What 5 skills will the buyer of 2030 need to master?

The skills of a buyer in 2030
October 5th, 2021
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With the digital revolution and the profound changes taking place in our societies and our economies, procurement is set to be transformed by 2030. Buyers will be at the forefront of this: they will need to be agile in adapting their skills to the needs of their company and to their changing environment. In this context, five skills will prove essential over the next ten years or so. The challenge is to prepare for it as early as possible so as to be able to make a difference on the job market. 

Sourcing innovation effectively

With technologies developing at breakneck speed, companies cannot afford to fall behind or they will lose their competitive edge. This is why innovation will be high on the agenda of procurement between now and 2030. Buyers will thus be actively involved in their organisation’s innovation strategy by setting up strategic partnerships with start-ups and stimulating innovation among their network of suppliers.

In particular, they will need to develop their sense of collaboration and their leadership in order to engage their stakeholders in this quest for innovation. From the point of view of expertise, they will adopt the following new practices:

  • To identify innovation, buyers will rely on open innovation, hackathon or freelancer platforms;
  • To select the right innovations for their business, they will be able to set up assessment processes with their suppliers, based on quality, safety and cost criteria;
  • To measure the innovation capacity of their suppliers, it will be possible to monitor key performance indicators such as the number of innovations proposed and adopted;
  • To work with innovative start-ups or SMEs (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises), they will need to build new business models and adapt their work processes.

Implementing a sustainable procurement strategy

While more than two thirds of companies have not yet invested in a sustainable supply chain or are just starting to do so today[1], this will no longer be an option by 2030.

Whether it is to meet the growing demands of end customers, employees, management, legislators or investors, companies will integrate CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) into their global strategy and procurement departments will be expected to contribute by implementing a sustainable procurement strategy. However, as this is such a recent issue, they will have to develop new skills, including:

  • Technical knowledge of legislation to comply with the increasing number of regulations: Duty of Vigilance in France, the Modern Slavery Act in the United Kingdom, the Conflict Minerals Regulation in the European Union, etc.;
  • A strong capacity to influence suppliers in their responsible procurement approach, with a view to continuous improvement.

For further information, download our white paper to learn how to incorporate CSR into your company’s procurement policy.

Mastering new digital solutions

The advent of new technologies and the digital transformation of companies will revolutionise the day-to-day operations of procurement teams. By 2030, buyers will rely on Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) solutions to perform predictive analyses, automate their processes and optimise their procurement strategy. In this context, buyers will have no choice but to develop their skills related to the digital transformation of procurement, which are now regarded as particularly critical! Besides training on certain technical aspects, mentoring could be an excellent way to improve in these areas.

Buyers will simultaneously need to learn how to:

  • Master digital tools, becoming true technophiles;
  • Strengthen their critical thinking skills in order to analyse and make use of the information gathered;
  • Develop their computational thinking to better interact with these technologies.

Managing strategy in times of crisis

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the strategic role of procurement in critical times. As we operate in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world (often called “VUCA world”[2]), procurement teams need to be prepared for other threats: economic recession, trade wars, industry disruption, geopolitical crises, etc.

In such a context, buyers will need to be adaptable and responsive, while proactively structuring their supplier network. They will also need to strengthen their interpersonal skills to build strong relationships with their strategic suppliers. Strong partnerships will make a difference in times of need, as the health crisis has already demonstrated.

Analysing the vulnerability of the supplier network

In a globalised world, supply chains are becoming increasingly complex, with multiple actors and interdependencies. Moreover, procurement decision makers have expressed concern about the risks of price volatility and shortages in the coming years. To deal with these potential difficulties, procurement departments must monitor and analyse the vulnerability of their supplier network.

Buyers will be able to rely on new technologies to gather a large amount of relevant data, sort it and interpret it, in a process known as Predictive Supply Chain Risk Management. They will thus be alerted in real time to events and will even be able to anticipate future ones.

They will, of course, need to combine this technological dimension with real analytical skills and a broad knowledge of the ecosystem.

Between now and 2030, buyers will adapt their skills to their companies’ new priorities: to make a success of the digital transition, deploy their CSR strategy and boost their resilience. It is by developing skills at the interface between strategic vision and relational intelligence that procurement will be able to rise to this challenge and gain the recognition of its stakeholders.

[1] Source: Procurious & Ivalua, Sustainable Procurement: Driving Exponential Impact Across the Supply Chain, 2021

[2] VUCA: Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity