Tag Archives: procurement news

Procurement Pay Gap Shock

The gender pay gap in procurement and supply management has INCREASED, according to US and UK survey results released this week. Have you sponsored your own internal gender salary gap analysis?

Ever considered how procurement salaries measure up with the rest of the working world?

Are you suspicious that your  procurement colleagues might be getting a better deal than you?

If you’re a woman working within procurement and supply chain, have you ever wondered how glaring the pay gap is within your industry or organisation?

This week, ISM’s Twelfth Annual Salary Survey in the US and the CIPS/Hays Salary Survey in the UK have shed some light on all of the above. Whilst there’s clearly still a very long way to go in terms of the  gender pay gap (predicted to take another 170 years to close), things are otherwise looking pretty comfortable for the procurement and supply chain profession….

ISM Salary Survey Results

Now would be a great time to convince your boss you deserve that pay rise, because the Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) Twelfth Annual Salary Survey has been released. The results are based on data from 3808 supply management professionals who were surveyed throughout February and March 2017 to determine these average salaries:

Average Salary: $115,440

Median Salary: $90,000

Average for Men: $126, 710

Average for Women $96,990

In the US, a person working in professional, management or related occupations earns an average of $63,076 annually, which means these results are pretty good news for the supply management profession.

The figures show a 5 per cent increase in average compensation since 2015. Men’s salaries have risen by 8.2 per cent and women’s by 3 per cent.

The super bad news is that procurement appears to be taking a step backwards with regards to equal pay. In 2015 women earned 24 per cent less than men, compared with 31 per cent this year.

Download a summary of the report here.

UK Pay Gaps Revealed

It’s not just ISM’s figures proving to be disappointing in terms of gender equality.

As of last month, UK organisations employing more than 250 people are obliged to publish their gender pay gap figures.

Virgin Money disclosed that men who work at the bank earn, on average, 36 per cent more than women, asset manager, Schroders, reported a  31 per cent gap and Utility SSE a 24 per cent gap.

Some are against the new legislation arguing that the numbers don’t give a full picture and place all the blame in the hands of the employers. Others are in favour of the full disclosure and think it will spur organisations and governments to crack down harder on gender inequality.

McKinsey’s Global Institute report found that $12 trillion could be added to the Global GDP by 2025 by advancing women’s equality, which is as good a reason as any to close the gap, pronto!

UK Procurement Salaries Outstrip Average

The CIPS/Hays Salary Guide and Insights 2017 has surveyed over 4,000 procurement employers and employees to learn everything from key trends in salaries to challenges faced by employers and the top benefits desired by procurement professionals at all levels of seniority.

Whilst the average annual UK pay increase is 2.2 per cent, procurement professionals in the UK are receiving an average of 5.3 per cent more! Jacki Buist, writing on Supply Management, believes the results show a “continuing enthusiasm for the profession in all regions.”

Unpredictably,  the cause for concern falls once again in the region of gender disparity. Overall, the pay gap is reducing but at the advanced professional level, men receive an average  of £82,000, compared with a woman’s £65,700.

Registrations are open for the CIPS/Hays Procurement Salary Guide and Insights 2017 Webinar, which takes place on Thursday, 11 May 2017 13:00 GMT.

Are you surprised by the figures released in these two surveys? How do you think the UK’s new legalisation will impact the fight for equal pay? Let us know in the comments below.

In other  news this week….

Google Customers Subject to Phishing Attack

  • Google customers have been targeted with a scam that gave hackers access to the contents of emails, contact lists and online documents of victims
  • On opening a given link, Google’s login and permissions page asked users to grant the fake Docs app the ability to “read, send, delete and manage your email”
  • Google has now shut down the attack but have asked customers who received such an email to flag it to them.
  • Victims have been advised to change the passwords to their online accounts

Read more on The Telegraph

Amazon to Expand in the UK

  • Amazon is adding 400 staff to a new research and development centre focused on machine learning, in a move that reinforces the retail group’s long-term investment in the UK
  • The lab will develop  the voice-activated Echo speaker and Prime Air drones
  • By the end of this year, Amazon plans to add another 5,000 British employees to its payroll, open a new 600,000 sq ft headquarters in central London, and operate three new fulfilment centres around the country

Read more on the Financial Times

The future of Blockchain

  • Put simply,  blockchains take out the middle man (banks) and make the transfer of funds more streamlined and safe
  • The United Nations (UN) used one particular blockchain, Ethereum, to distribute funds from the World Food Program (WFP) in a pilot program earlier this year. The experiment successfully, distributed aid to 100 people in Pakistan
  • The system will now be used in Jordan to distribute funds to more than 10,000 people. It’s expected to help support 500,000 recipients by 2018

Read more on Futurism 

Tender Of The Year? Bidding Opens For US-Mexican Border Wall

Tuesday 4th April marks the deadline for companies to submit papers detailing their proposals to build the Trump Administration’s “big, beautiful, powerful” Mexican border wall. But will the massive construction project ever win the funding it needs?

US Customs and Border Protection has issued two 130-page RFPs, offering a glimpse into the Trump Administration’s vision for the 2,000km barrier designed to stop illegal immigration and cut off drug-smuggling routes. More than 1,100 kilometres of the border has already been fenced, but the existing walls are nowhere near as imposing as those detailed in the RFPs.

The RFPs indicate a massive construction project, with specifications including:

  • A 9-meter-high reinforced concrete barrier, extending 2 meters underground to prevent tunnelling.
  • A similar barrier made from durable, see-through material.
  • The wall must be “cost-effective to build and repair”.
  • The barrier must be “physically imposing” and capable of resisting almost any attack by “sledgehammer, car jack, pickaxe, chisel, battery-operated impact tools, battery-operated cutting tools [or] oxy/acetylene torch for a minimum of one hour.”
  • At the same time, the wall must be “aesthetically pleasing”, reflecting Trump’s campaign promise of a “beautiful wall”. Reports note that this requirement only applies to the North-facing side of the wall.
  • Features to prevent anyone from scaling the barrier or attaching grappling hooks to its summit.
  • Incorporation of electronically controlled gates for vehicles and pedestrians.

Customs and Border Protection intends to award multiple contracts based on responses to its request statement. The selection process begins with an initial elimination round, after which the contestants will submit more detailed technical proposals. After a second round of eliminations, finalists will gather in San Diego, California to construct a small-scale “mock-up” of their wall design. Sledgehammer-wielding government representatives will then “test and evaluate the anti-destruct characteristics” of the designs before awarding contracts.

What will the wall cost?

During his presidential campaign, Trump estimated that construction would cost $12 billion, citing his personal involvement as a factor in driving costs down. Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan has estimated $15 billion, while a US Department of Homeland Security internal report indicated the wall would cost as much as $21.6 billion and take over three years to build. A preliminary version of the president’s budget for fiscal 2018, beginning in October, includes $2.6 billion for the first phase of construction.

While the RFPs appear to require a highly-visible and physically imposing barrier, some companies have proposed hi-tech solutions to border security that could provide a 90% saving to the government. Examples include having two chain-link fences with a “no man’s land” in between and intrusion detection systems in place. Other invisible or “virtual” wall proposals would use AI software to analyse satellite and surveillance imagery and alert border guards to area where activity is detected.

An alternative idea for a physical barrier put forward by a Florida architecture firm is to use shipping containers as the building blocks for the wall. This could be a cost-effective and sustainable solution, particularly as the U.S. has a surplus of shipping containers due to the slowdown in global commerce.

Will the Mexican border wall ever be funded?

While Donald Trump famously promised his voters that “Mexico will pay” for the border wall, the Mexican Government has repeatedly stated that it would not do so. The Trump administration is yet to reveal how it would compel Mexico to pay. The budget request for $2.6 billion to begin construction was seized upon last week by Graco Ramirez, the leader of Mexico’s national governors’ association, who claimed this proves that U.S. taxpayers will foot the entire bill.

The proposal is likely to face fierce opposition in Congress, where Democrats and fiscally-conservative Republicans are expected to block expenditure on this scale, particularly if estimates blow out to $21.6 billion.

Who will build it?

Ironically, although Trump may be unable to make Mexico pay for the wall, he could end up paying Mexican businesses to do the work. A report by Quartz found that “of the roughly 700 firms that have expressed interest in building prototypes for the wall, about 10% are Hispanic-owned” or based in Mexico. However, the Mexican government has warned Mexican businesses that it would “not be in their best interests” to participate in the construction of the wall, while the Catholic archdiocese of Mexico issued an opinion that participating would be “immoral” and those involved “should be considered traitors to the homeland”. The considerable political pressure notably caused Mexico’s largest cement firm, Cemex, to announce that it would not be providing quotes for the vast amount of cement the project would require.

As far as U.S. construction firms go, few of the large, multinational corporations that would actually have the capacity to carry out the $21 billion project have indicated interest, presumably due to public opposition to the wall and the difficult path through Congress to funding it. Meanwhile, state representatives and lawmakers are putting in place boycott measures such as California’s “Resist the Wall Act”, essentially a divestment campaign to ensure no Californian money goes towards building the wall.

In other news procurement news this week…

Shocking lack of digital transformation strategies in procurement organisations

  • The Hackett Group’s 2017 Procurement Key Issues research has discovered that nearly 85% of procurement organisations believe digital transformation will fundamentally change the way they deliver services over the next 3-5 years.
  • Despite this, only 32% currently have a formal digital strategy in place, and only 25% have the resources and competencies in place to meet the digital transformation challenge.
  • The research gathered data from executives across 180+ large companies globally, with an annual revenue of $1 billion or greater. Areas expected to grow most dramatically are the use of cloud-based applications, advanced analytics, cognitive computing and robotic process automation.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says robot job displacement “50 to 100” years away

  • In an interview with Axios last week, Mnuchin said the concern about artificial intelligence taking over human jobs is “not even on our radar screen”. When pressed, Mnuchin estimated that concern might be warranted in “50 to 100 more years”.
  • This estimate is significantly out of touch with machine learning experts, who are increasingly vocal about the imminent “national emergency” that will see up to 50% of jobs at risk due to advances in automation.
  • Mnuchin’s apparent disinterest in the AI jobs crisis could be due to an inability to “think the unthinkable” – a phenomenon introduced by Professor Nik Gowing at Procurious’ Big Ideas Summit. It may also reflect Mnuchin’s falling into line with politicised assertions that foreign workers and cheap pay, rather than automation, are responsible for job losses in former factory towns over the past decade.

Read more at Business Insider.

U.K.’s Crown Commercial Service slammed by Public Accounts Committee

  • The U.K.’s Crown Commercial Service (CSS) was set up in 2014 to centralise all purchasing, eliminate duplicate and act as a single entity for central government procurement. It replaced the Government Procurement Service and was expected to manage £13 billion spend across 17 departments.
  • However, a recent report by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) found that the CCS has only managed £2.5 billion spend across 7 departments, with PAC Chair Meg Hillier calling the results “a dismal showing that calls into questions exactly how willing government departments are to accept the authority of the Cabinet Office in this area”.
  • A CCS spokesperson has responded to the report, saying: “”With an experienced senior leadership team now in place, we are confident in our ability to deliver even greater value for the taxpayer moving forwards through the centralised procurement of common goods and services.”

Read more at Computer Weekly.

5 Ways to Avoid Spreading Fake News in Procurement

Have you ever been guilty of presenting fake news or “alternative facts” to your CFO? Integrity is a cornerstone of the procurement profession, but benefits realisation is one area where supply managers sometimes play fast and loose with the facts.  

 

It seems everyone is talking about fake news at the moment. The term came to the fore after the U.S. election, when Hilary Clinton called out fake news as a contributing factor to the Democrats’ defeat. Since then, President Trump’s team have wholeheartedly embraced the term, regularly branding unfavourable reports as “fake news” and even describing selected media outlets (such as CNN and Buzzfeed) “fake news organisations”.

 

After Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer’s first press conference contained provable falsehoods about the size of the inauguration crowd, campaign manager Kellyanne Conway came to his defence by saying that Spicer was simply presenting “alternative facts”, much to the delight of Twitter users who immediately converted the term into a hashtag.

Fake news can be dangerous – putting aside whether or not it influenced the U.S. election, the phenomenon has inflamed racial tensions, led to at least one shooting (the “Pizzagate” gunman), while more recently the two nuclear powers Israel and Pakistan exchanged tense words over a news report that proved to have no verifiable source.

The good news is that solutions are popping up all over the globe. The BBC is setting up a “fake news” team, Italy plans to establish commissions of experts to rule on the veracity of news, while Germany has threatened to fine social media platforms including Twitter and Facebook for spreading fake stories.

How does fake news apply to procurement? Let’s look at two examples – firstly, the CPO’s role as the organisation’s trusted advisor and arbiter of facts, and secondly, the risk of feeding “fake news” about cost savings upwards to the CFO.

 The trusted advisor in times of crisis

When a disruptive event takes place, procurement needs to be known as the calm centre of the storm. Let’s take Brexit as an example. After the shock result in June last year, a rising sense of panic took hold of markets while business leaders worldwide were rattled. Media organisations began to speculative on the potential fallout of the Brexit vote, leading to the danger of knee-jerk reactions from CEOs and other decision-makers.

It was gratifying to see that one week later, the CEOs of the world’s two biggest professional bodies for procurement and supply management released statements that contained essentially the same message of reassurance. Importantly, both statements emphasised the procurement professional’s role as the suppressor of speculation and the guardian of facts.

ISM’s Tom Derry spoke to Procurious about his organisations’ decision to release a supplementary Report on Business revealing that the impact of Brexit on US CPOs’ buying decisions was negligible. “There has been an enormous amount of speculation about the impact of Brexit, fed by a sense of unease and uncertainty”, said Derry. “ISM was in a position to gather real data and put the information out there so businesses can make informed decisions based on facts, rather than fear, concern or emotion.”

Similarly, the late CIPS CEO David Noble urged procurement and supply professionals to “act as the suppressor of panic, not the creator”. Noble said that how supply managers behave “is fundamental to how the business manages these coming weeks and months. Supply chains can emphasise or exaggerate concern, which can then be magnified all the way down the chain.”

Benefits realisation – procurement’s very own “fake news”

While the Brexit example demonstrates how procurement can either supress or endorse speculation originating in the media, there’s one area where CPOs are guilty of generating fake news themselves – the realisation of negotiated savings and other benefits.

In a report commissioned by members of The Faculty Roundtable entitled Making it Stick, researchers found that 50% of contracted savings are not making their way to the bottom line in leading Australian organisations. Without effective contract management to realise the full value of savings and other benefits, procurement professionals risk damaging the integrity of the function. Eventually, the falsehood will catch up with them when the CFO calls them into their office and demands: “Where’s the money?”

That’s why, to avoid being a purveyor of false data, CPOs must address the fundamental shortfalls that are costing organisations hundreds of millions in unrealised savings.

Five ways to turn “fake news” into real, bankable savings

Procurement teams are adept at finding the money, but it takes a whole organisation to keep the money. Given the uncertain business climate facing organisations internationally, driving savings and other value to the bottom line is an absolute priority facing the C-level today.

  1. Encourage enterprise-wide ownership and alignment with Procurement’s targets (shared targets).
  2. Bust silos through true cross-functional collaboration, particularly between procurement and finance.
  3. Work to eliminate maverick spend and other non-compliance that undermines procurement’s gains and damages supplier relationships.
  4. Establish crystal-clear benefits definitions, measurements and validation processes, agreed upon across the organisation.
  5. Create a cost-conscious culture to enable CPO-level efforts to expand the value that procurement contributes.

In short, as a CPO you’ll need integrity to win the trust and respect of your team, your peers, and your suppliers. Your willingness to accept or even endorse fake news, such as panic-driven speculation or unrealised savings, will very quickly erode this respect and lose the confidence required to run an effective procurement function.

WikiLeaks Reveals CIA Interference in iPhone Supply Chain

WikiLeaks has released new information on CIA programs aimed at monitoring Apple device owners. Has the CIA redirected iPhone shipments to its own facilities to infect them with spyware?

aradaphotography/Shutterstock.com

For many readers of the latest data dump from the controversial website WikiLeaks, two surprising facts stood out:

  1. The CIA has been hacking iPhones, Macbooks and other Apple products for a decade
  2. To install the malware, the CIA requires physical access to “factory fresh” machines. WikiLeaks suggests this is done through redirecting Apple’s supply chain through their own facilities

What has the CIA been up to?

According to the documents, CIA’s Embedded Development Branch (EDB) implants malware called NightSkies 1.2, a “beacon/loader/implant tool” that apparently allows the CIA to “gain persistence” (spy) on the device. Notably, this program has been in use since 2008. WikiLeaks also describes a project called “Sonic Screwdriver”, which allows spies to remotely hack a Mac computer from a USB accessory plugged into the machine. The release also contains details of other malware products with striking names such as “DarkSeaSkies”, “DarkMatter”, “SeaPea”, “Triton”, “Dark Mallet” and “DerStake”.

Listen to WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange’s commentary on the CIA’s malware specifically developed for Apple products:

How is the malware installed?

According to the CIA documents, NightSkies 1.2 is physically installed by a CIA operative on “factory fresh iPhones”, or handsets that users haven’t yet interacted with.

The two key words here are “physically” and “factory fresh”. The malware cannot be installed remotely, which means the CIA agent needs to get their hands on their target’s phone to install the program. This brings to mind a Hollywood-style manoeuvre where the operative would somehow pickpocket the target, install the malware with a USB, and return it to the unsuspecting iPhone owner who will never realise they’re being tracked.

However, as the iPhone needs to be “factory fresh”, WikiLeaks believes it’s possible the CIA has redirected iPhone shipments to install the tool. The organisation wrote:

“While CIA assets are sometimes used to physically infect systems in the custody of a target, it is likely that many CIA physical access attacks have infected the targeted organization’s supply chain including by interdicting mail orders and other shipments (opening, infecting, and resending) leaving the United States or otherwise”.

This raises two questions, neither of which are answered in the WikiLeaks documents:

  • Is the CIA infecting Apple products en-masse, or are they only intercepting, infecting and re-sending specific phones that have been ordered via mail by persons of interest?
  • Does the CIA visit the factory floors of Apple’s suppliers to install the malware?

Has Apple responded?

Yes. Apple has released a statement pointing out that nearly 80 per cent of the vulnerabilities exploited by the CIA have already been fixed with security patches (years ago in some cases) and added that it “will continue work to rapidly address any identified vulnerabilities.”

In its statement, Apple did not directly condemn the CIA for interfering with its products, choosing instead to distance itself from WikiLeaks:

“We have not negotiated with WikiLeaks for any information. We have given them instructions to submit any information they wish through our normal process under our standard terms. Thus far, we have not received any information from them that isn’t in the public domain. We are tireless defenders of our users’ security and privacy, but we do not condone theft or coordinate with those that threaten to harm our users.”

In other news procurement news this week…

London Mourns Victims of Westminster Attack 

  • Thousands of Londoners gathered in central London to honour the victims of Tuesday’s terrorist attack
  • On the 22 March, Khalid Masood drove into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before crashing his rented four-wheel drive into a fence outside parliament
  • He attacked two police officers as he tried to enter the building, fatally stabbing Keith Palmer before he was shot. Five people, including the attacker, died, and at least 50 people have been injured.
  • On Thursday evening, a candlelit vigil was held in Trafalgar Square. In what was a moving tribute to those affected, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, addressed the crowd to much applause and a minute of silence was observed.

Read more on BBC

Avian Influenza resurfaces in Asia

  • An outbreak of H7N9 avian flu that has been described as the worst in seven years is dramatically impacting the poultry industry across China, Japan and South Korea.
  • The outbreak has been linked to over 140 human deaths in China in January and February, along with enormous stock culls including 30 million chickens in South Korea alone.
  • Chinese poultry imports are expected to grow by 10%.

Read more on the Wall Street Journal.

Starbucks announces aggressive expansion plans

  • Starbucks will open 12,000 new cafes globally by 2021, including 3,00 new stores in the U.S.
  • The new stores will require a workforce of 240,000, with the company planning to hire 25,000 military veterans and military spouses.
  • Starbucks has also announced it would hire 10,000 refugees in response to Donald Trump’s executive order calling for an immigration ban.

Read more on MarketWatch.

NEC to build world-first information platform for Global Pandemic Supply Chain

When a disease outbreak hits, even the slightest inefficiency in supply chains can lead to a catastrophic loss of human life. A joint initiative of The United Nations World Food Programme and NEC Corporation will greatly improve the supply chain response to the next pandemic. 

The 2013-2016 West Africa Ebola outbreak began in countries of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, with smaller outbreaks occurring in Nigeria, Mali and Senegal. Imported cases led to infections being reported in the UK, Spain, Sardinia and U.S. before the outbreak was declared in June 2016. By this point, the World Health Organisation reported a total of 28,616 cases and 11,310 deaths.

According to the UN World Food Programme (WFP), the need for a streamlined and coordinated supply chain response was highlighted through the many challenges encountered during the West Africa Ebola outbreak. They included:

  • Severe warehousing and distributing capacity constraints
  • Limited visibility of the overall supply and demand of critical items
  • Access constraints caused by border closures
  • A lack of public-private sector coordination resulting in duplicate efforts and an inefficient response

Protective clothing (pictured above) is an example of a critical item that must get through to healthcare workers in outbreak areas. A full set of protective clothing includes a suit, goggles, a mask, sock, boots and an apron. Healthcare workers change garments frequently, discarding gear that has barely been used to minimise exposure to the virus. By October of 2014, Ebola suit makers including DuPont and Kimberly-Clark had tripled production to try to cope with demand as health workers used an average of seven suits per bed, per day. The World Health Organisation estimated that three million protective suits were needed over the course of the outbreak. Tragically, healthcare workers represented nearly 10 percent of cases and fatalities due to ebola.

New supply chain platform will save lives when the next pandemic comes

Supply chain logistics are a critical part of any emergency intervention. Inadequate logistics can lead to critical delays, cost lives and waste precious resources. NEC’s announcement of a new information platform, which will be part of the Global Pandemic Supply Chain Network, is expected to improve response times, find cost efficiencies and aid in continuous improvement.

The technology has been described as a “logistics visualization system that will enable end-to-end tracking of pandemic response items” – such as protective clothing – within a country facing an outbreak, helping to ensure quick and appropriate delivery of supplies to people in need. Other key functions of the system include reporting, analysis of supply chain inefficiencies, data integration with existing logistics systems and in-country warehouse management.

“It is widely recognised that the global health architecture could be reinforced with an improved supply chain platform to enable better preparation and faster response time for pandemics”, said a spokesperson for the Japanese Government, which committed US$1 million to the development of the new technology.

 Public/private collaboration driving results

Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of this announcement is the demonstration of how effective public and private collaboration can be in solving enormous challenges such as a global pandemic response. Aside from the key collaboration between the WFP and NEC Corporation, a framework for future pandemic response has been developed through an “unprecedented” level of cooperation between public organisations including the UN, WHO, UNICEF, the World Bank; and private sector companies including Johnson & Johnson, UPS Foundation, Becton, Dickinson & Co., and NEC.

 In other procurement news this week…

 White House trade advisor reaffirms administration’s trade goals

  • The U.S. is seeking more reciprocal trade arrangements with key countries to boost growth, reduce the trade deficit and reclaim American production capacity, according to Peter Navarro, director of the White House National Trade Council.
  • Speaking in Washington last week, Navarro singled out nations that have contributed to the current deficit problem, including Ireland, Vietnam, China, South Korea, Taiwan and Switzerland.
  • According to Navarro, the U.S. plan to reduce the trade deficit “is not based on higher tariffs, but rather getting our partners to lower theirs.”

Watch Navarro’s speech here.

Canadian federal procurement processes flagged for an overhaul

  • Addressing an event hosted by the Information Technology Association of Canada last week, Canada’s Public Services and Procurement Minister Judy Foote stressed the need for an overhaul of federal procurement processes to improve accessibility for SMEs.
  • At present, unreasonably complex processes and requirements are resulting in 8000-page responses to RFPs, which small businesses simply do not have the resources to undertake.
  • Ms Foote said that government procurement processes “have the ability to shift markets … (and) launch businesses.”

Read more at Ottawa Business Journal

 

The Flaw At The Heart Of Trump’s America First policy

5.6 million U.S. manufacturing jobs didn’t move to China and Mexico – they simply disappeared with the march of technology. And that’s the flaw in America First! 

Trump’s stunning election win has been linked to his successful portrayal as both a friend of Corporate America and a champion of the working class. His business-friendly policies include large-scale deregulation, slashing tax rates and a huge infrastructure spend, which (in theory) are designed to boost jobs through trickle-down economics.

But the support of Corporate America isn’t enough to remain in power. In order to retain the presidency for another four years after the 2020 election, Trump will have to deliver on the key promise that won the support of the disillusioned working class – bringing industry home and reviving jobs in America’s once-thriving industrial rust belt.

However, there’s a miscalculation at the heart of the rhetoric around bringing jobs back from overseas factories.

Robots, not overseas workers, have taken 85% of manufacturing jobs

A recent study from the Centre for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University found that:

  • Employment in the manufacturing sector fell by 5.6 million between 2000 and 2010.
  • Productivity growth (automation) accounted for more than 85% of jobs lost in manufacturing in this period.
  • Only 13% of the overall job loss resulted from trade (including Chinese imports).
  • Meanwhile, U.S. manufacturing output has risen steadily, growing 17.6% between 2006 and 2013.

Simply put, American factories – and factories worldwide – are producing more goods with fewer people. Automation is rendering millions of low-skilled jobs redundant, yet Trump’s key policy aim to “bring back jobs” seems to be mistakenly focused on increasing trade protectionism.

Protectionism could backfire by further accelerating automation

ABC’s business editor Ian Verrender writes that even if Trump “slaps massive import duties on Chinese goods and forces his country to start producing everything at home via the magic of ‘America First’”, it risks leading to a domino effect where business will be forced to find efficiencies in order to survive.

  1. The loss of access to low-cost labour would drive up the cost of consumer goods, meaning Americans would find themselves unable to afford the goods to which they’ve become accustomed.
  2. This lack of affordability would spark demands for wage rises.
  3. Firms would respond by pushing even further into automation, using robotics and AI to cut costs.

Verrender comments: “Where once corporations scoured the globe for low-cost labour, and duly shifted their operations, they [would] now seek ways to eliminate labour altogether, particularly in manufacturing.”

Accelerating automation is inevitable

The loss of jobs to robots is only expected to broaden and accelerate. A report from two Oxford researchers found that an incredible 45% of U.S. jobs, across all sectors and professionals, are vulnerable to being automated within the next 20 years.

For example, self-driving technology alone could lead to the unemployment of 1,000,000 truck drivers in the U.S., along with approximately 160,000 Uber drivers, 230,000 taxi drivers and over 600,000 bus drivers.

Some of the big names to comment on the coming social disruption include Stephen Hawking, who wrote last year: “The automation of factories has already decimated jobs in traditional manufacturing, and the rise of artificial intelligence is likely to extend this job destruction deep into the middle classes, with only the most caring, creative or supervisory roles remaining.”

In February, Elon Musk asked the audience at the World Government Summit in Dubai: “What to do about mass unemployment? This is going to be a massive social challenge. There will be fewer and fewer jobs that a robot cannot do better [than a human]. These are not things that I wish will happen. These are simply things that I think probably will happen.”

Bill Gates commented: “You cross the threshold of job-replacement of certain activities all at once. Warehouse work, driving, room clean-up – there’s quite a few things that are meaningful job categories that, certainly in the next 20 years, [will go away].”

What’s the answer?

Marc Benioff, chief executive of Salesforce.com, warned the World Economic Forum in Davos of the “digital refugees” that would be created by AI. “This is the moment … when we have the highest level of anxiety because we can see advances in AI that are beyond what we had expected,” he said. “It’s happening at a rate and a capability that we are worrying about how it will impact the everyman, the broad range of workers around the world . . . There is no clear path forward”.

One hopeful sign is that a public discourse on the disruptive effects of automation has begun. Thought-leaders have already put forward some solutions, although they may seem politically unpalatable at present. Elon Musk recommends that the U.S. adopts a universal basic income (such as that being trialled in Finland) to keep the economy going and guarantee a standard of living for the millions of workers expected to be displaced by automation. Bill Gates has suggested taxing robotic workers to recapture some of the money displaced workers would have paid as income tax. Education, too, will need to transform to equip future generations with the skills needed to find work in a highly-automated future.

Although Trump appears to be currently focused on the wrong job-stealing “villain” (China), there is hope that leaders will listen to the likes of Bill Gates and Elon Musk and start planning ahead for the social upheaval of what has been dubbed the fourth industrial revolution.

In other news this week:

France passes “duty of vigilance” supply chain law

  • Last week, France passed a law that pushes for accountability for multinational companies sourcing from global supply chains.
  • The “duty of vigilance” law requires companies to establish safeguards designed to ensure that labour rights and other human rights are respected in the production sites they source from.
  • The law requires large companies based in France to create a document that sets out their procedures for evaluating suppliers and mitigate human rights abuses. Violating the “duty of vigilance” law can lead to a penalty of up to €10 million.

Read more at Supply Chain Dive

Trump seeks historic increase in military spending

  • President Trump’s first budget seeks to boost military spending by $US54 billion. The US currently spends about $US584 billion annually on defence.
  • If passed by Congress, the 9% increase will be funded by cuts to non-defence spending, including environmental programs, diplomacy and foreign aid.
  • Last year, the rest of the world combined spent a total of $US317 billion on defence. The highest-spending countries under the US were China ($US146 billion), Saudi Arabia ($US82 billion), Russia ($US66 billion) and the UK ($US56 billion).

Read more at ABC News

A Noble Cause: CIPS CEO David Noble’s Enduring Legacy

From his fight against modern slavery to his campaign to licence the procurement profession, Procurious highlights the enduring legacy of the late CIPS CEO, David Noble.

David Noble’s professional accomplishments were many and varied, both within his role as CIPS Group CEO and during his stellar career beforehand. After his sudden and untimely passing late last week, however, there have been tributes from procurement leaders around the world. The tributes emphasised two of Mr Noble’s stand-out achievements.  Firstly, his fight against modern-day slavery and secondly, his work in promoting and licensing the procurement profession.

The crusade against modern slavery

In an interview with Procurious before his appearance at the Big Ideas Summit, David Noble stressed that the profession is in a unique position to drive the eradication of modern slavery. “Whether it’s child labour, inhumane working conditions, forced labour or slavery, there is no doubt that the procurement and supply profession has a unique opportunity to step up to this challenge as a professional community and effect real change”.

Mr Noble believed that in terms of corporate social responsibility, procurement has come to a significant crossroad and needs to adapt to survive in the face of rapidly-changing parameters, starting with accountability.

“Accountability for inadequate or exposed supply chains now goes right to the top, with the company’s reputation on the line. Good corporate supply chain governance demands accountability, and to have accountability means the appropriate authority and capability to act.”

The  2015 Modern Slavery Act

2015 was a watershed year for Mr Noble and his crusade against modern slavery, with two significant milestones taking place. Firstly, the UK Government signed into law the 2015 Modern Slavery Act, after seeking considerable guidance from CIPS while the Act was being created. CIPS was sought out as a subject-matter expert due in no small part to its 2013 partnership with Traidcraft and Walk Free, which led to the creation of the Ethical and Sustainable Procurement Guide. The Guide helped procurement professionals identify suppliers who subjected workers to poor wages, inhumane conditions or forced labour, and advised them on how to put preventative measures in place. Following the release of the Guide, CIPS also created an ethical e-learning course and test, which covered corruption, fraud, bribery, exploitation, human rights and forced labour.

After the Modern Slavery Act was signed, Mr Noble’s message to the profession was again focused on accountability: “For too long supply chain transparency has been overlooked, and we hope that this legislation sends out a clear message to business leaders that they are accountable for all discrepancies, no matter how far down the chain.”

Vatican City declaration  to eradicate modern slavery

The second milestone that took place in 2015 was Mr Noble’s invitation to Vatican City to witness a historic signing by faith leaders of a joint declaration to eradicate modern slavery. Leaders from the Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim faiths signed the declaration, which had been developed by Andrew Forrest’s Global Freedom Network. Mr Noble was invited as a guest of Andrew Forrest and also by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, in recognition of CIPS’ work in addressing modern slavery and the integral role supply chain management will play in the ongoing campaign.

Many of the tributes to Mr Noble published on Procurious called out this aspect of his career, beginning with CEO ISM Tom Derry, who wrote that “[David’s] moral vision and leadership was instrumental in CIPS’ crucial role in the passing of the U.K.’s Modern Slavery Act in 2015.”

CIPS General Manager for the Asia-Pacific region, Mark Lamb, wrote: “He was particularly vocal about ethical procurement, eradicating bribery and corruption, and ensuring that supply chains are free from modern slavery.” Similarly, The Art of Procurement host and producer Philip Ideson wrote about Mr Noble’s “leadership of efforts to eradicate slavery across the supply chain, impacting millions of workers without their own voice”.

Broadspectrum’s Executive General Manager of Procurement, Kevin McCafferty, worked closely with Mr Noble on the development of the Ethical Procurement Guide: “David was instrumental in getting the UK Government to introduce the Modern Slavery Act 2015.” Mike Blanchard, Deputy Chief Executive Operations at the New Zealand Tertiary Education Commission, wrote that Mr Noble’s focus has led to CIPS becoming “a professional body with ethics as a pillar”.

Licensing the profession

When Mr Noble was asked to bring his “Big Idea” to London as part of Procurious’ 2015 Big Ideas Summit, the subject for him was a no-brainer. “My big idea is something we have as a policy statement – licensing the profession,” he told the camera. Watching his comments today, it becomes immediately clear that his drive to license the profession was inseparable from his campaign to improve ethics in procurement and, ultimately, eradicate modern slavery.

The need for CIPS to licence the profession became increasingly apparent to Mr Noble as he received calls from the media after supply chain disasters linked to malpractice or ethical breaches. Reporters asked him the simple question: “Why is the procurement and supply profession allowing this to happen?”

Bringing accountability and consequence to procurement

It was difficult to bring accountability and consequences to those on the front line who were making decisions that led to malpractice and reputational risk. Licensing, said Mr Noble, was therefore the answer. “There’s a huge public good agenda linked to supply chains around the world … [and] companies are increasingly realising that having licensed supply professionals makes a real differentiator to success.”

Licensing brings with it the threat of consequences: “If they behave unethically, they stand to lose that license and they’ll find it difficult to work in the profession again,” said Mr Noble. “But the good side is that it gives them the protection of saying ‘You’re putting my professional license at risk’ if they’re ever asked to do something unethical or wrong.”

CIPS President and former Rio Tinto CEO Sam Walsh noted Mr Noble’s extraordinary achievements in moving forward with the professionalisation of procurement: “His initiatives such as training, licensing of procurement professionals, establishment of standards for anti-corruption, anti-bribery and anti-modern slavery have led to CIPS being highly regard by governments, employers and members.”

Visna Lampasi, General Manager Group Procurement for Woolworths (Australia) also commented on Mr Noble’s “energy behind licensing the profession … and major contribution to procurement’s development”.

 A legacy of thought-leadership

A valued contributor to the Procurious Blog, Mr Noble appeared at the Big Ideas Summit in 2015. His thought-leadership published on Procurious includes:

This article concludes our three-part series honouring the achievements and memory of CIPS CEO David Noble. Readers can leave a tribute to Mr Noble on the Procurious discussion board.

How To Convince Hostile Stakeholders To Adopt New Technology

Simona Pop’s Big Idea provides a recipe for convincing even the most unwilling departmental heads to embrace new technology.

Register as an online delegate for the London Big Ideas Summit 2017 here.

Deciding to adopt a new technology has historically been a pain in the ass. An expensive, dull, prolonged pain nobody wants to deal with. The problem I have is that those adjectives belong to OLD tech. Putting nimble new technology in the same pile with 90s software is like mixing vodka with milk. It may have worked for the Mad Men of the 50s but it is an unnatural association. (I watched Mad Men until the 5th series then lost interest, by the way.)

Here’s the gist of it: people need to be comfortable with the cost and potential risk of adopting new technology. How do you make them comfortable? By providing “proof of concept” and calculating these costs and potential risks. One simple guideline is the 10X rule: if you can expect a return of 10 times your investment, then it’s worth it.

However, with technology – especially if it spans across different departments – you must take into account that your gains will come from any of several improvements, or a combination of improvements:

  • Cost reduction
  • Efficiency improvement
  • Fraud prevention
  • Admin processing speed
  • Mobilising the workforce
  • Product/service enhancement
  • Competitive environment

Your gains will be the sum total of all factors. If adopting a new technology provides an improvement in one factor but it’s at the expense of another factor, it may not be worth adopting. This tends to limit everything to a financial view though. A far better formula includes non-financial factors, some of which will outweigh the financial ones. You need to also remember that some investments in new technology can require at least a year to show their true value.

Managing risk should also be incorporated into your analysis, but remember that you take a risk whether you adopt a new technology or not. The advantages a new technology provides may not be obvious – until a competitor adopts that technology and makes your competitive disadvantage clear. In that case, adopting a new technology reactively will put you on the back foot. Playing catch-up is never a good business move!

Risk Reduction Recipe

Let’s call it – new tech is the unknown. The unknown is typically scary to humans. And since I am all about the H2H in business, working to remove that fear is key to successful tech adoption.

One sure way to reduce the risk is to go for a taster: a proof-of-concept implementation. Starting small & early allows you to identify problems early when they are far easier and less expensive to correct. It also makes it easy to start over if the proverbial hits the fan.

When rolling out new technology across multiple departments, you’re guaranteed to encounter a mixed bag of responses. From enthusiastic stakeholders who “get it” straight away, to nervous – and sometimes downright hostile – departmental heads who are terrified of change, you’re going to have to manage them all.

Here’s the secret – rather than trying to beat hostile stakeholders into submission with the force of your arguments, ask the willing departments to do the job for you. Carry out a proof of concept with your supporters so you have the evidence required to overcome any objection, and go back to the risk-averse stakeholders with your advocates at your side.

Also keep in mind that both organisational and process changes will be needed when bringing in tech. Procedural changes are very common. The reason why you are looking at that tech is typically to improve current processes you have found lacking. You must be aware that tech is here to improve NOT replicate. Trying to fit clunky processes on efficient technology is not only frustrating but a complete waste of time and resource. Changes to previous processes will need to happen and you will have to expect some resistance to those changes. Again, human nature.

The mark of good technology for me is its accessibility and great user experience across the board (from top to bottom, from left to right). Because you are effecting change (and that’s difficult enough), the very last thing you need is that change to come in the form of clunky, pain in the ass – MS-DOS looking software.

In my quest to empower people through tech, one problem I come across a lot is: “How much resource do I need from our side because we really cannot spare anyone?” This question is proof of a bad reflex left over from dealing with old tech. The type of tech that takes a year just to implement, another year to train for and another to realise it’s not right for you anyway even though it is costing you serious cash. The type of tech that is SO unlike what you know and love in your personal life, it might as well be alien. A vintage alien at that.

Clear communication will help overcome the organisational and process challenges. When people get that you are in fact trying to empower them to work better and easier, they will want to be part of that higher drive.

As Richard Branson says: “Screw it, let’s do it!” Move quickly, find out what works and what doesn’t. Stalling, procrastinating of burying your head in the sand are NOT ways to avoid a pain in the ass.

This article was first published on InstaSupply.

Stay tuned for more Big Ideas from Simona Pop as we lead up to the Big Ideas Summit 2017!

Join the conversation and register as a digital delegate for Big Ideas 2017 now!

Standard, Express, or Flying? Why supply managers need to be ready for delivery drones

Flying delivery drones will soon take over the last mile of your supply chain. Have you started planning ahead for a drone-filled future? 

“Alexa, re-order Doritos from Prime Air.”

Blink, and you’d miss it. Amazon purchased 10 seconds of the year’s most expensive advertising space last week to introduce the U.S. Super Bowl audience to two of its latest tech products: Amazon Echo and Amazon Prime.

Disgusted by her partner’s finger-licking, a tech-savvy woman directs her request for a second bag of Doritos to the IoT-enabled smart speaker in front of her television. The speaker (“Alexa”) in turn places an order with Amazon Prime, resulting in a delivery drone making a graceful touchdown in the yard outside.

Meanwhile in the U.K., a Youtube clip featuring former Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson explains the ordering and drone delivery process in much greater detail:

Drone delivery services are swiftly approaching the commercial market, with Amazon taking a clear lead in the development race. In December, Amazon made its first successful go-round in a rural corner of England, where it has been beta-testing. While there’s still a significant weight restriction, the benefits of drone delivery are clear:

  • The 30-minute delivery time is an enormous improvement from the standard 24-48 hour wait customers currently experience when ordering online.
  • Drones can reach a height of 400 feet and fly for 24 kilometres at a stretch. They  avoid traffic and potential obstacles using laser, sonar and other technology.
  • Environmentally, battery-operated drone delivery ticks a lot of boxes as they’ll eventually replace many fuel-burning delivery vehicles currently on the road.
  • Finally, the full autonomy of drone delivery will mean there’ll be very little need for human interference, leading to enormous efficiency gains for delivery companies.

After the successful beta-tests in England, drone confidence is rising in the US, although the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) has been slow to react. A report from December 2016 claimed the FAA has yet to begin drafting rules around flying drones over populated areas.

Testing, however, is taking place, with examples including UPS making a medical supply drop to an island off the coast of Massachusetts, while Alphabet’s drone delivery initiative (Project Wing) sent a hot dinner to students at Virginia Tech. Both the U.S. Postal Service and Britain’s Royal Mail have expressed keen interest in drone delivery as the cost of traditional delivery methods continue to rise. In Europe, DHL similarly completed a round of drone testing last year.

The process of delivery drones

Using a GPS system, delivery drones can quickly generate the most efficient route and even communicate with each other. Users can use communicate with delivery drones via smart phones, selecting delivery options such as: “Bring it to Me,” “Home,” “Work,” and “My Boat.” Additionally, if the customer relocates, the drones can redirect mid-route.

While apartment buildings are still too complicated for drone routes, doorstep delivery throughout rural and suburban neighbourhoods has been mastered.

Allison Crady, Marketing Specialist at CDF Distributors, has followed the rise of drone deliveries closely. She comments that drone delivery will only be applicable to a limited number of products at first: “Giant screen TVs will still require a typical truck delivery, but drone warehouses are currently ideal for light-weight purchases such as tech gadgets or snacks. As drone weight options increase through future development, their useful applications will extend far beyond simple convenience deliveries.”

What can supply managers do to prepare? 

Regulatory bodies such as the FAA move slowly to make drone deliveries a reality.  Supply managers can take advantage of this delay by planning ahead for a drone-based future. This means reviewing your current delivery arrangements (in-house or outsourced) and measuring:

  • the number of light-weight products currently delivered by truck that could be carried by drone
  • current delivery timeframes versus potential drone delivery speed
  • traditional price structures and operating costs against drone delivery
  • the human workforce required to run a delivery fleet versus autonomous drones
  • your current ability to deliver to difficult/remote locations
  • environmental benefits of taking fuel-burning cars off the road in favour of delivery drones.

In other  procurement news this week…

Huawei announces IoT Partnership with Deutsche Post DHL 

  • Huawei and Deutsche Post DHL Group will collaborate on innovation projects to develop a range of supply chain solutions for customers using industrial-grade Internet of Things hardware and infrastructure.
  • The group  is expected to make its IoT devices and network infrastructure accessible to DHL to assist in incorporating greater sensing and automation capabilities into warehousing, freight, and last-mile delivery services.
  • A  spokesperson from Huawei, Yan Lida, commented, “This partnership opens up an opportunity to improve the efficiency, safety and customer service offered by global supply chains in previously impossible ways, and defines how the Internet of Things will shape the fortunes of the logistics industry in the next few critical years of innovation.”

Read more at Logistics Magazine. 

Remote Australian supply chains cut by flooding

  • Floods in Western Australia closed major road transport routes for three days last week. Meanwhile, rail movement into Perth was delayed for five days.
  • The Newmont Mine in the Tanami desert has been closed for over a month due to the flooding. Delivery company Toll has been issued permits to use the flood-damaged roads to deliver fuel, food and emergency supplies to the community at the mine.
  • Parts of the Stuart Highway and Carpentaria Highway have also been closed. This is  impacting on the movement of heavy trucks in the region.

Read more at Fully Loaded. 

The Samsung Smartphone Debacle: Suppliers Pushed Too Far, Too Fast?

Samsung has apportioned some of the blame for its exploding Note 7 phones to two of its battery suppliers. But who is ultimately responsible? Is the pressure to innovate at all costs leading to unsafe development and testing time-frames?

Esa Riutta/Shutterstock.com

What Went Wrong?

Samsung  has begun the long task of rebuilding consumer trust in its smartphones. But questions remain.   Why didn’t Samsung pick up design and manufacturing faults before they sold 1 million unsafe devices to customers? The cause appears to lie in Samsung’s rush to beat its arch-rival Apple to market. This led to a failure to properly test lithium-ion batteries in the Note 7 phone.

The pressure to innovate that tech giants such as Samsung place on their suppliers is immense. Particularly when competitors such as Apple are constantly upping the ante. Every new release on a phone must be demonstrably better than the last.  This means delivering ever-smaller and lighter batteries that customers can charge rapidly and use for a full day and evening.

Battery manufacturers responded to the challenge by using a thin “club sandwich” design. In this battery positive and negative electrodes are stacked and kept apart using layers of separators. Unfortunately, the pressure for an ever-thinner battery meant that the separators were too thin, leading to shorts and subsequent over-heating. A second, unrelated design fault lay in an abnormal welding process. This led to contact between a positive terminal and a negative electrode.

Spreading the blame

The fallout for the exploding smartphones follows a familiar pattern where, although the technical fault lies with a supplier of products and services, the big-name parent company takes the lion’s share of the blame. Even when the parent organisation attempts to publicly offset some of the blame onto its suppliers, consumers typically assign responsibility to the most recognisable brand.

An example of this famously occurred in April 2010 with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  The owner of the well, BP, took most of the responsibility (and $54 billion in associated costs), whilst the contracting operators came under considerably less scrutiny. Tellingly, a U.S. District Judge apportioned 67% of the blame for the spill to BP, 30% to Transocean and 3% to Halliburton.

Samsung, to its credit, did accept overall responsibility for the $6.9 billion mistake even while it pointed the finger at battery manufacturers. Samsung Electronics America senior vice president Justin Denison told a press conference: “Ultimately we take responsibility for this. It’s our product, we set the specifications, and it’s up to us to catch the problem before it leaves in one of our devices.”

The long road to brand recovery

Youtube users may have noticed Samsung’s brand-repair efforts have gotten underway, with ads such as the following appearing online:

The South Korean company has invested $170 million into safety.  It is assertively broadcasting its new 8-point safety check which includes a durability test, visual inspection, x-ray test and others. Samsung’s investigation into the Note 7 failures included over 700 R&D engineers. These engineers tried to replicate the issue by testing 200,000 phones and 30,000 standalone batteries.

But, in a further unfortunate setback for the brand, one of the affiliates responsible for manufacturing the faculty batteries – Samsung SDI – experienced a factory fire last week in Tianjin, China, with 110 firefighters and 19 trucks responding to the blaze.

Senior executives from Samsung have commented that they’ve learnt an enormous amount about crisis management in the past few months. Observers, too, can draw some valuable lessons around the dangers of rushing new innovations to market and the ineffectiveness of attempting to apportion blame to suppliers.

Read more about Samsung’s smartphone battery issues.

In other procurement news this week…

Boeing’s Space Taxi to include 3D printed components

  • Boeing has commissioned 600 3D printed components from Oxford Performance Materials for use in its Starliner space taxi.
  • Boeing expects the spacecraft to fly unmanned in June 2018. and will have a first crewed test flight in August 2018. It will ferry two astronauts to the International Space Station for the first fully operational flight in December 2018.
  • The inclusion of 3D components marks a first for 3D technology usage in spacefaring technology, with increasing recognition that printed plastics perform well under the pressure of launch and in a temperature of absolute zero.

Read more at Supply Chain Dive.

New research reveals CEOs still don’t “get” procurement

  • Consultancy firm 4c Associates released the findings of a poll of 521 CPOs, managers and procurement personnel to understand how procurement is perceived by the C-Level.
  • 48% of participants claimed their boss “doesn’t get what the procurement team does, or can do”. 55% said the C-Level regards procurement as a support function. It exists to cut costs, rather than add strategic value to the organisation.
  • Mark Ellis, senior partner at 4c Associates, commented that procurement needs to proactively highlight the services they can provide beyond cost cutting. “If all the function does is speak in terms of savings, then that’s how it will be perceived: as a cost cutter”, Ellis said.