What Will Procurement Look Like In 100 Years? Part 2 - “Disturbingly Bad”

Posted 05/11/2015

100 years from now – The Disturbingly Bad

Last week we propelled you forward 100 years to 2115 to show you what life will look like for the procurement professional and frankly, life and work looked pretty good. In fact the years’ blockbuster “The Procurement Professionals” is a box office hit showing how you and your colleagues influenced your way to bring procurement to the fore, tying yourself to railings and doing whatever it took to get procurement where it is today.   So now we’re taking you a through a slightly different scenario, that some of the lovely Future Purchasing team painted. Read on, but have your favourite glass of wine nearby – you might need it!


100 years from now – The Disturbingly Bad

1.      The End of Strategic Procurement. 

High tech space age needs us to manage quality and it’s now all about design and quality management to the detriment of all other considerations. Limited resources and the struggle for survival makes the sourcing part absolutely critical but the procurement function no longer exists as firms just thought they were all about ‘price’ and part of yesterday’s way of working. Time to move on.  

2.      Politics Rule. 

Finding stuff (at whatever price) would be an essential skill, and building strong political alliances to secure supply would be the order of the day. Countries and companies vie for position, hospitality borders on bribery and frankly, for some ambitious few the end justifies the means.  Emotions rise and political battles begin…. 

3.      Our skills unwanted.   

Business will not be done on the same footing as it is today – it will be based purely on need with no wants or nice to have. Monetary exchange will be long gone and replaced with getting what you need in exchange for providing your skills (the Star Trek model for a life without money).  

Influencing and analysis skills – a key requisite for the 21 st century procurement professional – will no longer be highly valued.  There may be some requirement for the analysis side ensuring what limited resources we have are managed effectively and conserved and looking for alternate means of meeting the needs of the population, but this will largely be done via technology. Supply will therefore outstrip demand and those in our profession will find themselves jobless – retraining is a must. 

4.      Operational Purchasing .  

Any procurement that does exist is entirely transactional, and subsumed into a corporate Finance support function managing expenses.  This role does not require a University education, but a good work ethic and an ability to manage basic tasks via simple IT systems.  Repetitive in nature with little creativity required.  Even that requires few people as most of it is automated  - Amazon-like ordering from mobile devices. 

So overall, sadly, the jobs as we know them will no longer exist. The procurement professional, Buyer, Category Manager etc.  will be the 22 nd century equivalent of the ‘Daguerreotypist’ and the ‘Knocker Up !’ Oh and this won’t take 100 years – this will be 25 years from now said one of our glass half empty throng !  Desperate days indeed.  On the plus side there would be no brown paper bags stuffed with cash – as there would be no cash…and no trees!  For those in this camp, it’s not so much advising your Grandchildren against this profession – advise your kids against it now!! 

Watch out for our next week’s blog – Part 3: "100 years from now - The Slightly Mad"


Tagged by topic: The Future of Procurement

  by Allison Ford-Langstaff

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