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Future of Procurement - People are our most valuable asset

A digital transformation is taking hold around the world, and new business models are transforming entire industries. Uber and Didicar, for instance, disrupting the taxi business with a totally new way of hailing rides - and now driverless cars. Airbnb is upending the accommodation industry by offering millions of beds globally.

We are more connected than ever and social media is redefining the way we interact with the world. Every minute 9.7m WhatsApp messages are broadcasted, 1.9m Likes on Facebook are getting created, 1.4m Google Searches entered (173,000 on Yahoo, 283,000 on Bing, 189,000 on Baidu), 644 Uber rides are taking place and 336 bookings at Airbnb plus 700 Downloads of Pokemon Go (Source: Betfy).

We are smarter, armed with more information that can be accessed in real time with the click of a button or swipe of a finger. And we are global.

Globalization and digitization have transformed our lives. And not just on the personal front. The same technologies that we use as consumers have made their way into the office and are fueling new ways of getting work done. In procurement, for instance, business networks and process automation are significantly changing the way companies manage everything from sourcing and orders to invoices and payments.

Buyers and suppliers are discovering, connecting and collaborating more efficiently than ever and tapping new markets which were previously out of reach. In automating large portions of operational and tactical processes, less transactional and administrative work needs to be done. But what happens to the people performing these manual tasks today?

When procurement becomes more strategic, the people driving it become more strategic too. Rather than simply processing purchase orders and tracking savings, procurement professionals can focus on the value and impact they can create for the lines of business and customers. They can work alongside suppliers to drive innovations and new products like coffee tabs, which got invented in this manner. They can tackle risk management and create a sustainable supply chain.

But this doesn’t just happen. Performing more strategic work often requires a different skill set. And companies need to define a process through which the can be developed.

They must, for instance, define new tasks and provide access to training through which team members can acquire the skills and information needed to perform them with success. But beyond this, they need to paint a vision for the future of the function and the role that employees will play in driving it. In a workforce dominathed by millennials, this is critical.

Today’s procurement professionals don’t want jobs. They want missions. And they need to be engaged and task with making a difference. Companies that succeed in doing this will, like the Ubers and Airbnbs of the world, disrupt things in a creative way that leads to real transformation.