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Data, Innovation and TechX Summit: Three lessons for procurement

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An innovative building for an innovative event: in the heart of London, senior procurement professionals gathered at one of the most sustainable buildings in the world, The Crystal, for Procurement Leaders’ inaugural Data, Innovation and TechX Summit.


The last few years has seen an explosion of cognitive and cloud-based devices disrupting the world as the function knows it. 52% of Fortune 500 companies have gone bankrupt, been acquired or ceased to exist since 2000 due to disruption. The message is clear: a business, and indeed procurement function, that stands still and fails to recognise the opportunities around innovation, data and intelligence is in danger of being left behind.


But, the speakers of the day shared their top tips for innovating to accelerate growth.

  1. Robots are not a threat


Robotics and automation are often held up as the enemy and as Brose EVP and CPO Sandro Scharlibbe told a packed room, there will come a day when human sourcing executives are replaced by technology so sophisticated that procurement will be done autonomously. When products near the end of their lifetimes, they will generate orders for replacement products themselves, making the human an unnecessary middleman.


While this may scare a few people, for some markets and in some regions of the globe, robots are actually essential. In regions such as Mexico, Scharlibbe explained, procurement talent is scarce, resulting in around 50 companies all vying to recruit a single, highly talented procurement executive. In these cases, robots are not an option but a necessity.


  1. The digital ninja

Intelligence is only ever as good as the hands that it is in, and many speakers talked of the importance of company culture in using it to the best advantage.


The ‘digital ninja’ term was coined by Vodafone, to emphasise the need for people to be willing to change in order to succeed in a digital transformation. This is where the next generation of talent cropped up as the demographic who look at digital technology differently to the more experienced procurement executives.


Vodafone’s Virginie Vast, head of cognitive procurement and digital sourcing, reinforced the value of company culture to the digitisation of the procurement function. In her digital strategy, she outlined that only 30% of the plan focused on technology, while 70% focused on people.


“A successful strategy isn’t really about technology. It is about company culture and people. It is important to show people what technology can bring to their roles and fit into their strategies,” she said.

  1. Learn from consumer trends


Nokia’s Miguel Caulliez said that procurement can learn from the mass craze that is Pokemon Go, which went from an unknown app to a world phenomenon overnight. The speed of uptake is great for the business, but it also poses a risk of congestion in the network, and procurement needs to be wary of this too.


The function needs to ask: does procurement have the analytics capability for speed and rapid uptake on the same level of Pokemon Go?


To find out more about the Data, Intelligence and TechX Summit click here.


This article is a piece of independent writing by a member of Procurement Leaders’ content team.

Rachel Sharp
Posted by Rachel Sharp

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