Category Archives: Trending

CPO Digital Forum: Crown Resorts And IKON Services

A clean start: tips and tricks for corporates to create a COVID-safe workplace.


One of the biggest misconceptions out there right now is that cleaning is booming, says Estelle Lewis, who is the group executive general manager for partnerships at cleaning services and hygiene products company IKON Services.

The company, which provides cleaning services and hygiene products to a number of blue chip clients, including Crown Resorts, has been on a difficult journey.

A big challenge has been accessing accurate information and ensuring it’s disseminated to staff and clients, she says.

“People turn to cleaning companies as the experts about COVID-19, but the reality is that this has sort of hit us all very quickly and none of us have really had time to sort of take in what this virus actually means for all of these businesses.

“We’re learning while our clients are learning, but we need to be that one step ahead,” Lewis says.

The Group General Manager of Procurement and Supply Chains, Ben Briggs admits he’s had similar challenges at Crown Resorts, with approximately 16,000 staff and contractors regularly on site.

“Reopening a Casino will have its challenges. It’s probably one of the most difficult things to do because you don’t typically reopen, you’re always open,” Briggs says.

“So we have to understand how to create a safe working environment for people, staff and patrons as part of the reopening phase.

“There’s a lot of human elements that we’re going to have to work through over the next couple of months to make sure that we can create a safe working environment at Crown,” he says.

As people get back to work, there’s going to be a level of comfort around the fact that we’re getting back to normal. But we need to be reminded that it’s a ‘new normal’ and a complex space, the pair agree.

The pair opened up about some of the 7 biggest challenges for companies looking to create a Covid-safe work environment:

1. Public confidence

A key priority right now is looking for ways to make the public need to feel safe about returning, so a lot of work needs to go into messaging, Briggs says.

“It will be a different working environment and a different operating environment. You may see thermal scanners at entry points, limited access points into the casino, furniture removed so that we can create social distancing and all the communication that needs to go along with that so that people feel safe,” he says.

“It’s not going to be easy, but I’m pretty confident that with the measures we’re putting in place, people are going to feel safe to come back to the property and come back and enjoy our facilities again,” he says.

Briggs admits he’s been dubbed ‘The Sanitiser Guy’ and ‘The Sneeze Guard Man’ by his colleagues as he looks to overhaul Crown.

“Where practical be such as hotel reception desks, we’re putting sneeze guards up. There’s sanitisation stations everywhere you go. People are going to have access to masks and sanitisation,” he says.

2. Visual reminders

Visual reminders in the form of signs and messages are being erected throughout properties and visual reminders added to flooring to keep people apart.

Making sure that hand sanitisers and wipes are available to all for staff to clean down their environments when they come and go will be crucial, Briggs adds.

Remote working will also be crucial, because we are unlikely to get all the 15,000 people back to work in the same space. We’re going to have to be smart about it. “Assessing which roles can work remotely, how we structure the work environment to enable appropriate distancing and which roles are operational and are needed on the ground will require some finessing,” he adds.

Lewis adds that she’s looking at sourcing a piece of sophisticated technology with an LSD screen to allow customer communication that allows you to add COVID-19 messages and takes temperatures at reception points is on the cards for clients.

3. Communal kitchens

The communal kitchen was once a place where food, coffee and great conversation takes place in offices, but that looks set to be a thing of the past, Lewis says.

Communal plates, cutlery, glassware and the shared office fruit bowl is on the chopping block.

“Kitchens are also a tricky space from a cleaning perspective. It could be an area where fogging works really well, which is a mist spray that works well for tight spaces. The high grade chemical concentrate mist helps get into corners and edges where viruses can live, which I’d recommend doing on a regular basis,” Lewis says.

And while there a plethora of new cleaning companies entering the market offering fogging and sanitisation, businesses need to ensure they engage companies that stand for trust and integrity.

4. The boardroom

Board meetings will be a very different function within a business. The room will be transformed to adhere to social distancing, with every second chair removed, access to wipes and additional bins for wipes to prevent the spread of germs. Hand sanitiser will also be added to the room.

People will be expected to take responsibility for their own hygiene, and report any symptoms if they’re feeling unwell and stay home, Briggs says.

5. Vulnerable workers

Vulnerable workers who are considered high risk require special consideration in the workplace, Briggs says.

It’s about putting enough protections in place for them so they feel safe and willing to come back into the office. A perspex screen and floor markings to encourage social distancing perspective so that people have their own space will be crucial.

“Adapt our workplace policies and processes to ensure they are safe and their workspace is a safe haven will be crucial. Reporting and compliance is also important,” Briggs adds.

6. Response plan

Creating a rapid response process that provides specific measures for closing down in the event of an outbreak is crucial, Briggs says.

The rapid response plan ensures properties are closed down and reopened swiftly, which also needs to be part of a training regime for staff and enforced, he says.

7. Clean desks

The traditional desk station is being overhauled, while hot desking has been abandoned in corporate settings around the world.

While people will continue to be encouraging people so work from home, if they do need to come into work, each personal workspace will need to be kept tidy and minimalistic so surfaces can be cleaned is paramount, Briggs says.

“It’s about keeping those practices up so that we don’t get comfortable and lazy in the area that things have gone back to normal so that we can go back to our previous behaviours,” Briggs says.

Join Procurious to connect with 40,000 other ambitious procurement professionals and get free access to networking, industry news, training and much more. 

5 Ways To Stay Connected During COVID-19

We all know networking and creating connections with the people around us is important, but how do we do at the moment? Here’s how. 


Any successful person will tell you that it isn’t what you know, but who you know that gets you ahead. Forging new connections and fostering existing connections can help you broaden your horizons, discover new opportunities, and even secure a much sought-after promotion. Often though, creating these important relationships happens in person. Whether it be via a kitchen chat at your workplace or at an industry-specific event, great connections often start with a personal conversation, a handshake and perhaps an impromptu coffee. 

Yet unfortunately, with the world the way it is at the moment, the face-to-face option is not appropriate and in many places in the world, not even possible. So does this mean that networking needs to stop? Certainly not. Here’s five creative ways to stay in touch with your connections, new and old, without ever having to shake a hand.

1. Check in people in your network 

Given that demand for mental health services have soared worldwide, from a care perspective, there’s every reason to check in on people within your network, and a number of ways you can engage with them. 

Connecting or reconnecting with people could be as simple as asking them how their pandemic experience has been, and whether they are, personally, doing ok. Doing so will help them feel supported, and could open up any manner of conversations about future plans or potential opportunities. Connecting certainly doesn’t need to happen in person, but instead should be done via industry-specific networking sites such as Procurious. 

Given the high amount of people who have lost their job or had their hours or pay reduced, it is also a great time to ask others whether you can introduce them to anyone in your network. Well-timed introductions can make all the difference right now, and could be the source of hope and inspiration a colleague needs to get back on their feet.

Finally, it’s been a tough year for everyone, and every extra endorsement can help boost not just someone’s profile, but their morale as well. If you get a chance, give a colleague a recommendation. It could just be the boost they need to secure an opportunity. 

2. Lend a hand – if you can 

The pandemic has been personally and professionally challenging for many of us, but on the flip side, has also brought out the best in people. From Captain Tom Moore raising 32 million pounds for the NHS charities to global fundraisers to buy healthcare workers coffees, many people have gone above and beyond to help those in need. And it’s something you can do, too. 

With the unprecedented number of people out of work at the moment, many may be looking for work for the first time, so offering to look over someone’s CV could be of real benefit. Alternatively, you could direct them to opportunities within your network, or even recommend online events or upskilling options that might help. Helping others in need is what networking is all about – you never know when you’ll need to call in a favour and your connections won’t forget that you helped them out. 

3. Give recognition and show as much appreciation as you can

When it comes to feeling appreciated by our colleagues and managers at work, people typically believe that money speaks louder than words. But research shows that isn’t true. In fact, simply saying thank you can go a long way – and can help deepen your connections with those around you. 

Research conducted by Gallup of over four million employees showed that recognition at work boosts not only someone’s morale, but their productivity and engagement with those around them. In other words, recognition makes us happy! But how do you do it in a sincere and meaningful way? 

One great way to do it is to give someone praise for something they individually contributed. Ideally, do this in a public forum, such as a procurement industry group discussion board. Giving someone praise publicly for their great work will help them amplify their impact. 

4. Recommend learning content 

While many of us in procurement have found ourselves busier than ever during the pandemic, some in certain industries may have found ourselves scratching our heads, wondering what to do. This might particularly be the case if we’ve been furloughed or worse, made redundant. 

But if we’ve found ourselves with spare time, there’s plenty we can do about that! When this pandemic is over, the procurement landscape will look a little (or entirely) different from what it did before. That’s why now is the time to focus on a number of different technical and soft skills, including resilience. Many courses that you might be interested in are inexpensive or even free, and recommending them to other people can help showcase your industry knowledge and give you a reason to get in touch with your connections.

5. Start a group chat (and talk about things besides work)

The point of creating connections is to broaden your network and potential opportunities. But in creating and fostering these connections, sometimes it’s important to talk about everything but work. Plus, having a casual chat and even sharing some humorous banter with colleagues can inject some fun into your day and help you feel less lonely and more connected. 

Whether it’s you sharing cat snap chats or talking about your children or the (limited) activities you’ve been able to undertake during lockdown, bringing your whole self into group conversations can help foster more authentic connections with those around you. 

How have you been staying connected with your colleagues and those in your broader network? Do you have any other suggestions? Let us know in the comments below.

What You Need To Know About Supplier Payments, Bankruptcies And The Financial Impact Of COVID-19

Considering this macro-economic turmoil, new research shows that most contracts and supplier partnerships held strong during the pandemic


The early days of COVID-19 were financially tumultuous and incredibly stressful. For most business executives, uncertainty ruled the day: Would my contracts hold? Will I get paid on time? And will I have enough funds to pay my team and suppliers?

The issue is exacerbated in the supply chain, where late payments and cancelled contracts in one part of the world create chaos for unrelated businesses located millions of miles away. Of course, these short-term concerns were ultimately trumped by even bigger issues relating to bankruptcies, business closures and unemployment.

Considering this macro-economic turmoil, Procurious’ latest research shows that most contracts and supplier partnerships held strong and stood up to the stress test – which is a major testament to procurement’s response and the strength of existing buyer-supplier relationships.

Our survey of 600-plus procurement and supply chain leaders found that nearly 60% of organisations (58%) are still operating and paying their suppliers per their contract. In fact, 14% of organisations are speeding up payments to suppliers and 6% are providing direct financial support. On the other end of the spectrum, 10% said they are delaying payment to all suppliers, and another 11% said they were delaying payments to non-strategic suppliers. Overall, this is positive news – for buyers, suppliers and the broader economy.

However, the longer the crisis plays out, the more financial strain it will cause. Despite the positive news on payments and contracts, there has already been substantial financial hardships and fallout among suppliers. Our research found that as of May 12, 2020:

  • 6% of organisations said they had a key supplier go out of business
  • 11% said they had multiple key suppliers go out of business
  • 20% said they had a supplier declare fore majeure on contract obligations

Our analysis shows that the companies hit the hardest by COVID-19 were more than 50% likely to have multiple key suppliers go out of business compared to other organisations.

The Economic Forecast: Cloudy with 100% Chance of Unpredictability

Predicting what’s next economically is difficult, and possibly even an exercise in futility. We’ve heard it all from the experts, with projections changing by the day: V-shaped recoveries, U-shaped recoveries… and even the swoosh.

What’s not hard to predict: regardless of how fast the economy recovers, the response from procurement teams will continue to play a critical role in ongoing business continuity and financial resiliency. During the pandemic, 65% of organisations had to source alternative supplies for affected categories. Procurement responded quickly and effectively – with 53% able to lock down new suppliers in less than three weeks, and 18% finding new suppliers in a week’s time.

Post-pandemic, it will be interesting to watch if and how contracts evolve, and the weight put behind different conditions and KPIs. We are already expecting macro supply chain strategy shifts , which will naturally impact sourcing decisions and contract negotiations. Expect to see even more emphasis put behind collaborative supplier relationships, and new investments in predictive analytics and supplier risk monitoring, specifically as it relates to financial viability.

The financial picture remains uncertain at best. How are procurement and supply chain leaders responding? Get the latest in our “Supply Chain Confidence and Recovery” Report.


Storm Warning: Where Is Supply Chain Risk Management On Your Radar?

If there’s one thing this crisis has taught us, it’s how quickly things can change overnight. Don’t think we are out of the woods, just because supply chain risk has declined. Our community has never been more vulnerable.


After spending half of 2020 fighting off the virus in more ways than one, it seems as though we’re becoming immune to its detriments. Yet, as our Supply Chain Confidence and Recovery Index revealed, there’s still a great amount of looming uncertainty. Despite the recent universal decline in supply chain risk, our community has never been more vulnerable.

Publication of our Supply Chain Confidence Index, quickly followed by riskmethod’s Risk Report has created a “perfect storm” of data to show that now, more than ever, we need to be vigilant and proactively address supply chain risk.

Aside from the obvious pandemic outbreak risk increase, which riskmethods reports is 34.7 times that of 2019, changes are impacting virtually every aspect of business. Some of which include:

  • A major increase in cyber security risk-related warnings, stemming from the transition to working from home
  • Substantial growth in risk associated with labor practices and human rights, as well as employee stability
  • A 26% increase in natural hazard risk

And with lack of visibility into supplier and geographic risk topping the list of lessons learned from COVID-19, it’s clear our job here is not done.

Putting out the fire  

The lack of visibility, data and agility acted as an accelerant, enabling the disruption to spread like wildfire from supplier to supplier. Procurious found that:

  • The hardest-hit companies were more than 50% likely to have multiple key suppliers go out of business due to COVID-19  
  • 30% of CEOs had a supplier declare Force Majeure
  • 65% of organisations were forced to source alternative suppliers for affected categories

Consider all the ‘prepare for the second wave’ and ‘the worst is yet to come’ talk a storm warning. The weatherman may not be 100% accurate, but it’s almost always a matter of when and to what extent, then whether it will happen at all. We need to keep supply chain risk on our radar.

Not only did our research indicate supply chain and procurement leaders are still bracing for peak impact, the riskmethods 2020 Risk Report predicts more damage to come, as supplier financial distress risk was 105% higher in May than the beginning of the crisis.

Most economists expect a second wave of bankruptcies – with one recognised expert predicting the amount of large bankruptcies (at least $100 million) will challenge the record set after the 2008 financial crisis.

So, how do we avoid another disaster? This year, riskmethods reported a 34% increase in early supply chain disruption warnings compared to the same time period in 2019, including: 

  • A 151% increase in disasters at partner sites
  • A 100% increase in disasters at location
  • A 45% increase in instability in key employee positions

This urgency placed around supply chain risk management should not be viewed as negative. The newfound spotlight gives our profession the spotlight we need to expedite critical decision making and drive real change.

While the extent of the impact of COVID on our supply chains is no longer surprising, the disruption offers a clear and urgent call-to-action for global organisations to rethink and rebuild supply chain risk management strategies from the ground floor.

Our Index showed that failing to invest in SCRM was the No. 1 technology regret during COVID-19. The majority of respondents (73%) are planning significant procurement and supply chain strategy shifts. For many, this means increased investments in supply chain and procurement technology. The emerging and Industry 4.0 technologies that show the most promise for mitigating future supply disruptions include:

  • Predictive analytics
  • Machine learning
  • Robotic process automation
  •  Internet of Things
  • Additive manufacturing and 3D printing
  • Blockchain

We still have a long way to go before we even determine what ‘business-as-usual’ will look like—never mind reach it again. And when that happens, remember: the worst thing to do when it comes to supply chain risk management is nothing at all.

Join us and riskmethods on Tuesday, July 28 as we reflect on lessons learned and continue crowdsourcing confidence with fresh data from the frontlines. Register now.

Out Of Africa – Procurement News

On the cusp of a groundbreaking Procurement event, in the wake of catastrophic pre-COVID events, and despite grim economic outlooks and stifled Supply Chains, Africa is proving itself to be an innovative, resilient force in World Procurement


It’s an exciting time for Procurement in Africa! Two leading influencers in the African Supply Chain and Procurement profession have created AFRICA SUPPLY CHAIN IN ACTION: the largest ever online learning, knowledge sharing and networking event for the profession focusing on Africa. SAPICS, The Professional Body for Supply Chain Management, has joined forces with Smart Procurement, Africa’s leading supply chain and procurement information service, to present this ground-breaking event on August 19 and 20 2020.

More than 1000 delegates are expected to attend: a significant proportion will no doubt be the thousands of Africa-based Procurious members! Join SAPICS and Smart Procurement along with Procurious’ greatest minds and register here.

AFRICA SUPPLY CHAIN IN ACTION will help African Supply Chain professionals position themselves and their businesses to adapt and thrive, now and beyond COVID-19. Their exciting packed programme will examine what Africa has learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and how individuals and organisations must work together to change the dialogue, strategies, and operating models in response to the new tomorrow.

This happens just as Africa is currently pioneering very positive developments in Procurement Technology. Africa’s pains during the COVID-19 pandemic have been well-documented: the lockdown of key countries’ exports, closure of borders and factories, and poor healthcare facilities. However, despite the doom and gloom, there is a general level of optimism and enthusiasm for innovation by people across the continent. Entrepreneurs in Nigeria, South Africa and East African countries are developing digital applications to solve our 2020 supply chain problems. 

While fruit, vegetable, meat and seafood exports into Europe have taken a temporary hit, agritech solutions, such as remote sensing of crops and data- mining and analysis using e-platforms, are successfully being adopted by commercial farmers as part of their digital future. Nigeria is leading the way in applying technology to improving regional logistics: the transportation start-up Kobo360 is now in most countries in West Africa.  Kenya and Uganda lead the way in affordable mobile services to support small business. The South African government is using WhatsApp to run an interactive chatbot which answers all types of queries about COVID-19, including business-related issues.   

While Africa as a whole has recorded relatively few deaths from the disease, the numbers are rising and African countries are struggling to contain the spread. McKinsey has proposed different scenarios for Africa’s economic growth in the wake of the pandemic, the most likely being an annual growth rate as low as -3.9 per cent. This is based on the most realistic scenario: a lack of containment both globally and in Africa. The health of Africa’s Supply Chain and economy rests significantly on whether or not the spread of COVID-19 can be contained so trade can resume.

Africa’s trade with China

China’s exports to Africa over the last two decades have remained steady with South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt its three largest trading partners. Africa’s exports to China have been increasing, but are heavily dependent on commodity prices; the main products exported are raw materials including copper, iron ore and oil coming from Angola, South Africa and the Republic of Congo. While the data is not 100% reliable due to China’s reporting process, it is accurate enough for us to see the trend before this current crisis.

Figure 1


Foreign direct investment and agricultural investment in Africa by China has also been increasing over the same period but the trend was already slowing before the current crisis. There are still some high-value engineering and construction projects happening, especially in North and East Africa.

That was then …. this is now

Most of Africa is closed for business right now. Seaports are mostly closed, air cargo and other transport routes are limited and business lockdowns are in effect, halting exports. In China, Mass production shutdowns and supply chain disruptions due to the current crisis are causing problems. For example, 85% of South Africa’s mobile phone imports are from China, their largest import category by value. Not only does this impact the end consumer, it also affects the wider telecommunications industry and many service sectors.

The Chinese economy is not likely to bounce back from this pandemic as quickly as in previous similar episodes (Bird flu 1997, SARS 2002-2003, Swine flu 2009). Despite this, China will probably continue to be one of Africa’s biggest trading partners after the worst of this crisis has passed.  

Africa’s global trade  

Global law firm Baker Mackenzie notes that “over three-quarters of African exports to the rest of the world are heavily focused on natural resources and any reduction in demand impacts the economies of most of the continent”.  They identified such countries as the DRC, Zambia, Nigeria and Ghana as being significantly exposed to risk in terms of industrial commodity exports, such as oil, iron ore and copper.  They expect that once COVID-19 is brought under control it could lead to an increase in the demand for raw materials from Africa, especially from China.

 Figure 2 – Africa’s commodity exports to the world

 

Source:  Chatham House 2020


Africa’s Exports to Europe

Africa’s exports to the European Union stood at around US$133 billion in 2016. Most African countries have duty-free access to the EU market.  Raw materials normally account for 49% of the value of Africa’s exports to Europe. It is expected that this will return to near normal when mining activities resume at full capacity.  It is not that clear whether manufactured goods such as textiles and machinery will get back to current levels of 35% of exports. Food products and beverages make up the other 16%. 

In sub-Saharan Africa, South Africa is the strongest and the most engaged when it comes to trade with the EU, supplying fuels and precious metals and other mining products, as well as machinery and transport equipment. The main destinations are Germany, Netherlands, Italy and the UK.  West Africa is also a leading exporter to Europe.  Animal products, vegetables, tobacco, and textiles are mainly imported from Benin, Senegal, Ghana and Guinea. Other countries, like Niger and Sierra Leone export commodities such as diamonds, uranium, and precious metals primarily to France, Italy, and the Netherlands.

What is next for Africa?

Normal business operations, as we know them, will be irrevocably changed as a result of this current pandemic. Many companies were not prepared for the level of disruption this unforeseen crisis would bring. We may not ever return to “normal” practices or to the marketplace as it was. What is clear is that companies that gave scant regard to managing their supply chain risks have received a wake-up call!  Companies are advised to consider a range of different possible scenarios and develop plans to deal with each eventuality.

How did your Procurement Team handle the crisis so far? 

As activities start to normalise, we need to reflect on how well we have been able to navigate the previous 3–6 months. A study of the success, or otherwise, of procurement events will highlight areas of improvement. 

  • How well did we execute emergency sourcing events?
  • Did we make the best use of our available technologies?
  • Did we act at the right time and in the right way with our suppliers? 
  • How could we have managed our sourcing processes better?

AFRICA SUPPLY CHAIN IN ACTION aims to answer all of these, 19-20 August 2020. Read up on the latest Procurement news and game-changing ideas on Procurious before registering here.

The path forward for Africa will no doubt be challenging, but it’s up to us to pave it – and together, we can.


Now Is The Time To Learn Industry 4.0 Technologies

Soon, Industry 4.0 technologies will be part of EVERY supply chain…


You already know technology is changing the way supply chains are managed.

What you might not realise is just how soon Industry 4.0 technologies will be part of every supply chain.

Companies want better transparency, greater quality checks, and increased efficiency. That’s why so many are turning facilities into “smart factories”.

In fact, 68% of manufacturers have ongoing smart factory initiatives, according to Capgemini research.

One example is Bosch, which responded to the recent global health crisis by making face masks on a fully automated production line.

Who is using Industry 4.0?

Having your equipment connected to Industry 4.0 technology lets companies like Bosch react quickly to world and industry events.

That’s just one benefit. But how widespread is it?

95% of companies are using at least one Industry 4.0 technology, according to research from the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply.

It’s no longer futuristic. It’s here.

But what exactly is Industry 4.0 technology in the supply chain? And how can you get your team up to speed?

What application is there for Industry 4.0 tech in supply chain?

Put simply, the fourth industrial revolution (or Industry 4.0) is a drastic change in the way things are made and distributed.

Such rapid tech advancements are triggering a digital overhaul of the supply chain. Some of these technologies include:

·  Blockchain

·  Artificial Intelligence (AI)

·  Internet of Things (IoT)

·  5G

Here’s a bit more about those technologies, and how they relate to the supply chain.

Blockchain

What it is: Blockchain is a network where people can store digital records in a shared, unchangeable way. There is one version of the truth, which helps build trust between different parties in the supply chain.

How it’s used in the supply chain: Retailer Carrefour uses blockchain technology so customers can see exactly where products come from.

Carrefour’s produce and meat suppliers record a product’s journey from farm to store shelf using IBM’s enterprise blockchain network – IBM Food Trust. That way, a customer simply scans the product QR code with their smartphone, and they can instantly learn the product’s provenance.

Not only does it give Carrefour greater visibility, it even increases sales.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

What it is: Artificial intelligence is technology that lets computers “learn” and make decisions by analysing data.

For example, Spotify analyses your music choices, compares it to other users, and combines that data to make artist suggestions based on people with similar taste.

How it’s used in supply chain: Lenovo uses AI to proactively predict and mitigate supply chain disruptions. It uses the IBM Sterling Supply Chain analytics, using the famous IBM Watson system.

It’s helped Lenovo find previously hidden cost savings, all the while improving productivity.

Internet of Things (IoT)

What it is: In a nutshell, Internet of Things connects physical devices to the internet. Some examples are smart watches and self-driving cars.

How it’s used in supply chain: L’Oréal wanted to introduce more flexibility into its production line so it could respond faster to customer demands. Their customers expect more customisation options.

So it partnered with IBM to create a smarter factory – using a combination of sensors and cameras connected to production that let them pivot in real time.

That connectivity allows them to operate a large organisation as flexibly as a start-up. Just how flexible is it?

“We can produce the base and then choose the colour for a lipstick right at the very last moment,” as Operations Chief Digital Officer Stéphane Lannuzel puts it.

5G

What it is: 5G (or fifth generation) wireless technology will make it faster and easier to connect on mobile phones. You’ll be able to download videos at lightning speed, and say goodbye to awkward lags when videoconferencing. It has bigger capacity than the current 4G, meaning you can connect a lot more sensors and smart devices at once.

How it’s used in supply chain: Samsung produces IoT sensors that monitor warehouse safety conditions. That data is processed with IBM analytics, alerting supervisors when equipment might need repairing or when conditions become unsafe. Since 5G is superfast and there’s no lag, supervisors can act straight away.

5G matters the most when every second counts.

How can you learn Industry 4.0 technology?

All of this shiny new tech is exciting. But it won’t do you much good if you don’t know how to use it.

McKinsey declared 2020 the “year of re-skilling”, due to the acceleration of Industry 4.0 technology.

The firm predicts that in the US, around one-third of production roles could change profoundly over the next decade. That means the way you interact with all stages of supply chain management will change as well.

So it’s essential to get up to speed, and help your team prepare too.

So what’s the best way to do that?

First, a skills analysis

Once you have a plan for new technology adoption, look at the skills you need to make it happen.

For example, Deloitte research into AI skills gaps found the top four in-demand AI skills are:

·  AI researchers

·  Software developers

·  Data scientists

·  Project managers

Your team may not necessarily develop AI technology, but they will certainly need to know how to use it. Once you know what skills you need, you can compile that into a skills roadmap.

Next, match skills

Do an analysis of the skills your team already possesses, then match them to the skills on your roadmap.

Hopefully there will be some overlap, but you can expect you will need to up-skill or re-skill your team – especially if your company doesn’t use much Industry 4.0 technology yet.

Then comes training

Good training is a significant investment of time and money. In fact, more than a third (34%) of organisations say training costs are a barrier to digital supply chain management.

But the cost of training is far less than the cost of your company being left behind because it didn’t adopt new technologies fast enough.

The right training looks different for every company. You might choose in-house, external, or even a mix.

One popular option is the IBM Sterling Supply Chain Academy. It acts as a complement to other training you offer, giving your team access to skills aligned to market demand.

Your team can learn the needed skills to:

  • Build smarter supply chains
  • Deliver on customer needs through smarter fulfillment
  • Reduce the cost, complexity and risk of supplier onboarding and management

Why any of this matters

Ultimately, getting up to speed on Industry 4.0 technologies is about more than transparency or agility.

Global supply chain disruption has accelerated the need to make changes towards the way people make and buy goods.

That means supply chain professionals have the opportunity (and responsibility) to use their purchasing power for good, according Professor Olinga Ta’eed, Director of the Centre for Citizenship, Enterprise & Government.

When you couple large amounts of money with positive ideology and advanced technology, Professor Ta’eed says it’s the “biggest instrument to change the world.”

“Let’s use that money to nudge society into better ways [and] behaviour,” he says.

Supply chain strategist Sheri Hinish agrees.

“Supply chain is really tied to a concept of shared responsibility,” she said in an interview for SAP Ariba Live.

“Doing well, doing good, making fiscal sense of this value creation across stakeholders. There’s no other domain positioned to really deliver that long-term value other than supply chain because we are truly end-to-end.”

“Supply chains have the ability to save lives,” she adds. “We are literally seeing this unfold before our eyes.”

For more Industry 4.0 talk, join the conversation in our Supply Chain Pros group

5 Expert Tips To Reduce e-Waste

You’re being asked to source more sustainable products, meet climate goals, anticipate post-pandemic supply chain shifts and reduce end of life impact. It’s a challenging task, particularly with IT products. The good news is, many procurement professionals have taken on this assignment before you, and they’re here to help. 


With more than 50 million metric tons generated annually, e-waste has become the world’s fastest-growing waste stream. Only around 20% of global e-waste is actually responsibly recycled. 

With the typical IT contract based on a three-to-four-year use cycle, the piles of e-waste are growing ever larger. While procurement with a purpose can net you impacts across the organisation, the solution is circularity, an approach gaining traction around the world.  

Transitioning from a linear to a circular economy can solve some of society’s most pressing sustainability challenges when it comes to IT products. In this blog, we share expert tips on how to source sustainable products, cut costs and meet climate goals through circularity – the solution for circular procurement of IT products.

Defining Circularity 

In a linear economy, we make products from virgin natural resources and we discard those products once we’re done using them — often after a relatively short time. Today’s linear consumption creates substantial carbon dioxide emissions, exhausts natural resources and creates vast amounts of hazardous waste.  

In a circular economy, resources are handled more responsibly, with a goal of extending the lifetime of products and recirculating all materials without producing any waste. Circularity means no waste, lower emissions, longer lifespan, lower costs, and a cleaner environment. 

Where do we start?  

Circularity isn’t an abstract notion. Many organisations are practising it now. They’re demanding – and getting – change from suppliers. 

A new report from TCO Development, the organisation behind the leading global sustainability certification for IT products TCO Certified, offers concrete examples of organisations and manufacturers practising circularity. The report sets out how the circular economy helps solve many of the most pressing sustainability challenges associated with IT products. They’ve distilled their research into 33 tips for bringing circularity to your organization.  

Based on the interviews with experts around the globe, here are the top five tips to make your procurement more sustainable.  

1. Use your IT products longer: this is the single most important thing you can do to reduce the consumption of natural resources and cut greenhouse gas emissions. And it cuts costs. 

The studies show that simply adding two years to a laptop’s life reduces emissions by 30 percent per year. And extending the life of a computer workstation from three to six years saves 28 percent on costs. To keep computers in circulation longer, buy durable products that are possible to repair and upgrade, and choose models with enough performance to cover long-term needs.  

2. Work to gradually implement circular practices in your organisation. Take-back programs are an easy way to start.   

Large brand owners such as Dell, HP and Lenovo are starting to see IT equipment as a service. They, and all other brand owners with products certified according to the criteria in TCO Certified, have programs that take back computers after your organisation is finished with them. It’s an easy first step to add this to your organisation’s purchasing process.   

3. Think circular when you purchase IT products. Use circular criteria.  

For example, add specifications for durability and repairability that will allow you to keep products longer, and criteria for reduction or elimination of hazardous substances that make materials more recyclable. Communicate your goals and tactics with internal and external stakeholders throughout the IT product life cycle.  

4. Give your IT products a second life by reselling them. 

Even if they no longer meet the needs of your organisation, your equipment still has value. Discuss resale options with a reputable refurbishment or remanufacturing firm that also ensures your data stays secure. Consider charitable donations or surplus resale to employees. 

5. Acknowledge that circularity is a team effort and that no one can do it alone. Internal and external cooperation is crucial! 

Invite decision makers and specialists from at least your IT, procurement, sustainability, finance, facilities and communication teams to create circular practices inside your organization. And don’t go it alone – team up with other buyers to increase your purchasing power and influence. The Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council is a good place to start. Learn more about TCO Certified and get free support with your sustainable IT procurement. 

Procurement’s role 

As manufacturers are moving circularity forward through product design and service offerings, what’s the role of procurement? Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council CEO Donna Westerman sees procurement professionals as key to driving demand for change.  

“Procurement has the power to influence an entire product ecosystem. The decisions made on what to buy impact not only product design but also how those products affect our environment and business resiliency.” Westerman said. ”Now, more than ever, procurement is at the forefront of what a sustainable future can look like.” 

Take the first step 

The key learning from all the interviews with industry leaders and organisations is simple. Get started. The transition to the circular economy is essential, and we all need to play an active part in it. It doesn’t matter so much what the first step is, as long as you take it. As Chris Fielden, Group Supply Chain Director for Innocent Drinks said, being unafraid to fail is key. 

Learn more 

To see the 33 hands-on tips for circular management of IT products from TCO Development, and read the full report, Impacts and Insights: Circular IT Management in Practice, click here 

How To Lead Through Difficult Times

How do you lead through difficult times? What four key roles should all leaders play?  


This year has been one of the most challenging in modern times for business leaders, organisations and employees worldwide. And as many famous quotes allude to, nothing is tested more in challenging times than leadership. Many leaders step up and shine, yet just as many fall victim to stress, anxiety and frustration, leaving them a shadow of their former selves. 

So how do you make sure you’re the former? 

One person that knows how to lead in the best of times, as well as in the worst, is Vice-President of AI Applications and Blockchain at IBM, Amber Armstrong. Amber’s illustrious career at IBM started when she joined the company as an MBA graduate 13 years ago, and she’s quickly risen through the ranks. 

Amber joined us for our latest podcast episode in the IBM Career Bootcamp series to delve into all things leadership and in particular, how to lead through difficult times. 

Here’s what you’ll learn in the podcast:

What does being a great leader actually mean and how would you define your personal leadership style? 

Over the years, the definition of leadership has evolved enormously. Leaders, recognising that the more authoritarian styles of leading are no longer effective, have begun to diversify their styles away from command and control and towards a more inspiring vision of what leadership should be. But is inspiring others the sole role that leaders need to play nowadays? 

Not at all, according to Amber. Amber thinks that there are four things every leader needs to do in any organisation. In fact, Amber believes that these four things are so important that she had her team of executive managers agree to them as part of a leadership pact. 

Amber is clear on what she thinks these four things are: 

‘Leaders should, in my opinion, set the vision, communicate clearly, prioritise relentlessly and finally, coach.’

Throughout her career, Amber has used these four priority areas to not only lead others, but also to gather feedback and learn and what is and isn’t working. Beyond these things though, Amber has also put considerable thought and effort into her leadership style and has come up with a personal mantra that describes how she personally wants to lead: 

‘From a personal brand perspective, I aspire to be known as someone who is passionate, focused and kind.’ 

‘And in moments when things get particularly tough, there’s one particular thing I try to have more of.’ 

Discover what this is for Amber in the podcast.

How do leaders develop their own personal style? Should they do this through experience or through someone like a coach?

Amber’s personal leadership style is well-known and admired at IBM. But how do we all go about developing our own unique version of that? Amber has developed her style through a combination of experience and also through working with an executive coach, and she believes both of those things helped her get where she is today. 

From an experience perspective, Amber believes that it was through making mistakes and having empathy that she came to develop her current style: 

‘I joined IBM 13 years ago after I graduated from business school, and fortunately, I’ve been given a lot of opportunities here. This has led to many successes and also countless mistakes, but I’ve taken the opportunity to learn from each and every one of them.’ 

Amber remembers one particular period in her career where she came to understand the critical importance of kindness as an element of her personal leadership style: 

‘At one point, I was told I have to give a lot of people bad news, news which would affect their personal lives.’ 

‘I put up a sign at my desk with my mantra, the words passionate, focused and kind. I felt such comfort having those words there, it helped me to turn them into a reality throughout that difficult time.’  

Recently, Amber also started working with an executive coach who has further helped her shape her leadership style. This has been beneficial for one specific reason, she says. 

Find out what that reason is in the podcast.

Can you lead without necessarily having a leadership position? 

Amber has had an extremely successful career, and now manages a large number of people, including fifteen other managers. But for those of us who may not be in such senior positions, or perhaps those of us who may not be leading anyone at all, is it still possible to be a leader? 

Absolutely, Amber says. 

In fact, there’s one thing she thinks all leaders need to do, regardless of our level of seniority: 

‘If you want to lead, you need to take care of yourself first.’ 

‘For me, I do three things to take care of myself. Firstly, I run a mile, I make sure I sweat. Secondly, I walk 5,000 steps every day and then thirdly, I meditate for ten minutes. Self-care is so important.’ 

Beyond self-care, Amber also wants to let us all in on a little secret, and it’s an important one. In a nutshell, even leaders with a great amount of authority (those who are senior and have a lot of responsibility), don’t really have authority unless they can garner respect. Amber explains: 

‘To be a leader, you need people to respect you, you need them to trust you. So even if you’re an authority figure, sure, you can force people to do things but that isn’t leadership.’ 

‘Leadership is about creating clarity and building respect. You need to be able to influence others in a positive way.’ 

Also in the podcast: 

  • What needs to change about our leadership styles in these challenging times 
  • The pink recession 

And much more. 

Amber Armstrong’s podcast on leading through difficult times is part of our IBM Sterling Career Bootcamp. Designed to power your mind and help you excel, the Bootcamp consists of 6 electrifying podcasts with internationally renowned experts and speakers. Sign up here if you haven’t already.

4 Reasons Social Media Is A Gamechanger For Supply Chain & Procurement

Thanks to the power of online collaboration, social media has played an essential role in helping supply chain and procurement professionals manage COVID-19.


Where would we be without social media? Imagine trying to navigate through this crisis without the support of your social networks. At Procurious, we have provided a safe space for our almost 40,000 (we’re at 39,964 as I write!) supply chain and procurement leaders all over the world.  We’ve played our small part in helping our members step up to the plate, curveball after curveball.

In honor of World Social Media Day, it’s only right that we tip our hats off to how far we’ve come as a community. We’ve helped our members find jobs, advance in their careers, make critical connections across the world and collaborate to tackle some truly complex and exciting challenges. We’re extremely proud.

Today, we’re reflecting on a few of the many reasons social media has become a professional powerhouse:

1. It can help anyone, anywhere in the world

Think of how big your network would be without the virtual groups, forums, discussions and networks you’re a part of today. The best part is the skies the limit —and communities like ours are growing every day.

But even beyond individualized benefits, influencers like Professor Karsten Machholz, from the University of Applied Sciences Würzburg-Schweinfurt (or FHWS) in Germany, demonstrated the impact users can make when they use their platform for the greater good. Amidst the crisis, 65% of businesses were required to quickly source alternative suppliers for affected categories. And while procurement’s response was mostly impressive, some organisations are still struggling. Social media has allowed Karsten to play a huge role in recovery. “With the use of my procurement and supply chain networks like Procurious, I am trying to help companies find alternative suppliers in order to make their supply chains run again.”

Joanna Martinez, founder of Supply Chain Advisors LLC is another example of influencers leveraging social media to make an impact and help others. “Watching all the people being furloughed or laid off, I started ‘Pay it Forward Fridays’, where I use my connections and expertise to help people begin the journey back to employment. I’ve been a practice interviewer, a speaker to Zoom groups focused on the job search, have proofread resumes, made connections, and been a reference. I haven’t found a person yet that I haven’t been able to help in some way.”

2. The more we put in, the more we get out

Since coming together to prove our organisational value, we’ve made monumental strides in outshining old stereotypes and proving our organisational worth. Still, we’ve come too far to lose our seat at the executive table.

When asked about the pressures of today’s environment, Chief Heart Officer of SupplyChainQueen, Sheri Hinish, explained that COVID-19 has taught us a valuable lesson. “We are ONE planet – each of us interconnected in ways we may not be aware of or see. You can’t watch the news without hearing supply chain nowadays…. Literally, we are seeing that supply chains have the ability to save lives and power the world we share.”

This requires us to learn more and give more: to society and our professional networks. Social media makes this possible.

3. It boosts collaboration

Although much of the world is still at home, social media has brought our community closer than ever. “The pulse for information due to COVID has created a space for helping others better understand and prepare for external risks, visibility, social and environmental insights that are all tied to building resilient and transparent supply chains.” – Sheri Hinish, SupplyChainQueen.

It’s clear the support we’ve given each other is admirable. Beyond that, we’re progressively moving and adding value outside of our normal realm. For example, some procurement teams have contentious relationships with their suppliers.  But according to Sarah Scudder, President at Real Sourcing Network, the dynamic must change – and social media is helping pave the way.  “COVID-19 is forcing companies to save money and be more efficient… I want all procurement professionals to believe in collaboration and teamwork with suppliers instead of ‘us versus them’.”

There is no “I” in team. Effective collaboration requires communication and sharing. It can be especially uncomfortable if your organisation is doing something for the first time. But, who says you can’t borrow from another playbook? That’s what makes professional networks so unique. Chances are, someone out there has tackled a similar issue to whatever you are facing today… and they’re willing to share what they learned.

4. Online communication can be just as personal and productive

Our own Principal Advisor Helen Mackenzie proved connecting virtually doesn’t need to be any less intimate than meeting face-to-face. “I’ve been working hard to connect CPOs with each other. We’re having virtual coffee breaks where three or four of us come together just for a chat and to exchange information, insight and ideas. I like to think that being that community connector, which after all is what we’re about at Procurious, has helped the CPOs I’ve shared a virtual coffee with feel that they are part of a wider network that’s there to support each other.”

With major changes ahead, it’s critical we keep up the momentum. The most rookie mistake supply chain and procurement leaders can make is not being receptive to further change. As Dave Food, Strategy Director at Prophetic Technology expertly puts it: “The future is full of possibility, say no to the old ways and leverage the new potential. Early adopters are the powerhouse of tomorrow.” And social media is the enabler.

For more game-changing insights and inspiring stories from key players themselves, check out our COVID-19 Gamechangers whitepaper.

And if you haven’t officially joined Procurious yet, do yourself the favor and make today the day.


This One Trait Will Be The Key To Your Success In 2020

What trait will be the key to your success in 2020? We believe it will be resilience, and here’s why… 


Right now, no person in the entire world would call 2020 ‘easy.’ Whether we’ve been challenged personally or professionally, this year has been like no other. Which is why this one particular trait is more important than ever, and it is… 

Resilience.  

In recent years, resilience has become somewhat of a buzzword within management circles. But what really is resilience and why do we need it? 

Resilience, and more specifically, how to obtain it and use it to your advantage, has been the focus of my work for the last decade, and has inspired my now internationally-acclaimed book, Rise Warrior Rise. Through authoring my book, as well as working with numerous different organisations to help them transform their leadership capabilities through my Excelerate program, I’ve discovered what we can all do to build resilience and use it to accelerate our own personal and professional performance. 

Doing so was the topic of my discussion with Tania Seary from Procurious, as part of the IBM Careers Bootcamp series. Here is a brief overview of what you’ll learn in our podcast: 

What is resilience? 

Resilience is often said to be the ability to recover from adversity, and cope with change and uncertainty. But does being ‘resilient’ then mean that you won’t experience emotions in times of stress? 

Definitely not. 

From my research, I’ve discovered that being resilient doesn’t mean that you won’t experience life’s ups and down, in fact, it is only natural to experience these. Instead, resilience is the ability to still experience this depth and variation of emotion, but while doing so, be able to keep in touch with your best self. 

In my experience, resilience is far more than what people typically describe it as. In fact, I believe resilience has another aspect to it entirely. 

Discover what that is in the podcast

Why is resilience so important for professional and personal wellbeing? And what are the benefits of being resilient? 

Resilience has become a buzzword for a reason – we all know it’s important. But why? 

Professionally and personally, this year has been a challenge for all of us. And even though not every year will be as difficult as this one, we’ll always experience some challenges. This is exactly the reason why resilience is important – because we’ll always need it. 

While researching for my book and throughout my career in general, I’ve come across a lot of people who may not be as resilient as they could be, and that has resulted in some concerning behaviours. For example, if something bad happens to someone who isn’t resilient, typically they get stressed, and then withdraw. From there, they occupy their mind with negative self-chatter, and then they can end up feeling anxious, depressed or worse. 

But in good news, with resilience, the reaction can be the complete opposite. Instead of engaging in negative self-talk, those who are resilient typically tell themselves that the situation is temporary. And instead of getting stressed, their emotional and physical wellbeing stays intact, and they don’t lose touch with their vision for a great life.

The benefits of being resilient extend way beyond how you react when things get tough, though. From my experience, those who are resilient are more likely to lead abundant and opulent professional lives, and also are more likely to have success with their family and personal pursuits. In summary, resilient people are more likely to lead a full and rich life, without regret. 

Think this sounds wonderful? It is, and there’s one more critical reason why. Learn what that is in the podcast.

How can we become more resilient? 

It’s clear that being resilient pays off, both personally and professionally. How do we get better at it, though? 

To help, I’ve created a 13-step framework for people to increase their level of resilience. If that sounds daunting, don’t worry – you don’t need to be good at every step. Excelling at just a few steps is all you need in order to make a substantial difference. 

I won’t detail the 13 step framework here, but there is more information in the podcast if you’re interested. One important point, though, is that you do need to develop practices to keep you strong. An area that I recommend everyone works on is that of negative self-chatter. 

We all experience negative self-chatter at some point, and this is because the mind can be fickle and it often focuses on the negative. How many times have you found yourself in a situation where someone has said something awful, and it’s completely ruined your day, despite many other positive things happening? 

This is common, and we all need to do what we can to develop our own mechanisms to address it. For me personally, I’ve developed a unique routine to keep the negativity at bay. My routine includes getting up early in the morning, and doing some exercise (this might be yoga, walking or some weights). After I’ve done this, I then do exercises to regulate my breath. Even if I can’t regulate my mind, I try to regulate my breath. Finding something to focus on, for example my breath, enables me to enter a calm state. Then, I share positive words. I find that wholly rejuvenating. 

This type of self-care is critical for all of us, as it replenishes our ‘fourth being.’ More on that in the podcast – listen to it here

Remember, whoever you are and whatever your circumstances, you can build, and benefit from, resilience. I look forward to exploring the topic with you in more detail.

Roh Singh’s podcast on resilience is part of our IBM Sterling Career Bootcamp. Designed to power your mind and help you excel, the Bootcamp consists of 6 electrifying podcasts with internationally renowned experts and speakers. Sign up here if you haven’t already.