Where is procurement and technology heading in 2013?

Posted in: Analysis  
Where is procurement and technology heading in 2013?

Another year has whizzed by and we recently put our heads together at Science Warehouse towers for our annual look at the year ahead. How is the spend management and technology landscape likely to change over this period and what will the focus be for procurement colleagues in 2013?

After the recent success of our ’12 for 12’ series we’re now moving on to ’13 for 13’ for the coming year to analyse what the future holds for procurement. 2012 continued to be a year of focus on cost reduction for many businesses and whilst this remains the bread and butter for procurement organisations there is increasing recognition that procurement leaders can and will do more to drive value. Contributing their predictions in our roundtable are Greg Staryk-Mills, James Hull, Jon Moody, Jonathan Betts and Steve Kerridge with Sonia Ali as interlocutor.

SA: How will the technology landscape change over the coming year?

GSM: Continued turmoil. With the economy still in the doldrums the focus of businesses will be on technology that’s easy to deploy and delivers a rapid and tangible return on investment. Whereas technology typically focuses on the “manufacturing” (where the money is made) element of the business, procurement is still at the heart of any organisation and innovation in procurement technology will help drive procurement engagement to ultimately reduce cost and save money.

JB: A good year for carrots. 2012 has seen the growth of 'BYOD' (bring your own device); in 2013 managers will need to increasingly adapt to the convergence of work and play. Consumer-style expectations will continue to migrate into the workplace with access via apps rather than traditional PC/browser-based environments. In consumer applications the focus is on usability and engagement and satisfying the 'everything now' culture, whereas the importance of the stick shouldn't be underestimated in business, those that dangle the user-friendly carrot will drive fantastic compliance and efficient processes.

JH: The "Internet of Things" becoming more like the Internet of Everything. Over 50% of Internet connections are to 'things' - real devices and objects, not just web servers and browser clients. In 2020 Gartner anticipate there will be 30 billion connected things - from sensors to traffic cameras, image recognition devices and NFC (Near Field Communication) connectivity. Over time, the line between connected objects and what we traditionally do with software will become much more blurred until everything is connected.

SK: Artificial intelligence. Business procurement will become more like consumer procurement sites such as Amazon and eBay. Technology will become more intelligent, using multiple dimensions of data to steer spending behaviour towards the best deals. Purchasers will be able to make faster and better informed buying decisions.

SA: What will some of the key drivers in procurement be?

JM: Cutting costs. I can't imagine it's going to be anything other than cost reduction. Whilst sustainability needs to return towards the top of the agenda, the need to curb costs will be as important as it ever was. What is needed is a solution that delivers both!

SK: Collaborative resourcing. Organisations will increasingly collaborate with each other; both to drive cost reduction programmes as well as to enhance the skills and knowledge of their procurement professionals. Buying and selling organisations will become more open and will increasingly look to share best practices for mutual benefits.

JB: Beyond cost reduction. Procurement has come a long way over the last few years; whilst there is still work to be done in investing in procurement capability in many organisations, on the whole, the drive will be to take procurement capability to the next level. This will mean recruiting and retaining the very best people in the profession that will provide leadership and increase visibility.

SA: What about procurement technology?

GSM: Intelligent reporting. A focus on more accurate reporting to drive better business agility and become more predictive and responsive to enable the business to reduce cost.

JH: Mobile procurement. Procurement systems will start to break out of the desktop PC/large application model and become much more mobile - both for the search/order/approve cycle and analytics on-the-go.

JM: Secure cloud technology. Security will have an increasingly important place on the procurement systems checklist. This will be especially the case for Cloud based providers who need to prove that their solutions are just as secure as those traditional on-premise implementations. In many cases cloud solutions could be actually more secure however this fact is often over-ridden by rumour and lack of information.

SK: Data accuracy. Data will increasingly be recognised as a key enabler of procurement technology and not just its output. Procurement functions will seek solutions that identify how they can deliver their savings targets; the only way they can achieve this is with accurate supplier data that has been normalised across their supply chain.

SA: Any other predictions on the year ahead?

JB: Euro exit. No one can say for certain what will happen with the euro area other than whatever way the drama unfolds the consequences will continue to be unpleasant. Personally, I think the first country will exit the euro in 2013.

JH: A mega merger between Twitter and "someone" else. Which will prove to be poor value for money as the history of oversized mergers often is - HP and Autonomy most recently, but AOL/Time Warner, ITV buying Friends Reunited and News Corp buying MySpace have shown.

If you would like to contribute any thoughts on procurement and technology trends in 2013 just let us know.

Read our 2012 predictions here and see if we were right!

Feel free to post your comments or any predictions you have for 2013 below.


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