Tom Linton, CPO from Flex spoke passionately about the impact of real time information on procurement and the seven new rules of supply chain management at this year's World Procurement Congress (WPC).
Dated information prevents organisations from operating at full velocity, he described, and the increasing popularity of real time information is shaping the business as a whole and is going to be a catalyst for change within the procurement itself as it is live, fast and intelligent.
However, real-time information within the supply chain can be deeply buried and therefore needs to be pulled out and visualised in order to make effective data driven decisions.
"We are trying to get information that is concealed from view and using that to drive our business forward" said Linton. He highlighted the 7 new rules of supply chain management...
Rule 1 – Digital vs. analog
Analog has developed into a digital world which is predominately based on the internet. The information leveraged from devices connected to the internet is not static and behaves in real-time.
Rule 2 - Cash vs. cost
GDP across the world is mostly in single digits meaning organisational revenues are not growing quickly enough to mitigate increasing costs elsewhere such as labour costs, especially in once low-cost regions. Procurement are working hard on cost reduction and will continue to do so however, the function needs to examine the organisational balance sheet as it can be full of cash, such as in high inventory level. This cash can be turned into gold as speed to market can be improved through real time information.
Rule 3 – Flow vs. friction
To be more agile and faster procurement need the systems and business processes in place to flow better, allowing the supply chain to flow more effectively.
Rule 4 – Predictive vs. reactive
Everyone wants to become predictive especially with regards to supply chain management but it is difficult to achieve. However, harnessing intelligent real-time data can help procurement become more predictive and ultimately make better decisions and mitigate potential risks.
Rule 5 – Real time vs. batch
Batch based system are common across all industries however they only inform businesses yesterday's news, when what is happening now is extremely important and real-time data can provide this information.
Rule 6 – Transparent vs. multi-tier
Achieving transparency within the supply chain is crucial, values of a company should be shared down the entire supply chain to do this procurement must not only manage their suppliers but also influence them.
Rule 7 – Cognitive vs. transactional
Ten years from now the procurement function will move to machine-to-machine sourcing, these technologies are emerging right now therefore procurement need to be willing to change and adapt to succeed. Utilising cognitive technologies will also make it increasingly possible to automate business processes and reduce labour costs.
So what will cognitive procurement mean for buyers? Linton concluded “cognitive procurement means we will need fewer people”. Scary stuff, perhaps, but these efficiencies sit with procurement and the possibilities of them to become business leaders is immense.
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