Practitioners in procurement and supply chain jobs are advised not to get swept away by the promise of futuristic industry transformation attached to emerging digital technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), and to concentrate instead on getting the groundwork right for leveraging the best out of these tools.

Procurement executives have pushed their teams to enhance their digital impacts with cutting-edge tech, including AI, intelligent workflows, the Internet of Things (IoT), and predictive analytics. But, while the latter two are already deployed across multiple supply chains, logistics and procurement operations, AI, blockchain and intelligent workflows are still in the initial stages of adoption.

Supply chain and logistics digitisation expert, Samuel Israel, believes that procurement teams, from permanent staff to procurement and supply chain interims, should reset their expectations and concentrate on the benefits that digital technologies can deliver now instead of dreaming about the sweeping transformations promised at some undefined future point. It means improving how data is collected, integrated, analysed, and shared. As Israel says: “This is the spring board for every other digitisation initiative and use case – from AI and IoT to blockchain and intelligent workflows.” Getting this preliminary data collection and processing right will deliver greater visibility across the supply chain, simplified operations, and much-improved decision-making.

Professionals in procurement jobs will be aware that they must consider thousands of variables when devising ways to create more value. Supplier selection, cost to risk calculations, shipping, and much else must be weighed up. The best procurement teams, Israel observes, are agile and flexible, and can integrate new suppliers, switch strategies, and leverage new opportunities as circumstances demand. But, each of these actions would be virtually impossible without effective digitisation strategies to facilitate easy, fast collection, sharing, analysing and acting upon supply chain data. With centralised, multi-party data facilitating improved cooperation across multiple partners and networks, plus better transparency and visibility, AI and predictive analytics become inestimably more useful.

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