Richard Guest, principal consultant in the procurement and supply chain practice at recruitment firm Berwick Partners, looks at the ways in which big data is changing both procurement roles and the function itself
It is no secret that procurement is going through an exciting evolution thanks to big data. Easy access to information on spend, suppliers and processes enables procurement teams to analyse information more holistically, more effectively and with greater visibility than ever before.
With this knowledge, procurement executives can command greater credibility among other functions. Conversations can be supported by near-real-time intelligence on business-critical issues.
It also helps CPOs add operational value and play a more critical role in shaping and evolving business strategy.
This shift towards data-driven analysis is, however, also changing the function and the roles that exist within it.
Procurement chiefs need to ensure they have the personnel to collate, analyse and interpret the mass of information that is now available to them.
Some believe this focus could cause the number of junior analytical roles to decrease and potentially reduce a firm’s offshore operations. But this does not mean big data will block entry to procurement altogether, merely that the route to leadership will change.
In reality, roles are changing rather than dwindling. Although demand for core skills will always remain, procurement teams are now increasingly looking for analytical, commercially minded candidates.
As the function gains credibility and greater responsibility managing risk across the organisation, procurement teams need staff who can act as business enablers.
This is changing the dynamic of the typical procurement team and has led to an increase in appointments from other disciplines – and not just from traditional overlapping functions, such as sales.
Commercial project managers – analytical, commercial and with experience in dealing with different business cultures and departments – are proving a good fit. We have also seen a number of large organisations place IT professionals into their procurement teams, which provides a career path for those more interested in adding commercial value through IT innovation than fixing hardware issues.
Ultimately, this is all about opportunity. Opportunity for change, for development and for innovation – both in the way in which procurement executives analyse information and in the way they source new talent. It all starts with big data.
Richard Guest is principal consultant in the procurement and supply chain practice at Berwick Partners
This contributed article has been written by a guest writer at the invitation of Procurement Leaders. Procurement Leaders received no payment directly connected with the publishing of this content.