Reflections From a Great Day at the Procurious Big Ideas Summit

Posted 17/06/2016

I am sitting writing this on a Virgin train somewhere on route to Manchester, having had a novel experience of a washroom with a sense of humour! It asked me (very nicely) NOT to flush my hopes and dreams down the toilet! 

Hopes and dreams did not come more fresh and varied than at the Procurious big ideas summit the other day in London. Many of you may have seen the blog posts and social media around the event and I thought I would share an FP view on what was discussed. Firstly, I would applaud the Procurious team for pulling together a rich mixture of speakers and content…

One of the key speakers made us reflect on thinking the unthinkable. He explained that history has shown time and again that the evidence is telling us loud and clear what will happen and explained that most of us have our heads in the sand in seeing those major changes. Other speakers talked about the terrible cost the fashion industry is taking on the societies, technology development and cognitive systems and analytics

  What are the ‘unthinkables’ for procurement? ..

  • Will our suppliers fail?
  • Is the way that we handle our supply chains coming at an unsustainable human cost?
  • Will the lessening relevance of economies of scale in the era of 3 D printing and the ‘Make’ revolution reduce the value of volume procurement?
  • Will cognitive procurement systems & analytics render professional procurement functions unnecessary?
  • Will our good talent always want to leave to other functions?

 

These were some of the questions hotly discussed and debated. From my side I came away with few important things to chew on…

How we should deal with risk:

Some key pieces I heard were the need to recognise and deal with small risks which have more impact than we think.  For example, not paying suppliers on time or having inadequate oversight of contracts may seem small but cumulatively can have more impact than the bigger risks like supplier failure which are often well under control.

The other interesting point on risk was about taking time out to expect the ‘worst’ or the ‘unthinkable’! Not very uplifting perhaps, but it is easy to ignore signs in the day to day cycle of work. Looking at reality head on and taking a pre-mortem approach (that is to say looking at why something went wrong before it has done so) as a way of reducing the risk of things happening is really powerful.

New technologies:

Considerations debated were the reality of so called cognitive systems and the impact on procurement. It seems as through many of our traditional data and analytical tools might be starting to talk to each other and/or learn as they operate.

I loved the discussion on the role of robotics in enhancing our abilities rather than replacing them. For example in one factory cognitive robots gave manual workers a 3 rd arm making them 60% more productive. We will need to develop new skills in working with technology  and not just technology working with us!

Overall additional takeaways discussed were:

  1. Embrace the new tools and use them to release time to be key advisor with seat at the table
  2. Procurement’s role as a collaborative leader
  3. Procurement’s role as strategic and creative as opposed to price focussed and tactical
  4. Procurement’s  role as politician and businessperson
  5. Procurement’s role as Guardian of value and responsibility


And finally the message was for our profession to create “ Better healthier and bigger ideas .. “ and “keep the debate…” to enable that! 

What do you think to any of these thoughts?


Tagged by topic: News

  by Anna Del Mar

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