Canon Business Process Services has recently released a white paper entitled The CPO Agenda in 2018: Expanding Procurement’s Influence through Change and Innovation. The report details how procurement jobs are changing with the increasing uptake of digital technology.

The paper found that professionals in senior procurement jobs expect that 30% of procurement processes will be altered by digital transformation technology by the end of 2018. The report found that most leaders felt that this would bring both advantages and disruption.

Out of all the procurement leaders who were polled, 95% said that they expect digital transformation to “fundamentally change the way procurement services are delivered within two to three years.” Currently, positive developments from the uptake of new digital technology are already driving interest in their application to novel areas where procurement can boost strategic business value. These include advanced analytics and robotic process automation.

CPOs are also exploring how digital technology can transform the nature of existing cost reduction programmes, which have conventionally been undertaken in functional silos with little cross-collaboration. Digital transformation can enable better alignment and coordination between finance and procurement teams, but leaders believe that a fundamental cultural change within organisations will be needed before this becomes a reality.

Four critical areas were identified where professionals holding procurement jobs must extend their capabilities:

  • Keeping procurement skills and talent in lock-step with changing business needs
  • Measuring the extent to which procurement performance aligns with desired business value
  • Extracting enhanced value from current suppliers through supply relationship management
  • Extracting enhanced value from categories through category management

The white paper found that procurement professionals are increasingly required to have additional business skills in problem-solving, strategic thinking, relationship management and negotiation to ensure effective service delivery. These changes are altering the nature of procurement jobs, taking them beyond the conventional buyer/negotiator role into the fields of consultant and change agent.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the transformation in the procurement function, CPOs cited access to critical talent as one of their key challenges for 2018. Procurement recruitment agencies will, it appears, have their work cut out for them in the years ahead.

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