One-on-One is a new Q&A series with leaders in the SIG community. Cost savings. Process efficiencies. They're synonymous with procurement and among the terms most used to describe its role within the enterprise. And with good reason. Over the last decade, procurement has transformed itself from a back-room function to a strategic capability by delivering them. But a new term has entered the lexicon: innovation. There's no doubt that procurement today is a different game. It's more connected, informed and some might even say "social" than ever. Just as consumers tap into personal networks to learn, share and shop better, procurement is beginning to tap into business networks. To learn more on how these digital communities are transforming the function, SIG sat down with Dr. Chakib Bouhdary, President of Business Networks for SAP.
SIG: Social tools much like those used to manage our personal lives have infiltrated the enterprise. How is this changing procurement?
Bouhdary: There are officially more mobile devices than people in the world. More than a billion of us participate in social networks. Over 15 billion web-enabled devices connect us to the people and information we need to manage our daily lives. And data is exploding—doubling about every 18 months. So we are mobile, and apps on our phones and tablets give us new ways to discover and collaborate with our peers and trading partners. Just as consumers tap into social networks to keep tabs on their relatives and friends, procurement is now leveraging business networks to manage trading relationships and commerce activities.
SIG: There seems to be a complete shift in the way trading partners communicate, transact and collaborate. How are business networks driving this?
The "cloud" is allowing Procurement organizations to engage beyond their four walls with peer organizations - for benchmarking and collaborative buying - and with suppliers for new product innovations and supply chain efficiencies. Procurement organizations have long focused most of their attention on getting their own houses in order...streamlining internal transactional processes to promote efficiency, realigning organizational resources to focus more on strategic and less on tactical or transactional activities...all for the betterment of their organizations. With foundational internal platforms and processes in place, more organizations will begin utilizing the cloud to get connected outside their enterprises in a number of new and exciting ways. Cloud technologies make it easier than ever before to collaborate with external enterprises – both suppliers and their peer group. And according to Capgemini Consulting, procurement needs to rapidly shift their attention to supplier collaboration, especially early involvement in new product introduction, in order to drive innovation: "Organizations are still reluctant to involve procurement and suppliers early enough in product development and innovation. And Procurement is still viewed as a silo function with KPIs that remain focused on tactical and cost reduction activities." While 80% of more than 1,000 CPOs surveyed by Capgemini concede that suppliers are involved too late in the corporate innovation process, they recognize that suppliers contribute value beyond the products and services they provide, both in terms of the quantity, speed and agility with which they provide them:
Richard Waugh, Vice President, Corporate Development, Zycus Inc.