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Procurement in 2030: The Profession must Evolve
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With the dawn of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, there is a great deal of uncertainty in terms of the professionals working in procurement and supply chain. What do professionals need to do in order to make themselves indispensable in an AI-enabled future?
Michael Page and Procurious joined forces to answer two vital questions: what will procurement look like in 2030, and how can procurement leaders prepare? In a four part series accessible on Procurious, our research unearthed concerns and initiatives occupying the diaries of procurement executives globally. Two themes dominate: technology and perception.
Technology and talent are simultaneously the greatest threats and biggest opportunities for the profession. Simply put, everything will be done differently in the future. 92% of Procurement executives surveyed thought this to be the case for their domain. The same leaders estimated that the viral growth of Artificial Intelligence will automate away 42% of Procurement activities. It is expected that widespread use of blockchain will make contract robustness redundant, to name one benefit. Unchained from monotonous and mechanical tasks, procurement professionals will morph into innovators. The two standout expectations of procurement are that the function will become an agile group of strategic advisors, and an influential group of commercial leaders.
The path to this grand ideal, however, remains unclear. Procurement’s persistent perception problem must disappear. No longer can Procurement be seen as a pure cost centre, a facilitator, or a support function. Without disregard to seasoned leaders who have successfully rectified this perception already, much work remains to be done. Consider that wholly 75% of our sample consider senior management unable or unwilling to focus beyond cost savings, allow Procurement to operate as a profit-centre, or some combination thereof. Such cultures cannot effectively nurture the Procurement Technologists of the future.
How, then, do corporations prepare?
For starters, a collaborative approach is required. Where Procurement may find itself misunderstood, the broader business deserves clearer communication of Procurement’s value proposition. 21% report their organisation has “little understanding” of the value procurement can bring, while 55% only have a moderate level of understanding. Where Procurement staff may appear to loathe change, management must proactively cater to their needs to generate effective buy-in. Systems cannot be implemented as obstacles to getting things done, but carefully catered to users’ needs to subsequently earn their respect and appreciation. Speaking of systems, complete revamps ought to be prioritized over situational workarounds. Ethics and sustainability must match efficiency when considering the Source To Pay cycle.
Synergistically realising these goals may seem a daunting task, but one common link emerges – having the right people in your team. In order to drive sustainable cost savings in a structurally uncertain market, there is a huge need for well-rounded candidates that truly understand what “total cost” means. And this is only a baseline. A necessary, but by no means sufficient, condition for proactive change will come from attracting and nurturing technologically adept candidates with a holistic grasp of your supply chain. And we’re here to help.
If you are looking to hire talented procurement professionals into your team, why not call your local Michael Page office to discuss how we can help with your recruitment process? Alternatively, submit a job spec and we will be in touch.
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Senior Consultant, Michael Page Procurement and Supply
T: +27 11 303 8331
E: [email protected]