Automation’s 20-year journey – now it’s time for procurement to think differently

Automation's 20-year journey - now it's time for procurement to think differently

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Shifting from digitalisation of low-value, high volume to creating intelligent, strategic digital capabilities. 

Starting with people and organisational change rises a digital imperative for procurement. 

Jaggaer’s whitepaper focuses on how technology is fuelling procurement’s growth, transforming tactical tasks into strategic and progressive capabilities. 

Which technologies exist and how are they empowering Procurement? 

Technology will help build autonomous systems and an autonomous future. Some of the key solutions include AI, natural language processing, RPA, predictive analytics and ML. The potential for these strategic capabilities is significant, however Professor Jo Meehan and Don Klock note it isn’t being fully deployed: 

“Look at where technology is being used within procurement organisations and it’s often in areas of low-value, high-volume activity”
Jo Meehan, Professor of Responsible Procurement at University of Liverpool Management School. 
“The problem is that while a lot of procurement organisations talk about these types of things, far fewer are using or exploring them”
Don Klock, Professor of Supply Chain Management at Rutgers University Business School.  

Although it may be more complex to implement, the potential is significant if advanced technologies were applied in high-value areas! Procurement teams need to ensure the right processes are being automated so they can increase efficiency and productivity. 

It’s time to upskill workers 

Why are organisations not using these technologies to their advantage? Professor Klock notes that there are “not enough people with the knowledge and skills to understand the potential of these technologies and how to use them.”  

There appears to be a recurring theme of needing skilled workers to understand the technology in order to equip it; a shortage thus slows procurement’s potential to bring more of a strategic advantage. Human capital shortages are concerning, but already existed prior to the pandemic, according to global recruitment specialist Korn Ferry. Procurement is experiencing this first hand, seeking skilled and experienced professionals with appropriate soft skills, mindsets, agility and insights to help guide procurement through tough times. 

“Automation has been a 20-year journey and today is genuinely both very capable, and much more extensive. Plus, technologies are becoming more powerful and the cost of automation solutions and their associated hardware is reducing.”
Andrea Sordi, Professor of Supply Chain Management at University of Tennesse’s Haslam College of Business 

It’s time to digitally upskill workers and reimagine procurement processes to reveal its true potential. In parallel creating an intelligent approach to managing and improving procurement teams to build a strong, efficient digital procurement organisation.  

“Digital leadership from mindset to adoption will be critical – this will be a key catalyst for the digital shift in procurement”
Lance Younger CEO, ProcureTech  

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