Procurement jobs have evolved with unprecedented speed in a few years, transforming assumptions that procurement is a cost centre into the recognition that it is a strategic business function offering insights into company spend, supply chain management, and business relationships. This is according to the latest annual CPO survey by business intelligence firm, Worldwide Business Research.

The survey shows that CPOs and their teams have built on work began a few years ago. It entailed reinforcing internal relationships with other department heads, proving the value of procurement to IT, for instance, and driving digitisation to make manual data entry largely obsolete. They are now poised to start working on how to get Artificial Intelligence involved in future technology. An unexpected trend emerging in the survey was the impact of tech-savvy supply chain and procurement interims on driving procurement digitisation. 33% of the CPOs polled in the study intend to increase their use of these skilled contingent workers in the coming year, while 37% intend to at least maintain their current interim headcounts.

As specialist procurement recruitment agencies may have noted, the study also shows that there is a growing demand in the profession for practitioners with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) talent. Also, as automation spreads, the core skillsets for procurement pros are changing, moving from routing paperwork and managing invoices towards supplier, portfolio, and category management.

The study found that skilled procurement interims were proving especially valuable in managing spend categories that, although not central to an organisation’s operations, nevertheless required a sophisticated level of subject matter know-how when the need arose. A key technological challenge facing procurement teams as they attempt to leverage AI solutions in their day-to-day work will be how to integrate them with existing legacy infrastructure. But, above all, procurement is moving from data analysis to professionals who can act on the basis of analyses that are automatically presented to them via technology.

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