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Assisting human work with technology has been a goal of CPOs for decades, but the current wave of transformations is set to exploit more decision-making capabilities.
In the past, automation was a piecemeal and expensive affair. Large mainframes rumbled away in company basements while staff continued to work much as before. Although machines proved to be useful assistants, the main activity of business was still mainly human.
Now, not only can computers assist buyers in their work, machines can replace people. Programmatic buying is enabling systems to make purchasing decisions in microseconds; market intelligence bots are building rudimentary category plans; and the prospect of artificial intelligence creates the potential for an entirely human-free procurement function.
Meanwhile, the transactional elements of procurement have been largely swept away by cloud-based platforms, which proffer a suite of tools and shortcuts to a previously unwieldy human process.
Not only would it be unwise to ignore the transformative potential of technology, it would be flatly irresponsible to allow the function’s digital capabilities to fall behind. Organisations that have greater capabilities in facilitating fast, efficient and innovative supply possess greater market potential.
Companies with smarter machines, data-rich resources and automated processes will be the winners. Procurement’s success will not rest on the skills of people but on the ability to implement and adapt to new technologies.
This article is a piece of independent writing by a member of Procurement Leaders’ content team.