A new study from the procurement and supply chain professional network Procurious has found that procurement jobs and supply chain jobs have essentially remained tactical, despite industry pressure to become more strategic.

The survey polled 590 professionals in procurement and supply chain positions, with the aim of identifying emerging trends of how these roles are likely to change in the coming decades.

Most respondents reported that the profession will morph into a more strategic part of the organisation it serves. 51% reported that they expected procurement teams to become “an agile team of strategic advisors” while 24% forecast a transition to becoming “an influential group of commercial leaders by 2030.”

As for full automation of procurement, just 9% of the respondents anticipated this outcome. They indicated that, while digital tech is progressively permeating and automating a growing proportion of procurement functions, human expertise will be boosted, not superseded, by its rise. Part and parcel of this will be the increase of new procurement jobs that will require elevated human judgment and skill.

A surprise finding of the study was, however, as mentioned earlier: larges swathes of the procurement role remain predominantly tactical, not strategic. 59% of the workload of professionals holding junior procurement jobs involves tactical, not strategic, activities, with those in analytics and supply chain jobs viewing the largest proportion of their workload as tactical.

And this isn’t confined to junior professionals. 57% of upper-level executive procurement pros occupying Chief Procurement Officer roles estimated that 40% of their workload was tactical on average, even though they also considered their roles to be highly strategic.

The study concluded, “Procurement professionals remain optimistic about the profession, despite the rapid development of ever-smarter AI and media coverage of white-collar job losses to automation.”

Far from making procurement jobs obsolete, the analysts who compiled the report anticipate that technological developments will open the greatest opportunities for the profession. The danger doesn’t reside in the uptake of the technology, they conclude, but in failing to keep up with its advances.

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