Category Archives: Trending

Accenture and Fast Retailing are transforming the future of customer service

Accenture and Fast Retailing want to innovate customer service – here’s how they plan on doing it.

Accenture and Fast Retailing are innovating customer service

A joint initiative aims to improve the personalised multi-channel experience for Fast Retailing’s customers.

Accenture will help Fast Retailing (who own seven major brands, including UNIQLO, Comptoir des Cotonniers, Helmut Lang, et al) to develop new digital business models that embed customer innovation, data analytics and digitized operations in product development, merchandising, production, logistics, marketing, sales and customer service. The initiative should enable consumers to select, try, purchase and receive products and services anytime and anywhere.

Accenture will help Fast Retailing build a cloud-based technology platform, including supply chain and customer relationship management systems, to collect actionable customer insights that will enable the personalization of the customer experience. The technology, including supply chain and customer relationship management systems, will be fully transformed as a cloud based infrastructure.

“We are pursuing a coherent strategy to establish an innovative business scheme that seamlessly combines real and virtual markets and to take the lead in the changing retail industry,” said Tadashi Yanai, Chairman, President and CEO, Fast Retailing. “Through this collaborative framework with Accenture, Fast Retailing will globally present and introduce the possibility of an innovative business model beyond the retail industry and accelerate developing the world’s leading direct business model. Fast Retailing, partnering with Accenture, will enhance store strategy, create a state-of-the-art supply chain network and develop innovative talent to meet the consumer demands in the era of digitalization.”

Gianfranco Casati, group chief executive – Growth Markets at Accenture, said, “Today’s retail customers are a formidable force with shifting expectations, demanding a seamless experience – whether in stores or online – that is on their terms. Leading retailers know that digital is the key to creating the seamless experience customers want, and we will work with Fast Retailing to ensure they are making smart investment choices to create new value while ensuring efficient and effective operations across their entire organization.”

 

 

Collaborative robots will soon support human workers

The ground-breaking humanoid robot will increase safety, efficiency and productivity in the workplace.

Ocado Technology leads development of one of the world's most advanced collaborative robots

Development of one of the world’s most advanced collaborative robots begins today as part of an EU-wide initiative involving Ocado Technology and four of Europe’s leading technology research institutions.

Under the SecondHands project, Ocado Technology is coordinating a consortium of universities to create an autonomous humanoid robot. It will use artificial intelligence, machine learning and advanced vision systems to understand what human workers want and offer assistance with difficult maintenance jobs. For example, it will hand tools to human maintenance technicians and manipulate objects like ladders, pneumatic cylinders and bolts, abilities which cannot be found in any commercial robot. The objective is to increase safety, efficiency and productivity in the workplace.

“The ultimate aim is for humans to end up relying on collaborative robots because they have become an active participant in their daily tasks,” explained Dr Graham Deacon, Robotics Research Team Leader at Ocado Technology. “In essence the SecondHands robot will know what to do, when to do it and how to do it in a manner that a human can depend on.”

The initiative, which will span five years, and is expected to use seventy two person years (equivalent to 855 person months) of research effort to complete, aims to break new ground in robotics. Key areas of focus, include: 

  • Proactive assistance: the robot developed under the SecondHands project will have cognitive and perceptive ability to understand when the operator is in need of help, understand how this help can be given and provide relevant assistance
  • Artificial intelligence: The team will enable the robot to progressively acquire skills and knowledge needed to provide assistance. In fact, it will even anticipate the needs of the maintenance technician and execute the appropriate tasks without prompting
  • 3D perception: Advanced 3D vision systems will allow the robot to estimate the 3D articulated pose of humans and offer support when it is needed without being asked
  • Humanoid form and flexibility: A humanoid shape and human-like flexibility will enable natural collaboration between humans and the robot. It will feature an active sensor head, two redundant torque controlled arms, two anthropomorphic hands, bendable and extendable torso and a wheeled mobile platform

The SecondHands project, so-called because the robot will literally provide a second pair of hands to human workers, is part of the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme, which includes one of the worlds largest civilian robotics programs.

As coordinator of the project, Ocado Technology will work alongside University College London, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, La Sapienza University of Rome and Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne. The technology firm, which powers Ocado.com, will build a special testing facility in Hatfield where the robot will be subjected to rigorous real-world trials.

UK’s competitive position in advanced robotics research strengthened

The development of one of the world’s first autonomous robots comes amidst research by Boston Consulting Group that identifies the UK as a leading adopter of industrial robots over the next decade. The BCG research complements findings by the International Federation of Robotics, estimating that the global market for industrial robots was worth $9.5bn in 2013.

Ocado Technology taking a lead in robotics research in the UK

The development of this bleeding edge robot puts Ocado Technology at the forefront of companies working on advanced robotics in the UK. The company currently employs ten robotics experts, from leading robotics research institutions, such as The University of Edinburgh and Imperial College London.

‘Soft hand’ grasping skills

In addition to the SecondHands project, Ocado Technology is also working on a second, complementary, Horizon 2020 project: ΣΩMA (pronounced “SOMA”) will see the firm partner with a number of universities to explore new ways for robots to physically interact with their environment. It is hoped this will create a ground-breaking robotic hand which can be used in conjunction with SecondHands.

Emulating a human hand, the robotic gripper will know when to grasp softly – such as when picking an apple – or to grip more tightly, such as when lifting a bottle of water.

I’m French, I’m a woman and I’m not an engineer

Finding the 'red thread'
Finding the ‘red thread’

Or so said Sophie Barthelemy, the Deputy General Manager in charge of Global Strategy for Indirect Purchasing of the Nissan Renault Alliance during her brilliant address to the ProcureCon Marketing 2015 conference audience.

Sophie was addressing some of the challenges she faced in integrating the procurement efforts of two teams, based in very different business cultures.

Finding the ‘red thread’

What began as a speech about combining the marketing efforts of two leading automakers took an about turn. Becoming an examination of the differing business cultures between France and Japan that Sophie admitted, had left her bewildered at times.

That was until she found the ‘red thread’ that unlocked the path to collaboration with her Japanese colleagues. The thread to pull, it turns out, was the Kaizen business methodology. Most of us have heard about Kaizen before, it’s essentially a framework for continuous improvement and has been attributed to the huge success Japanese firms saw through the 80’s and 90’s. As Barthelemy pointed out, Kaizen is a business mentality; it has to be engrained in your everyday decisions and should not be used on a project-by-project basis.

Sophie eloquently outlined that by immersing herself in the (very Japanese) Kaizen approach to business, she found doors starting to opening up with her Japanese counterparts. She highlighted that her approach required a significant departure from the ‘normal’ Renault way of doing things.

Building trust was addressed as being critical to achieving engagement with the alliance partners. Trust, in this instance, was gained by ‘speaking with data rather than with words’ and developing frameworks that ensured that success could achieved quickly and that everyone had visibility of the process.

Once Sophie had changed her perspective and starting thinking more Kaizen (she got better at drawing her problems than explaining them), she found that her voice was being heard more loudly within the organisation.

When she presented a Kaizen infused proposal to the CEO around how the alliance may readdress its approach to procurement, she unsurprisingly received buy-in. The projects and RFPs that resulted from her suggestions allowed the alliance to centralise its purchasing and reposition the way it managed spend. This resulted in double-digit savings, improvements in the quality of service the firm received and reduced the time spent on managing spend.

Cross-cultural learnings

Towards the end of her speech and during the question time, Sophie highlighted some great points about managing and succeeding in cross cultural business situations. She advised:

  • Accepting stereotypes, they are surprisingly accurate she said. Sophie suggested keeping only the positive elements of stereotypes and learning to adapt to the negative elements.
  • Communicating simply using pictures and data to explain your challenges and goals.
  • That the only way to gain trust is to ‘do what you said you’d do’.
  • As the title of this article suggests, Sophie suggests that humour is a great was to disarm a crowd.
  • If you are working with Japanese colleagues, you shouldn’t expect direct feedback but you should learn to read the weaker symbols of positive and negative feedback.
  • Silence is important. Take time to consider you response; don’t fill the air with noise.

And finally, if you are in Japan, don’t sit in the chair nearest to the door. That’s for the secretary.

Technology and Talent: A Match Made in Heaven

Procurement teams compete for talent, it’s as simple as that.

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Thanks to Zycus for granting Procurious permission to republish this article. 

We compete with finance, we compete with operations and we compete with other procurement teams. Unfortunately we don’t often win this ‘war for talent’.

Ask the graduates of the country’s leading business schools where their preferred destination post college is and you receive answers like consulting, finance, banking and more recently technology firms.

Procurement generally fails to crack a mention, but that is starting to change and the function is being recognised for the critical role it plays in the success of organisations. High profile CEOs with a procurement background, like Tim Cook of Apple, are also helping the function being viewed in a more positive light.

Technology got us this far

The acceptance of procurement as a relevant, if not leading, business function has been driven by the significant runs the function has been able to put on the board over past decade or so. Procurement has moved from an administrative function to a truly strategic business partner.

These achievements and that of procurements remit growth has been fuelled largely by advances in technology. Electronic auctions have enabled procurement teams to achieve to better price points for our organizations and more recently, spend analysis and supplier relationship management tools have allowed us to improve our competitiveness hugely.

Technology is future

Not only does technology hold the key to procurement’s past success, it also holds the key its future. Procurement technology is critical in attracting top talent to the function.

Why?

Because technology facilitates movement, it facilitates change and it facilitates progress, and these points are critical for young professionals looking to make their first mark in the corporate world.

Technology allows workers to quickly process vast fields of data into information, enabling them not only to make smarter business decisions, but also to track the impact of these decisions. This tracking allows staff to directly show their value to the business.

With the aid of technology, workers are now able to understand their operations and the broader business environment in more depth than ever before. This insight means that companies that have made solid technology investments are better adapted to the rapidly changing nature of modern markets.

Technology advances have meant that small emerging firms can now directly compete large established firms, something that was impossible as little as two decades ago. In short technology enables more people to achieve more in a shorter period of time.

Generation Tech

The next generation of professionals fear nothing more than being stuck in the same job doing the same menial tasks over and over again. Job security is less important to this generation. Opportunity far outweighs security as a motivating factor, and young workers know that technology promotes opportunity.

Not only are the next generation motivated and enticed to join companies with solid technology platforms, they are ready for the challenge. This is a generation that has grown up with games consoles, tablets, smart phones and high speed Internet. A generation that learnt to read and add up on computers. In fact the first generation of workers never to have lived in a world without Google (those born after 1998) are about to enter the workforce for the first time.

Technology is more than a lure to this generation… it is an expectation.

The message here for hiring managers and CPO’s alike is, when hiring new recruits it is critical to emphasis, promote and sell the importance and availability of technology within your business.

By doing this, whether it be through investment in spend analysis technology, commitment to big data mapping, in-house social media platforms, technology training programs or bring-your-own-device initiatives, you’ll go a long way to attracting the cream of the new crop.

Zycus is a leading global provider of Source-to-Pay procurement performance solutions. The organisation works with clients across a number of sectors including Manufacturing, Banking and Finance, Oil and Gas, Food Processing and Electronics, and aims to help procurement create greater business impact.

The Devastating Effect of Unsustainable Palm Oil

Palm oil is one of the most widely used products in the world, but its increasing demand has led to large-scale, unsustainable plantations, causing devastation to large parts of growing countries. Indonesia is one such place.

Deforestation

Earlier this year, Jordan Early wrote an article for Procurious in which he asked whether or not it would be possible to get to the stage where all palm oil would be produced sustainably.

Jordan cited the example of PepsiCo, one of the high-profile organisations using palm oil in a number of its products, and Sum of Us, who were highlighting the potential unsustainability in the PepsiCo supply chain. PepsiCo have since stated that they are working towards sustainability, but other large organisations are lagging behind.

This got me thinking, not about criticism or finger pointing, but education on this subject for procurement professionals. So that’s what I’ve decided to do here.

The Product

Palm oil comes from the oil palm tree, a crop that is grown exclusively in the Tropics. What makes it a popular crop to grow is the high yields it produces in comparison to other vegetable oils and the lower cost to growers.

While the oil’s most common use is as a cooking oil in developing countries, it is also used in a number of household products – from lipstick and soap to detergents and even ice cream. Increasing demand has led to increasing global production, with plantations spreading across Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Replanting with oil palm trees is a good option for many farmers and landowners, not only because of the higher yields, but also due to incentives offered for producing the crop for export. The Indonesian Government has been reported in the past as offering tax incentives and interest rate subsidies.

Effects of Unsustainable Growth

However, this growth has also led to unethical practices, creation of an unhealthy monoculture in some countries and widespread deforestation, leading to loss of habitat for a number of endangered animals, as well as land and livelihoods for indigenous and local populations.

It has been reported recently in Indonesia that thousands of hectares of peatland are under threat, due to companies clearing the land for oil palm plantations. The deforestation has polluted local water supplies and the situation is likely to worsen when the companies burn the ground to reduce the soil acidity before planting the oil palms.

In addition, local villages that have relied on the peatland for a source of water in dry seasons and a livelihood are struggling and face the prospect of being moved on from their home.

Part of the issue comes from a lack of strong regulation when it comes to licenses and permits for plantations. It’s felt by many in Indonesia that new regulations need to be issued by President Joko Widodo, as current ones offer no legal consequences for contravention.

Changes to be made

In spite of all this, it’s hard to argue against the idea that palm oil has had a positive effect on the economies of countries it is grown in, particularly when planting has been conducted in a sustainable fashion.

In 2008, as the demand for palm oil increased steadily, Indonesia exported $14.5bn worth of palm oil products. The country has also seen more than $20bn worth of investment from banks and financial institutions since 2008.

And there appears to be a change happening at an organisational level too, with Wilmar International, the world’s largest trader of palm oil, announced a ‘No Deforestation, No Peat land, No Exploitation policy’ – a move that many hope will encourage other traders and refiners to follow suit.

The Role of Procurement

As with many aspects of sustainability and ethics, the role of procurement is to ensure that supply chain practices are conducted at the required high standard. For palm oil production, it is about ensuring that strong practice around sustainability, including deforestation and ethical issues such as the treatment of local populations, are fully enforced with all suppliers.

It is a matter of both organisational and personal responsibility to ensure the practices and behaviours are correct. Consider taking the CIPS Ethics Test on an individual basis and opening dialogue with your suppliers to ensure that they understand what your organisation expects.

There may also be events in your region you can attend, similar to this one at the Melbourne Law School, which look to generate discussion on topics like regulation of the palm oil industry and what can be done to help countries like Indonesia.

If you are interested (and a procurement professional in Asia), you can contribute to a new book that is due to be published next year. Sustainability in the Asia Pacific’ intends to open the discussion of ‘pragmatic perspectives’ in sustainability accounting to support corporate decision makers in improving corporate sustainability management practices. Check out the website to see how to contribute.

Do you source products containing palm oil? Have you seen any good you can share? Or bad practice and how you dealt with it? We’d love to hear from you and get a dialogue going in this area.

I’d like to thank Dominic Gray for helping me with my understanding of this topic and providing sources of information.

ProcureCon Marketing – Adidas and Agency Management

Procurious is reporting live from ProcureCon Marketing in London. All week, Jordan Early will be tweeting, blogging, listening and sharing his learnings about the challenging world of marketing procurement.

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Day one of the ProcureCon Marketing conference focused largely on the marketing side of the procurement-marketing coin, with speakers discussing marketing trends and movements in the agency space.

On day two, we changed gears slightly to look internally at the procurement role in that relationship. The insights that stood out most for me came from the guys at Adidas.

Both Michael Pues-Tillkamp and Phillip Schuster, who spoke in separate sessions, addressed the way the company’s marketing procurement team set an initial course to verify and increase contract compliance, but through this journey, managed to unlock a plethora of innovation, not only for Adidas but also for the agencies they were engaging with.

Categorising for Category Management

Pues-Tillkamp outlined how Adidas has categorised its digital marketing spend, allowing procurement to generate and execute category management strategies within the realms of marketing procurement.

The categories they devised were:

  • ‘Idea’ – which included spend on creative and research;
  • Connection’ – which included media and digital spend;
  • ‘Experience’ and ‘Brand Materials’ which represented the more customer facing side of their engagements.

If I understood correctly, the team was not completely active in these final two areas just yet.

Pues-Tillkamp also walked the audience through a strategic agency engagement process that Adidas uses to run everything from agency selection and on-boarding through to project execution and final evaluation of its agencies. Each step of this process is supported by documentation, process and in-house tools that promote consistency and enable the team to compare agency performance.

Can you benchmark marketing?

The team at Adidas, with the help of some ‘clever MBA students’, even managed to pull together a benchmarking tool that has enabled them to compare the performance of its agencies. The tool was developed using only internal data, but when you have the marketing budget that Adidas does, you amass a great deal of internal data.

The outcomes of this benchmarking exercise, according to Pues-Tillkamp, have allowed the firm to conduct more intelligent and sophisticated conversations with its agencies and have enabled the team to provide realistic advice to the Adidas marketing group as to what campaigns can reasonably be achieved with its allocated marketing budget.

What a week!

Next up to the mic was Phillip Schuster who announced to the crowd that, not only was he happy to be at ProcureCon for the first time, but also that his football team had won the FA cup at the weekend, his daughter had just been accepted into the Adidas day-care program and that at the end of the week he was about to go on a period of extended leave. Not an all-together bad week!

Aside from personal milestones, Schuster also detailed the journey undertaken by Adidas marketing to integrate and leverage the company’s main brands Adidas, Reebok and golf brand Taylor Made.

He outlined some of legacy challenges in his procurement teams’ relationships with its marketing agencies and suggested that large part of the problem was the fact that that, in marketing, you don’t know what the product or service you will receive looks like at the start of the engagement. It evolves, which makes it difficult to apply traditional procurement pricing and management mechanisms.

Schuster discussed Adidas’ approach to agency management referencing the benchmarking tool discussed above, but also incorporating external market auditing and agency performance analysis. He highlighted that this is something Adidas does as part of an ongoing process rather than on an ad-hoc or project basis.

Not just financial benefits

The outcomes of this agency management strategy have been multiple for Adidas. From a financial point of view, the company has been able to run tight fee reconciliations, have identified instances of incompliant rates, fees and mark-ups and now have far better understanding of whether or not an agency is charging a ‘fair price’. From a contractual point of view Adidas improved its briefing processes and were able to take a tighter control of the company’s budgeting.

Efforts to better understand their agencies enabled Adidas to understand the cost structures at these agencies. The firm was able to identify salary levels, overheads and ultimately profit margins of its agencies, which again provided the firm with some leverage come negotiation time.

When questioned by the audience on the response of the agencies to the audits, Schuster highlighted that most were very accommodating (this may have something to do with size of the Adidas account) and that a number of the findings uncovered in the audit process were actually viewed by the agencies as business improvement opportunities.

Stay tuned for more for the ProcureCon Marketing Event.

ProcureCon Roundtable – Attracting and Retaining Digital Marketing Procurement Talent

Procurious is reporting live from ProcureCon Marketing in London. All week, Jordan Early will be tweeting, blogging, listening and sharing his learnings about the challenging world of marketing procurement.

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It’s day two of the ProcureCon Marketing event in London’s Hotel Russell.

Yesterday, I had the chance to sit in on a roundtable discussion, chaired by the indelible Myriam Benichou, the global purchasing director of marketing services at L’Oreal and attended by industry leaders from leading companies such as a Nestle, Coca-Cola, Renault, Sony and Novartis. The topic was ‘What are the competencies and how do you find talent in the digital marketing procurement space?’.

It’s a good time to be a digital marketing procurement professional

Procurement’s talent attraction dilemma has long been a topic of discussion on Procurious and beyond. Put simply, it’s been hard for procurement to attract top talent (even for companies with enviable global brands like L’Oreal and Coca-Cola).

This challenge amplifies when it comes to finding procurement people that understand that intricacies of marketing procurement and is further magnified when it comes to locating procurement staff that understand the rapidly changing (not to mention, highly competitive) nature of digital marketing.

So, for this discussion at least, we find ourselves at the thin edge of wedge.

During the roundtable, there was some great debate and discussion around what procurement teams can do to attract and retain digital marketing talent. Companies like Nestle and McCormick are going directly to universities to track down the new and evolving skillsets they require to operate in the digital marketing space. The external talent pool is so small, they said, that developing new young talent is critical. I also got the impression that the gloves were off for procurement teams looking to poach talent. If you are a digital marketing procurement professional, your stocks are high right now.

The idea that procurement teams should hire generalists or high potential employees from within their firm was also positioned as a potential strategy for filling digital needs. While there is a limited pool of digital talent in the external market, digital marketing is not exactly rocket science and given time and adequate resources, it’s possible to develop someone into a sound digital marketing procurement professional. A roundtable attendee from Novartis echoed these sentiments.

Enable procurement-marketing rotations

Many firms mentioned they were ’borrowing’ staff from marketing on secondment into procurement. It was, in fact, highlighted that marketing instigated a number of these arrangements as means to instil some of the commercial rigour procurement had a reputation of providing back into their own function.

One of the most interesting points I heard was that firms were collaborating across functions during the recruitment process for digital procurement talent. At Nestle, if you’re interviewing for a job as a marketing procurement professional, a senior marketing executive will interview you at some point. Given that they will effectively be your internal clients, this seems like a great way to create engagement and buy-in between procurement and marketing.

In terms of attracting new talent, a few of the larger firms mentioned that keeping a close relationship with your digital agencies was a great way to know when talent was moving in the market. Clearly, your agencies are working with, and posses a close knowledge of, many other procurement teams, so by keeping them close, you might just be the first to know when great talent is on the move.

The discussion was indeed interesting and the ideas truly innovative. However, I couldn’t help but feel that while these strategies, job rotations, calling in favours with the agencies and spending big on developing high potential staff members may be possible for the Nestles, Cokes and Sony’s of the world, the challenge will be more difficult for those without the budget and brand name of these larger firms.

Stay tuned for more for the ProcureCon Marketing Event.

Petrobras Procurement Scandal Goes CSI

Petrobras Procurement Scandal Goes CSI.

After reading yesterday that the Brazilian government is considering offering leniency to the suppliers caught up in the Petrobras bribery scandal, my interest was piqued and I decided to look into the case a little more.

And wow, this one is interesting. It reads like the next HBO mini series; intrigue, bribery, political involvement and enormous sums of money. It’s all there.

But perhaps the most unbelievable twists (certainly the most macabre) were released this week when the congressional inquiry established to deal with the scandal filed for a court order to exhume the remains of the late politician Jose Janene after allegations were made by an unknown source that he might have faked his own death. It has been suggested that the former politician is now living in an undisclosed Central American nation.

Mr Janene was implicated in the scandal by Alberto Youssef, a black market money dealer. Youssef detailed that Janene, who reportedly passed away from a heart condition in 2010, was responsible for establishing the system of bribes and supplier kick backs that has brought the oil giant to it knees.

It’s not the first

Incredibly, this is not instance of a faked death involved in the scandal. Police have submitted evidence to prosecutors suggesting that another third party moneyman faked his own murder by mugging only to later turn up operating underworld business links between Europe and Brazil.

Not surprisingly, this case captivated the Brazilian public. 34 sitting politicians are now embroiled in the controversy. The recently re-elected president, who until now has avoided the controversy, is starting to come under fire particularly around the fact that she previously led the board of directors at Petrobras.

As discussed in yesterday’s Procurious article the scandal has had a dire impact on the Brazilian economy. In April of this year Petrobras estimated that the corruption scandal has cost the company R$6.2 billion or USD $2.1 billion. The company’s stock price has plummeted by around 30 per cent since criminal investigations started a year ago.

We can but only wonder, what comes next?

Transforming Sustainability Strategy Into Action

At Procurement Leaders World Procurement Congress 15 Shelley Stewart, CPO – DuPont, talked about the challenges of embedding sustainability into procurement processes.

Transforming Sustainability Strategy Into Action At World Procurement Congress 15

Why care about sustainability at all? That was the question posed by Shelley’s thought-provoking opening, before making the observation that although different places in the world feel differently about sustainability – ultimately it is an issue that affects all supply chains.

As evidenced by the following statement, sustainability is already hard-baked into DuPont and reflected in its core values: “DuPont is a science company. We work collaboratively to find sustainable, innovative, market-driven solutions to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges, making lives better, safer, and healthier for people everywhere.”

But while it’s nice to be sustainable, is there a real business value, after-all how do you quantify the value of sustainability?

Shelley points out that sustainability provides your business with mitigation strategies to risks in your supply chain. If we’re not doing much for sustainability then it creates a risk in itself.

Shelley says that at DuPont there was a sharp focus on saving targets, and conversely sustainability was in the distant background. Crucially, there was no one in the business for the CSO to call in the procurement organisation to talk to about supplier sustainability. In DuPont’s case they didn’t have a unified approach.

Happily this has since changed and you only need look as far as the company’s EHS programming slogan which once read ‘the goal is zero’ – and now ‘committed to zero’ for evidence of this fact. Shelley notes that DuPont has also appointed a single person to a centralised position to manage sustainability.

What lessons has DuPont learnt?

First you must learn what sustainability really means for you (in the context of your supply chain). However you must appreciate that the answer may be different for each one of your supply chains.

It’s also important to take onboard external perspectives – you will benefit greatly from peer to peer learning.

Specifically in DuPont’s case it was important to remind people that the work wasn’t being started from scratch. There was a foundation to build on, no matter how tentative that may have been.

It’s imperative that you create a unified approach and save yourself a lot of extra work by doing something ten different ways. At the same time “one size doesn’t fit all” – you’ll need to adopt a certain amount of flexibility to be able to understand changes in your supply chains.

Of course you might find that your supply chain and your suppliers are already ahead you in the sustainability stakes. Why not use their learnings to better realise your own initiatives? It is important to stress that sustainability is a mindset, not a checklist – we must encourage people to think differently if we are going to succeed.

5 Megatrends In Technology

At Procurement Leaders World Procurement Congress 15 David Rowan, Editor of Wired – offered a fascinating insight into the megatrends that are making waves in the technology space.

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The emergence of virtual currencies

What does a Video Games company, a Travel company and a Cable network all have in common? You can pay for all their products using a new kind of currency called Bitcoin. It exists only in the Cloud, meaning there’s no central bank. And (as David notes) although much of the news coverage surrounding Bitcoin is focused on the volatility of the prices, virtual currencies like Bitcoin are going to be something quite important. There’s a backbone to the Bitcoin/crypto  currencies called the Blockchain – it’s like a repository of trust, that keeps a record of all transactions.

Decentralised community ownership

Crowdsourcing is big business. Just look to online initiatives like Kickstarter and Indiegogo to see the already game-changing impact these platforms are having. Ideas that would once be looked upon as impossible challenges are now becoming reality in a matter of years, months, even weeks…

As a direct consequence we are seeing a power shift from traditional factories. Communities are now crowdsourcing their own manufacturing, creating  entirely new kinds of businesses. You no longer need to own your own factories, just access to someone with one.

From software to hardware

In recent years 3D printing has exploded. What started as a technicolour fantasy is now being realised the world over – in David’s view, the kitchen is where the 3D printer will really make an impact.

The beauty of 3D printing lies in its immediacy. It turns the imaginable into the tangible – if an idea pops into your head, all you need is a design in order to physically make it.

David makes the point that surprisingly for something so new, 3D printing is already being disrupted. As advancements are made in technology, availability of materials improves, speed of processes increases and costs come down – the 3D printing playing field is shifting and changing.

Internet of Things

You’ll have heard a lot in the press about the Internet of Things (or IoT for short). Hardware is increasingly moving online, aided by the convergence of wireless technology. This all plays into the scenario that IoT presents, and effectively removes the need for human-computer, human-human interaction. As a consequence companies are making connections for things that were once offline.

Due to the rise in availability of ubiquitous, embedded sensors, and as prices continue to fall – everything is now connected and being put online.

Logistics already use sensors in their pallet boxes to track location data, or to issue an alert if goods are tampered with during transport.

Humans becoming machines

Artificial intelligence is turning into a thing – it’s becoming real. A company in London’s King Cross has taught a computer how to not only play Space Invaders, but master it to become the best player in the world. Although it’s not been designed to generate any revenue, it didn’t stop Google from buying the company (and the idea) last year for £400m.

What if your devices could read your emotions? Another innovative startup is answering that call – machines are starting to become more intelligent, and as a result AI is starting to understand what you’re feeling and not typing. You only to have to look as far as apps like Swiftkey to start to see this advance in action – it’s not such a far-flung notion.