Category Archives: In The Press

Is Any Profession Safe From AI Disruption?

Would you trust an “artificially intelligent colleague” to solve your legal disputes? It may be closer than you think as AI and cognitive technology advances prove no industry is safe from disruption.

AI

At the end of last week, it was announced that a major US law firm, Baker & Hostetler, had hired Ross to run its bankruptcy practice. Not major news you might think, until you realise that ROSS is the world’s first “artificially intelligent attorney”.

Built upon the same concept as IBM’s Watson, and using the same cognitive technology, ROSS is another example of a major technological disruptor, and proof that no profession is safe from the advance of AI.

Setting a Precedent

In many ways, ROSS is very similar to the original Watson technology. The AI can read and understand language, generate hypotheses for questions it is asked, and can back up these hypotheses with research and citations from legal literature and cases.

The success of ROSS is centred on how it learns. As the AI interacts more with its human colleagues, it learns from its experience, getting more intelligent and faster at problem solving with each task it does.

It can also perform these tasks faster than human counterparts, examining thousands of documents in a fraction of the time it would take a person to do. It is also able to filter these results, and only presents the most relevant cases and citations from the data available.

Although Baker & Hostetler are the first to publicly announce signing up ROSS, Andrew Arruda, CEO and co-founder of ROSS Intelligence, has confirmed that a number of other law firms have already signed licences to use ROSS too.

Big Data for Recruitment

Big Data, AI and cognitive technologies all go hand in hand, with many seeing Big Data as a key driver behind the development and advancement of the technologies. At the Big Ideas Summit, Barry Ward, Procurement Brand Manager at IBM, stated that 80 per cent of the data available to us is unstructured.

Unstructured data is difficult for humans to sift through, and find relevant information with any speed. Cognitive technologies, such as IBM Watson and ROSS, have been designed specifically to work with this unstructured data. While the potential applications for procurement from Big Data have been spoken about extensively, it’s to the recruitment industry that we look now.

A recent edition of the BBC Radio 4 In Business programme highlighted the work of Bill Nowacki, MD of Decision Science at KPMG. Nowacki works with Big Data, trying to improve the way organisations work, by analysing the data available to them.

One facet of this is uncovering the so-called “data trail” left by individuals when they use electronic devices, search on the Internet, and post on social media. All this data can be pulled together to generate a picture of the individual in question.

In a corporate setting, it can show how people are performing. There are further applications in the recruitment process too. Potential candidates can be identified by on comparing them with high performers already in the organisation, as well as assessing the candidates for cultural fit.

The benefit of using Big Data and cognitive technologies in recruitment is the lack of bias in the process. Whereas human interactions can fall victim to inbuilt bias, the technology has no such issues.

And as the technologies learn from experience, it’s possible that the recruitment process may benefit from greater understanding of personality traits, individuals’ values and norms, and create a fairer process all round.

Events in Brief

A couple of final pieces of news from Procurious this week include what you’ll be seeing on the site soon. We’re attending Coupa Inspire and ISM2016 and we’ll be bringing all the major headlines and information from these great events in the coming weeks.

Last week was Coupa Inspire, where the business announced that it had connected its 2 millionth business on its Open Business Network, plus Sir Richard Branson, and his son Sam, gave a keynote address on a variety of topics including the importance of philanthropy, leadership and inspiring others. Plus Sir Richard also talked about his plans to build Virgin Hotels in space!

Stay tuned for more on these topics soon!

What do you think of the latest AI developments? Do we have anything to worry about from AI in the future, or is it just the stuff of science fiction? Let us know your thoughts.

Each week we sniff out the top procurement and supply chain headlines for you to enjoy…

Concerns over US Retail Sector Health

  • Macy’s, the largest department store chain in the US, has increased fears over the health of the US retail sector with its poor Quarter 1 results.
  • The company announced its worst quarterly sales since 2009, with sales falling 5.6 per cent, for a fifth consecutive quarterly decline.
  • A move away from traditional stores to online shopping and fast fashion has been blamed for the struggles of many companies in the retail sector.
  • With consumer demand not expected to increase for department stores, Macy’s is now intensifying its cost cutting efforts.

Read more at the Wall Street Journal

Switzerland Tops Global Supply Chain Index

  • Switzerland has taken top spot in the 2016 FM Global Resilience Index, unseating 2015 leader Norway.
  • The index ranks the supply chain resilience of 130 countries according to nine drivers that affect business vulnerability.
  • Falling oil prices have been blamed for the falling ranking of Norway and a number of other countries, including Kuwait and Venezuela.
  • Terrorism has also been a factor in the 2016 rankings, with Belgium, Pakistan and Nigeria all dropping down the list.

Read more at Supply Management

Release 15 Announced at Coupa Inspire

  • Release 15 is Coupa’s second major release of the year, delivering a number of enhancements across the platform.
  • Hyperlocalised Languages addresses local language requirements across 100 countries, along with terminology unique to individual businesses, by allowing customers to modify Coupa’s 20+ languages for their own purposes.
  • Updated Sourcing Recommendations Engine enables savings initiatives to now be recommended based on predicted trends in expenses spend.
  • The New Supplier Risk Recommendations Engine monitors supplier data and reports on risk triggers including expiring certificates and outdated information.
Read more at Coupa

£30m Reasons Why UK Businesses Should Recycle Ink Cartridges

According to new research, British businesses stand to save up to £30 million per year if they recycle their used ink and toner cartridges.

Recycle Ink Cartridges

UK printing firm CartridgePeople.com surveyed 1,000 UK workers on their recycling policies and processes within their organisations.

The research found that just 11 per cent of these organisations currently recycle ink and toner cartridges by sending them to a recycling centre, or refilling with ink to reuse in the business. This is an increase of 5 per cent from a previous survey carried out in 2014.

And, based on recycling costs provided by recycling organisation, Empties Please, these habits could be costing UK businesses approximately £30 million per year.

Business Falling Behind

More than 40 million ink cartridges are dumped each year in the UK, instead of being reused or recycled. If disposed of in general waste, ink cartridges can take up to 1,000 years to decompose.

CartridgePeople revealed that businesses in the UK are failing to reduce their carbon footprint in the office, despite the increase in household waste being recycled in the UK.

When questioned on the reasons for not recycling ink cartridges, 38 per cent of respondents confessed that there are currently no processes in place to encourage recycling at work.

The survey also revealed that 1 in 20 employees in the UK choose to ignore the recycling policies that do exist in workplaces, and put everything in general waste.

CartridgePeople.com spokesperson, Andrew Davies, said: “Many businesses and workers are unaware of the savings and extra revenue that can potentially be made from recycling ink cartridges. Ink cartridge recycling firms can pay up to 75p for original branded, or even remanufactured, ink cartridges.

“An individual ink cartridge can be reused or remanufactured by an ink cartridge recycling centre up to seven times, which reduces the amount going straight into landfill. We work with many companies in the UK to help reduce their carbon footprint and wastage, by supplying ink cartridge refill kits and tanks amongst other recyclable office supplies including LED bulbs and stationery.”

In the UK, the industries with the most green office policies are:

  • Design, Media and Marketing
  • Education
  • Manufacturing
  • Food and Catering
  • Administrative and support services

The financial and legal sectors currently have the fewest green policies of all the industries covered in the survey.

Reducing Carbon Footprint

CartridgePeople offered the following tips to businesses to help reduce their carbon footprint, and encourage recycling within the office environment.

  • Green Printing

To reduce financial and economic damage during the printing process, businesses can recycle or refill ink cartridges, use recycled paper, and keep hardware such as printers up to date. A new printer will be more energy efficient, in addition to producing an improved quality of print.

  • Switch Off and Unplug

Encourage all staff and employees to switch everything off at the end of the day, including all lights and equipment. This will not only save money on energy bills, but reduce overall consumption.

  • Which Bin Is It In

Make it easy for your company to recycle, by introducing paper and plastic bins for workers in which they can easily recycle their waste. In addition to this, businesses produce technological waste such as mobile phones, cameras, obsolete laptops and computers, which can be toxic for the environment when sent to landfill. There are many companies that will recycle and refurbish old tech.

CartridgePeople.com is a leading UK retailer of high quality printer ink cartridges, supplying home users, businesses and public sector organisations including schools and Government departments.

Small Businesses Suffering Brain Drain

A lack of employee benefits has been cited as one of the key reasons employees leave small businesses every year.

Small businesses employee benefits

Small businesses are suffering a staff brain drain, with nearly one in five workers quitting each year for new jobs blaming poor employee benefits, research from new online provider Pure Benefits shows.

The study by Pure Benefits found that 18 per cent of staff – around 450,000 a year – have switched in the past five years, saying a lack of benefits was a major reason.

Sourcing Employee Benefits

Small businesses with fewer than 50 staff employ more than 12.4 million people across the UK, and have total annual turnover of more than £1.2 trillion. However, these business often struggle to source employee benefits such as life insurance, income protection and private medical insurance for staff.

The Pure Benefits research found that 63 per cent of small business owners are confused by the employee benefits options on offer, and don’t know how to find cost-effective solutions for staff. More than a fifth of owners (22 per cent) say they do not offer any benefits.

Pure Benefits enables business owners to source cost effective benefits including life insurance, income protection, dental insurance, business travel insurance, critical illness and key person cover from leading providers including Unum, Aviva, Vitality, National Dental Plan and Millstream.

The company’s online service is designed to be quick and efficient and to address administrative and compliance issues for small companies focused on growing their businesses and protecting staff.

Employee Benefits Requirements

While there are some benefits that organisations are required by law to grant to employees, such as holiday allowance, minimum wage, working hours and sick leave, going beyond this for small businesses can be difficult.

In fact, starting this year in the UK, small businesses will be required for the first time to provide employees with a pension, something which is aimed at ensuring future provision for all workers in the country. However, in America, this still isn’t a requirement.

Other benefits, such as maternity or paternity leave, also differ from organisation to organisation, and country to country. In the UK, employees are entitled to up to 52 weeks of maternity leave, but in the USA, employees are entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave.

The strength of employee benefits will often swing a decision on where an individual’s next job is going to be. The promise of incentives (bonus, car, etc.) or benefits (pensions, leave, etc.) is said to be one of the deciding factors for employees, beyond company brand or other, intangible, factors.

Valued Staff

Stuart Gray, founder and chairman of Pure Benefits says: “The small business brain drain is a growing issue for small companies with nearly one in five staff leaving every year simply because they are not receiving the benefits the big firms provide

“That is a major brake on the ambitions of small business owners who our research shows are committed to expansion. Around 80 per cent of companies told us they want to grow, while 47 per cent say they want to protect their business.

“Well-designed and cost-effective employee benefits are a major driver in enabling businesses to grow and ensure staff feel valued and are more productive as a result.”

The table below shows the benefits on offer at firms employing up to 50 staff:

Small Businesses Employee Benefits

Rio Olympics Focus on Global Supply Chain Sustainability

A focus on supply chain sustainability gives the Rio Olympics the opportunity to revolutionise global sustainability, and create a lasting legacy in Brazil.

Rio Olympics Supply Chain Sustainability

The Rio Olympics’ commitment to supply chain sustainability (with 100 per cent recovery, disposal and use of goods and waste) has the capacity to revolutionise supply chain sustainability worldwide as well as creating a legacy for positive change in the region, says supply chain consultancy Crimson & Co.

Despite a backdrop of political and economical uncertainty, Brazil has promised that the first South American-hosted Olympic and Paralympic Games, taking place in less than 100 days, will bring permanent changes to the city of Rio de Janeiro, with benefits spread throughout the country. Central to this has been the drive to ensure all suppliers are adopting sustainability practices.

“Most Sustainable” Olympics Ever

The London 2012 Olympics was billed as ‘the most sustainable ever’ but associations with key sponsors including BP, Rio Tinto, Dow Chemical and McDonalds, provoked a backlash from a coalition of campaign groups, keen to highlight the negative social or environmental impact of these firms.

In the run up to the Games in Rio, event organisers have been keen to ensure that all suppliers adopt sustainable practices, including managing waste, minimising the use of harmful substances, making conscious use of energy and water and maintaining ethical labour practices. Additionally, businesses are invited to participate in training sessions on sustainability as part of the bidding process.

For Richard Gurney, General Manager of Latin America for Crimson & Co, this commitment to sustainability represents the positive impact the Games can have on Rio and further afield:

“Sustainability throughout the Games’ management cycle – from initial planning to after the event – has been in the DNA of the Rio proposal since it first announced its interest in hosting the greatest sporting event on the planet.

Learning from Past Mistakes

“Brazil’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup in 2014 was not without controversy. More than $3 billion was spent on building five new stadiums and renovating seven existing ones, but many of these so-called white elephants are as likely now to collect dust as they are to generate ticket receipts. Brazil does not want to see a repeat of this and that is why there is such a huge emphasis on sustainability.

“When the Games finish, and until 2017, the Olympic Operations Committee will manage the dissolution process. This includes closing contracts, selling property assets and managing donations and returns. This planning, i.e. what will be done with each item after the Games, was part of the purchasing process and is considered part of the total cost of acquisition in purchasing decisions. The goal is 100 per cent recovery, disposal and use of goods and waste.”

Gurney continued: “In addition to reducing the environmental impact and the volume of waste after the Games, the initiative informed producers about how to get more sustainable alternatives to their products.

“Companies were invited to participate in training sessions as part of the bidding process to win contracts. Many companies still have the perception that sustainable products are more expensive. In fact, more often than not, the price of a product or service can be greater, but the cost reductions and elimination of waste in the value chain through sustainable practices lead to a lower total purchase cost.

“Time will tell on the impact of these decisions for Rio but, if carried out effectively, it has the capacity to revolutionise supply chain sustainability as well as creating a legacy for positive change. If that is the case, it will certainly have cause to rival London 2012 for the most sustainable Olympics ever.”

Good News-Bad News Week for Global Tech Giants

The good news is that one of your favourite social networks is booming, the bad news is that one of your favourite tech companies is not.

Good News Bad News

It’s been something of a good news, bad news kind of week for a number of major global organisations this week. On one hand, alongside the success of the Big Ideas Summit 2016 (we couldn’t resist one last mention…), Facebook is bucking the trend for growth in 2016.

On the other hand, continuing (and very public) supply chain issues, as well as declining sales, put Apple firmly in the bad news column. And outside of the tech industry there was bad news in global manufacturing, as it became clear that lessons don’t appear to have been learned in Toyota’s supply chain following recent earthquakes in Japan.

Golden Quarter

At a time when other technology companies are beginning to feel the pinch, and slow growth is causing some real concerns, Facebook appears to be bucking the trend with its good news announcement on its first quarter growth.

Q1 of 2016 was the company’s strongest single quarter growth since 2014, with an overall revenue increase of 51.9 per cent. Combined with an increase in user activity (it’s estimated that two-thirds of Facebook users are on the site or app every day), it served to place Facebook far out in front of its competitors in both the social media, and tech, fields.

The revenue growth has been put down to a marked increase in the sales of mobile advertising on both its original platform, and on Instagram, which it purchased for over $1 billion in 2012.

What’s more, there is plenty potential for more good news, as Facebook is yet to release advertising for it’s other 2 major platforms – its Messenger service, and Whatsapp. There is also the release of Oculus Rift, the company’s virtual reality headset, to be taken into account, although this is unlikely to happen until next year.

‘The Fruit’ in Decline?

Facebook’s good news came as welcome relief for investors and markets, particularly in light of other first quarter announcements from the large technology companies came in under expectations.

Twitter’s earnings fell short of Wall Street predictions, with $595 million, compared to an expectation of over $607 million. Bigger problems for Twitter were a less than expected growth in user numbers, hindering the platform’s ability to drive advertising revenues.

However, the biggest news (though some might say not as surprising) came with the quarterly announcements from Apple. For the first time in 13 years, Apple reported a fall in quarterly sales, at nearly 13 per cent, to $50.6 billion. The tech giant expects this trend to continue in Q2, with estimated sales falling to around $41 billion.

Apple were not alone in feeling the effects of the slowing Chinese economy, where its sales dropped by more than a quarter. However, there was some good news for Apple fans. CEO Tim Cook told analysts that, “The future of Apple is very bright”, with a 20 per cent growth in revenue from Apple Music and App Store areas of the business.

However, many analysts are concerned that, in a market saturated with smartphones, unless the iPhone 7 is a game changer, then this decline could continue. With an announcement, and launch, expected later this year, it seems we will just have to wait and see.

Vulnerable Supply Chains

Technology wasn’t the only bad news area this week either. Toyota have come under fire for not learning the lessons of Japanese earthquakes in 2011, with their supply chain again showing severe vulnerability following earthquakes in the country in recent weeks.

Following the events of 2011, Toyota set out to create an “earthquake-proof” supply chain, working with suppliers to create the RESCUE (REinforce Supply Chain Under Emergency) system, aimed at spreading the risk in the event of future natural disasters.

The new supply chain was put to the test in April, and despite early promise, it seems that the same vulnerabilities in the supply chain still exist. The manufacturer shut 26 of its 30 Japanese production facilities in the middle of April, only reopening 5 at the tail end of the month.

With both Honda and Nissan now operating at full capacity, with minimal shutdowns, it seems that Toyota has yet to learn its lesson.

Do you work in the technology industry? What do you make of the latest announcements from Facebook and Apple? We’d love to hear from you – you can get started in the comments section below.

As ever, we’ve been keeping an eye on all the major headlines just for you…

Congress Votes Yes on Russian Rocket Purchase

  • US Congress have voted to purchase $540 million worth of Russian rocket engines, despite a ban on trading
  • The intention of the 2014 procurement ban was to end US reliance on Russian-made RD-180 rocket engines
  • The US relies on these engines to launch national security satellites into orbit, as the US-built engines are still under development
  • Critics say the $540 million will be spent by Russian on modernising its military

Read more at Space Daily

Japan Fury at Australia-France Deal

  • Australia has awarded France the submarine ‘deal of the century’
  • The $AUS50bn submarine contract is the largest defence deal in Australian history, but the move has infuriated Japan.
  • Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Heavy Industries submarine had been seen as early favourites for the contract.
  • In an unusually blunt criticism, Japan’s defence minister Gen Nakatani described Australia’s decision as “deeply regrettable”.

Read more at The Telegraph

Slow Progress on US-EU TTIP

  • Progress is slow on negotiations for a comprehensive Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, between the EU and the USA
  • Negotiators said they would push for a comprehensive TTIP before US President Barack Obama leaves office in January.
  • Among the deepest divides concern Europe’s food safety rules that exclude American beef raised with hormones, genetically modified foods and Europe’s many local food naming rules.
  • The deal exclude European demands for greater access to US federal, state and local government procurement, which often carries “buy American” or local content standards.

Read more at Euractive

Gorman Failing Overseas Workers

  • Australian fashion brand Gorman has come under fire for not doing enough to protect overseas workers in its supply chain
  • The 2016 fashion report by Baptist World Aid Australia graded Gorman as an ‘F’ for policies on preventing exploitation of workers in overseas factories
  • Although the organisation has an ethical compliance statement on its website, fans and wearers of the brand have reacted angrily to the company’s alleged lack of action
  • The company’s founder, Lisa Gorman, has now stated that they will be publishing supply chain audit reports on its website in the coming months to help prove transparency

Read more at The Guardian

Procurement Sets Courageous Agenda – Big Ideas Summit 2016

The Big Ideas Summit 2016 global brainstorm lit up social media, bringing together a global community to advance discussions on ‘uber-ization’, cognitive procurement and more, as well as setting a courageous agenda for the future.

Big Ideas 2016 - Courageous Agenda

Expected to handle cataclysmic events and act with extreme agility, today’s procurement executives must be brave and bold. Indeed, Being courageous is now the defining characteristic of successful procurement leaders, according to the influencers who spoke during Procurious’ second annual Big Ideas Summit on April 21, 2016.

The unprecedented digital think-tank event connected these presenters with Procurious’ 14,000+ members, crowdsourcing everyone’s big ideas for the future of the profession.

Sponsored by Coupa, The Hackett Group, IBM, and the Institute for Supply Management® (ISM®), the event sparked vigorous discussion on Procurious.com, the leading online community for procurement/supply management professionals.

Delegates watched live footage, and posted and tweeted under the #Bigideas2016 hashtag, reaching a potential audience of over one million individuals. Among the big ideas that influencers shared:

Preparing for “Black Swans”

In a year racked by political and economic volatility, Former BBC anchor Nik Gowing challenged delegates to prepare for the next “black swans” (unknown cataclysmic events) that threaten their supply chains.

Barry Ward, Senior Brand Manager, IBM, urged them to use Cognitive Procurement technologies to predict these crises, which could throw their market caps into a downward spiral.

Uber-ization Sparks Innovation

Gabe Perez, Vice President of Strategy and Development, Coupa Software, encouraged procurement leaders to drive more innovation and value by replacing RFP processes with an Uber-like open network model.

How else can procurement leaders accelerate innovation? Christopher Sawchuk, Principal and Global Advisory Practice Leader, The Hackett Group, laid out an agility model enabled by the right culture, talent and leadership, risk forecasting and planning, automation, outsourcing, and more.

Driving Social Outcomes

Procurement leaders’ opportunity to do social good was another hot topic. Journalist Lucy Siegle, co-founder of The Green Carpet Challenge, called attention to abuses in the fashion industry supply chain, and the iconic brands who are tackling it.

Peter Holbrook, CEO of Social Enterprise UK, discussed the transformational ‘Buy Social Corporate Challenge‘, through which ten major global organisations will spend £1 billion with social enterprises by 2020.

Open and Connected

With the pervasive use of the Internet and social media, especially among the Millennial generation, leaders such as Tom Derry, CEO of ISM®, advocated a more open communications approach. Walking the talk, his organisation recently made its comprehensive Mastery Model – a blueprint for lifetime success in supply management – freely accessible over the Internet.

“The procurement profession must share, share, and share online to build our collective muscle, amplify attention to our impact, and tackle our thorniest issues together,” said Tania Seary, founder of Procurious.

Everyone’s Turn

The global brainstorm continues on Procurious, where members can view more Big Ideas Videos and articles from the speakers, submit their own videos, tweet using #BigIdeas2016 @procurious_, ask follow-up questions on the Procurious Discussions Board, claim their Digital Goodie Bags, and invite friends to participate.

Be courageous and make your voice heard today by visiting the Big Ideas Summit website.

We’ve been keeping an eye on the top headlines in procurement and supply chain this week…

More supply chain leaders are making the move to CEO

  • Supply chain leaders who have stepped up to CEO include Tim Cook of Apple, Mary Barra of General Motors and Brian Krzanich of Intel.
  • Kevin O’Marah comments that supply chain leaders have CEO-level skills including balancing risk and opportunity, fighting the near-term battle with an eye on long term strategy, and focusing on profitable growth.
  • CPOs think like engineers, but also like salespeople. Like CEOs, they’re able to communicate and influence to get the job done.

Read more at Forbes

CIPS UK: Procurement salaries are on the rise

  • Demand for procurement professionals has risen over the past 12 months driving salaries up 5 per cent, compared to the UK national average rise of 2.9 per cent.
  • 68 per cent of those surveyed had received a pay increase in the past year, compared to 61 per cent in 2015,
  • This has driven the average salary for procurement professionals up from £41,661 last year, to £44,226 in the past 12 months.

Read more at CIPS

India: Punjabi procurement agencies in wheat corruption scandal

  • Punjab’s foodgrain procurement agency officials accused of siphoning off over Rs 12,000 crore and diverting procured wheat to the black market.
  • Officials accused of covering up theft by adding water to stored wheat to increase its weight.
  • Farmers caught in the cross-fire as banks freeze payments.
  • Over 500 mandis (procurement centres) to be monitored by committee.

Read more at Indian Express

US Defence: Proposal to cut war budget to fund procurement

  • Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Mac Thornberry, wants to allocate an additional $18 billion to buy newequipment and maintain aging gear and facilities.
  • The draft bill would preserve the overall budget top-line of $610 billion, but bulk up base budget spending to $574 billion.
  • $18 billion would be pulled from overseas contingency operations funds.
  • Thornberry said he believed “procurement was the real way out of the readiness pit”.

Read more at Military.com

Don’t Get Left Out of the Global Digital Brainstorm

It’s just days away now! Join the global digital brainstorm at the Procurious Big Ideas Summit on April 21, and make your ideas heard.

Global Digital Brainstorm

Attention, procurement and supply management innovators – stake your claim in the future of your profession!

Time is running out to add your voice to the Procurious Big Ideas Summit, an unprecedented global digital brainstorm and think tank event scheduled for April 21. Make sure your ideas are heard as Procurious connects 50 top executives, with its 13,000 worldwide members to solve thorny issues and harness new opportunities – together.

“Procurement professionals are at the centre of the Big Ideas Summit, driving and shaping this global digital brainstorm,” said Tania Seary, Founding Chairman of Procurious, the leading free online business community for the procurement and supply management profession. “We are forging a new kind of innovation movement, where everyone has equal power to ignite significant change.”

Sponsored by IBM, the Institute for SupplyManagement (ISM), The Hackett Group, and Coupa, the free Summit will feature several provocative sessions. Leaders from these organisations as well as AstraZeneca, The World Bank, and more will address the mega-trends, disruptions, blind spots, risks, and technologies that are already leading to a “procurement revolution”.

Getting Involved

With so much at stake, the conversation is already beginning, as delegates submit advance questions for the speakers, discuss everything from supplier management to sustainability, and share videos with their own big ideas.

On April 21, the dialogue will be amplified as delegates log onto Procurious for digital and video updates, and engage on other social media channels to become even more involved. They will be checking out the action on Twitter, staying up-to-date with live tweets from the event, and tweeting back @procurious_ using the hashtag #BigIdeas2016. LinkedIn and Facebook will also be rich sources of event news and discussions.

From April 22 onward, the dialogue will continue as Procurious shares speakers’ and influencers’ Big Ideas videos, footage, blog posts, and more.

Last year’s event generated close to one million impressions, as the worldwide procurement community woke up to the power of collective innovation.

To join this year’s event now, go to www.BigIdeasSummit.com, where you will be able to register for free membership on Procurious, join the Big Ideas Summit group and shape the future of procurement by getting involved in what promises to be a fantastic global digital brainstorm.

Tweet this: Help innovate procurement at #BigIdeas2016Summit, April 21 www.bigideassummit.com

We’ve also been keeping an eye on all the procurement and supply chain headlines this week…

Japanese Earthquake Supply Chain Disruption

  • Two earthquakes in Japan at the end of last week, tragically killing 41 people, are set to cause major disruptions to Japanese and global supply chains.
  • Toyota are one of a number of manufacturers who will be suspending production at facilities in southern Japan due to a shortage of parts or factory damage
  • Organisations in Japan have been making changes to their supply chains to mitigate risks from natural disasters following the earthquake and tsunami in 2011.
  • It is thought that the current disruptions will test these changes, and new measures put in place to help mitigate these risks.

Read more at Reuters

Cybersecurity Worker Shortage

  • According to a recent survey, nearly two-thirds of Millennials were unaware they could pursue a career in cybersecurity.
  • This has raised concerns that there could be a shortage of cybersecurity workers in the coming years.
  • The survey, commissioned by Raytheon and the National Cyber Security Alliance, also showed that 58 per cent of the Millennials surveyed were not taught about ways to stay safe online.
  • Universities and colleges are now working to introduce programmes which integrate cybersecurity into existing computing and computer science courses.

Read more at Government Technology

SMART by GEP Contracted

  • SMART by GEP®, has been selected by a leading provider of building maintenance and facility services across North America.
  • Enterprise sourcing and procurement teams at the company will use SMART by GEP to streamline and automate their entire source-to-pay (S2P) workflow.
  • SMART by GEP provides complete source-to-pay functionality in one unified cloud-native platform.
  • SMART by GEP hosts $50 billion spend per year across 140 countries, for organisations such as AstraZeneca, DuPont and Maersk

Read more at SMART by GEP

H&M Releases 2015 Sustainability Report

  • H&M published its Conscious Actions Sustainability Report 2015 late last week, highlighting the actions the retailer has taken during the 12 month period on supply chain sustainability
  • The report shows a steady increase of sustainably sourced materials, and progress when it comes to the use of renewable electricity.
  • H&M now sources 20 per cent of its materials sustainably, as well as using 78 per cent renewable energy sources for its global electricity usage (up from 27 per cent in 2014).
  • The report also highlighted the signing of the Global Framework Agreement with IndustriALL Global Union and IF Metall, aimed at working towards payment of fair living wages

Read more at Business Wire

How The ‘Brexit’ Could Change Public Procurement

Although the UK referendum isn’t until June, an increasing number of reports are now discussing the potential impact of the ‘Brexit’ on public procurement.

Brexit

On June the 23rd, UK voters will go to the polls in order to decide on the UK’s future as part of the EU. The referendum promises to polarise opinion, much like the Scottish Independence Referendum in 2014, but there is an increasing focus on what it will mean for public procurement in the UK, as well as supply chains crossing UK/European borders.

EU Procurement Directives, required to be taken into account for all public procurement activity within the community, are widely recognised, and even more widely discussed. While there are critics of the Directives, many believe that they are key to maintaining a fair and equitable process in sourcing activities.

Brexit Impact

Although the EU procurement directives receive a lot of bad press, they were set up with a specific purpose in mind – elimination of trade barriers resulting from discriminatory and preferential procurement practices. It was hoped that this would assist countries across the EU realise savings in public procurement, and create a level of transparency in activities.

Further changes have been made to the procurement directives in the past 12 months, aimed at simplifying and modernising the public procurement process. The directives also have their supporters, who argue that they help to maximise competition, achieve value for money, and enable social benefit and innovation in purchases.

There are also arguments made that, had the UK not joined the EU Common Market, now the European Union, it would have still ended up with public procurement regulations that would not have been vastly different to what exists now.

The impact of a UK exit, or ‘Brexit’, is still largely unknown, and can only be estimated in terms of costs to both the UK economy and UK businesses. However, from the point of view of procurement regulations, some parties are stating that it wouldn’t have an immediate impact on current UK procurement rules.

In fact, any changes to procurement law in the UK public sector would be low on the Government’s priority list. And if there were changes, the rules would end up being very similar (where they have been successful), or some industries, like agriculture, would have to maintain EU standards in order to continue doing business on the Continent.

Supply Chain and Procurement Costs

But what about costs to import goods and the wider supply chain impact in the event of the ‘Brexit’? Well, there still isn’t a consensus when it comes to this either. Some reports show a potential drop of 8 per cent in import costs, but that this could potentially be offset by rising labour costs, partly due to a loss of access to low cost, or cheaper, labour.

Open Europe, a think tank, predicted a worst case scenario of a 2.2 per cent fall in UK GDP, but a potential 1.6 per cent growth in GDP, by 2030. There are also concerns that any possible saving the UK might see in tariffs and not paying money into the EU, would be swallowed up by having to cover subsidies paid to certain industries by the EU.

For both UK and European businesses with supply chains operating across borders, there would be a loss in freedom of movement, both goods and services, and labour. Some goods could be subject to as much as 35 per cent export tariffs, while pan-European partnerships could be lost or cancelled.

While a ‘Brexit’ is by no means a certainty, both British and European companies should start preparing for it happening. Actions like monitoring alternatives suppliers, assessing logistics decisions, and work with existing suppliers to put deals in place, all help to reduce the risks that businesses are exposed to.

What are your (non-political!) thoughts on the ‘Brexit’? Is your business likely to be exposed to the impacts? Let us know in the comments below.

As ever, we’ve been scouring the ‘net this week for top headlines to enjoy with your morning tea or coffee…

Using Waste to Plug Power Gap

  • Using the energy from processing waste at anaerobic digestion plants in the UK could help to solve the country’s energy issues
  • However, there are warning that if the AD technologies aren’t promoted better, they could be lost before they even manage to prove benefits
  • Despite favourable tax breaks, environmental benefits and cost savings, the UK lags a long way behind European countries such as Germany in the number of AD plants it has
  • There are currently 434 plants in the UK, some of which support large retailers (Sainsbury) and manufacturers (Diageo) in their operations

Read more at Supply Management

Brazilian Retailer to Clean Up Supply Chain

  • Brazil’s largest grocery chain has pledged to stop selling beef reared on deforested land in the Amazon rainforest
  • Retailer, Pão de Açúcar, also promised to stop buying beef produced by workers living in slave-like conditions, or cattle produced on land grabbed from local communities
  • The new purchasing plan is set to be in place by the 30th of June, at which point the business will stop dealing with suppliers linked to deforestation and modern slavery
  • The firm operates 832 stores across Brazil and has pledged to help its suppliers improve their practices ahead of the June deadline.

Read more at Thomson Reuters

Love Your Waste to Save Money

  • New reports have shown that Scottish households waste the equivalent of 26 million beef burgers (2,900 tonnes of beef) each year in food wastage
  • Zero Waste Scotland has launched a campaign aimed at reducing this waste by using leftovers as part of other dishes, something that could save each household up to £460 per year
  • Confusion over dates on labels, caution about meat safety and worries over freezing and reheating can lead to good meat being thrown away even thought it is still fine to eat
  • In February, Scottish environment secretary Richard Lochhead pledged to cut food waste in Scotland by a third by 2025, to save businesses and households at least £500m

Read more at Supply Management

2016 Enviro Challenge Launched

  • Enviro Challenge’s challenge day for 2016 is set to take place next week in the Waikato, Auckland, Bay of Plenty, and Central Plateau regions of New Zealand
  • The day is aimed at inspiring schools to develop sustainability and leadership skills in high school students
  • Students are also asked to develop, or continue developing, a project for their school with measurable outcomes, and encouraged to think long term
  • Students will be working on initiatives that will have ongoing positive impacts on their schools and their communities, which this year include renewable energy and biodiversity

Read more at Sun Live

Procurement Faces Balancing Act as Business Uncertainty Rises

According to new research from the Hackett Group, procurement faces a balancing act in 2016 thanks to rising business uncertainty.

Business Uncertainty

  • Key issues research shows budgets and staff expected to rise slightly in 2016
  • The Hackett Group recommends that to improve agility and reduce cost, procurement must harness the value of Big Data and control tail spend

According to new Procurement Key Issues research from The Hackett Group, Procurement leaders expect operating budgets and staffing to increase slightly in 2016. This comes at a time as they attempt to balance the need to reduce costs, with the desire to become a better strategic business partners and other priorities. 

Increased business uncertainty and risk are driving a resurgence in traditional cost reduction strategies, according to research. At the same time, the research identified critical development gaps in four key procurement strategy areas:

  • Becoming a better strategic partner to the business.
  • Increasing spend influence.
  • Improving agility.
  • Tapping supplier innovation.

These are seen as important targets for capability development.

Harnessing Big Data

To improve agility, The Hackett Group’s research recommended that procurement organisations become more information-driven and harness the value of ‘Big Data’. Unfortunately, the research found that over half of the study respondents currently lacked a formal market intelligence program, or were only in the earliest stages of adoption.

Study respondents also identified predictive analytics and forecasting as the trend with the greatest transformational impact for procurement over the next decade.

Finally, The Hackett Group’s research recommended that, to unearth new sources of savings, procurement examine tail spend. This is­ the 20 per cent of spend that is spread thinly across up to 80 per cent of suppliers.

This is an area where most procurement organisations have not focused heavily.  But with effort, The Hackett Group estimates that savings of 3-5 per cent for less mature sourcing organisations is possible, in part by identification of high-dollar maverick spending that should have been strategically sourced.

A complimentary version of the research is available for download, following registration, here.

Cost Reduction Pressures

According to The Hackett Group Global Procurement Advisory Practice Leader, Chris Sawchuk, “For 2016, companies are expecting to see business uncertainty and risk increase, along with greater struggles to grow revenue. So the pressure to reduce costs is increasing. At the same time, procurement leaders need to balance this with other more strategic priorities, like becoming a better strategic business partner.

“This is challenging, because for 2016, procurement operating budgets are expected to increase by just 1.1 per cent, and staffing will only grow by 2.2 per cent. So procurement can only afford to fund its highest-priority initiatives. One clear differentiator we saw in the research this year was the recognition of the value of improved market intelligence.

“Procurement leaders are realising that higher-quality information can help them drive greater business value. Big data has been a game changer when it comes to customer analytics, offering an unprecedented ability to quickly model massive volumes of structured and unstructured data from multiple sources. But procurement’s lack of maturity in market intelligence is a significant obstacle that must be overcome,” said Mr. Sawchuk.

The Hackett Group’s 2016 Procurement Key Issues research  is based on results gathered from executives from nearly 180 large companies in the US and abroad, most with annual revenue of $1 billion or greater.

Chris Sawchuk is a keynote speaker at the Big Ideas Summit on April 21st. Chris will be talking about how procurement is applying key agile capabilities in the areas of leadership, talent, service placement and information-driven performance.

If you’re interested in finding out more, visit www.bigideassummit.com, join our Procurious group, and Tweet your thoughts and Big Ideas to us using #BigIdeas2016.

Don’t miss out on this truly excellent event and the chance to participate in discussions that will shape the future of the procurement profession. Get Involved, register today.

Modern Slavery Act Will Force SMEs to Step Up to the Plate

With new changes to the Modern Slavery Act coming into effect as of April 1st, we ask how much progress has been made since 2015?

Modern Slavery

At Procurious, we know it’s crucial to continue focusing on the issue of modern-day slavery, both with regard to tackling existing cases, and to encourage and applaud organisations who are making real efforts to end the practice world-wide.

Last week, it was reported that the majority of small firms are ignorant of the Modern Slavery Act and the impact that the law changes will have on them.

On the flip side, it was announced that the Building Research Establishment (BRE) are launching a standard to help businesses tackle risks around modern slavery.

As the Telegraph reports, with the modern slavery laws set to change again as of this April, ignorance is no longer an excuse.

Modern Slavery Act 2016

New UK legislation, effective from 1st April 2016, requires all businesses with a turnover of over £36 million to prove they have taken steps to remove slave and child labour from their supply chains.

It is currently estimated that between 21 and 39 million people worldwide are victims of modern slavery. The changes to the Modern Slavery Act 2015 will force big organisations to fully audit their supply chains.  

It is expected that, as larger companies begin to investigate suppliers throughout their supply chain, there will be a trickle down effect to smaller businesses, who will be expected to prove they are slavery-free.

Chris Ross, founder of J&K Ross, spoke with The Telegraph stating, “ultimately, big companies will not deal with firms of any size that they don’t feel safe with.” With this in mind, he has begun voluntarily auditing the supply chain of his safety equipment business, to ensure it is fully compliant.

CIPS have released guidelines to help companies below the £36 million threshold voluntarily comply with the act.

SMEs Unprepared

According to research released by The Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS), almost two thirds of SMEs are unaware of the Modern Slavery Act and the impact it has on them. The CIPS polled 263 SMEs.

Despite the changes only directly targeting larger businesses, it is expected that there will be a knock-on effect on SMEs. It is these smaller businesses that are particularly ignorant of how the amendments to the law this April will affect them.

Whilst acknowledging that smaller companies may not have access to the same resources as large organisations to tackle slavery, the report asserts that a number of simple measures can be put in place. These include the formation of partnerships between larger corporations and smaller SMEs.

David Noble, Group CEO of CIPS, asserted that, “Ultimately, modern slavery is not an issue confined to the supply chains of large multinational corporations. On the contrary, SMEs can often have long and complicated supply chains themselves.”

Despite many SMEs claiming to not have found any evidence of slavery or forced labour within their supply chains, it seems this is largely due to ignorance and lack of action. Of the SMEs surveyed, 67 per cent admitted to having never taken any steps to tackle the issue of forced labour, and 75 per cent said they would not know what to do if modern slavery was found in their supply chains.

New Standard to Assist Business

Nigel McKay, former procurement head at HS2, is launching a standard with the Building Research Establishment (BRE), which will assist businesses in tackling risks around modern slavery and other ethical labour issues within their supply chains.

The standard will cater to companies of all sizes, and be applicable across varying industry sectors for three tiers of companies – those with a turnover under £36 million, between £36 and £500 million, and those with turnovers of more than £500 million.

Shamir Ghumra, Associate Director, Head of Responsible Sourcing in the Centre for Sustainable Products at BRE, said that the organisation, “recognised that there is a need to strengthen some of [the work BRE has previously done in this area], and since then Modern Slavery Act has come out. It’s not just about how to comply with the Act, but looking at ethical labour issues as a whole.”

McKay believes that nowadays within procurement, people are more socially and ethically aware – “a lot of conversations are now around the social and ethical issues of procurement and how much good your pound does, not just how cheap something is.”

McKay is realistic about the scale of what they are trying to achieve, acknowledging that changing a company’s approach to its supply chain can can several years. He claimed that “Not every company will be able to do everything in the first year. It takes three, four or five years, to re-engineer a supply chain.”

With the law change effective as of last Friday, it won’t be long until SMEs feel the pressure to take action and start voluntarily assessing their supply chains.

We’ve been keeping up with other procurement news around the world, and have picked out the top headlines for you this week…

Ghana Approves Procurement Bill

  • The Public Procurement Amendment Bill 2015 has been passed by the Ghana’s parliament.
  • The bill will introduce a sustainable public procurement framework for contracting and electronic procurement, and will also bring about a more transparent and accountable procurement system.
  • The 2003 Public Procurement Act has been amended to improve public financial management, and now needs to be signed by Ghana President, John Dramani Mahama, to bring it into force.
  • 2003’s Public Procurement Act “exposed some administrative bottlenecks, delays and imbalances in the procurement structure,” the government statement added.

Read more at Supply Management

Brambles’ Sustainability Goals

  • Brambles, a global supply chain logistics company operating primarily through the CHEP and IFCO brands, has announced its Sustainability Goals for 2020.
  • The company’s goals focus on the most material aspects of the Group’s operations and are closely aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • Tom Gorman, Brambles’ CEO said “Brambles has made significant progress in delivering continual improvement through our sustainability objectives over the past five years.”
  • You can view the full details of the company’s 2020 goals here.

Read more at Supply Chain 24/7

Manufacturers Trying to Forge Disruptive Supply Relationships

  • Manufacturers operating in high-value sectors, such as the aerospace and automotive industries, are going all out to forge relationships with businesses in other sectors in order to secure a clear, competitive advantage.
  • These businesses are demonstrating how a bit of lateral thinking and a clear sense of what end users want can create some unlikely and yet productive partnerships.
  • It is now business critical to establish supply partnerships that will enable them to work together to innovate new products and services and bring them to market more quickly.
  • Of course, there are significant risks attached to such supplier collaboration relationships, which some businesses may be reluctant to establish.

Read more at Supply Chain Digital

World Bank Report on East Asian Cites

  • East Asian cities could create more than 7m new jobs each year if they boosted infrastructure and improved skills and the regulatory environment, claims a new World Bank report.
  • The report looks at how the world’s successful cities have achieved their growth. It found cities did best by perfecting existing skills rather than completely overhauling themselves.
  • East Asian cities have grown faster than anywhere else in the world in recent years and are likely to keep expanding.
  • The report said linking infrastructure investments with private sector needs, zeroing in on the skills gaps, and making sure private and public sector industries supported each other were all factors which led to cities becoming more competitive.

Read more at Supply Management