In your opinion, how will procurement change between now and 2030?

November 15th, 2018
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The Big Ideas Summit is a global digitally led procurement event. Participants took to the floor at the 2018 event in London. Procurement Managers and Managing Directors, amongst others, are thinking about and sharing their visions for the transformation of procurement between now and 2030.

High-speed changes in procurement

It is widely agreed that procurement departments will change over the next decade or so. However, opinions differ on how quickly these changes will take place. Some people expect the profession and its environment to rapidly undergo significant changes.

Rhonda McSweeney, Head of Procurement at CS Energy shares this view, saying, "Nothing will be the same as it is today. We can see how quickly trends are changing, in addition to the market upheavals. As a result we can say with certainty that the way we work in eight to ten years' time will be completely different from today."

Others take a more conservative view, particularly with regards to the adoption of new technologies. For them, these predictions are a little too idealistic in comparison to reality.

Chris Cliffe, Director of CJC Procurement, agrees with this point of view, saying  "Procurement will not really change in comparison to what it is like now. If I draw upon my experience in the public sector as an example, we launched eSourcing in 2005, which has not yet been widely adopted by the public sector. There are still niches where technology does not exist. As a result, I think that the pace of change will differ greatly to the predictions.”

Digital transformation of procurement: Potential scenarios

According to the latest survey conducted by SAP Ariba in collaboration with the University of Applied Sciences Würzburg-Schweinfurt, procurement departments are planning to invest, particularly in certain technologies such as robotic process automation, Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive Computing , Machine Learning , chatbots and blockchain.

Nick Ford, Executive Director of Odesma, uses a concrete example to illustrate the benefits of these new technologies, explaining “Imagine you're in the office and you want to know how much you spent with a particular supplier. You can ask Alexa (or an equivalent technology), which will then provide you with an answer. You could also ask "What is my risk situation with regards to this supplier?" or "Where can I find new suppliers in China?" and get an instant response."

The digital transformation of procurement departments is now underway and is fundamentally changing the profession, explains Bruce Morrison, VP and Head of Production Procurement at GSK: "Any process which has been automated will need to be monitored. The process will undoubtedly need to continue to function from start to finish and stimulate value creation in the supply chain at a strategic level."

Once time-consuming and/or low added-value tasks have been automated, procurement professionals will be able to invest the valuable time they save into tasks with greater added value. Bob Murphy, CPO at IBM, says: "I think procurement professionals will be focussing on people skills, relationship management, creativity and innovation, as well as collaborating with suppliers."


What do you think procurement will look like in 2030?