The nature of procurement jobs is poised to change radically according to a new global survey conducted by the University of Applied Sciences Würzburg-Schweinfurt.

The survey of 450 procurement and supply chain executives was supported by procurement solutions leader SAP Ariba, and found that the skillset for procurement staff is going to require a good measure of tech savviness. While procurement has gradually been evolving over the last two decades from a tactical, manual process to a digital, strategic one, things are about to explode in the latter direction as never before.

Leading procurement organisations are investing on an unprecedented scale in technologies that not only automate processes and save money, but promote business innovation while making a real difference in the world too.

Dr Karsten Machholz, Professor of Strategic Procurement & SCM at the University of Applied Sciences Würzburg-Schweinfurt, said that the message was “loud and clear”:

“Procurement executives around the world believe digitization is more critical than ever. And they are taking steps to accelerate it within their organizations and increase the value they deliver.”

  • 83% of the executives polled believe that digitization is set to profoundly influence their business – but just 5% currently have automated processes up and running.
  • While savings remain the primary priority, 88% of respondents also wish to eliminate forced labour, poverty and conflict minerals from their supply chains, wanting to “do good” as well as “do well”.
  • More than 60% plan new investments in the following: robotic process automation (20%), cognitive computing/artificial intelligence (17%), machine learning (15%) and chatbots (9%).

According to SAP Ariba Chief Digital Officer Marcell Vollmer (who co-authored What’s the Next Big Thing in Recruitment?with Dr Machholz), the next decade will give rise to more opportunities for companies than the past 20 years combined. He went on to say that the implementation of digital strategies and technologies will mean that procurement can capitalise on these opportunities to deliver augmented services while increasing efficiency to fuel market advantage and innovation.