At the time of writing this piece, I am just one of five million people emerging from the world’s longest coronavirus-related lockdown, in Melbourne, Australia. For nearly two months, I was only allowed to leave the house once a day for essential items and required to stay within three miles of my home. From takeaway meals to IT support, to doctor’s appointments, most of the goods and services I've needed have been ordered virtually. Since COVID-19 hit, I’m amazed at how quickly the world went virtual.
Along with SAP colleagues and millions of workers globally, I’ve quickly adapted to working from home – connecting with others through virtual collaboration and networking tools. Imagine my surprise, then, when I received a notification in the mail that my driver’s license needed to be updated to reflect my correct birth date, requiring me to physically go to VicRoads, the DMV for the state of Victoria. How is it possible that under the strictest lockdown in the world, with thousands of workers operating remotely, I was still required to be physically present at the DMV to confirm my birth date and identity; especially knowing that the documents required could have easily been scanned and sent?
Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, the journey to digital transformation was underway across many industries. Whether through the purchase of large-scale enterprise resource planning (ERP) offered by companies like SAP, or through individual contracts with suppliers specializing in virtual banking, e-signatures, contracts or hiring, companies have taken steps to manage their businesses digitally. This move has paid off in the current environment.
Baber Farooq, Head of Product Strategy, SAP Procurement Solutions
There’s no question that companies are turning to technology to manage many facets of their operations, and procurement is no different. Adopting a technology platform to manage one business unit can result in positive changes, reducing costs and increasing efficiencies. But what happens when a company decides to go through a complete agile and digital transformation?
Our client, College Board, decided to undertake such a sweeping change, and while they’re still on their journey, they are seeing positive outcomes across the organization. About five years ago, College Board saw successive changes in leadership with a new CIO coming in, followed by a new CPO. When they joined the team, College Board had disjointed technology – no department could communicate with another. So, the decision was made to jump into the deep end and take on a complete agile and digital transformation.
Building a Movement
The agile transformation, which would ultimately lead to the digital transformation, required a culture change at College Board. They knew behaviors had to change, both individually and companywide. There was a serious need for collaboration and cross-functional teams to remove the silos each department was in, which could be fostered by new technologies.
And College Board’s 1,800 employees and 250 contractors had to be on board. So, it all started with leadership. The organization’s forward-thinking CIO and CPO laid out clearly defined goals and strategies. Setting the example that this would be successful went a long way in encouraging employee buy-in.
According to Gartner’s latest predictions, in just four short years, half of all procurement organizations will have near-real-time procurement analytics – will yours be one of them?
While we can argue the probability of this claim (along with the debatable prediction that we will see a large rise in voice-command PO processes), there is certainly no denying that the way companies do business is changing. Between hyper-automation, machine learning, and a renewed focus on user-centric design, we can now access and influence limitless channels in a matter of seconds. With this massive influx of new data and opportunities for connection, sourcing and procurement must adapt to the rapidly evolving market or risk falling behind.
Like Sales with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms or Human Resources with Human Capital Management (HCM) solutions, modern sourcing organizations need technologies that will empower them with visibility into their processes, proactively manage projects and mitigate risks, and generate actionable insights based on real-time data.
Why Digital Transformation is Mission-Critical for Your Business
Implementing new technology can seem daunting, but with an effective change management strategy, you’ll find that the benefits far outweigh any costs. If you’re still on the fence about adopting modern solutions, here are five benefits your organization is missing out on by continuing with its current processes.
Chris Crane, Co-Founder, Product, Scout RFP, a Workday company
Alex Saric is Chief Marketing Officer at Ivalua and has spent over 17 years of his career evangelizing Spend Management, shaping its evolution and working closely with hundreds of customers to support their Digital Transformation journeys. As CMO, Alex leads overall marketing strategy and thought leadership programs. At SIG's Eastern Regional SIGnature event on September 12, Alex will show you how to map a path that allows you to rapidly progress to best-in-class procurement to establish a competitive advantage in your company. He began his career in the U.S. Army Cavalry, leading tank and scout platoons through two combat deployments. Alex holds a B.S. in Economics from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and an international M.B.A. from INSEAD.
How should success be defined when it comes to digital transformation?
The temptation, and what we see most often today, is viewing it as performance on a set of metric benchmarks. Falling in the top quartile or top 20% of metrics, like percent under management and a level of touchless invoicing can qualify companies as best-in-class, which is often viewed as a success. These metrics are good to track and work toward, but they should be interim objectives on a longer journey. If those are your goals, you are on a path to mediocrity, not toward being a strategic value driver.
Adopting digital transformation (DX) leads to significant growth for organizations when compared to their lagging peers, according to McKinsey and Company research. McKinsey suggests that there are five approaches to plan for and incorporate into any digital transformation (DX) project: ensuring lean process design, digitizing the customer experience, selective process outsourcing, incorporating analytics to aid with decision-making and using intelligent automation for non-core human tasks.
These five approaches make sense; however, there are many speed bumps along the way that will amplify the risks of any DX undertaking. The reality is that few organizations are ready to attempt such an endeavor. The obstacles are enormous. Mapping and documenting processes, culture and change management, access to data science skills, access to the data itself, and managing many moving parts of an implementation are just a few of the complex tasks that an organization must tackle.
As a result, these capability problems have led to a change of thinking both on the part of enterprises and by the organizations that provide services to them. It is critical to examine the key challenges along with potential strategies to resolve these problems.
Greg Council, Vice President of Marketing and Product Management
Negotiation is a fundamentally human act between two or more people. When it comes to vendor negotiations, this is driven by the prior (and future) relationship between human counterparties. While digital processes can support this mission, if a key decision maker involved in a vendor negotiation goes on vacation, changes jobs or gets hit by a bus, the negotiation will stall or scramble to reach a conclusion. It’s a good reminder that no matter what role artificial intelligence (AI) plays in a negotiation, the negotiation process and award decision are driven by humans.
For those participating in the vendor negotiations, it is likely that their companies book travel through a digital app that aggregates and discounts airline tickets. It is also likely that the hotel and ride to the meeting are also booked via digital apps. Thus, the technology stack that supports this “in-person meeting” is being mediated by a variety of digital apps (many of which already leverage AI), apps that support (rather than displace) the crucial in-person business negotiation by reducing the number of low-value transactional tasks and phone calls.
In 2019, global supply chains are focused on technology and innovation. Today’s global supply chains are often complex, with many moving parts. However, procurement professionals are facing increasing pressure to manage them with efficiency and transparency. Creating a successful supply chain requires building a sustainable foundation. Though technology mobilizes supply chains to compete faster and better in today’s global economy, having a strategy to optimize your talent is just as important. Technology that gives business users more autonomy and security are reflected in a positive impact on your organization’s bottom line.
Based on my experience, many businesses have separate initiatives that fragment their supply chains and could benefit from pooling resources and aligning different stakeholders to the same common goals with the use of technology. For example, many businesses have separate supplier diversity processes. They have supplier diversity experts who don’t collaborate with their larger procurement teams. Sourcing and procurement professionals are often incentivized differently and often don’t communicate nor see eye to eye on the same overall strategy. With collaboration, your organization can streamline its supply chain and build a stronger foundation for process-driven results.
In today’s market, you can no longer ignore the rapidly changing landscape of digital transformation. Companies that are reluctant to embrace the technologies that bring better visibility and security to supply chains risk being left behind. To avoid that fate, here’s what companies can do in 2019 to improve supplier diversity and overall supplier relationship management process.
Daryl Hammett, CSMP, CSP, General Manager/Chief Operating Officer at ConnXus
Another year has rolled by leaving the same writing on the wall, only this time it’s louder and clearer: Digital transformation has well and truly arrived at procurement’s doorstep.
But up until now, it has merely received a lukewarm welcome.
In 2019, that could change. The winds of digital transformation are slowly but surely turning the wheels of procurement and savvy procurement teams are beginning to acknowledge its benefits. This is evident from how procurement teams are beginning to perceive digital transformation.
Consider this: A recent Hackett Group study titled, 2019 Procurement Key Issues, has revealed that digital transformation is a critical goal for a majority of procurement departments in 2019.
That’s because over the years digital transformation has moved its way up the ladder in the procurement department. In 2018, more than 90 percent of procurement professionals said they believed digital transformation will fundamentally shift the way procurement services are getting delivered within two to three years, according to a Hackett Group survey. Compared with 2017, this is more than a 10-percent increase.
Remarkably, the percentage of organizations that have a formal strategy for digital transformation more than doubled in the last two years, from 32 percent in 2017 to 66 percent in 2018. In the same period, the number of organizations indicating they have the resources to handle the transformation also increased, from 25 percent in 2017 to 46 percent in 2018.
This is a clear indication that in 2019 the gap between the promise of digital transformation and leveraging it to its full potential will narrow.
At the same time, the gap between CPOs who haven’t yet embraced digital transformation and high-performing procurement organizations that have already gained a first-mover advantage will widen. They’ll have a lot of ground to cover to keep pace with the latter.
Shopping, buyers, shopping carts, savings, back office, JUST STOP DUMBING US DOWN!
As many of you know, my passion is to help elevate the sourcing industry to receive the attention, seat, respect (and yes, pay) that it deserves. So why do sourcing professionals keep self-sabotaging by using the term BUYER to describe ourselves? The only time this is a sexy title is perhaps if you are the buyer of fashion who attends runway shows and hobnobs with designers. Buying is what I do when I “shop,” like for groceries. We as sourcing professionals are NOT shopping.
So onto my next pet peeve, why do we have cute little icons that look like grocery carts to check out within our tools? Yes, it makes it seem like an easy process when pushing it out to our internal customers, but it connotes “shopping,” which, as we have just discussed, we are not doing. We are selecting items from a carefully sourced category after a lot of thoughtful processes have taken place. Why can’t we use an icon that better showcases the importance of this role?
Alexander Beck, PhD, is a data scientist with a demonstrated history of utilizing machine learning and data science in the financial sector, especially asset management. Alexander has a 10-year track record in business applicable artificial intelligence research, including in the fields of financial markets and customer analytics.
Data scientists analyze and interpret mountains of complex digital data to inform decision-making and strategic processes. When it comes to digital procurement and supply chains, data scientists can automate workflows and employ predictive analytics to more accurately forecast demand or disruption.
IBM predicts that demand for data scientists will increase by 28 percent by 2020, with Finance and Insurance, Professional Services and IT generating the most demand. This role often requires an advanced degree, such as a master’s or PhD. For those who are looking to add data scientists to their teams or want to learn how to best work with data scientists, Alexander shares insight into his function, how he assists the business to make informed decisions and automate workflows, and highlights some common misconceptions about data scientists.