SIG Speaks Blog

Beyond Buying: Automating the Transactional to Become Strategic

Dawn Tiura, SIG CEO and President recently spoke on an expert panel at Coupa Inspire, and shared her thoughts with candor and authority. Coupa interviewed Dawn shortly after the event and published a blog sharing her responses which we are publishing with Coupa's permission. The original can also be found on the Coupa website.

Thanks to Coupa for the blog interview below: One of our favorite parts of Coupa Inspire are the expert panels. There's nothing we love more than getting smart people together to talk shop. If you missed Inspire, you can read excerpts of the analyst panel and the CIO panel on our blog. Today we're talking with Dawn Tiura as a follow up to the analyst panel. Dawn is CEO of Sourcing Industry Group (SIG) and has been observing the industry for 25 years from her vantage point as a CPA turned sourcing consultant. There's no one smarter on the topic of where sourcing is heading, so when she remarked during the panel that in her opinion, the term buyer should be eradicated, that piqued our curiosity. So, we got her on the phone to learn more.

Coupa: You had some provocative things to say during our panel discussion. One was that you wished the 'buyer' title would go away. We were hoping you could expand on that.

Dawn: I sure could! To me, buyer is such a demeaning title. The only time somebody is excited to say, "I'm a buyer" is if they're in the fashion industry, because that's cool and exciting and sexy.

Coupa: You're a tastemaker.

Sarah Holliman, Chief Marketing Officer, SIG

Millennials in the Workplace…We’re Here!

Whether you're ready or not, we Gen Y-ers are spreading through the workforce like wildfire. And what's next? Gen Z is just around the corner from joining the party. Should companies have prepared for this change? YES. If changes were not made for the immersion of Gen Y-ers, take that as a learning opportunity, and implement "next" practices in preparation for the next round of Millennials, Gen Z. The Millennial generation has a much different take on the workforce and what the future looks like. This is neither a good nor a bad thing. It is exactly what it sounds like: different.

Let's talk stereotypes.

  • Millennials: pretentious know-it-alls who possess a dire need for instant gratification...whether they deserve it or not.
  • Baby Boomers: People typically old enough to be our parents who firmly believe in their systematic ways...Why? Because they said so!

Is there some validity to both stereotypes? Sure. But I think it's more prudent to say that baby boomers DO know what they’re doing...after all, they've been out there doing it for much longer than us rugrats. However, do we Millennials have a fresh take on new practices? Of course! So where do we go from here? We have two TOTALLY different generations TRYING to work together. My attempt at a compromise:

Ashley Walsh, Marketing, Social Media and University Outreach Coordinator, SIG

Refining the Oil & Gas Industry with Procurement Automation

Oil and Gas firms had a rough ride in 2014; the oil price dropped to below $50 USD a barrel, salary freezes were implemented and thousands of staff members were laid off. As the purse strings of oil and gas producers tighten, the importance of controlling costs and managing spend become ever more apparent. In order to succeed in the changing oil and gas environment, firms need to first understand how to get more from the money they spend (enter procurement). Listed below are a number of the key areas that oil and gas firms are likely to focus on over the coming 12 months. Also outlined is the critical role that procurement functions can play in helping their organization to achieve success in these areas.

Diptarup Chakraborti, Vice President, Global Marketing, Zycus

Amazon....the Next B2B Network?

Amazon. The name alone makes you think of something big. So it makes sense that they might have something grandiose on the horizon.

With that in mind, I want to start a conversation about whether Amazon might be the next Ariba or Coupa. I heard a rumor that 10 or so Ariba people have gone to Amazon with the intention of making it the next and biggest B2B network in the world. Think about it, we all know how to use Amazon, they have a network that is massive, they have distribution and delivery capabilities, so why couldn't they host additional suppliers and be the purchasing platform for businesses? Amazon has the money, they know how to fill demand, they are nimble, they are constantly innovating...what is to stop them?! They could fairly easily add a feature that limits our searching to approved items with our company's contracted pricing (that it knows to show when we log on with our company credentials) and then check us out with a credit card or even link directly to our accounts payable systems.

Amazon is wildly successful, has a surplus of cash and has set the standard for online purchasing and customer service...so why not go a step further and move from the B2C to the B2B world? I was in the San Francisco Bay Area recently to speak at Coupa Inspire. I love being in the Bay Area surrounded by brilliant people with amazing thoughts and aspirations. After living there for 30 years, I should not be surprised by the number of new companies, ideas and appetite for innovation, however I always am. While there, I spent an evening with my oldest son and his girlfriend, both typical millennials working in Silicon Valley. We started "what iffing" and (since my son has grown up with me as a mom talking supply chain and sourcing and spent time working for Coupa) we convinced ourselves that this is distinctly possible. So was it the wine...or are you drinking the Kool-Aid and see the possibilities here too??

Dawn Tiura, President & CEO Dawn

Five Ways the CPO Role Will Change

Over the last 20 years, the role of chief procurement officer has evolved significantly, shifting from tactical to strategic and finally gaining the attention of the Board. I was just reading an article in the Wall Street Journal by Bruce Nolop about the "Five Ways the CFO Role Will Change" and thought the categories and language were great to address from the CPO perspective as well. So what will the CPO position look like in 2025? Here are five predictions from a different C-suite role: 

Strategic Partner: CPOs will become explicitly involved in developing bottom line AND top line strategies. CFOs are generally dealing with financial data after results are posted. In contrast the CPO can impact a company's cost-making decisions mid-stride versus after the fact. As more of the business recognizes the perspective of the CPO, they will come to depend on that office for strategic realignment recommendations and will be more apt to partner with the CPO throughout the year. The importance of the office of the CPO will become more widely recognized by both the CEO and the CFO as the CFO comes to depend on the CPO for guidance.

Globalization: As companies expand globally, CPOs will also adopt a more global mindset and quite often will set up Centers of Excellence in order to source from the perspective of those countries. While the CFO works to establish a favorable tax framework, it will be critical for the CPO to be aware of the limitations such frameworks can put on receiving and distributing goods as well as the taxation laws on services. In addition cyber security will still be top of mind with the CPO as well as all types of risk that the company is exposed to with the maturation of big data and the "Internet of things."

Dawn Tiura, President & CEO Dawn

Lessons in Leadership from the Summit Part II: You Don't Have to Climb a Mountain to be a Hero

SIG Summits are known for having amazing keynote speakers…and at our Summit in Denver last fall we had a speaker who took it to a whole new peak…so to speak. In fact, our keynote Alison Levine gave us a new appreciation for the word "Summit" as she shared her experiences in climbing Mt. Everest. At first glance, one wouldn't immediately think this tiny woman had the physical stamina or grit required for this incredible journey...which is exactly why making quick judgments isn't ever a great idea. Not only did she lead a team up that most arduous of climbs, but she did it twice. TWICE. Facing extremely dangerous and life-threatening conditions within 300 feet of the Summit, she made the painful decision to turn back her first time up...but both journeys provided lessons anyone can apply as a leader. She had so many great takeaways that I'm not sure I can adequately sum them up...but my attempt and interpretation are below:

On effective teams, everyone is a leader at some point. There may be only one person with a designated leader title, but allowing people to have a voice builds trust and loyalty. And if you do, your team is more likely to look out for the people on either side of them and make sure they are moving in the right direction as well. We once had a speaker whose mantra was that you don't have to have a title to be a leader...truer words were never spoken. Think about the word "leadership" as more of a mindset than a title and you empower everyone with the ability to own it. When you give people not just room...but permission to take something and run with it, you might be surprised by the result.

Sarah Holliman

Set Your Procurement Process to "Automatic"

How many settings does a washing machine need...or for that matter, a camera? It seems that the more settings there are, the higher the price. Of course this seems right, doesn't it? If you're emptying your pockets (or even your bank account) to get the latest and greatest device, whatever it is, you want to be sure it can do absolutely everything. You want it to handle your bed linens as well as your silk shirts (the washing machine, that is, not the camera). Most washing machines CAN do all of that, but wouldn't it be nice if you could just set them to automatic? In my household we used to have a washing machine with a dial labeled "A to J." We always put it on "E" which we decided stood for "Everything." But would we pay as much for a device that only had one button? Perhaps a big friendly button that had "Wash" written on it? Almost certainly not.

Paul Blake, Senior Manager, Technology Product Marketing, GEP

Procurement's New Year's Resolutions for 2015: More Saving, More Doing (But Not More Budget)

Since the New Year has arrived, it's time now for the annual onslaught of Procurement Prognostications for 2015. Of course a year from now, what actually transpires may bear little resemblance to what was predicted – and who really goes back and reconciles results with resolutions anyway? But at least in this case, an educated guess can be made as to what procurement leaders will actually be focused on in 2015, based on their responses to a recent joint survey conducted by Zycus and The Hackett Group of over 200 procurement leaders and practitioners.

Richard Waugh, Vice President, Corporate Development, Zycus Inc

The Source of Value: A Chief Procurement Officers (CPO) Study

What is the source of procurement's value to the enterprise? How do organizations become more effective and efficient in achieving sustainable cost savings? How can procurement deliver even greater value to the enterprise? These questions are essential to the continuous improvement of the sourcing and procurement function. They are the questions at the foundation of the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) Chief Procurement Officers (CPO) Study which examines the "journey to value" for procurement organizations – and details the specific procurement strategies that drive business results and bottom-line impact. The study, based on a survey of more than 1,000 procurement executives across more than 40 countries, takes a deeper look at "procurement role models," the 100+ companies in the study that achieved the most impressive revenue and profit performance relative to their industry peers. The research identifies three common attributes that tend to separate these procurement role models from the pack. These high-performing procurement organizations:

Matt McGovern, Market Segment Manager - IBM Procurement and Contract Management Solutions

On the Marketing of RPA Robotics

In all my years attending SIG and similar sourcing conferences (often from the outside looking in), I have never observed this degree of nervousness around a new innovation as that surrounding Robotics Process Automation (RPA). Speakers struggle with how much development background they should share before launching into the topic. Conference attendees eagerly lap up nuggets of information that can add to their meager understanding of the topic. And the few who "get it" seem to be oblivious to the general discomfort of mainstream sourcing professionals whenever robotics is mentioned.

Recently, during a trip to visit suppliers in India, I similarly noticed a strange awkwardness surrounding the marketing of both RPA and analytics. When developer/programmers are asked to explain product offerings, they trip over themselves a bit cautious that buyers may not be able to grasp the computer science, statistics or mathematics of the product offering, and consequently resort to demonstrating actual end-user applications without ever really saying, "We have a miracle here, and we want to share it with you! And there is so much more we can do each week!"

Lynn Huber

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