Talent remains key to opening up digital potential for procurement

27 Feb 2018

Talent remains key to opening up digital potential for procurement

The 7th annual Deloitte Global Chief Procurement Officer (CPO) survey shows a familiar pattern for successful cost control and risk management, but reveals how talent and leadership are potential stumbling blocks, especially as the digital agenda becomes ever more urgent.

In 2017, procurement continued on a steady path of delivering short-term savings and managing risk to support growth in a world of uncertainty. In fact, 61% of procurement leaders claim to have delivered better year-on-year savings performance than in 2016.

But if procurement is to innovate and drive significant value, by harnessing the power of digital, and accelerating the rate of change, there are clearly challenges to overcome.

Meanwhile, 51% of procurement leaders do not believe that they have the capability in their teams to deliver their procurement strategy.

Digital limits

Furthermore, nearly 75% of respondents identify that their procurement team has little or no capability to maximize the use of current and future technologies. To compound the situation, a mere 16% are focusing on enhancing those digital skills.

It’s hardly surprising then that the extent to which modern technologies are used in procurement is low, with only one-third of procurement leaders using technologies such as predictive analytics and collaboration networks.

Strong demand for talent

When it came to recruiting talent, the Deloitte/Odgers Berndtson survey reveals a tightening market, with 47% of procurement leaders finding it more difficult to attract talent in the last 12 months.

It’s clear that the demand for forward-thinking, innovative and business-minded procurement experts at all levels continues to outstrip demand. And it’s not likely to change in the near future.

It makes it more important than ever to have a clear method to attract the best procurement minds. It means having a compelling story to tell. Clearly positioning procurement as strategic and integral to the business, not an add-on service.

Then, strong leadership is vital, capable of delivering plenty of support for talent development and individual career growth.

Career benefits

It is also increasingly important for organizations to be seen as digitally aware and astute. If a business is investing in the latest technologies, this indicates that it is up-to-date with the latest thinking. This attracts those who believe their career will benefit if they are exposed to innovations in technology. Top talent, especially in the millennial generation, will avoid those who are behind the technology curve.

Not just robots

As procurement begins to gradually apply digital technologies, the function can become more predictive, automated and proactive. For example, managing spends in real time or predicting demand with artificial intelligence.

However, technology is an enabler, not the panacea for all the challenges faced by procurement. Leaders will become even more vital. Not just to understand the technology, but how to deploy it, how to draw conclusions from the data, and implement new strategies in the light of it all. Beyond strategic thinking, there’s the need to engage with the broader business and inspire suppliers to work with you.

The robots might be on the march, but human intelligence is still very much in charge.

Please join us on 21 March at 12.30pm GMT for a webinar to discuss this and other aspects of the CPO report with its authors.

The 2018 Deloitte survey, in association with Odgers Berndtson, the global executive search company, spoke to 504 respondents in 39 countries, covering companies with a combined turnover of $US5.5 trillion.

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