Through a Glass Darkly: PART 2


In part one of this two piece post, I began by saying that the big business idea of the last thirty years has passed its sell-by date. Why has it passed its sell-by date? Well because by driving cost out, most businesses have been driving huge risk in.

So what does the future hold for procurement? What are the new-gen challenges that procurement professionals need to watch out for? What are the game-changing trends for getting ahead and staying there? Read on, get ahead, and prosper…

Business intelligence is your key to the future:

Open pricing – pricing for goods and services will become virtually transparent due to the internet, e-sourcing, global trading networks, online communities, and procurement’s intrepid scrutiny into still-cloaked categories. Will negotiation become a lost art?

Risk recognition catches up – the moves to drive costs out, and the consequential supply-related risk that activity brings with it, comes into sharper focus. We are beginning to see consensus develop around risk and complexity and how to model risk. We are also starting to witness more standardised, readily available third-party information and networked communities where people pool data for operational risk assessment.

The emergence of Intelligent Data – procurement has spent the last three decades looking backward— at money spent or supplier performance in the past. The future procurement professionals will be working with information, data and models that look forward.

Knowledge at your finger-tips – full visibility regarding spend, risk, and performance, will be available when you need it. Ready access to accurate, timely, structured internal and external business intelligence will create unprecedented capability regarding information manipulation in support of decision making.

Collaboration is omnipotent:

Innovation from the supply base – since the ‘90s the move from closed to open innovation models has facilitated innovation-oriented cost saving strategies. We now see a major emphasis on driving and taking innovation from the supply base with the supply management role to set it up and move on.

The dawn of the extended enterprise – manufacturing has led the ‘make vs buy’ paradigm for many years – creating a shallow depth of manufacture. Whilst the manufacturers intend to stay there, service organisations will join the outsourcing bun fight too. The expanding trend to extended enterprises promises interesting times for supply professionals in the very near future.

Solutions not products please – suppliers and service providers are taking on bigger chunks of things they already do for their customers by developing end-to-end solutions if they do not already exist. Where solutions do already exist, then customer enterprises must become much more receptive to sourcing them, with suppliers moving out of their comfort zones to drive customer performance.

How soon is now? – life is all about timing; the unreachable becomes reachable, the unavailable become available, the unattainable, attainable. Customer-supplier collaboration will shift. Whilst today suppliers may be asked to contribute ideas to existing designs or to help fix existing processes, they will soon be frequently in from the “get-go”.

Mi casa es su casa – as supply management professionals look to extract more value from their supplier relationships, it stands to reason that in time, leveraging supplier resources and integrating supplier functions one-to-one will become the norm.

Networks for innovation – a transition from the dyadic ‘buyer and supplier’ relationship to ‘integrated supplier networks’ will enable greater coordination of innovation roadmaps across connected businesses and industries. The dawn of sapient leadership.

Suppliers gain power – the growth of outsourcing, tighter integration, and heavier reliance upon suppliers, means that they are gaining more leverage in buyer-supplier relationships. Instead of them selling to you, it may be you selling to them – procurement has a new challenge… to remain attractive to key suppliers.

Organisations share risks and rewards – as supply management professionals get better at segmenting, defining, and measuring value, they will begin to incorporate both gain-and risk-sharing into commercial relationships with suppliers.

Motivational contracting – the dawn of the “intelligent client”. As well as sharing risks and rewards in contracts, supply management professionals will accept greater risk in commercial relationships with critical suppliers by leaving out all the de-motivational stuff that inhibits supplier innovation.
Connect, network, trade:

Everything starts with an E! – procure-to-pay, sourcing, contract management and other automated solutions will be integrated up and down supply chains, fully adopted, providing full transparency and real-time insight.

Work on your smartphone – a new internet-savvy and technically-confident generation is entering the workplace using smart phones, tablets, embedded chips, and other devices to create a mobile work environment for procurement professionals and suppliers alike. We are seeing it now; it will only get bigger and faster.

Connect and collaborate – for years we’ve been talking about dynamic supply chains and how networks are the way to go forward, but actually manifesting that in our day-to-day,work-life has been difficult. Now, we have an opportunity where in 10 minutes we can find second and third-tier connections in global networks, with people who know people you know. Buyers and sellers will increasingly rely upon digital trading networks and communities that allow them to quickly and easily discover each other, connect, and collaborate.

It’s all about complexity – the fast-growing, and culturally different organisations developing in the emerging economies, makes the process of selecting suppliers more risky; couple this with the inherent complexity in a globalised market place, and it becomes clear that doing business is increasingly difficult.

Fragility and supply risk – converging global trends in often turbulent economies means that a new systemic approach to risk must be taken. The conventional approach to risk related measures to deal with the likelihood of exposure to uncertainty and therefore uncertainty was the source of risk. However, the uncertainty of todays (global) economic environment cannot be controlled; these days, excessive complexity is the source of risk. We can anticipate big increases in companies’ awareness around supply risk and also an expansion in their perceptions of where risk lies.
Supply professional skill sets must change:

Procurement professionals need to get savvy – professional; influential; persuasive; visionary; strategic; global; collaborative; commercially savvy; these are the attributes of the future supply professional.

A new definition of ‘expert’ – the new supply professionals must become “students of their industry”. They will know everything, from the science, economics, law and politics of their supply markets on a global scale.

The battle for Talent – where will we find future talent, how do we develop the talent pipeline? Is it too sparsely populated to meet the demand for the professionals described above and how we will meet the challenges as they develop this decade? The upshot will no doubt be intense competition to attract the best and brightest and it will most likely be on their terms.

Supply side management is increasingly gaining control over its main purpose — the procurement of goods and services for the organisation – supply assurance. Today, and as we move into an uncertain future, procurement professionals clearly face a variety of challenges. All organisations are rapidly investing in new technologies to meet these challenges in the contemporary, global marketplace; however the skills required to take full advantage of these tools and circumstances are often lacking.

As scrutiny of organisations’ environmental and ethical practices increases, there is also a requirement for procurement to understand the implications of its corporate responsibility and sustainability for purchasing and the supply chain. Efforts to make a bigger contribution to strategy continue, but sometimes at the cost of misunderstandings between the profession and the rest of the business.

And yet procurement has much expertise to offer, which can provide substantial financial benefits. Convincing colleagues across the business of this, and aligning not just goals but thinking about where the profession can — and cannot — add value, is potentially the biggest challenge in the years ahead.

Ultimately the only way to predict the future is by helping to shape it.

Click here to read part 1 of this piece


You can read more about future prospects for procurement in Gerard Chick’s new book, The Procurement Value Proposition, co-authored by Prof Robert Handfield.

24.2.15 Gerard's book cover

About Author

Procurement and Supply Australasia (PASA) is the leading provider of information and education to procurement and supply professionals throughout Australia and New Zealand. PASA supports the largest community of engaged procurement stakeholders in the region, through its renowned series of events, publications, awards, plus various community and network building activities. PASA is a trading name of BTTB Marketing, for many years recognised as the leading producer of conferences and events for the procurement profession in Australia and New Zealand. Whether producing under the BTTB, CIPSA Conferences or now PASA brands over the last ten years, our events have consistently led the market in terms of both educational and networking opportunities.

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