CPOs Discuss “Procurement Technology In the Age of Blockchain, RPA and AI – Do you Have a Roadmap to Help You Navigate?”

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If you missed our last PERT (Procurement / Supply Executive Round Table) event, you missed a good one.  On Tuesday (5/14), a group of high-powered Fortune 1000 CPOs got together for the day to discuss “Procurement Technology In the Age of Blockchain, RPA and AI – Do you Have a Roadmap to Help You Navigate?”  It was a great day which was filled with lively conversation and networking.   What I found to be most interesting was that many walked in assuming their organization was way behind others, only to discover that most of what they were hearing was hype.  Have you heard the term “Cognitive Procurement”?  Most had not.  It is being touted as the final frontier for the Procurement function.  So, what is it?  Cognitive procurement is a method of using disruptive technologies to aid in the management of the procurement function. It is the process of using self-learning technology to process data to aid in acquiring or buying goods and services.  Sounds a lot like macros (anyone remember macros?) on steroids. 

Our agenda included a peek at the current landscape of available Procurement Technology.  We asked how many had actually implemented and / or were using the leading-edge technology noted in our title?  Other than a few BOTs or a small attempt at AI, the answer would be none.   But, a number of them were on their second round of implementing a P2P (S2S, S2P) solution because the first round did not yield the desired results.  What made them think that round two was going to be any different?  We discussed the issues and challenges associated with moving to a new technology platform and here were the common themes:

  • Collaboration – the rise of the “social enterprise” requires that whatever new technology we consider in Procurement it MUST enable and support collaboration both internally with our business partners and externally with supplier. We are all trying to move to Category Management and collaboration and the technology to support it is essential to that journey.
  • New Required Competencies – experts will articulate that in order to maximize new digital technology investments, our employees need to have more strategic competencies like technology acumen, critical thinking, change management, creativity, etc.
  • Change Management – this is critical to get stakeholders engaged and on board. Understanding stakeholder value drivers and satisfying those value drivers will be critical to ensure the acceptance of new technology. 
  • Adoption – this where the rubber meets the road. We will have destroyed value if we implement a new technology solution and it is NOT used.  This is the number one biggest issue when we implement technology.  We must ensure that the solution is ADOPTED or there will be a zero or negative ROI. The overwhelming sentiment was that neither internal IT nor external consultants (present company excluded 😊!) were very good at ensuring adoption because their endpoint was implementation.  But, at the time of implementation no value has been realized, only cost.  Think about it . . . . . .
  • Big Data – one benefit we expect to get from these new emerging technologies is access to MORE data. That is great!  But too much data can be as much an issue as not enough data.  The onus will be on us to ensure that we are judicious in seeking out the relevant data. 

The group discussed these issues but also came up with a set of strategies that they have found to be successful in overcoming these issues.  If you want access to that information, you need to participate in the event and join our Community of Practice 😊!

Let us know what you think and join in the conversation. 

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Anne Kohler
Anne has been leading consulting and financial management organizations for over 25 years. She has extensive expertise in Strategic Sourcing, change management, contracting & contract management (both the buy side and sell side) organizational design and supply chain management. Anne has a passion for collaborating and educating her clients while helping them to uncover hidden value in their organizations. In addition, Anne has been named by Supply & Demand Chain Executive as a “Top 100 Provider Pro to Know” every year since 2007 and a 2013 Top Female Supply Chain executive.
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