The Future of Procurement takes centre stage

The Future of Procurement is a subject that has attracted a lot of column inches from thought leaders in the past couple of years, but the debate has picked up some real momentum in the past few months resulting in it being a central theme at several of this autumn’s procurement events.

Following on from our feature on The Future Of Procurement, taken from our most recent Procurement & Spend Management Insider report where we examined the opportunities that exist for the function to evolve from a savings dominated agenda, I was asked to speak at two such events to give a recruiters’ perspective and some insight into how these factors are influencing market conditions.

At both Basware Connect and SAP Ariba’s “Procurement Summit” I was fortunate enough to see some great presentations from several respected procurement leaders. The discussions centred around the future skill set, the use of technology as a catalyst for change and the implications for professional development, staff retention and talent attraction, subjects which are of course close to my heart.

Starting at the SAP Ariba Procurement Summit on the 10th October, an event which was sponsored by Deloitte, there were excellent presentations from Guy Hubball (ex CPO of BP), Marcell Vollmer (SAP Ariba’s Chief Digital Officer) and Graham Wright of IBM, all of whom touched upon the skills debate to some extent.

Some excellent examples were given of best practice use of the latest generation of procurement solutions including enhanced visibility in the supply chain (seven tiers for one automotive business), opportunities to take CSR to another level, the use of AI and other exciting tools.

It was a very enjoyable event with no obvious hard sell, more of an education for the audience supporting a theme which was effectively a challenge to the profession to embrace the opportunities available and carve out a new iteration of procurement supported by the use of technology.

A week later Basware Connect offered a slightly different emphasis but an equally enjoyable range of topics to consider. The common theme was, as you would expect, the prospects that exist for procurement and finance professionals to embrace the digital transformation opportunity.

However, for me, a highlight of Basware events is that they have speakers from outside the immediate procurement and finance world to give a different perspective from many of the other technology vendors. They give the attendees something of a broader education and a great deal of food for thought.

Last year it was Matthew Syed (The Times journalist and “Ping-pong guy” from the BBC podcast) who gave the audience a fascinating presentation entitled “Black Box Thinking.” This time it was Rohit Talwar, noted Futurist, Author & Advisor.

His presentation “AI And The Next Frontiers Of Business” outlined a vision of some mind-boggling possibilities underpinned by the development of AI that is potentially closer than we think. He also explained several examples where AI is already infiltrating our lives in many ways we don’t realise.

I’ll be reading his book “The Future of Business” just as soon as I get through what is an incredibly busy period for us at Edbury Daley at the moment – significant demand from several of our procurement tech clients across Europe is keeping us really busy, along with finalising the next edition of The Procurement & Spend Management Insider due for publication in early November as outlined here.  Of course, we’ll be expanding on several of the themes mentioned here so be sure to check it out.

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