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In parallel with the rise of digital and the continued empowerment of millennials, procurement has been transformed beyond recognition in recent years and the function will continue to evolve in 2017. Three increasingly important factors will be key to its success.
Interoperability between open business networks has been a success story for the telecommunications industry. The benefits of this are obvious: being able to easily communicate with all business partners, no matter what network they use, can help both secure savings and drive simplicity.
The potential of that concept has been proven and now we are seeing the adoption of a new European procurement framework with similar ambitions – the Pan-European Public Procurement Online (PEPPOL) framework. PEPPOL provides a way for businesses to exchange documents and catalogue data and looks like it will set the standard. There is a clear potential for this to spread to other geographies and, I believe, adoption will increase quickly.
Just as you don't want to change your smartphone because you want to use a specific app, procurement functions will make the most of their existing investments and choose new technology solutions that allow them extreme flexibility in terms of integration. These will be self-serviceable, removing the need for IT to be involved in the implementation or management of these systems. This flexibility will be enabled by cloud-based systems that allow clear entry and exit points along the entire procurement process, and allow smaller process steps to be run through third-party apps even without a user interface, for example, with chatbots.
While some predict a bright future for full, end-to-end, procure-to-pay solutions, I believe we will see a move in the opposite direction. Disruption in user experience will continue – going beyond, for example, screen-based user interfaces. The success of Apple's Siri and Amazon's Echo both provide evidence of this.
Consumerisation will propel the development of chatbots and dash buttons in the enterprise. Indeed, it has already driven the adoption of mobile and the bring your own device trend.
The focus now should be on working with users' demands in mind, rather than enforcing compliance to avoid maverick buying. This, more encouraging approach, will reap rewards for the function as users enjoy the convenience of a system that is simple, compliant and connected.
In essence, procurement functions should place an emphasis on the interoperability of solutions, process integration capabilities and the openness of future user experience when selecting their partners.
Procurement organisations that find themselves unable to do this will struggle to continue to achieve compliance with and adoption of their processes.
Nicklas Brandstrom is CEO IBX Business Network and vice president Capgemini's Business Services
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.
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