Category Archives: Trending

Supply Chain Analytics Are ‘Looking In The Rear-View Mirror’

Is this what the future of supply chain analytics looks like?

Supply chain analytics are 'stuck in the rear-view mirror'

A new study that highlights the current and future state of supply chain analytics has confirmed that the future of supply chain analytics is visual, multi-sourced and predictive.

According to the study, the majority of today’s supply chain analytics are “looking in the rear-view mirror” when it comes to evaluating performance, but realise the potential value of adopting advanced analytics.

More than 40 per cent of respondents said they are still almost exclusively backward looking when it comes to data analysis. However, the vast majority expressed the belief that predictive analytics would bring value to users, enabling them to leverage data at the point of decision. Additionally, more than 88 per cent of respondents ranked advanced analytic capabilities as an outstanding or good opportunity for their organisation. Respondents also noted that making improvements in data and analytic capabilities was either a high priority or something they were already focused on doing.

The study revealed that while companies are realising the value and urgency of implementing advanced analytics, few feel they are where they need to be. When evaluating their own current capabilities generally, less than 10 per cent felt they had high levels of user system flexibility and empowerment, data visualisation and supply chain risk management capabilities.

“Despite early stages of maturity, companies see significant potential from improvements in data management and analysis,” said Dan Gilmore, President and Editor in Chief at SCDigest. “Not surprisingly, improved supply chain decision-making tops that list, while similarly, becoming more ‘forward-looking’ was the number one opportunity identified by respondents from improved data management and analytics.”

The Qlik-commissioned study is a result of a global survey launched by SCDigest of its readership around the subject of how companies are planning to leverage their supply chain data, including the capabilities they have in place now or intend to develop over the next few years.

Procurement Technology and Procurement Software – Are they Any Different?

Often used interchangeably by enterprise clients and vendors alike, are the two concepts really the same?

It’s all in the perception and the word. Technology is more current, more relevant, and encompasses the full landscape of neat innovations that are offered to us in increasing numbers.

Software, well, it’s a bit old-fashioned really. It’s more flabby-old-floppy-disk than app-store-chic.

Consider the growing range of tiny little devices that extend the range of things we can do with our smart phones. Little buttons, tags, sensors and switches are reinventing and redefining the way we use our phones. There are buttons that you can program to push and play music, push to order takeout food, and so on.

But however much they devices are pushed to the forefront — with a focus on tablets and wearable devices, and the potential impact they will have on our daily lives — the truth is that these gadgets are just the means of access to the software.

These gadgets are appealing and exciting, and the prospect of having everything at the push of a button is irresistible. But look under the covers and the reality is somewhat different.

Because, in fact, you won’t be programming the buttons at all. The button is just a switch that says, “I’ve been activated”. It is the app on your smart device that translates that activation into a result.   Although, of course, it isn’t even that simple. App, we all know, is an abbreviation of application. In other words, a way of using the underlying power of another system. Software applications, in essence, are devices for instructing an operating system to do something clever.

We think the cute little buttons are smart, but they are just a veneer of glamour over the real miracle, which is the vast repository of information and decision support that is available to all of us.

This is where the power lies in procurement technology, not in the fact that you can approve a purchase order on your wristwatch, but the fact that you can do it wherever your wristwatch happens to be. The distinction is that it is the underlying software that enables the gadgetry, mobility and flexibility to work the way you need to.

And it is the software that needs to be crafted cleverly to deliver the business results you need. Code that is written to do clever things based on requests and demands. The software needs to work the way you do, and the developers need to understand the business requirements you have.

As a leading global developer of procurement software, we at GEP recognize that procurement technology is a big deal. Mobility, usability, accessibility and all the other abilities determine how you can work. But it is the underlying understanding of the business needs, encapsulated in the software that drives the tech that determines what you can do.

Procurement technology is rapidly growing and evolving, but at its heart, it is driven by good old-fashioned software.

Whether procurement professionals need gadgets to make working practices more automated is not yet clear, but what they will always need is results.

So there it is, procurement technology and procurement software — two distinct things that are interdependent on each other for success.

Paul Blake leads the technology product marketing team at GEP, a leading global provider of procurement technology solutions that help enterprises boost procurement savings and performance. Read Paul’s first blog here.

Why Supplier Risk Management Is Still The Big Thing

“Supplier Risk” is no longer a buzzword or an emerging trend. Nowhere is this more evident than for the food and retail industries, where what started with the horsemeat scandal in 2013 now seems to be haunting Europe as the nuts-for-spices scandal.

Yet risk is an issue that cuts across many industries, around the world. The increasing globalisation of company supply chains compounds risk—and at the value chain level. Such risks have a material impact on companies, resulting in supply chain disruptions, material losses, and reputational damage.

Figure 1 shows the most prominent supplier-related risks that companies are exposed to currently.

supplier-risk

According to a November 2013 survey by PwC, 55 per cent of respondents believed that they had experienced at least one significant supply chain disruption over 2011–2013, and these disruptions increased costs for 42 per cent of the respondents and affected customer service for 39 per cent respondents.

Clearly, the need for proactive supplier risk management is no longer simply a nice-to-have—and that’s why 70.6 per cent of the CPOs surveyed for Procurement Leaders’ 2015 Trend Report noted that the time dedicated to risk management activities will increase in 2015.

What are Organisations Doing to Manage Risk?

A February 2015 Procurement Leaders article compares supplier risk to an iceberg. The top 10 per cent of the iceberg, which is visible, is financial risk. The remaining 90 per cent—the portion that is hidden below the surface—includes executive changes, geographical and political risks, and the risk of natural disaster, risks that progressive organisations are increasingly turning their attention toward.

A 2012–2013 Capgemini survey of CPOs lists some of the strategies employed by companies to manage supplier risk:

  • Switching to multisourcing for key inputs
  • Continuously monitoring supplier performance, and taking actions to mitigate emerging risks
  • Putting a clear process in place to continuously assess, mitigate, and manage supply risks
  • Developing a process to proactively analyze potential risks, and building supply chain contingency plans
  • Using external consulting service providers to help identify and mitigate risks
  • Training procurement teams in advanced supply risk management techniques
  • Implementing relevant technology solutions to support and manage supply risks

Take a look at several examples of how global organisations are working to mitigate risk across different areas of the supply chain:

Ford

Companies with widespread and complex supply chains can find themselves at sea while identifying high probability risks, especially those that have the highest impact on their bottom line. As such, organisations turn to new and sophisticated tools to help identify and mitigate risk—as was the case with Ford.

In December 2013, Ford announced a new supplier risk management strategy, developed in collaboration with MIT’s Dr. David Simchi-Levi. Assessing Ford’s supplier risk was a challenging task, given that the company sources thousands of components from ~4,000 tier 1 suppliers. The risk assessment model was based on Dr. Simchi-Levi’s Risk Exposure Index approach, and concluded that a short disruption pegged at 61 per cent of the tier 1 firms would not have an impact on Ford’s profits. Yet a disruption in supplies from 2 per cent of the firms studied would have a substantial impact. Leveraging this analysis, Ford has focused its efforts on those firms that account for the highest supply chain risk. 

EID-Parry

For companies that rely significantly on a single geography, commodity, or supplier, it is essential to diversify their purchasing in order to reduce the impact of any disruptions in supply from that single source.

India-based sugar manufacturer EID Parry is expanding its business outside the state of Tamil Nadu. The company’s Executive Chairman A. Vellayan assured shareholders at a July 2014 annual general meeting that they will see long-term benefits of the company’s policy of spreading out its sugar mills across a number of Indian states. 

P&G

Suppliers that engage in practices such as unsustainable sourcing of commodities, use of child labor, and unsafe manufacturing practices pose a grave threat to the reputation (and ultimately economics) of companies that source from them.

A case in point is Procter & Gamble. Following a February 2014 Greenpeace report on the deforestation practices of some of the company’s palm oil suppliers, the company released an extensive no-deforestation policy aimed at encouraging sustainable sourcing practices among suppliers.  

Kellogg’s

Similarly, Kellogg’s announced its commitment to purchase only deforestation-free palm oil, with a target date of December 31, 2015. The company also introduced a new responsible sourcing policy that seeks to reduce the impact of its supply chain on climate. This includes the provision of resources and education to help suppliers increase their resilience with respect to climate change, optimise the use of fertilizer inputs, reduce GHG emissions in their agricultural practices, optimise water use, and improve soil health. 

The Underlying Trend

In an environment of increasing supplier-related risks, it is crucial for companies to strengthen supplier engagement in order to mitigate threats such as supply discontinuity, over-reliance on key suppliers, and reputational damage from supplier activities. To gain competitive advantage, it is important for them to identify, assess, and efficiently monitor and manage such risks—piecemeal or as part of a broader integrated strategy. The underlying trend, though, is clear—as procurement departments mature and organisations grow, an integrated risk management strategy will be the most effective path forward.

By Ankit Abraham Sinha, Senior Analyst, & Sidharth Sreekumar, Assistant Manager – The Smart Cube, a global professional services firm specialising in custom research and analytics. 

Bottled Water Makes A Splash As Popularity Soars

It seems that bottled water is making quite a splash…

Bottled water is on the rise

As summer temperatures invariably rise, keeping effortlessly cool and on top of your hydration game is certainly a challenge.

In these health-concious times more and consumers appear to be shunning the carbonated drinks of old, in favour of healthier bottled alternatives.  If researchers are reading the market correctly it’s time for us to fight the sugar cravings, as the well-publicised links to obesity, not to mention dehydrating effects of our favourite sugary beverage mean the signs this year suggest sugar is out and h20 is very much in…

This comes just as Coca-Cola has revealed its second-quarter results. The numbers show that its North American carbonated drink volumes rose just 1 per cent, compared with a 4 per cent increase in noncarbonated drinks, including double-digit growth in its Smartwater range.

According to beverage industry experts contributing to a report into the market conditions within the United States, taste-makers are convinced that the popularity of bottle water will soon make it the non-alcoholic beverage of choice.

However the report also observes: “The market for bottled water is also being roiled by a number of disruptive forces, even in the midst of this generally upbeat view of the bottled water category.  For one thing, as supermarkets stock their shelves with loss-leading cases of plain bottled water, simply competing on the basis of volume and price no longer seems to make sense to marketers of major brands.”

Flavour of the weak

The research highlights another potential area of resistance too and that concerns flavour. With consumers attempting to rationalise their lack of enthusiasm for the liquid saviour by bemoaning its lack of flavour.

In order to answer these detractors, marketers are introducing new bottled water products in an assortment of vibrant colours, exotic flavourings and fashion-forward packaging. Another relatively new innovation that could help boost the bottle’s appeal are water enhancers. Introduced by Kraft Foods in 2011, water enhancers can completely transform your otherwise plain water into something that little bit more exciting.

According to a marketing executive with the DASANI brand, around 20 per cent of households buying bottled water also buy liquid water enhancers. As liquid water enhancers multiply in terms of numbers and innovative characteristics, they are likely to play a major role in shoring up the bottom lines of major beverage marketers.

The report too highlights the buying power (and influence) Millennials hold over the fate of the bottled product, commenting: “While consumption of premium European sparkling water brands has long served as a status symbol for urban elites, premium still water packaged in designer bottles has become the fashion statement du jour for more and more Millennials and GenXers.”

Suppliers Are Key to Disruptive Innovation

A new study shows there is increasing focus on Supplier-Enabled Innovation (SEI) among global sourcing and procurement executives.

Procurement Leaders new study sheds light on disruptive innovation

New research by Procurement Leaders has detailed that procurement is a key enabler of corporate innovation thanks to the connectivity it enjoys with suppliers and key business stakeholders.

According to the Chief Procurement Officers polled, procurement is engaged in a new role that takes responsibility for connecting capability in the supply base with stakeholder and consumer need. In doing so – it opens the doors to the benefits of Supplier-Enabled Innovation (SEI).

“Tapping into the enormous capability of the thousands of suppliers with whom we do business is perhaps the single largest opportunity procurement has,” said John Paterson, Chairman of the Procurement Leaders Advisory Board and the former Chief Procurement Officer of IBM.

The Procurement Leaders Supplier-Enabled Innovation Compass explores 22 different activities that can be used to unlock innovation from suppliers; and found that connectivity with suppliers and consumers and the use of technology are key enablers to success.

Key findings include:

  • Trail-blazers in SEI put a large emphasis on the time procurement spends with its key suppliers.
  • Procurement must better understand consumer needs and aspirations if it is to successfully deliver results through SEI.

Procurement must see innovation as a formal, disciplined process if it is to achieve success, yet only 34 per cent do.

Jonathan Webb, Head of Strategy Research at Procurement Leaders and the report’s author, said: “We knew procurement had a significant role to play in helping to build the future product pipelines of their companies. Now we know how they should go about it, and the future potential is huge when you understand that some of our members expect more than a third of their product pipelines to come from SEI.”

The research involved quantitative research and in-depth interviews among members of the Procurement Leaders community.

Do you count yourself as a member of Procurement Leaders? Procurious has just added functionality that allows you to display a Badge on your profile page. Click here to add your Procurement Leaders Badge now.

Can Coffee Pods Ever Be Considered Sustainable?

Are coffee capsules sustainable?

Call me cynical, but am I alone in not buying into Nespresso’s sustainability spin? This article posted on Procurious highlights the great work that the coffee pod producer is doing to develop a sustainable supply base by investing in infrastructure and capability in war torn South Sudan. Those efforts are worthy of praise, no question about it, but I can’t help but feel we’re having the wool pulled over our eyes by Clooney and co.

You see, a implementing a sustainable supply chain initiative or marketing your sustainability policy does not a make a business sustainable and I’d argue that Nespresso’s core business is not in the slightest way sustainable.

Nespresso (and it’s competitors) pods have boomed in popularity in recent years. It was estimated that in 2013 Nesspresso sold 28 billion coffee pods to consumers. Annual sales figures have surely climbed further in the proceeding two years.

What’s in your morning coffee? 

But lets focus on the 2013 figures. An article on the theconversation.com suggests that producing 28 billion coffee pods would require 28 million kilograms of Aluminium. Given that most local recycling facilities are not yet able to process aluminium coffee pods, I’m willing to bet that a huge percentage of these caffeinated containers have found their way into landfill.

It’s not only bulging landfills that raise sustainability concerns around aluminium coffee pod industry. While marketing from Aluminium producers focuses on the metals’ ‘infinite recycling potential’, it fails to mention that mining, refining and smelting the metal is one of the most energy and water intensive industrial processes that humankind undertakes. Also, if we don’t recycle the Aluminium, which in Nespresso’s case, we don’t, the recyclability of the metal is inconsequential.

The fact of the matter is that a decade ago, our morning cup of coffee required no aluminium and produced next to no personal waste. Today our collective morning cuppa requires 28 million kilograms of Aluminium per year and results in us throwing something in the rubbish bin everyday. Even if the coffee is produced ethically and the farmer is receiving a fair wage, can this behaviour really be called sustainable?

Jon Dee, the head of environmental group DoSomething and founder of National Recycling Week weighed into the debate claiming that “George Clooney has almost single-handedly launched an entire new waste stream globally as a result of fronting the Nespresso adverts, it shows the Clooney effect has undoubtedly been enormous in this. But George Clooney – for a guy who is so switched on to civil rights and other issues – to lead the charge in causing such environmental damage and waste and other issues is really disappointing.’’ I’m not sure I’d go as far as holding Mr Clooney responsible for creating the waste, but the company that employ him certainly have some questions to answer.

They’ll never be recyclable

Even John Sylvan, the inventor of the Keurig K-Cup (another brand of coffee pod) has expressed regret about the product, conceding that his brainchild is expensive, addictive “like a cigarette” and will “never be recyclable”. Speaking to The Atlantic he said “I feel bad sometimes that I ever did it”.

Like most matters concerning sustainability, the power lies with the consumer. What we buy will dictate what they produce and how they produce it. At the moment we seem spellbound with convenience (or is it laziness?). Western consumers like to think they are supportive of the environment… so long as it doesn’t impact on an increasingly long list of creature comforts. Large brands are wise to this and have adapted their marketing messages accordingly.

That’s why companies like Nespresso are able to wrap a green ribbon around business that has fundamentally changed the amount of waste we produce and call it sustainable.

Is Your Procurement Technology a Solution or Just an ‘Empty App’?

There are hundreds of procurement technology products in the market today – from standalone tools to end-to-end platforms. But are they really ‘solutions’ or just ’empty apps’?

Let’s look at an example. Satellite navigation was a technology that had to be developed in order to make commercial sense of GPS. Originally developed to guide cruise missiles to their targets, GPS is quite an extraordinary feat of engineering which we now take for granted due to the ubiquity of SatNav devices and apps on smart phones.

Critical to the success of SatNav are the maps. The ‘data’, if you like. The quality and utility of these apps is entirely dependent on the content. Without map data, your SatNav is just a shell, literally an empty app. As I discovered recently landing in the USA with a cool new navigation app on my phone – for which I had completely neglected to download the map dataset for the region I was in. A useless, empty app.

The same is true of procurement technology products.

You may note I have used the terms ‘products’ in place of the more often-used euphemism, ‘solutions’. For a piece of procurement technology to be a solution to anything, its use must deal with existing issues and provide better outcomes than if it were not used at all. My phone app at that point was definitely not a solution.

Heretical as it may sound, in the world of procurement technology there is no guarantee that deployment of expensive, fully-featured software alone will make life better for your organization.

Large-scale implementations of procurement technology systems are always complex and require considerable effort and investment to pull off. Delivering a return on that investment is not a done deal until you can really demonstrate the benefits and savings generated.

Focus on Results, Not Features

Increasingly, then, CPOs and industry professionals are looking closely at procurement technology to see how it will generate the desired results and what is. The focus is more on usability and effectiveness, rather than features and functionality — whether the procurement technology being considered is more than just an ’empty application’.

And that’s the whole point. It’s one thing to have all the functions and features, it’s quite another to be able to use the software to deliver results quickly, efficiently and without months of additional effort.

So What Should Procurement Technology Be Like?

The opposite of ’empty’ procurement technology, then, is that which is packed with valuable data already. Best-practice templates for contracts and sourcing, category taxonomies that match your business needs, market intelligence, category information and industry benchmarks are all examples of how procurement technology can be enriched “out of the box”.

That’s not to say that one size must fit all. Far from it. In fact, it is highly likely that each company’s definition of best-practice data will be unique. Just like the SatNav app, for which, you can choose to download maps based on your needs, smart, intelligent procurement technology should allow you to access best-practice templates, workflows, checklists, among others on demand, as and when you want.

That’s when your procurement technology will do what it’s supposed to do – drive savings and performance across the enterprise, and not become just another empty app.

Paul Blake leads the technology product marketing team at GEP, a leading global provider of procurement technology solutions that help enterprises boost procurement savings and performance.

Scenario Planning: A Field Guide (Back) To The Future?

Back To The Future

A flash of light as the time machine lands outside Marty’s house, it crashes into the trashcans and out steps a futuristic looking Doc Brown looking panicked as he reveals part of the future to Marty.

“It’s your kids Marty, something has to be done about your kids.”

If only we could see the future we could be better prepared. If I had known that was going to happen I would have made a different decision. Refrains you may have heard (or even said) but fear not, there is hope, there is a thing called Scenario Planning.

Scenario Planning (sometimes called “scenario and contingency planning”) is a structured way for organisations to think about the future. These scenarios are meant to help us recognise and adapt to changing aspects of our present environment. They form a method for articulating the different pathways that might exist for you tomorrow, and finding your appropriate movements down each of those possible paths. (The Art of the Long View – Peter Schwartz).

In procurement we have access to a wealth of information about what may happen in the future, we get this from regular meetings with our suppliers and total supply chain. So we have access to lots of information (or can do if we schedule the above) but what do we do with it?

The concept of Scenario Planning is not new, Shell has been using scenarios for over 40 years and here is a link to what they think may happen to 2025.

So how should we start putting these plans together? We first need to understand the different types of uncertainty that there are and how these relate to our organisation so we can identify and prioritise the critical uncertainties (business, industry, environmental etc.)

KPMG outlined their Scenario Planning process a report called mapping the future and Jay Ogilvy writing in Forbes magazine has also suggested a process. I have summarised and tried to give some specific practical suggestions of how to conduct below:

1. Scan your external and internal environment for emerging trends and issues

  • Meet with incumbent and non-incumbent suppliers regularly to understand trends and what their strategic plans are.
  • Meet with key internal stakeholders are regularly to understand the future business needs. It’s also imperative to identify which issues to focus on (i.e. the ones that will have the most impact).

2. Select the most realistic alternatives and develop deep responses

  • By focusing on the critical uncertainties, achieved by the group discussing and agreeing which of the issues need more attention this allows for a matrix to be developed and the potential scenarios to be placed within them. This will then give you focus on the areas that are most likely.

3. Build scenarios of the future using one or more of the quantitative multi-dimensional tools

  • PESTLE and Porters five forces are excellent tools that you can use to help build profiles and give you a framework for data collection.

4. Identify the early indicators

  • What are the attributes of the scenario?
  • What are the catalysts that would indicate that one of the scenarios is likely to happen?

5. Update and constantly review based on the early indicators

  • This isn’t a static model. It’s constantly evolving and therefore the need to update your scenarios with more information as it becomes evident is imperative. Consider:
    • What RSS feeds do you subscribe to?
    • What meetings do you have set up
    • How are you collecting information?
    • What social media sites are you using for information?

Mckinsey identified some great tips and tricks for the use of Scenario plans, which also contains some cautionary advice about them namely:

  • Analysis Paralysis
  • Poor internal communication
  • Too narrow an outcome
  • Consider the more outlandish ones as well as the ones relatively close to the “norm”
  • Know when to use and when not to

To get you started here are some examples around future thinking:

As an example of future thinking the Faculty in 2013 produced future ready white paper which identified the following areas and conducted in depth reviews of them.

Geopolitical uncertainty will impact how we look at and calculate risk; shifting demographics will change the way we look at talent; digital revolution will change the way connect and social awareness will impact and change the supply chain.

Scenario planning is important to us and our organisation as we can’t all rely on a friendly scientist coming back from the future to tell us what is going to happen.

Great Scott Marty, this is heavy…

Apple Pay ushers in a new dawn of payments on the go

Apple Pay has launched in the UK amid increased demand for smart wallets and connected services.

Apple Pay has launched in the UK

Apple Pay is now live in the UK – the first country outside of the US to offer the contactless payment service.  For the launch both Visa and MasterCard have announced they will offer cardholders immediate access to the new service, granting them the freedom to use their cards where and how they want with a seamless experience.

Security and privacy is at the core of Apple Pay. When you add a credit or debit card to Apple Pay, the actual card numbers are not stored on the device, nor on Apple servers. Instead, a unique Device Account Number is assigned, encrypted and securely stored in the Secure Element on your device. Each transaction is authorised with a one-time unique dynamic security code.

Mark Barnett, President of MasterCard UK & Ireland, said of the launch: “Innovation in UK payments means it’s fast becoming the most advanced market in the world and the arrival of Apple Pay heralds this new era. We will see more change in the next five years than we’ve seen in the last 50, bringing even more convenience and security for consumers.”

Steve Perry, Chief Digital Officer at Visa Europe, comments on the rollout: “Apple’s entry to the market represents a critical piece of the mobile payments jigsaw. This is a pivotal moment for digital payments and one that demonstrates the momentum behind mobile and contactless services.

“Visa Europe has led the rollout of NFC payments ever since we launched the first contactless cards and terminals in 2007. Today there are more than 1.5 million Visa contactless terminals in stores across Europe – all ready to take mobile payments. Apple’s decision to enter the market reflects the scale of opportunity that exists in digital payments today. Its support will drive awareness and usage of contactless services around the world – we anticipate a “halo effect” that will benefit all players in the mobile payments ecosystem.”

Are there other players too?

Indeed. It’s not just Apple innovating in the digital payment sector… Elsewhere, Android Pay is also vying for dominance in this lucrative space.

Android Pay is Google’s direct response to Apple’s mobile payment system, and a successor to Google Wallet, which (notably) has gained little traction over the past four years. Samsung Pay is also set to debut this September in both the handset maker’s own territory and the US.

And although Apple has dominated the lion’s share of the headlines, banks, card providers and retailers are keen to ensure they don’t get left behind – with each championing a digital payment system of their own. Zapp will soon allow those with older smartphones to make bank debit payments, Barclays’ customers can use Pingit and PayM, while Visa card holders are also able to take advantage of the V.Me service.

Of course if you’re after a complete card replacement then you’d be wise to look at Wocket is doing. Wocket has been designed to protect your identity and replace your old wallet. It can save all of your cards to one place, securing their details with a combination of pin and biometric voice print technology.

But it’s not just your wallet that’s getting an upgrade… At Mobile World Congress Shanghai 2015 – Visa unveiled its first foray into connected car commerce. The proof-of-concept solution is powered by Visa Checkout (and other innovative mobile technologies) to create in-car purchase experiences that are secure, convenient and easy. If successful it is envisaged to be applied to quick service restaurants, petrol stations, car hire and parking services.

Uber Is One Step Closer To Realising Its Driverless Car Ambitions

Did Uber just declare war over your future driverless car service?

Uber's driverless car ambitions

We love innovation here at Procurious, and Uber, one of the biggest disruptors of recent times, are never far from our radar…

What’s it gone and done now?

Microsoft has sold its map-generating technology to the transportation kings in a move that will bolster its own mapping efforts, and ignite a spark in the war for driverless car services.

As part of a much-bigger move that saw the Seattle technology giant sell its display ad business to AOL, Microsoft is offloading some of Bing’s mapping assets (along with 100 engineers) to Uber.

It is thought the technology will greatly aid the ride-hailing firm’s autonomous car project.

Uber has been observed testing an early version of its self-driving car. The rival self-driving taxi will inevitably take on the likes of Google and Apple, and is being developed with Carnegie Mellon University.

Pictures show a system comprising of cameras and sensors, capable of mapping nearby objects, installed on the roof of the car.

Speaking on behalf of Microsoft a representative stated: ‘We will transfer many of our imagery acquisition operations to Uber.’

An Uber spokesman further elaborated: “Mapping is at the heart of what makes Uber great. So we’ll continue to work with partners, as well as invest in our own technology, to build the best possible experience for riders and drivers.”

Currently Uber relies on Google Maps for all of its mapping needs, so this acquisition will bring the firm closer to building its own mapping technology and data collection tools. In some territories Uber has its eyes set on other endeavours too, the logistically-themed UberFresh (a food delivery service) and UberPool (its answer to carpooling).

Uber is developing its driverless cars at the ‘Uber Advanced Technologies Center’ in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Earlier this year at Procurious’ Big Ideas Summit, Uber was referenced on more than one occasion as an example of best practice. The Hackett Group’s Chris Sawchuk reckoned that procurement could learn a lot – citing the agility and flexibility in Uber’s business model. Read what Chris had to say.

Similarly, it is banded into something we call ‘the sharing economy’. Along with services such as Airbnb, Uber is changing the very way we procure – moving us away from outright ‘purchasing’ and instead encouraging more of a ‘borrowing’ economy. We’ll obviously continue to monitor Uber, it’s driverless car ambitions and more. It’ll be interesting to see where it goes from here!