like and what should industry professionals do now to prepare for the evolution?

Digitisation of finance and procurement is evident within distinct phases:

At the heart of financial digital transformation is, of course, data. By consolidating procurement and finance information into the cloud, the power of machine learning can be deployed to create impactful results. This data provides the foundation for automation. Many businesses have already embarked on this journey of standardisation, simplifying and outsourcing financial processes for greater efficiency and cost savings.

The final step involves insights-driven Purchase-to-Pay: Here, the result of automation is aggregated data from the entire Source-to-Pay business process, which is changing the trajectory of finance and procurement.

We are now entering the phase of cloud-based big data, predictive analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning. Professionals are already equipped with the timely, accurate and complete data they need to make better decisions and support business agility.

So, with the era of data-driven finance already here, does the increased amount of information really help us make better decisions?

Even with the advantage of data at our fingertips, our human condition can still get in the way when we approach decisions, and we may often look for confirmation instead of confidence.  Our gut feel is so real it can often override data-driven insights and enable us to make important decisions instinctively, and then retroactively fit information to support our conclusions.

Big promises

This behaviour hampers business results more than we are willing to admit. So, to make data-driven finance real, professionals have to become behaviourally aware and refrain from asking for the wrong answers from AI. AI can arrive at different results than we as humans would from the same data. Our role therefore is to try to connect the real-world phenomena into the results provided by the data, and make decisions that best benefit customers, as well as the business itself.

While the data era is making big promises about what the future may hold and what people and companies can do with the unlimited power of information at their fingertips, there are still many unknowns about what this will look like in practice.

But there are areas where finance and procurement professionals can focus to begin preparing for this future and developing our uniquely human talents. To achieve true Superfinance, finance teams need to upskill and develop in three specific new areas:

From a technology perspective it requires Automation through data, analytics, AI and machine learning. In terms of skills, behavioural awareness, data analysis and new job requirements are needed, before considering the final element of ‘Transformation’, which includes managing change, cultural shifts and talent development.

On a more granular level the following is a good roadmap for the transformation:

  • Improve data: Collecting and aggregating 100 per cent of financial data is always the first step to being ready for the future, as emerging technologies feed on that data. But presuming you’re doing that today, the next steps are cleansing and augmenting that data. This includes purchase orders, invoices, collaboration between suppliers and customers, and supplier information. All of this data can be improved by creating a team structure for data ownership, delegating maintenance to the data owners and augmenting the data sets with third party data for completely new insights.
  • Leverage cloud solutions: As businesses get a unified and accurate view of their data, they will be better equipped to answer new questions and challenge their colleagues with better reasoning. You can build confidence using cloud-based solutions so that procurement and finance professionals rely on their data and analysis of that data to make decisions and recommendations.
  • Become a business partner: Having data is one thing – using it effectively across the business is another. Data must be properly analysed for the right insights before collaboration across finance, procurement and business units to effectively deliver that information in a meaningful way – building and nurturing relationships across the business to hit strategic goals.
  • Make unbiased decisions: People often interpret information in a way that confirms their preconceptions today. It’s important to educate your teams to be aware of their biases and the right way to approach data analysis. This involves applying scrutiny and objective reasoning to the data-driven insights.
  • Manage talent: Moving from siloed execution to collaborative data-driven finance requires proper development and management of the right skills. You need to systematically manage talent, endorse an analytical mindset and improve financial processes and job descriptions to put data at the core.

Nimble and adaptable businesses that follow these steps will thrive, having rapidly sensed and responded to opportunities, and seized the advantage in the AI-enabled landscape.

Over the next decade, AI won’t replace people, but people who use AI will replace those who don’t. The future will transform us through organisational change, digital operations and better human capital management. Following these steps is a good start to building the foundation for a mind-machine partnership of the future, and hopefully making data feel inspiring as we celebrate the benefits of being human in an automated world.

This article, written by Louis Fernandes, VP & UK Country Manager, UK & Ireland – Basware was originally published here. 

Going To Market(place): The Future of Procurement

Are marketplaces the future of procurement? What are the pros and cons? We discuss in new Procurious webinar. 

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, B2B e-marketplaces were hyped up as the next big thing. For a while it seemed these were going to transform the lives of supply chain and procurement professionals forever. But they never quite took off perhaps because they were too far ahead of the technology and change-management requirements of the time. Indeed, most of the public and consortia marketplaces failed and of the 1,300 that were launched, fewer than 50 exist today.

Fast forward 20 years and, as consumers, we’re all enjoying, and heavily relying upon, the benefits of consumer companies with marketplace models such as Uber, Airbnb and Amazon.com. And whilst the B2B marketplace model might not be expanding with such speed, it is being applied to more diverse industries and with more success than previous models.

If you’re struggling to get a hold on your organisation’s maverick spending, concerned about disruption and risk mitigation within your supply chain or in serious need of a larger supplier pool, a marketplace might just be the answer to your prayers!

In our latest webinar, sponsored by Amazon Business, we explore the evolution of procurement marketplaces and their prevelance in organisations today, the pros and cons of using a marketplace and what the future holds for procurement if this trend continues.

Who is speaking on the webinar?

Molly Dobson, Head of Amazon Business Accounts – Amazon Business 

Molly Dobson is the Head of Enterprise Customer Success for Amazon Business UK. Prior to her role with Amazon Business, she was Head of Buying for European Business, Industrial, and Scientific Supplies and Category Leader for Amazon’s Luggage and Travel business. Molly has her MBA from London Business School and has also worked for Marks & Spencer, Coca-Cola, and Gap Inc.

Mary Hetherington, Director of UK Group Procurement – AXA

Mary Hetherington is the Group Procurement Director for AXA UK.  Mary has worked in the Insurance Industry for over 30 years managing a combination of Finance and Procurement functions. She has led several large multi-company third party programmes focusing on outsourcing, divestment and acquisition activity and GDPR. As part of a broader initiative to bring more agility to Procurement processes, Mary is currently focused on the Implementation of Coupa and an effective purchase to pay strategy.

What will be discussed in the webinar?

  • How can marketplaces help CPOs and their teams control maverick spend?
  • Are B2B marketplaces the future of procurement?
  • How can procurement teams incorporate marketplaces into their business strategy?
  • Why are some procurement professionals reluctant to adopt marketplaces?
  • The evolution of marketplaces and their prevalence in society today

How do I register for the webinar?

Registering for Going to Market (place): The Future of Procurement couldn’t be easier (and, of course, it’s FREE!)

Click here to enter your details and confirm your attendance. We’ll send you a email with a link to the webinar platform in the run up to the event.

I’m already a member of Procurious, do I still need to register?

Yes! If you are already a member of Procurious you must still enroll to access the webinar. We’ll send you a email with a link to the webinar platform in the run up to the event.

When is it taking place?

The webinar takes place on 13th November at 11am GMT. Sign up or log in here and we’ll be in touch ahead of the event to provide details on how to join the webinar live.

Help! I can’t make it to the live-stream

No problem! If you can’t make the live-stream you can catch up whenever it suits you. We’ll be making it available on Procurious soon after the event (and will be sure to send you a link) so you can listen at your leisure!

Can I ask a question during the webinar?

If you’d like to ask one of our speakers a question please submit it via the Discussion Board on Procurious and we’ll do our very best to ensure it gets answered for you.

Going to Market (Place) : The Future of Procurement goes live on 13th November. Sign up now. 

Procurement 2030: Would You Report To A Robot?

Can leadership be automated? Will AI soon take over procurement negotiations, communications and problem-solving? Once thing is for certain – no skill-set will remain uniquely human forever.

Click image to get your copy of Procurement 2030: Level 3.

What is your human advantage?

With 42% of the average workload in procurement expected to be automated by 2030, now is the time to take stock of our skill-sets and focus on what makes us uniquely human.

Today, the automation of core procurement skills such as data analysis and market research is well underway. Lines are being drawn between those skills that AI has already mastered, those that will be automated in the future, and – critically – the areas where humans still have the advantage over machines … and that’s where soft skills come in.

However, categorising procurement skill-sets into 1) core skills for AI and, 2) soft skills for humans oversimplifies the issue. It ignores the fact that the creeping wave of automation increasingly includes soft skills such as communication and problem-solving. 

Robotic leadership?

Avoid the trap of thinking there are particular skills that AI will never be able to replicate. Surprising results in this research, for example, reveal that very “human” skills such as negotiation and even leadership are seen as likely to be automated. Robots are currently being trained to read and respond to the subtlest of human facial expressions.

With this in mind, our research identifies core procurement and soft skills where – for the foreseeable future – humans hold a unique advantage. The ability to influence others, build relationships and think creatively have emerged as stand-out skills that will enable us to future-proof our careers on the cusp of the robotic age.

Let’s recap.

Level One of this four-part series by Procurious and Michael Page UK examined the forecast for procurement and the threats and opportunities facing the profession. Level Two shifted the focus to the practicalities of procurement and supply chain management’s evolution against the backdrop of a technological revolution.

This report, Level Three, dives into the core procurement and soft skill-sets to understand exactly which parts of our roles are expected to be automated, and offers advice on the skills that top CPOs will be hiring for by the year 2030. 

AI and Core Procurement Skills

Determining customer needs, developing supply strategy and delivering stakeholder value are not only considered to be the most important core procurement skills, but also the least likely to be automated.

Procurement professionals who wish to develop their skills in determining customer needs (both internal and external) should work to improve their ability to build relationships, listen carefully, challenge assumptions, and always look for opportunities to connect the dots, help others and add value.

AI and Soft Skills in Procurement

Among the top four soft skills nominated as most likely to be effectively automated, problem-solving, leadership and negotiation have emerged as unexpected results. Robotic problem-solving is an entirely different concept to human creativity and innovation. AI has the superior ability to search and analyse data – for example, the answer to an engineering challenge may already exist in your files, but has been forgotten by human staff. Given the right search parameters,AI can identify the solution.

Would you feel comfortable reporting to a machine? Robotic leadership is a fascinating concept. Robots may very well have the ability to check your work and track your KPIs, but are not yet capable of motivating or inspiring others, or picking up on the human nuances that are a part of powerful decision making.

Negotiating robots already exist, and may soon be considered very useful for conducting low-level, emotionless negotiations that involve no ambiguity or complexity. For strategically important negotiations, however, human skills such as awareness, empathy and flexibility will always have the advantage.


Interested In Learning More?

This content-packed report also contains links to relevant thought-leadership from Procurious and Michael Page UK, including videos, blog articles, podcasts and webinars.

And don’t forget … part 4 of the Procurement 2030 report will be released before the end of the year!

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD PROCUREMENT 2030: LEVELS 1 to 3.

Better Procurement – Learning from the Private Sector

Who does procurement better – the public or private sector? Is there any reason we all can’t do better together through sharing knowledge and experience? Much depends on the professionals involved.

You could argue that an uneasy relationship exists between procurement in the public and private sectors. On one side, there is full accountability and audit trails, scrutiny over every penny/cent spent and the need for what is, from the outside at least, an almost impenetrable set of regulations and documents that have to be completed.

On the other side, it’s just as accountable and auditable, but there’s more freedom in the process, things happen quicker and there’s more time for the good stuff like contract management. I think it’s fairly obvious which is which…

Accept What We Cannot Change

To stop this becoming a lengthy piece on which is ‘better’, public or private sector procurement, it’s important to separate what could be done better from what we cannot change.

  • Regulation and Legislation

Yes, the public sector is highly constrained by regulations, leaving it more inflexible and giving less freedom in the process to procurement professionals. But beyond getting better at working within the regulations, there’s not much to be done about it. Even post-Brexit, there will still be substantial regulation governing procurement and procurement process, even if it looks slightly different to what it is now.

  • Budgets

Yes, budgets in the public sector are being squeezed. Hard. But no, this is not going to change any time soon. What both the public and private sectors need to do is be savvier with how the available money is spent and how they can maximise what they get from a contract with less money to spend.

  • Transparency

Let’s knock this one on the head straight away. Public sector procurement receives the level of scrutiny it does as it is spending the general public’s money. To ensure everything is above board and audited this needs to continue. And the private sector will only face increased scrutiny in the coming years, so there’s no escaping on either side of the fence.

Lend a Helping Hand

However, there’s nothing to say that the public-private relationship can’t be better. Both sides could teach each other a thing or two about the procurement process and how to make it better or more efficient. After all, at a time of squeezed budgets and regulatory pressure (not to mention Brexit and trade wars), why wouldn’t we all want to work together to make our lives and jobs easier?!

In this article, we’ll be looking at three key areas in which the private sector can help the public sector and at some point in the near future, we’ll look at this from the other side.

Some of this is based on what has been written about both sectors in the press and in thought leadership papers. The rest of my advice, to paraphrase Mary Schmich and Baz Luhrmann, has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now…

  • Negotiation

In the private sector, procurement professionals have the opportunity to negotiate at any stage in the process. Indeed, they may even choose to negotiate at multiple stages in order to get the best deal. Opportunities are more limited in the public sector, meaning more contracts are awarded without negotiation, or negotiation at a stage where the deal is almost done.

However, even these could be maximised to produce a better deal and this is where private sector professionals could help. Who better to assist with a negotiation than someone who is practised, skilled and used to carrying out the process? Swapping notes on good negotiation techniques and where savings have been found in contracts for similar goods or services could provide some much needed wins.

  • Longer Contracts and Relationship Management

You know the score – you spend months painstakingly putting a contract together and awarding it, only to come back to the same contract 18 months later to tender again. The limiting factor here is the length of public sector contracts in many cases, but could this be a valuable knowledge sharing opportunity?

Crafting long-term contracts, aimed at longer than 5 years (for the right goods, services or works), is a skill. Maintaining the right balance between getting a good deal on both sides, opening up avenues for innovation, while at the same time knowing that come year 5 any prices are still competitive, is something that the private sector has greater experience with. By putting heads together, this could also be passed into the public sector.

  • A Strategic, Value-Adding Profession

Are you in a senior management or executive level role in procurement? What do you think your organisation views procurement as – a tender machine for purchasing or a strategic partner for adding value? Some argue that in the public sector, the former is much more common. When there are savings to be made, procurement is the one tasked with delivering, but is left out of the loop when it comes to bringing the value to the top line.

Leaders can help drive a change in this view. If private sector procurement leaders have been able to make this leap already, then using a tried and tested approach may help gain the necessary traction in the public sector.

Share Your Thoughts

These are my thoughts on what the private sector has to offer the public sector in the overall procurement process. None of them represents a quick fix in terms of greater efficiency or costs savings, but done properly, could provide these benefits in the long run.

It would be interesting to hear from professionals on both sides of the fence on this too. Would you be willing to work closely with the public/private sector? How would you facilitate this? Are there other areas you think you could help with, or have greater priority? Let’s get the conversation started – you never know where it’s going to take you and the profession.

Data: You Complete Me

AI has the potential to shoulder a vast amount of the #procurement workload. But machines can only do the work for you if you capture all the data in the first place.
Last month Procurious hosted the very first Procurement Thought Leadership Forum in Chicago to discuss the evolution of procurement; what the future holds for the profession; how we can effectively determine the size of the global market; the importance of professional associations and maturity levels across the globe. 
The event, sponsored by Basware and attended by a number of the world’s leading procurement consultants, sparked some fascinating discussion and debate.

Dealing with Data

Remember that Tom Cruise movie – Minority Report? Eric Wilson, SVP Basware North America, certainly does. “In the movie Tom Cruise swipes things on a giant screen, he then predicts a crime and the team prevents it before it happens. It was pretty cool. Especially, back in 2002 when we didn’t even have touch screens on our cell phones and artificial intelligence (AI) was in the realm of science fiction.”

Of course, today we all use AI in our daily lives, whether we realise it or not. As Eric asserts “AI is the new electricity. When we replaced steam powered machines with those using electricity, we transformed transportation, manufacturing, agriculture, healthcare and so on; increasing efficiency tremendously.  AI has the same, huge potential, but nobody truly knows yet how it will change the world.”

Indeed, as  Eric pointed out it’s difficult to think of an industry that is not being impacted by AI;  IT, FinTech and Healthcare, to name just a few, are all being totally transformed. Self driving vehicles is an industry that is built entirely on AI.

But holding the right data is critical in order to harness the benefits of new technologies. If an organisation can turn all the data they hold into tangible customer value by leveraging machine learning and AI they can actually begin to benefit from these technological advances in the market. But to do so relies on having the right volume, quality and completeness of data .

“If you don’t have a view to the future when you are evaluating automation options, not only will you not achieve your business case for today, but three years from now, your system will be obsolete,” states Eric.  “It will be obsolete because it did not capture all of the data in the first place.”

In Eric’s mind there are no two ways about it: you can’t use AI if you don’t have the centralised data for those machines to learn from. “And so, my key takeaway now and always is: when you are putting together your RFPs for systems, data better be first and foremost on your mind!”

The conversation century

Elizabeth Linder, Founder and CEO of The Conversational Century joined Youtube in 2007 and often thinks back to that year, a significant time for Youtube, in order to understand the social media space.

It was an exciting and life-changing time for skilled amateurs. A time that had millions of people singing in their bedrooms or racking  up millions of video views for a commentary on something they would never otherwise have been considered an expert in. Youtube ultimately offered them the opportunity to be heard.

Elizabeth is a strong believer that the internet is the best place to build trust. “The people” ( i.e. you and me) have already got this all figured out. But the reason so many people still believe the internet is destroying trust is that our leaders are still so far from getting it right! We simply don’t have leaders at a political level that have invested in a voice on social media.

Some key things to remember when trying to start conversations online:

  • Most leaders fear that they have to move at an increased pace because of today’s internet culture. You don’t. Go at your own pace but keep people informed as you do it. It’s ok to communicate to people that “the discussions are still in progress” or “we don’t have information on this yet” so long as you’re communicating something!
  • Believe in the power of primary sources because the public certainly do. Hearing directly from the source rather than a paper adds a lot of value to your communication. If you’ve ever been quoted in an article, blog or feature you’ll know the producer of that piece never quite gets to the meat of what you were trying to say because youdon’t own the conversation or drive the discussion – they do!
  • Embracing in the hacker culture, i.e. making it up as you go along, is key. EU politicians, for example, only see social media as a tool for outbound communications and not for their inbound policy making. Hacker culture dictates that they need to consider the latter.

Elizabeth’s take away advice on owning the social media space? “Be yourself online and talk to people in a way that lets them in but not in a way so casual that you’re treating them like family.”

The value of professional certifications

Rick Blasgen, CEO – Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) and Tom Derry, CEO – Institute of Supply Management ISM led a session on the evolution of procurement  and supply chain and the value of professional certifications.

Both leaders are very optimistic about what the future holds for procurement and supply chain professionals . “I think [these professions]  will be an embedded feature of every competitive global company around the world because they see so much of what goes on,” argues Rick. “We see it really growing into the fabric of successful companies.”

And Rick believes professional certifications “are a normal part of continuing to educate yourself and continuing to be knowledgeable about such a dynamic and ever-changing field.”

“One of the things important to CSCMP is to advance the logistics, supply chain and procurement professions and the careers of those working in them. The only way we do that is by being thought leaders and thinking about using the new technologies and tools that have never before existed.

“Our certifications will educate you on these things and then test that you have the understanding and can utilise the complexity within them.”
“An association used to function as the place where people felt obliged to belong,” says Tom. But nowadays he doesn’t believe professionals feel such a sense of needing to belong to an association  just for the sake of belonging  “They need value for money and they expect a professional body to provide tools and skills that enable them to be successful at a critical moment in their career.”
Sizing up the procurement market
Braden Baseley, ProcurementIQ Analyst discussed the size and maturity of the global procurement market, revealing preliminary  insights from their specially commissioned research report.
The research reveals…
  •  There are 554, 560 procurement pros working in the US, which make up 0.4 per cent of the workforce
  • The average salary for a US procurement professional is $72,199, which is pretty good considering the average US salary is approximately $55, 000
  • California, Texas and New York employ the largest number of procurement professionals
The report will also explore how procurement skills are changing and evolving and the skills that are most desirable in procurement teams.
The Procurement Thought Leadership Forum was sponsored by Basware.