What will 2030 look like for procurement?

Part 1 - Prospects
Artificial Intelligence and robotic process automation
October 25th, 2018
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You've heard and read about it everywhere: Procurement is beginning its transformation thanks to the arrival of new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and robotic process automation. However, the question that we are all asking is, “How will it evolve?" Michael Page and Procurious are trying to answer this question in their "PROCUREMENT 2030" study, divided into four parts. Let's focus on the first part.

Purchasing in 2030: What are the prospects?

It is clear that the transformation is well underway. 92% of the professionals surveyed believe that the buying profession will have changed by 2030. However, they remain fairly optimistic, believing that the profession will be flourishing even more by then.

Today, professionals have both a strategic and operational roles. Surprisingly, procurement managers say that they complete 40% of operational tasks, despite the more strategic nature of their role. However, respondents remain confident as no less than 42% of this workload could be automated thanks to new technologies.

Although the majority of procurement officers are convinced that a bright future awaits them, this is not necessarily true for other stakeholders. The challenge is therefore to provide internal customers, management and partners with information about this positive change.

Procurement in 2030: Threats and opportunities 

It is interesting to note that the three biggest threats to procurement also provide the best opportunities to stand out from the competition. In order of importance, these include  advances in technology, recruitment and talent retention and finally the brand's image and reputation. However, professionals are more likely to identify these as opportunities rather than threats.

The first two elements are naturally linked. Over time, talents will want to integrate companies with purchasing departments that have invested in useful technologies and succeeded in their digital transformation.

Cyber-security, geopolitical shocks, disruption to industries and natural disasters are all types of threats and opportunities that need to be considered.

Purchasing in 2030: How is it perceived?

By 2030, respondents envision that procurement officers will primarily become an agile group of strategic advisors (51%), or an influential group of business leaders (24%). They do not believe that the profession will be fully automated or outsourced.

Their duties are also likely to change. While cost reduction still prevails today (38%), followed by risk management (22%) and supplier innovation (12%), the cards will change in 2030. They plan to focus mainly on supplier innovations (29%), responsible procurement (25%) and risk management (18%).

The authors of the study would like to offer a word of warning — before beginning any transformation, it is important to address persistent obstructions and encourage understanding in terms of the value added by the procurement industry. In this sense, 76% of respondents believe that stakeholders have little or average understanding of their added value. A lot of legwork needs to be done to raise awareness of the profession and the added value that it can offer far beyond simple cost reductions.

Ø  Read the full study: "Procurement 2030 report"

*Study involving 590 professionals