Leaders in senior procurement jobs should understand that digital transformation isn’t solely about acquiring new technology. It also requires a fundamental shift in mindset if the tech is to deliver the desired improvements, a technology expert argues.

Digital strategist, Alice Sidhu, says that an early rush to implement emerging digital technologies, including those powered by AI, often ended in underwhelming results because, without an accompanying mindset and cultural shift, their full potential could never be realised.

Sidhu outlines three elements of this shift:

  1. Learn from experimentation

Innovation is always risky. By definition, it is new and requires experimentation, so is less safe than the tried and tested. Sidhu suggests a modest shift in attitude when digital experimentation fails to deliver the desired results. Failure is more likely to arise when trying something for the first time. It would be reckless to launch epic innovations, but smaller scale experiments needn’t be seen as a waste when they fail. She suggests ‘celebrating’ these small failures, with one caveat:  “So, let’s be clear, that with experimentation, it’s the learning that needs to be celebrated, not the failure.” The aim is to find what worked and evolve it, or determine whether it’s better to “call it quits and move on.”

  1. Cultivate new digital skills and expertise in your teams

AI may make mundane tasks currently undertaken by humans redundant. But, by encouraging practitioners in procurement and supply chain jobs to acquire the new digital skills necessary to create effective human-machine interchanges, they remain necessary and relevant. One might add that working alongside skilled, digitally-savvy procurement and supply chain interims can help in this process.

  1. Relinquish old paradigms and operate within new models

Newly emerging expertise in digital technology doesn’t sit comfortably within traditional reporting structures. Management needs to shift from an old-paradigm tendency to micro-manage these newly emerging teams, to a new model of setting the agenda and outcome and trusting them to proceed with its execution.