Category Archives: In The Press

BBC micro:bit Launches to Generation of UK Students

In a landmark moment, the BBC are delivering up to one million micro:bit devices free to UK students to encourage more young people get creative with technology.

BBC Micro:bit

Every Year 7 student in England and Wales, Year 8 student in Northern Ireland, and S1 student in Scotland will receive a micro:bit. The device, launched as part of the BBC Make it Digital initiative, is a pocket-sized, codeable computer that allows young people to get creative with technology, whatever their level of experience, and aims to help develop a new generation of digital pioneers.

Students can program their BBC micro:bit to become anything they want – from simple games to smart watches and even fitness trackers. This is done by using one of the code editors at www.microbit.co.uk, or the mobile app, and by connecting it to other devices and sensors. The website also features a range of resources and tutorials to help teachers, parents and students take advantage of the BBC micro:bit’s vast potential.

It’s the BBC’s most ambitious education project in 30 years and builds on the pioneering role of the BBC Micro, which helped introduce the nation to computing in the 1980s. It has been made possible only through a ground-breaking partnership between the BBC and 31 organisations, including ARM, Barclays, element14, Lancaster University, and Microsoft.

Open-Source Technology

BBC micro:bits will be delivered nationwide through schools and made available to home-schooled students over the next few weeks, but they will be the students’ devices to own. This allows students to keep their device as they move up through the school, and to continue bringing their ideas to life outside of school and term time.

Some additional BBC micro:bits have been included in the rollout to enable teachers to extend their BBC micro:bit lessons to students in other year groups, giving the BBC micro:bit partnership an even better chance of inspiring an entire generation.

Following the nationwide rollout, the BBC micro:bit hardware and much of the software will be open-sourced, and BBC micro:bits will be available to buy from a range of retailers. Money generated from these commercial sales will be used to further encourage as many people as possible to join the coding revolution. Further details will be announced soon.

British Innovation

Tony Hall, BBC Director-General, said: “This is a very special moment for us, our partners and most importantly for young people across the country. The BBC micro:bit has the potential to be a seminal piece of British innovation, helping this generation to be the coders, programmers and digital pioneers of the future.

“Only the BBC could attempt a project this ambitious, on such a large scale, and I’m thrilled we’ve persuaded so many people to get behind this and make it happen.” 

Sinead Rocks, Head of BBC Learning, said: “The BBC micro:bit has seemingly limitless potential, especially when paired with other hardware, and we can’t wait to see what students will do with it. They’ve already come up with all kinds of ideas during testing and at events around the country – some ideas help solve some of life’s daily challenges, some could have business potential, and others are just great fun. Teachers have been quick to embrace it too, which is so important to the success of the project, and they have already made valuable additions to our online resources.”

Jessica Cecil, Controller, Make It Digital said: “BBC micro:bit represents a major milestone in our bid to inspire a new generation of digital innovators. As part of our Make it Digital initiative we want everyone to discover more about the digital world. We’re offering easy-to-use devices like the BBC micro:bit, up to 5000 Make it Digital traineeships across the UK, and shows on the BBC such as Girls Can Code and Calculating Ada, to achieve just that.

“Working with our many partners to create opportunities for children to code, make and to discover, together we aim to build the chances of the next generation.”

The BBC micro:bit is the result of a ground-breaking partnership on an unprecedented scale. The BBC micro:bit’s product partners have led on the software, hardware, design, manufacture and distribution of the device. This includes:

  • ARM: The BBC micro:bit was created using the ARM® mbed™ hardware and software development kits and compiler services. The project builds on the organisations’ collaboration on the original 1981 BBC Micro computer.
  • Barclays: Supporting the distribution and manufacture of the BBC micro:bit by incorporating it into their digital education programmes
  • BBC: The BBC micro:bit project has been conceived and convened by the BBC, bringing together partners to deliver a digital literacy project on an unprecedented scale.
  • element14: element14 manufacturers the BBC micro:bit and has worked closely with all partners in areas such as component selection, cost optimisation and design for manufacture. In addition, element14 has leveraged its manufacturing, logistics and packaging capabilities to safely deliver the first 1 million units into the UK.
  • Lancaster University: Designed and developed the BBC micro:bit runtime; the essential core code that makes the BBC micro:bit do all the amazing things it does. The University will continue to support the micro:bit community as it grows.
  • Microsoft: Developed the BBC micro:bit website (www.microbit.co.uk) to host code editors for all one million micro:bits and has also supplied two coding languages.
  • Nordic Semiconductor: Supplied the ultra low power Bluetooth® chip that integrates the micro:bit’s computer brain, and allows the micro:bit to both wirelessly communicate with other micro:bits, and sync to or be updated from smartphones, tablets, and computers via Bluetooth.
  • NXP Semiconductor: Provided the micro-controller that manages the BBC micro:bit’s USB connection, the accelerometer and magnetometer that enable the micro:bit to react to motion and the direction it’s facing.
  • Samsung: Developed the Android app for the BBC micro:bit.
  • Technology Will Save Us: A London-based start-up that designs ‘Do It Yourself’ tech kits that spark the creative imagination of young people. Tech Will Save Us led the BBC micro:bit design, producing the distinctive look & feel that encourages kids to get hands-on with technology.
  • Wellcome Trust: Through direct initiatives to schools, Wellcome Trust will provide exciting real life contexts for teachers and learners around the UK to use the micro:bit.

For more on the BBC micro:bit, the project partners and product champions, visit the ‘Make it Digital’ website.

Easter Supply Chain Set for Record Year

You may not realise the complicated Easter supply chain that exists in order to cope with increasing consumer demand.

Easter Supply Chain

Whether your Easter delicacy of choice is the humble egg, sweets like jelly beans and marshmallows, or something more like a Spanish torrija, you are contributing to the enormous spend on confectionary and other Easter-related items.

In the UK, Easter sales of chocolate make up 10 per cent of the figures for the entire year. According to the National Confectioners’ Association in the USA, around 70 per cent of the Easter sweets purchased are chocolate, which works out to a whopping $2.2 billion spend.

All of this puts pressure on the Easter supply chain plans that businesses have in place. And 2016 is expected to be a bumper year for consumer spend.

Highest for 13 Years

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF) in the USA, total spending on Easter this year is expected to hit $17.3 billion, the highest level for 13 years. To put it into perspective, that’s a spend of $146 for each person in the USA.

According to some statistics, this will put spending, particularly on sweets and chocolates, at a higher level for Easter than it is for Halloween. The NRF have estimated confectionary sales will total $2.4 million, surpassing the average of $2.1 million for Halloween sweets.

Possibly not good news for the 81 per cent of adults who admitted to stealing chocolate from their children’s stashes over the holiday period…

Retail Sales

And it’s not just the confectionary market that sees a huge spend at this time of year. With adults planning on spending on average 50 per cent for Easter than they did on Halloween, the money is being spread around.

According to the NRF survey, spending will see high figures in the following areas:

  • $5.5 billion on food
  • $3 billion on clothing
  • $2.7 billion on gifts
  • $2.4 billion on confectionary
  • $1.2 billion on flowers

And with over 40 per cent of shoppers visiting department stores to carry out their shopping, and 21 per cent shopping online, organisational supply chains will be working flat out to cope with demand.

Easter Supply Chain Optimisation

Delivering all this chocolate, sweets and other items to stores requires a mammoth effort from logistics organisations around the world. Shipping efficiency, customer location, order quantities and supply chain management all have to be reviewed in order to keep up with the demand.

In the USA, Hersheys opted to optimise their supply chain around the elements of customer geographical location and grouping stock-keeping units with product groups. It is estimated that by doing this, and using off-the-shelf software, the organisation has saved itself in excess of $15 million per year.

Just Born, a confectionary manufacturer who are responsible for America’s favourite non-chocolate treat, the Peep, changed their Easter supply chain strategy in order to cope with the huge demand for their products over the holidays.

The organisation now uses distribution centres and 3PL to break bulk orders for more efficient delivery to retailers. Just Born also shares these centres with other organisations, with this collaboration further reducing the costs associated with deliveries.

An increasing use of technology for inventory management and planning is making life easier for organisations too. Barcodes can be used to manage inventories more efficiently, while also allowing for real-time tracking of stock at both distribution centres and retail outlets.

Further advancements in technologies such as ERP and MRP systems will allow organisations to further increase efficiencies, while increased collaboration will benefit not only the whole industry, but also the consumer.

So just remember, the next time you crack open that chocolate egg, there’s more than a simple process required to get it from manufacturer to shelf (and that’s before the Easter Bunny gets involved!).

What Can National Apprenticeship Week Do for the UK Economy?

Last week was National Apprenticeship Week in the UK. The National Apprenticeship Service uses the week to raise awareness of the fantastic benefits apprenticeships can offer to business, employees and the wider economy.

UK Apprentices with Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills
UK Apprentices with Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

It’s great to see UK businesses embracing National Apprenticeship week. Despite the popularity of apprenticeships waning in recent years, the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) are committed to providing opportunities and relevant training for businesses and employees. The most obvious positive is that more jobs are created for those who wish to have training and gain skills and experience within different industries.

The UK isn’t the only place to be positively addressing employment issues this week as New Zealand celebrated an end to zero-hour contracts.

On the flip side, it was revealed that Nigeria have the onerous task of needing to find 40-50 million new jobs to cater to their growing economy.

National Apprenticeship Week

Apprenticeships can provide so many opportunities to different stakeholders including work opportunities and training to employees and employers. National Apprenticeship Week seeks to change the common misconceptions about apprenticeships consisting of low-skilled and badly paid roles and being non-advantageous to employers. The reality is quite the opposite with 1,500  different jobs available across 170 industries.

Unfortunately, many companies don’t realise all of the advantages they can reap from implementing an apprenticeship scheme. For example, as of April 2016, businesses will not have to pay National Insurance for apprentices under 25 years of age.

Whilst many businesses, including CIPS, already have schemes in place, National Apprenticeship Week raises awareness to those that don’t and organisations like the NAS can help to put these in place and expand existing schemes.

The UK Government have committed to improving the apprenticeship system by creating three million new apprenticeships by 2020. The UK, and other nations, should be taking a leaf out of Germany’s book, where apprenticeships are integral to the education system.

Germany has implemented a dual system whereby apprenticeships combine theoretical training with hand-on practical experience in the workplace funded by employers. They also have a highly effective assessment process for candidate selection.

It would be fantastic to see the UK succeed in emulating Germany’s apprenticeship system. National Apprenticeship Week seems like a good place to start.

Zero Hour Contracts in New Zealand

Zero-hour contracts have sparked controversy in recent years and many have campaigned to put an end to them. Those against the contracts claim that they are unfair, exploitative, and only benefit an employer, who can avoid paying for things like annual leave and leave and sick days.

Some, however, would attest to the benefits of the zero-hour contract, arguing that it allows flexibility and minimum commitment. They can certainly come in use to those solely seeking part time work, such as students who might benefit from having weeks at a time with no work hours.

New Zealand has clamped down on the contracts this week as their parliament unanimously voted to abolish them. Having initially sought to only moderate the contracts, the country have now officially banned them altogether.

The Unite trade union, which has named and shamed fast food employers as users of zero-hour contracts, has strongly welcomed the move having campaigned for this result since 2003.

It will now be obligatory for all employers in New Zealand to contract employees with at least some guaranteed hours.

Nigerian Job Shortage

This week, the World Bank released a report which states Nigeria needs to create between 40 and 50 million jobs to sustain their rapidly growing population.

The report, which explains how only a tiny proportion of the country’s population is currently benefiting from high growth emphasised the importance of implementing more relevant technical and vocational education and training.  As ever, it is the women who are most affected by job shortages as there few job options for them.  

It will also be crucial to raise the productivity of agriculture by increasing access to markets, inputs, credit, and technology.

At the moment, a North-South divide is emerging because the northern regions have more difficulty accessing education and employment.

Kathleen Beegle, world bank lead economist said “Nigeria is facing a real challenge when it comes to creating enough good jobs for the many new entrants to the job market.”

We’ve been keeping up to date with all of the procurement news this week. Here’s what has been going on…

Supply Chain Salaries in UAE

  • According to a report by recruiter Morgan McKinley, supply chain professionals are likely to see salaries rise by 4 to 6 per cent in 2016.
  • This is due to increased investment in manufacturing capability in the Gulf region and, with it, the rising prominence of the region’s supply chain professionals.
  • In the UAE and Saudi Arabia, for example, warehouse and distribution managers are in particularly high demand, as there has been strong growth in manufacturing and distribution.
  • According to the report, the outlook for salaries beyond mid-2016 is heavily dependent on oil prices.

Read More at Supply Management

Wildlife Trading

  • Some 40 companies across shipping, airline and transport industries – members of the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce – signed an agreement at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday which aims to block transportation routes for the illegal wildlife trade.
  • The move could mark a significant milestone in preventing the illegal wildlife trading industry, which according to United For Wildlife is valued at up to $20 billion per year.
  • The initiative also has the backing of key global lobbies such as the WWF.
  • Prince William, who is backing the initiative, said “We have faced up to the fact that if current trends continue the last wild African elephants and rhinos will be killed before my daughter Charlotte’s 25th birthday.”

Read More at Supply Management

UPS Alternative Fuel Investment

  • UPS has announced plans to build an additional 12 compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling stations and add 380 new CNG tractors to its growing alternative fuel and advanced technology fleet.
  • The company is working to meet its goal of logging one billion miles with its alternative fuel and advanced technology fleet by the end of 2017.
  • They plan to use a Rolling Laboratory approach to determine the right alternative fuel solutions to meet the unique needs of route-specific driving environments.
  • UPS was one of the initial 13 leading companies to take the Obama Administration’s American Business Act on Climate Pledge, committing to reduce greenhouse gas emission intensity 20 percent by 2020.

Read more at Supply Chain 247

Why Food Procurement Can Help Climate Change

  • Estimates suggest that food and drink production and distribution contributes 20 per cent of UK carbon emissions every year and is the leading cause of deforestation, land use change and biodiversity loss.
  • It also accounts for 70 per cent of all human water use and is a major source of water pollution
  • The UK Government recognises that procurement can have a considerable impact on the environment. As a result it has introduced the Government Buying Standards.
  • The standards include a set of minimum mandatory standards for inclusion in tenders and contract performance conditions, and apply to all aspects of Government procurement, which of course includes food and catering services.

Read more at Public Health Matters

Crowdsourcing Big Ideas on the Future of Procurement

Through an unequalled think-tank event powered by social media, Procurious will enable the global procurement community to crowdsource their thinking on the future of procurement during the second annual Big Ideas Summit on April 21, 2016.

Big Ideas Summit 2016-logo

As the leading free online business network for procurement and supply chain management professionals, Procurious will connect 50 top executives, thought leaders and CPOs, with its 12,000+ worldwide members to forge new ground together.

Every delegate’s big ideas will contribute to solving thorny issues, and harnessing new opportunities. All are invited to participate by going to bigideassummit.com — where they can register for Procurious and then join the Big Ideas Summit Group.

“Procurement needs to start thinking the unthinkable and rethinking the possible – we can’t be constrained by our current paradigms. With social media allowing every one of us to have a voice, a digital conference helps us involve the whole world in the conversation, and enables access to diverse views and experiences,” says Tania Seary, Founding Chairman, Procurious.

“Our goal is to empower a new generation of business intrapreneurs – people who can think outside the box – to ignite change even in times of ambiguity. We hope to seed an innovation movement that knows no boundaries.”

Sponsored by IBM, the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), The Hackett Group, and Coupa, the Big Ideas Summit will feature several provocative sessions. Leaders from these organisations, as well as the Economist, Facebook, AstraZeneca, The World Bank, and more, will discuss:

  • Thinking the Unthinkable: How the global business environment is changing, how to spot trends and disruptions, and ‘unthinkables’ to prepare for.
  • Rethinking the Possible: Today’s megatrends, from ethical supply chains to the Internet of Things.
  • The Conversation Century: How leaders are using social media to attract and retain the best and brightest talent, and maintain a career edge.
  • Procurement’s Blind Spots: How procurement is applying key agile capabilities, and addressing “unthinkable” risk mitigation issues.

Find your voice – the conversation has already begun! Participants are already asking hard questions, vetting their big ideas, and reading exclusive, advance insights from the presenters.

On April 21, when they log on to Procurious, they will also be able to exchange viewpoints on the proceedings, shared by video, and get involved in real time via social media, on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook, using the hashtag #BigIdeas2016. Members will also be able to access more rich content in the days and weeks after this gathering.

Join the global movement now. Visit bigideassummit.com and register today.

Tweet this: Join the global conversation with your ideas for transforming #procurement at our #BigIdeas2016 Summit, April 21 www.bigideassummit.com

About Procurious

Procurious is the world’s first online business community dedicated to procurement and supply chain professionals. It’s a hub to advance your career, develop your skills and expand your global professional network. With 12,000+ members across the globe, Procurious aims to empower procurement leaders to connect, collaborate and take a more innovative professional outlook.

Think of Procurious as a professional network, news and knowledge hub, learning and career center, all in one place. Join now at www.procurious.com – it’s free to register and participate.

Here’s what else has been going on in the procurement world this week.

Primark’s Sustainable Cotton Programme

  • Under the Primark Sustainable Cotton Programme, women in Gujarat, India, are trained to improve cotton yields, increase their incomes and introduce sustainable farming methods.
  • A pilot, launched three years ago, saw 1,251 women smallholders increase their average profits by 211 per cent and yields by 12.6 per cent.
  • The pilot also saw a 5 per cent cut in input costs, a 12.9 per cent reduction in water use and fertiliser and pesticide use fell.
  • To coincide with International Women’s Day, the retailer has announced the programme will be extended by six years to an additional 10,000 women.

Read more at Supply Management

Amazon Plans Major Logistics Network

  • In order to reduce dependency on third-party freighter services, Amazon is building its own logistics network to keep up with customer demand.
  • The planes will be leased for five to seven years and run by various divisions of Air Transport Services Group, allowing Amazon to run its own logistics network in the US.
  • With this, the retail giant would be able to meet the demand of same- and next-day delivery for its customers, particularly Prime members.
  • Dave Clark, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Operations and Customer Service at Amazon said “We offer Earth’s largest selection, great prices and ultra-fast delivery promises to a growing group of Prime members, and we’re excited to supplement our existing delivery network with a great new provider.”

Read more at Supply Chain Digital

E-procurement in the UK Could Save a Fortune

  • The UK government could save up to £10 billion per annum through a reformed e-procurement platform by placing a greater emphasis on administrative efficiencies and market competition.
  • By using e-procurement models championed by the likes of South Korea and Estonia savings of 25 per cent could be made to the present £40 billion procurement bill.
  • Estonia currently attributes roughly 50 per cent of its expenditure through e-procurement platforms, saving an estimated 30-40 per cent on the cost of administering procurement.
  • However, the potential of e-procurement can only be achieved in the UK if trends accelerate.

Read more at Business Cloud News

Sustainable Palm Oil Production in Indonesia

  • The world’s second largest palm oil producer, Golden Agri-Resources (GAR), has mapped its supply chain to 489 individual mills in Indonesia.
  • In 2014, GAR extended its sustainability policy to its entire supply chain.
  • Paul Hickman, GAR’s head of global vegetable oils and oilseeds, said “We see a clear industry trend where buyers want more information on the impact of the palm oil they purchase.”
  • Indonesia’s Astra Agro Lestari has signed the Indonesian Palm Oil Pledge (IPOP), along with GAR, whose signatories promise to eliminate deforestation, peatlands conversion and human rights abuses from their supply chains.

Read more at Supply Management

30 Under 30 – Recognising Supply Chain Rising Stars

ThomasNet and the Institute for Supply Management have announced their annual 30 Under 30 Rising Supply Chain Stars for 2015.

30 Under 30

Delivering more than $10 million in cost savings, spearheading a new global distribution model, and driving a startup’s exponential growth are among the outstanding personal achievements of young professionals today named winners in the ThomasNet and Institute for Supply Management (ISM) ‘30 Under 30 Rising Supply Chain Stars Recognition Program‘.

“These young professionals are leading by example for a new generation in the procurement field by demonstrating the huge accomplishments possible,” said Mark Holst-Knudsen, President, ThomasNet. “They are true role models for how millennials are paving a new path in supply chain management.”

Ahead of the Curve

Founded in 2014, the 30 Under 30 Rising Supply Chain Stars programme is designed to recognise individuals who have demonstrated leadership, innovation, collaboration, and other outstanding attributes.

This programme provides role models and illustrates supply chain and procurement as a viable and exciting career choice. Millennials are expected to comprise 75 percent of global employees by 2025.

“Our new best and brightest stars are ahead of the curve in recognising supply chain as a natural fit for their expertise and values,” said ISM CEO Tom Derry. “Applying their leadership skills, technical know-how and passion for making a difference, they are helping revitalise the industry in tangible, far-reaching ways.”

With an average age of 27, the 2016 supply chain superstars span industries ranging from manufacturing to education, financial services, medical devices, information technology, oil and gas, and government. Many are driving improvement in areas that matter to them and benefit society, such as sustainability.

Megawatt Star

30 Under 30 - Amy Georgi
2015 Megawatt Winner, Amy Georgi

Recognised as this year’s Megawatt Star: Amy Georgi, 30, a program manager in supply chain acquisitions and integrations with Fluke Electronics, a Danaher Company, based in York, Pennsylvania.

Each rising star will receive a one-year membership to ISM; admittance to ISM2016, May 16-18 in Indianapolis; and a free THOMASNET.com Supplier Discovery Lunch and Learn session for them and their colleagues. In addition, Georgi and her nominator will win an all-expense-paid trip to the ISM conference.

For profiles and photos of the winners, please visit www.thomasnet.com/30under30.

About Institute for Supply Management

Institute for Supply Management (ISM) serves supply management professionals in more than 90 countries. Its 50,000 global members manage $1 trillion in corporate and government spend annually. Founded in 1915 as the first supply management institute in the world, ISM is committed to advancing the practice of supply management to drive value and competitive advantage, contributing to a prosperous and sustainable world. ISM leads the profession through the ISM Report On Business®, its highly regarded certification programs and the ISM Mastery Model™. For more information, visit: www.instituteforsupplymanagement.org.

About THOMASNET®

THOMASNET’s flagship product, THOMASNET.com, is industry’s go-to platform for supplier discovery and sourcing for OEM and MRO products, as well as custom manufacturing services. This free platform serves procurement professionals, engineers, plant and facility management and other buyers from corporations, educational institutions, government agencies, the military and small businesses. It also serves manufacturers, distributors, and service companies throughout North America who want to get found by these buyers.

Why We’re Embracing e-Procurement in 2016

While e-Procurement has been around for a number of years, it seems to have made significant strides in a number of areas recently.

e-Procurement

You might have seen that the Procurious team attended the eWorld Procurement & Supply Conference in London last week. This bi-annual event is the leader for procurement innovation and it was great to be a part of. We’ll be sharing some more content about our experiences there soon.

However, it has been interesting to note that the subjects of e-procurement and technology have turned out to be hot topics all-round in the procurement and supply news over the last seven days.

The Ukraine has introduced e-procurement to help fight corruption; Verian, a software solutions company, has announced the release of its e-procurement solution; and a report by Webexpenses has claimed that UK workers are hindered by outdated technology.

Ukraine Introduces e-procurement

Ukraine are launching a new electronic public procurement system this April which will make procurement in Ukraine more transparent and save money.

The system, called ProZorro, will be mandatory for all public procurement tenders. To date, 15 per cent of public sector buyers, approximately 3000 of them, have signed up voluntarily to ProZorro, as well as 10,000 potential suppliers.

Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Ukrainian Prime Minister, said in January that public procurement had been a source of corruption, something ProZorro will prevent. The system will also reduce government spending and lower prices.

Verian Aim to Raise User Engagement

Verian, a US-based cloud spend management and P2P solutions provider, recently announced the release of its winter e-procurement solution, aimed at helping to change user behaviours to gain the benefits of e-procurement such as greater efficiencies and cutting cost.

Businesses will be provided with a configurable solution that allows users to track performance metrics and top performers. It will be possible to see a visual representation of the impact of a user’s individual behaviour on the success of the organisation.

Heidi Murphy, Director of Procurement, YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities commented that, “We wanted these metrics to show users how they were personally impacting the process, and create a common ground for communicating with them on something other than policy adherence.”

Verian are hoping that the latest updates to its software will help with user engagement, long believed to be one of the main barriers to successful e-procurement implementation.

UK Held Back by Outdated Tech

A recent survey on workplace technology has revealed that 85 per cent of UK office workers believe their company’s technology is not up to scratch.

The survey, conducted by Webexpenses, a cloud-based expense management provider, also revealed that the workers believed that if this situation were to change, work would be completed more efficiently.

Over a quarter (26 per cent) of participants specified that it was the IT systems which they felt needed improvement, while 41 per cent thought that the process of managing teams and internal communications could be easily enhanced with better technology.

The report ultimately reinforces how crucial it is for businesses to engage with the latest technologies. Don’t get left behind!

As always, we’ve been on the lookout for more of this week’s top procurement news stories.

Foot and Mouth Disease

  • The US has calculated that an outbreak of foot and mouth disease could cost the livestock industry in excess of USD$188 billion.
  • The Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee met to discuss how prepared the US are to handle such an outbreak and determined that there was an alarming gap.
  • Michael Conaway, Agriculture Committee chairman and Republican Congressman, said, “It is essential we have all of the plans and infrastructure in place so we can be suitably prepared against intentional or unintentional introduction of plant or animal pests and disease”.
  • The hearing formed part of a series by the committee highlighting the importance of agriculture to national security.

Read more at Supply Management

Australia to Boost Defence Procurement

  • Australia is to increase spending on defence by AUD$29.9 billion over the next decade, including funding to help SMEs access global supply chain markets.
  • The Department of Defence has published its 2016 Defence White Paper outlining strategic defence priorities and challenges up until 2035.
  • The investment plans include: a continuous naval shipbuilding programme, starting with nine future frigates and 12 offshore patrol vessels and 12 submarines.
  • The government is also creating a new Centre for Defence Industry Capability and a new approach to defence innovation. 

Read more at Supply Management

Apple’s Supply Chain Recovery

  • J.P. Morgan analysts tracking the Apple supply chain issued a note to investors this week, revealing that build projections for the coming months are better than had been anticipated.
  • Having initially forecasted iPhone sales to drop up to 15 per cent quarter over quarter, units are expected to be flat between March and June, at about 45 million units for each.
  • Their visits with the supply chain suggest a build rate of 2 million units for the new 4-inch “iPhone SE” this quarter, growing to 4 million in the June quarter.
  • The  “iPhone 7” update is expected to arrive later this year.

Read more at Supply chain 24/7

India Expands e-Waste Recycling Company

  • Attero, an Indian company based outside New Delhi, has patented a technology which extracts gold and other precious metals from electronic waste.
  • The company collects one million pounds in weight of mobile phones and computers per month in India and resells the precious metals it extracts back to the electronics industry.
  • Attero has won the backing of US investors such as the International Finance Corporation and Draper Fisher Jurvetson to help it expand into the US.
  • It is much cheaper to install Attero’s urban mining centres than the European counterparts and the centres take up less space.

Read more at Supply Management

Denmark’s Out-of-Date Food

  • The first supermarket in Denmark called Wefood selling food beyond its “best before” date has opened to help cut the 700,000 tonnes of food waste produced by the country each year.
  • The food is still safe to eat but would be considered waste by supermarkets because it has passed its “best before” date, has damaged packaging, is labelled incorrectly or too much has been produced.
  • The Danish minister for food and the environment, Eva Kjer Hansen said “A supermarket like Wefood makes so much sense and is an important step in the battle to combat food waste.
  • Similar stores across the country are planned if the first is a success.

Read more at Supply Management

The Best Companies to Work for 2016

The Sunday Times released its “100 Best Companies to Work for 2016” last week, and there was a new name at the top of the list.

Best Companies to Work for

London-based online insurance retailer, Simply Business, beat the competition to top the main list this year. Not only has the business never been in the top spot before, it was a completely new entry for 2016.

The retailer beat telecoms reseller, Chess (up one place to second, from third in 2015), and Red Carnation Hotels (first in 2015, but third this year), into first place.

How To Be ‘The Best’

The Sunday Times has been running their Best Companies survey since the year 2000, attracting the big names in UK business, all trying to make one of the high-profile lists – Best Companies; Best Small Companies; Best Not-for-Profit Organisations.

The organisations register themselves to take part – 925 did so this year – but it’s their employees who decide if and where they make the list. This year, over 240,000 employees completed anonymous surveys about their employers, rating that on the following categories:

  • Leadership – the head of the company and senior leaders
  • Wellbeing – stress, pressure and work-life balance
  • Giving Something Back – if companies are putting back into the local community and society in general
  • Personal Growth – whether staff feel stretched and challenged by their job
  • My Manager – how they feel about immediate and day-to-day managers
  • My Company – how they feel about the company, rather than the people
  • My Team – how they feel about their colleagues
  • Fair Deal – how happy they are with pay and benefits

It’s not a one-time thing either. Firms choose to enter on a year by year basis, and it’s clear that they need to keep engaging with employees and working hard to stay on the list. There were 79 new entrants in the three lists for 2016, meaning some companies will have to work hard to regain their place next year.

Secret to Success

Analysing the survey results this year, The Times has highlighted team spirit as one of the key factors in enabling companies to succeed. Although many of the survey participants said their workplace stress was increasing, this was frequently outweighed by the benefits of a strong staff identity.

Jason Stockwood, CEO of Simply Business, also highlights employee empowerment as part of his business’ success. Since taking over as CEO in 2010, Stockwood has worked to build an engaged workforce, aimed at bringing benefits to all business stakeholders.

He says, “It’s a fact of modern business that by investing in a happy, engaged workforce you’re also investing in your customers. Getting it right internally is good for everybody, including the SMEs buying our products.

“Six years on we have grown from 130,000 to 350,000 small business customers and the workforce has doubled in size. This has only been possible by making every single member of the team feel empowered to achieve their full potential.”

Not All About Rewards

And working towards being one of the best companies doesn’t necessarily mean spending more money. In fact, strong leadership, a focus on employee engagement for all employees, and ensuring a good work-life balance were all seen as more important factors for the top companies this year.

It was also found that small companies were out-performing their larger counterparts across all the categories this year. According to Dr Ian Dennis, Best Companies’ Director of Research, the teamwork found across the small organisations that is making the difference.

The Table Toppers

It was all change at the top of the Best Small Companies list, while two of the top three from 2015 were up at the top again in the Best Not-for-Profit Organisations.

Best Small Companies to Work for 2016

  1. Paragon Interiors Group (New Entrant)
  2. Phaidon International (23rd in 2015)
  3. Educ8 (New Entrant)

Best Not-for-Profit Organisations to Work for 2016

  1. SLH Group (1st in 2015)
  2. Wales & West Housing (3rd in 2015)
  3. B3Living (7th in 2015)

To see the full “Best Companies to Work for” lists, and get more information on all the companies involved, visit The Sunday Times.

Why It’s Critical to Keep Your Skills Up to Date

Technological change is disrupting every industry and profession around the world, and obliging professionals to ensure their skills are up to date.

Keep your skills up to date

In recent weeks, Procurious has published a number of articles on personal development, training and up-skilling. The idea of keeping skills up to to date, and making time for learning and development, are applicable not only in procurement, but also to virtually every profession in every country.

However, this is not to say that all the onus is on the individuals to take responsibility for their development. It’s important also for organisations to ensure that resources are made available to allow employees the opportunity to take advantage of the training that is available.

AT&T – Remaining Competitive

AT&T is a US-based telecommunications company, currently owned and operated by SBC Communications. In the USA, the company is the second largest provider of mobile phone services, and the largest provider of fixed phone services. The company also provides broadband services.

The rapid pace of technological change in the telecommunications industry has left AT&T vying to remain competitive against larger technology organisations, such as Google and Amazon. Part of the strategy for remaining competitive in this industry is ensuring that employees’ skills are up to date.

It was estimated that approximately 280,000 employees need to update, or learn, coding skills, something that the organisation is supporting through the provision of eLearning. The company will reimburse around $8,000 (USD) per year per employee for this training, although this will still mean employees are funding some of the training themselves.

Up-skill. Or else…

While this may sound like the organisation is being supportive of employees’ efforts to ensure they have the skills they require to perform their job, there is something of a darker undertone. In essence, AT&T are forcing their employees to learn these skills, or find that their career choices are “very limited”.

CEO, Randall Stephenson, has been quoted as saying people who do not spend 5 to 10 hours per week in online learning will “obsolete themselves with the technology”. The time commitment involved means that many employees are now working evenings and weekends, on top of their day jobs, just to keep up to date.

The company also plans, eventually, to include personal development and learning as part of performance reviews too. This will be based on what people have studied, how well they did, and whether they are willing to keep learning.

The Right Reasons

It would be easy to point the finger at AT&T and say that they are being unfair. That they shouldn’t be forcing employees to learn skills, or essentially be out of a job. However, there are many organisations who do not offer the support that AT&T are giving their employees.

Yes, employees own time and money are required in order to keep pace, but if these employees don’t have the same skills as those at competitor organisations, then the chances are good that AT&T will cease to exist, and those employees will be looking for new jobs in an ultra-competitive job market.

It is also not to say that AT&T are leaving their employees to fend for themselves. The company has a programme called “Vision 2020”. It combines online and classroom-based work in subjects like digital networking and data science, but also looks at old skills that can be transferred to new careers.

AT&T management want to ensure that the company has a future, and the employees have got on board with this, and are actively working to make sure that they have the necessary skills to do so.

Stay ahead of the personal development game by making use of all the eLearning resources at your disposal. Check out the Learning Hub on Procurious for over 80 free video and audio resources, from learning about procurement, to learning from the experts.

It Takes a Perfect Procurement Programme to Cut Costs

How would you define perfect procurement? We’ve spoken a great deal recently about how saving money or getting the best deal is no longer the be all and end all in procurement.

Perfect Procurement

Customers demand and expect a more transparent, more ethical, and more sustainable supply chain. This ultimately means that procurement priorities vary globally, and across companies. This week, however, we are singing the praises of some perfect procurement strategising which has led to some serious savings.

The Aircraft Carrier Alliance announced savings of $139 dollars on the UK’s two new aircraft carriers, South Africa plans to reform public procurement to save R25 billion, and Australia’s fifteen-year-long infrastructure plan aims to to save the average Australian household $3,000 a year by 2040.

And, under the pressure of a slow economy,  sources have suggested that Russia plans to cut defence procurement by 5 per cent this year.

The Aircraft Carrier Alliance

The Aircraft carrier Alliance (ACA) have just announced savings of £139 million on the construction of two new aircraft carriers at the CIPS Supply Management ‘Best in Procurement‘ event in Manchester. Having initially been tasked with saving £86 million, the ACA significantly exceeded this thanks to their implementation of an effective procurement programme with PwC.

PwC supported a savings delivery team using their procurement cost savings methodology following a five week assessment phase and prioritising of opportunities to cut costs. Currently, savings have come from 67 areas but there are still three years to go on the project.

Ross Elliott, director at PwC said “We had a very robust process, but you have got to take your shareholders with you. As a result [of this project], we have got an organisation that looks for savings and is more cost aware.”

The ACA won 2015’s  Best Procurement Consultancy Project of the Year at the 2015 CIPS Supply Management Awards. The 2016 awards will be announced in April.

South Africa’s Public Procurement Plan

The South African Government is holding talks with suppliers, with the hope of reducing prices and renegotiating contracts for banking services, ICT infrastructure, health technology and learner support materials.

The reforms to public purchasing processes should save the Government R25 billion, out of an annual procurement spend of R500 billion.

South African Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, stated, “It is clear that we can achieve considerable savings to the government, while also ensuring that procurement processes are streamlined and service providers are paid on time.”

Australia’s Procurement Plan

Australia has launched its very first fifteen year infrastructure plan in which procurement has a key part to play.

A report from Infrastructure Australia has detailed a number of reforms to infrastructure to be undertaken by 2040. Among the procurement responsibilities is a suggested increase in competitive tendering.

The report cites how Sweden has increased competitive tendering in public procurement, leading to lower subsidies and 20 per cent cost savings, and calls for the same approach in Australia.

In addition to this, infrastructure projects should take account of the government’s Indigenous Procurement Policy which will “contribute to growing indigenous businesses and increasing employment through remote infrastructure procurements.”

Throughout the plan, whole-of-life costs will be accounted for in procurement when new infrastructure projects are commissioned, including future maintenance costs as well as initial capital expenditure. It is estimated that the plan will save the average Australian household AUD $3,000 by 2040.

Defence Procurement Cuts in Russia

Sources have suggested that the Russian government might be pushed to make a 5 per cent cut in defence procurement spending this year. Despite President Vladimir Putin making military growth a national priority, it seems that the slowing economy could put a halt to his plans.

Russia has entered into its second year of recession as oil prices continue to decline.  Four official sources have said that the cut proposals are to be put forward for discussion at a cabinet meeting.

The finance ministry have argued that Russia can no longer afford a multi-billion-dollar revamp of the armed forces, so will consider the realisation of this plan to be a significant victory.

In today’s current climate saving money is definitely the aim of the game. Perfect procurement might not be possible all the time. But, as proven by this week’s news, a methodical and meticulous procurement plan can make all the difference and ensure money is saved in the right places without compromising quality or ethics.

We’ve scoured the net to keep you updated with some more top procurement news stories from the past week.

Procurement Plans at the zoo

  • Hyderabad zoo animals are soon to find new partners thanks to the biggest procurement plan the state has ever seen.
  • The Central Zoo Authority accepted proposals put forward by the state forest department which permits animal exchange as well as procurement of them.
  • The Nehru Zoological Park (NZP) will soon be procuring a whole host of new animals to complement its existing residents including a pair of barking deer, an Otter, a hyena and an Indian wolf.
  • The NZP’S assistant director said “With the upcoming exchange and procurement, most of the single animals will be complemented with partners.”

Read more at New Indian Express

Deliv Partners with UPS

  • Same-day delivery startup Deliv Inc. is getting a funding boost from an unlikely source: United Parcel Service Inc.
  • As more and more commerce moves online, retailers must match the next-day and even same-day delivery speeds made commonplace by Amazon.
  • Surveys indicate that just by having the option of same-day delivery increases purchase conversion during the checkout process by 20-30 per cent.
  • Deliv, which offers enterprise-grade integrations into point of sale, has completed a $28 million Series B round of funding, adding a key strategic partner and investor in UPS. The company looks set to be the platform that powers this new on-demand future.

Read more at Supply Chain 247

Jacobs’ Procurement Pilot

  • California-based technical services provider Jacobs Engineering Group (Jacobs) has confirmed it is fronting a procurement programme in Australia
  • The programme features a new contracting model designed to enhance efficiencies in military acquisitions.
  • The model is centred on tasking original equipment manufacturers with overseeing project management activities from the funding approval stage through to programme closure.

Read more at Janes

Procurement to help ex-offenders

  • Procure Plus has been awarded a five-year contract to help ex-offenders access employment and training.
  • The not-for-profit organisation, which buys goods and services for several housing associations in the North West of England, will place 24 ex-offenders into employment, apprenticeships or training with contractors in its supply chain every year.
  • Ann-Marie English, senior regeneration manager at Procure Plus, said: “What’s different about our approach [to helping ex-offenders] is a focus on the long term, via sustained career opportunities and support.”

Read more at Supply Management

Test-Tube Meatballs – The Path to Sustainable Dining?

As we continue to waste obscene amounts of food and question the ethics of animal farming, some companies are taking steps to tackle the issue of sustainable dining head on.

Sustainable Dining - Meatball

This week, following an initial successful trial, Asda announced it will be selling its wonky vegetable boxes in hundreds of stores, while Memphis Meats revealed a “cultured meat” meatball at a San Francisco conference.

And, in an effort to bring the idea of sustainable dining to a global audience, The Rockefeller Foundation has launched a campaign called ‘Yieldwise’, which has endeavoured to halve the world’s food loss by 2030.

Asda’s Vegetable Boxes

In an attempt to cut waste in its supply chain, Asda are selling boxes of misshapen vegetables which would otherwise have been thrown away. The boxes contain a variety of veg including potatoes, parsnips, cucumbers, peppers and leeks and are sold at a cheaper price than their regular-shaped counterparts. Currently, 20 to 40 per cent of fruit and veg produced by UK farmers ends up wasted.

In addition to these boxes, Asda has “relaxed specifications” on regulations for carrots and sweet potatoes. This will result in a staggering extra 640 tonnes appearing on our shelves.

The UK alone wastes approximately 15 million tonnes of food each year. Despite households being responsible for around 50 per cent of this, supermarkets can still make a huge difference by stocking our shelves with more diverse produce, and thus aiding farmers too.

Asda’s move, campaigned for by chef Jamie Oliver, is certainly a promising start and with any luck will continue to be well received by customers. 550 stores will receive the vegetable boxes from March, as Oliver continues to try and make “ugly produce the norm.”

Are supermarkets doing enough to make their supply chains more sustainable? Definitely not. But it’s a move in the right direction which will hopefully inspire supermarkets worldwide.

At the end of the day, does the size and shape of your vegetables really matter?

Memphis Meats

Next on the sustainable dining menu is a new method for meat production unveiled in San Francisco last week. Memphis Meats have created a new kind of farming which produces meat without all the drawbacks such as environmental degradation. The company presented, cooked, and served the very first test-tube meatball, complete on a bed of pasta, a process you can watch here.

They claim the process is “healthier, safer, and more sustainable than conventional animal agriculture.” As well as omitting the need to farm livestock, which CEO Uma Valeti believes will be a practice made “unthinkable” by the new process, cultured meat such as this uses 90 per cent fewer CO2 emissions than traditional agricultural methods.

The meat will also be free of antibiotics and other contaminants often found in the meat we currently eat and will cost less energy to produce (23 calories needed per one calorie produced vs. 3 calories needed per one calorie produced).

It certainly seems like a no brainer, even if the idea of lab-grown meat is a little unnerving at first. Valeti believes they can have their products on supermarket shelves within the next five years, so it might not be long until you can try it for yourself!

The Yieldwise Campaign

The Yieldwise Campaign has been launched by the Rockefeller foundation to cut waste in supply chains. It has vowed to cut the world’s food loss by 50 per cent in the next fifteen years.

The initiative will start in Africa, where the loss of fruit and veg is most significant, and will help farmers gain access to the latest and best technologies, including better storage options, and drying to increase shelf life. Cutting post harvest lost by half will yield enough food to feed 1 billion people.

As well as educating suppliers, Yieldwise will also be working with, and challenging, global businesses to encourage them to address and account for the amount of waste within their supply chain. The global economy wastes $990 billion each year on food.

Hopefully this programme, and the work campaigners like Jamie Oliver are doing, can get more people on the sustainable dining bandwagon and help to significantly reduce this figure in the future

We’ve been searching the Internet high and low for the procurement and supply chain headlines. Here are some of the top ones…

UK Procurement Boycotts

  • The UK Government are banning public organisation and council boycotts of Israeli goods because the practice undermines “community cohesion” and Britain’s “international security”.
  • Councils across the UK have been putting pressure on suppliers to cease business with the country because of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian West Bank and its embargo of Hamas-controlled Gaza.
  • All countries that have signed up to the World Trade Organisation Government Procurement Agreement are required to treat suppliers equally, which is why Matthew Hancock has described the boycotts as “divisive.”
  • Labour, however, has criticised the new anti-boycotts policy as an “attack on democracy”, while the Campaign Against the Arms Trade said it was an attack on “the rights of all local people and campaign groups across England”.

Read more at Local Gov and The Independent

Procurement to Help Fight Zika

  • The global Zika outbreak is now affecting more than 3m people in 33 countries.
  • The virus is linked to microcephaly, a birth defect where a baby’s head is smaller than normal, and, more recently, to the neurological disorder Guillain-Barré syndrome.
  • Governments and businesses are aiming to combat the spread of Zika by investing in nets, fumigators, insect repellents and genetically modified mosquitoes.
  • Procuring mosquito nets has been made easier thanks to a consortium including the Department for International Development (DFID) and the Global Fund to Fight Aids, TB and Malaria (GFATM), who simplified the tender process for mosquito nets, saving around £86.1 million.

Read more at Supply Management

Asda Joins European Marketing Distribution

  • Asda have been in the news again this week after joining the European Marketing Distribution.
  • They become the fifteenth member of the group of national food and non-food retailers in 14 countries across the continent.
  • EMD pools the collective buying power of 250 supermarket chains to improve their competitiveness.
  • According to EMD, Asda will be able to “increase its buying power, generating significant savings from its supply chain which it can reinvest in lowering prices, further increasing product quality”.

Read more at Supply Management

EMEA Region Cargo Theft at 5 Year High

  • The reporting of cargo theft and crimes in the EMEA region reached a five-year high last year, according to the Transported Asset Protection Association (TAPA)
  • 1,515 freight thefts were reported during 2015 to the Association, a 37.4 per cent increase on the figures for 2014
  • The TAPA report suggests that this reflects the growing awareness of cargo crime among law enforcement agencies in the EMEA region
  • TAPA EMEA chairman, Thorsten Neumann, said that this may still only represent a low percentage of the overall cargo crime, as many authorities still report this as commercial property or vehicle crime

Read more at Arabian Supply Chain