Extensive disruption at the beginning of the decade put resilience at the top of the agenda for most organizations. Now the focus is on how digital procurement solutions can be used to boost agility.
The global COVID-19 pandemic put supply chain management and procurement in a very bright and positive spotlight for keeping life moving as normal as possible during all the shutdowns, disruption and general uncertainty.
It also highlighted that business and supply chain disruption are ongoing facts of life – such as ongoing extreme weather events globally and a megaship blocking the Suez Canal for weeks, to name just two. And the impacts created a snowball effect on other industries:
Global businesses have now spent nearly two years navigating the various challenges of the pandemic. Although some of the fallout was predictable, the dramatic impact we have witnessed on the global employment market was more unexpected. Companies that were already adjusting to new ways of working now find themselves in the middle of arguably the worst employment crisis in modern history—a phenomenon known as the Great Resignation.
The government procurement industry represents a spend of nearly $13 trillion globally every year. This spend involves buying goods and services to run day-to-day operations, including basic items such as computers, office equipment, medical items, legal services, gas and electricity for everyday needs to more complex construction and infrastructure projects.
In our era of labor shortages and rising inflation, business leaders need to focus on doing everything they can to operate more efficiently and maintain margins and profitability. A key way to do this is by deploying automation that enables organizations to become less reliant on labor.
What Does a Data Driven Supply Chain Look Like?
The key to improving any system is information. A data-driven supply chain is built around this concept, leveraging big data and analytics to improve processes at every level of the supply chain. A wide range of technologies contribute to this, from interconnected IoT sensors to warehouse robots and everything in between.
According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, citing analysis by COMPTIA, in January 2022 employers posted close to 340,000 unfilled IT job openings, which was 11% higher than the 12-month average. The huge demand for software and AI expertise can be attributed to heightened demand for IT services brought on by the pandemic, but also a growing tech talent shortage that has been in the works for some time.
The public’s imagination has been heavily shaped by science fiction, with the term AI evoking images of robots like WALL-E, C3PO from Star Wars and David from Stephen Spielberg’s movie A.I. Scientists and technologists refer to this kind of humanlike AI as “general artificial intelligence.” General AI attempts to mimic the kind of abstract thought and typical problem-solving skills seen in humans.
In her book Trade wars, pandemics, and chaos: How digital procurement enables business success in a disordered world, Dr. Elouise Epstein, a digital futurist at Kearney, explains why most companies have historically been underwhelmed by the digitalization of procurement processes, noting that it hasn’t always delivered on the promise to empower people to move at speed, be more agile and work how they want.
The Hackett Group’s annual working capital research – The Hackett 1000 – shows that the largest public U.S. companies have run a tight ship during the crisis, employing cash and working capital management strategies to increase liquidity and cash on hand as they navigate uncertainty and demand shocks. Nevertheless, those companies collectively had nearly $1.3 trillion of excess cash tied up in working capital at the end of 2020.
The boom of technology implementation and its effectiveness were quickly tested by the challenges of the pandemic. While some challenges were solved successfully – collaboration via video conferences – the pandemic has stressed the structure and effectiveness of other areas.
Over the last few years, we’ve seen artificial intelligence (AI) being used for a host of procurement applications, from spend analysis to supplier risk monitoring. Now, the same technology is increasingly being applied to commodity forecasting.
In the right situation, this can provide invaluable insights. AI makes it possible to look at larger, more complicated data sets over a longer period of time, helping to improve the accuracy of predictions and supercharge decision-making, near real-time.
In the midst of global disruption, fluctuating demand and supply has driven industry leaders to hold sourcing events more frequently amid the chaos.
While supply chain challenges continue, it is crucial that businesses equip themselves with tech that allows for both standard and complex sourcing events. This is especially true as the need to drive non-cost objectives around sustainability initiatives, delivery speed and more rises.
Nothing in business is risk-free. Every department in a company needs to deal with risk daily.
Risk management appears to be a simple concept, yet it is a highly complicated aspect of organizational and procurement strategy.
We all know that procurement must be dependable and secure. Hence, it's crucial to control and mitigate the variety of risks connected with business operations to achieve success.
The best-performing procurement organizations traditionally operate at a lower cost than typical procurement organizations (i.e., peers), while also providing greater strategic value and overall effectiveness.