The procurement profession has come a long way since the days of sitting in an office signing purchase orders all day. And while maintaining cost-efficient relationships with trusted suppliers remains an essential part of the job, the need to evolve remains the key to future success.
This was the overarching message that emerged from Procurious’ Big Ideas Summit on Thursday. The event in London was attended by an impressive rollcall of industry heavy hitters, among them senior procurement brand manager at IBM Global Procurement Barry Ward, who spoke at the event.
Ward acknowledged the benefit of recent transformations within the industry, but warned the exponential growth of data, combined with the need for brands to react quickly to events affecting their supply chains, will require a radical shift in the paradigm.
“Technology will replace a lot of roles in the near future, and we’ll need new skills in procurement,” predicted Ward. “Without innovation you will never meet the needs of your supply chain. This ability to drive innovation is going to be an essential requirement.”
In the future, adopters of what Ward calls “cognitive procurement” will be the ones driving the profession forward. Platforms such as IBM’s Watson, which can help process and reveal insights from large amounts of unstructured data, should be embraced, said Ward, and will put the balance of power back with the buyer.