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In his third, and last blog post, Charlie Bradshaw, found and CEO at Matrix, focuses on the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud networks and sensors; technologies that will change the world we live in over the next few years.
Disruptive technologies, which include the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and 3D printing, are fed by multiple, ever-replenishing data sources enabling tasks that were once carried out by humans to be done by machines far more efficiently, conveniently and cheaply.
The potential for disruptive technology in procurement is clear. There is so much data to play with in the function and that should help transform procurement from one that is reactive to one that is far more proactive.
Take the automotive industry as an example. If a car engine breaks it is replaced. In time, all cars will have sensor-enhanced engines that will tell the manufacturer when parts need replacing, months before it might break down. Tesla Model S cars have self-diagnostic engines that constantly feedback lifespan data.
Against a backdrop of such technologies, you might wonder why businesses will need a procurement team at all. The function can still add value in this new age but it has to understand the potential this technology offers and the benefits it can bring across the supply chain.
In the factory
Factories thrive on productivity. Competitive retail targets mean factory heads have to work their staff harder to meet burgeoning demand. Historically, there has been limited means to survey individual workers, but networks and sensors are now allowing insights into employee working conditions as well as output.
Aggregated, personalised data on workers will allow factory owners to make tweaks to processes for all staff, opening up opportunities to increase productivity.
Additionally, one small sensor could provide accurate, real-time data to inform buying decisions.
These technologies could also greatly reduce the levels of falsification in the auditing process, giving a procurement function greater power to weed out suppliers that fall short on worker welfare.
Technological innovation could directly impact an employee’s quality of life, including working hours and pay.
At Matrix, we’re developing a new app in which users will be able to log responses to questions about quality of work life. Accumulated information will build a picture of each factory’s performance and staff happiness. Data will also reveal how to make improvements to equipment, greatly boosting efficiency and quality.
Moreover, creating an open, transparent environment where people can share their opinions will help factories improve and grow.
Heightened connectivity will provide buyers and consumers with more information than ever before about a products origin as well as its environmental impact. Knowlabel, a UK based start-up, has produced a digital clothing label, which shows the social and environmental impact of the good they are buying. It has the capability to link the shop, office and factory floor through supply chain integration.
There’s also the potential for competitive product pricing for ethically sourced goods. Each step will take us further towards fine-tuning the supply chain.
Procurement leaders need to be proactively adapting their working practices for this world. Technology is the vehicle to change. Now is the time to consider how you can add value to procurement as a profession, without sacrificing the people working within it.
If you have any questions surrounding the issues discussed in his disruptive tech series, please contact Charlie Bradshaw on: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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