The relationship between buyers and providers can be a tricky one, especially when operating across multiple continents. Speaking during a podcast interview with Dawn Tiura, Sean Delaney, Vice President of Sales for cloud platform Determine, draws on his experience as both a buyer and provider to share best practices for relationships that are sustainable and strategic.
WORK ON YOUR SOFT SKILLS
Technical expertise is valuable, but your ability to establish a rapport with customers is important for sustainable relationships. “Candor is important because there's a large degree of personal credibility that buyers are putting on the line when selecting a vendor," says Delaney. "That needs to be understood as a seller and we need to make sure that we don't break that trust. That's our role.”
In an increasingly crowded global marketplace, it can be hard to stand out. Back in the day, competition came from companies that looked just like yours. That is no longer the case. With an always-online hyper-connected economy, your competition could come from an industry so far removed from the one that you are in that it hardly makes sense…and yet if you aren’t watching, your business can find itself on the precipice of being made redundant by a company you never saw coming. (Think Uber to cabs or AirBnB to hotels…or even more recently Amazon to grocers.) It is not at all far-fetched…and with artificial intelligence and other forms of digitization, who knows what the future holds?
Frankly, it shouldn’t be surprising that some of the best ideas may come from outside your industry…that’s one of the concepts that SIG holds dear. During a plenary Summit session, we had everyone work with the people at their table to discuss a challenge that one person at the table was facing. Because the tables were random and the people at those tables represented different positions and industries, the results provided some breakthrough moments with complete out-of-the-box thinking.
For those who work in any area of the supply chain, diversity is a word that comes up often. Supplier diversity or diversity in contracting are programs that can be either mandatory (i.e., requirement to fulfill state or federal contracts) or voluntary (i.e., procurement/social responsibility strategy).
Whether your organization chooses diverse suppliers for advocacy and social responsibility reasons, to comply with state or federal regulations, or to simply meet your stated requirements and work scope, the benefits of supplier diversity can have lasting impacts on your community and your organization.
Starting a Supplier Diversity Program (SD Program) in your organization requires input and collaboration from various stakeholders at all levels. The SIG Resource Center has a wealth of information to help you begin the process to implement an SD Program, including how to make the business case to internal stakeholders, best practices and benchmarking studies from your peers.
Mary Zampino, Senior Director of Global Sourcing Intelligence
"April hath put a spirit of youth in everything" -- William Shakespeare
It's the start of another new quarter and many teams are reinvigorating their strategies to make bigger and better gains in Q2. The economy is also making gains – the latest ADP National Employment Report data show that private sector companies added more workers in March than initial forecasts predicted.
At SIG, we’re charging into Q2 with a renewed sense of optimism, excitement and momentum to tackle obstacles and challenges with transformational approaches that we learned at the SIG Global Executive Summit in Washington, D.C. Here's what SIG delegates need to know this month.
FUTURE OF SOURCING AWARDS
SIG CEO Dawn Tiura recently announced the inaugural Future of Sourcing Awards to recognize and celebrate individuals and organizations that show innovation, leadership and transformation in areas that are critical to the sourcing industry. This event will bring together some of the brightest minds, the best insights and the most relevant topics to create a truly remarkable experience.
We just concluded our Washington, D.C. spring Global Executive Summit and it was fabulous. From the beautiful hotel (the Omni Shoreham is a grand old lady) to the incredible speakers and leading-edge content, to wonderful networking and connections made all week long, the Global Summit was incredible. We had leadership keynotes from Steve Ford, son of former President Gerald (Jerry) Ford and David Rowan, editor of WIRED magazine in the UK and columnist for GQ…and industry keynotes on everything from how to incorporate digital technologies into our daily jobs to learning from our successes (and failures). Forty-plus breakout sessions supplemented the plenary events with both groundbreaking ideas and tangible takeaways. And the Wednesday night entertainment was widely touted as being one of the best ever!
This Global Summit was also the kickoff for the SIG Innovation Accelerator where “short-listed” providers presented cutting-edge technologies to a room of 55 buy-side executives. The feedback from those in attendance was phenomenal, with input on how to make the technologies more relevant to those in sourcing/procurement and 59 requests to learn more (many chose more than one). Visit www.SIGInnova.com for more information.
Does this statement sound familiar: “We’re cutting budgets and unfortunately we need to reduce spend on professional development.” The balance of my professional career has and continues to be focused on helping teams improve productivity, longevity and deliver the right results. For more than 12 years people leaders have told me that their biggest obstacles to training their teams are that they don’t have enough time and dollars. Is this merely a symptom of a bigger challenge? Why is it that seemingly every time budgets are cut, a line item under the microscope is professional development?
In my experience, two primary reasons exist for cuts to professional development budgets. The first reason is that companies are fearful that if they invest in their employees through professional development, they will leave and go to the competition or somewhere else. Secondly, it has been historically difficult for advocates of professional development to demonstrate a return on investment (ROI).
Recent findings from a survey of chief procurement officers by Deloitte and research on professional development shed some light on those myths and support a business case for investing in your people and training them to be the best they can be.
“If we invest in professional development, people will take those skills and go somewhere else…”
Perhaps. The truth is that people will come and go at every organization; this is a reality that will always be the case. No company will ever experience 100% retention of their people. Besides, is that really what you want? The point is, worrying that you will somehow have a mass exodus of top talent as a result of investing in their professional development is unfounded.
Early days were characterized by excitement over the dramatic productivity and cost-saving benefits enabled by RPA. Over time, however, the limitations of rules-based bots have emerged. For one thing, basic RPA tools can’t adjust to new conditions or changes in their environment. Even the slightest deviation from the process they’re trained to follow triggers an exception that requires a human to step in, thereby sapping the solution’s productivity.
Another issue is the complexity surrounding deployment of RPA bots. While instructing a bot to perform a task is relatively easy, it does involve a level of programming expertise. Most end users of RPA are on the business side and lack the requisite technical knowledge. That means that setting up a bot requires an RPA programmer. Demand for RPA skills, meanwhile, is through the roof. (Witness the volume of urgent “we’re hiring” notices on LinkedIn pleading for people with Automation Anywhere, Blue Prism and UiPath certifications.) As a result, because the intervention of scarce technical resources is required, bottlenecks often occur when deploying a bot for a business user.
Alex Kozlov, Director of Content for Softtek US & Canada
2018 is already shaping up to be a busy year for SIG and we don't anticipate slowing down. In fact, we're accelerating!
SIG INNOVATION ACCELERATOR
SIG recently announced the launch of the SIG Innovation Accelerator (SIA), which offers a portfolio of services to help develop and improve the innovation pipeline for Source through Supply Chain (SSC) and related functions.
The SIA was created to help SIG’s buy-side companies--and ultimately other Fortune 500/Global 1000 companies--capitalize on their combined knowledge, experiences and buying power to facilitate innovation and improve profits while simultaneously reducing risk for both buy-side companies and product providers.
Becoming an SIA Colleague is the first way for a provider to participate in and benefit from SIA’s services. Benefits of becoming an SIA Colleague include:
Eligibility to nominate a product for review and consideration for SIA’s Acceleration Program
Opportunities for product focus groups with procurement executives to get feedback on product and marketing/sales strategies
Discounts for online certification programs or courses offered by SIG University
A Leadership Council comprised of approximately 24 CPOs and select other executives from SIG’s buy-side member companies will lead SIA's initiatives. All of SIG’s buy-side members are eligible to participate in various SIA activities and benefit from its services. SIA is managed and staffed by SIG and Creatze, which is led by SIG’s founder and former CEO Barry Wiegler.
Nearly five years ago I wrote a blog about Big Data and how it could be relevant for sourcing and supply chain professionals. Needless to say, a LOT has happened since then. In a Gartner survey performed in October 2016, 48% of companies indicated that they have a Big Data initiative currently underway, with another 25% who stated they had plans on the horizon. So it is no longer a question of whether or not companies are using Big Data…that is a given. Now the question is how companies are using it and how they are incorporating Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) into the equation.
The information being collected from Big Data initiatives is powerful and can provide predictive analytics and insightful information. For example, a shipping company being able to change delivery routes based on current traffic patterns increases productivity (not to mention customer frustration). A large company using it to detect anomalies in behavior by third party vendors and mitigate the risk associated with that information could protect them from millions in cyber security damages.
It was nearly 90 degrees and the breeze was barely offering any relief from the heat radiating off the white sand. I love the beach but there are times when even the relatively cool, 80-degree water can’t offer any way to provide relief. I looked at all those beach front homes with their cover decks, fans and A/C with envy. Then just when I was thinking of packing it up and heading for the air-conditioned car, clouds rolled in and covered the sun. Temperature moderate, winds began to pick up and I could see the telltale signs of a shower in the distance. Relief was coming thanks to the cloud.
Being on the beach can make you feel a bit exposed. Like a small business that is so vulnerable to the whims of the market, it can be tough to find relief that is offered to the larger competitors with resources and plenty of volume to offer to the latest solutions providers. With recent advances in technology, that is beginning to change thanks to the cloud. Take the workforce management systems for example. Finally contingent workforce management systems are in the cloud. That means a small or medium sized business (SMB) can get the control, visibility and risk mitigation that has previously been available to only larger enterprises. Like that experience on the beach, this cloud is bringing relief to SMBs who have grown to embrace the use of the external workforce.
Jay Lash, Principal Consultant, Compass Rose Advisory