LevaData, an up-and-coming supplier of e-sourcing software powered by artificial intelligence (AI), has given a clear warning to professionals holding senior procurement jobs. He cautioned that the talent, technology and operational strategies that they select today will have major implications on whether or not they will be equipped to use AI software in the future. What is more, this could lead to serious commercial disadvantages for any organisation that cannot keep up in years ahead.

This was the key message in a day-long Cognitive Sourcing Summit held in Santa Clara, California, this month. It goes without saying that this has significant implications for specialist supply chain recruitment and procurement recruitment agencies: the procurement jobs of tomorrow will require candidates who are AI-savvy – the time to start acquiring that knowledge is now.

AI “cognitive” software isn’t widely used in procurement jobs and supply chain jobs today, but organisations that sit around waiting for the technology to arrive could be in for a nasty shock. Unless they understand the power of this tech now, they may be reluctant to invest in it in the future, when more forward-thinking competitors have already grasped its value and are ready to seize its potential.

At the event, R “Ray” Wang, the founder and Chairman of Constellation Research, a technology research and advisory firm based in Silicon Valley, delivered the opening keynote speech. He said: “AI-driven business models create a winner-take-all market, not a digital divide. You need to start investing today to train your systems, your people, and get to those outcomes.”

Wang cited the real-world consequences for firms that had failed to prepare for disruptive new technologies when they became available. 52% of Fortune 500 companies that were thriving in 2000 have now disappeared, most of them felled by disruptive new digital technologies. And a McKinsey study in 2017 found that firms that had aggressively digitised their supply chains saw annual revenue grow by 2.3% and annual earnings grow by 3.2%.

This technology probably won’t be widely available until 2050. But organisations that fail to equip their procurement professionals to use it now will risk going under in a matter of decades.

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