Data-driven ladder

Thoughts from Day 3 of Innovation In: Digitalisation and Tech

David Cain

Over the past three days we’ve had the opportunity to hear from a great selection of speakers and presenters from across our network as they discussed all of the ways that digitalization and technology impact their businesses.

Each day of the conference brought a particular focus to the importance of digitalization and tech into perspective. Day one looked at the ways that procurement teams can develop a growth mindset. On day two we took a deeper look into how procurement can use technology to empower their organizations and make a difference. While day three examined the unique procurement power to create change throughout the business and change the face of the organization now and in the future.

We started the day with Armijn Verweij, VP Procurement Excellence at Danone giving his perspective on the changes and challenges procurement faces coming out of the pandemic. As procurement organizations continue to be asked to do more and be more for their organizations, technology will be an important enabler of these initiatives and to the success of overcoming these challenges. As Armijn explained “Any change is difficult but especially when it comes to technology and data, but it is an investment, and it is not an investment that will pay out in the first two weeks; you have to keep investing. We had assumed that a lot of our projects would be trial and test and would be killed…turns out they are all turning into investments. It takes some time, but the value is immense. I call it milking the data cow, but really there is a lot of value to be milked out of data.”

One subject that comes up often in relation to digital and technology is process automation. We had a very informative conversation with Sajesh Gopinath, General Manager at UST SmartOps, about the impact of automation and what companies can do to ensure they get it right. Sajesh told us “In reality what was missing is people were looking at it a as cool track to explore, but where I’ve seen the changes is people are asking what is the business value that is coming out of this. When you start looking at it more holistically, you’ll see whenever you talk about cost automation you hear people talking about cost take outs…but now it is all about speed to market because people have started to see the value in this type of technology”.

Procurement Leaders’ own Principal Analyst Alex Johnston and Product Manager Stephen Hall took us on a journey to demystify some of the misconceptions that undermine data strategy. One area where procurement focus a significant amount of effort is efficiency through technology, but as Alex Johnston put it “If we are just focusing on operational efficiencies, and procurement ROI we are undermining our own position. Data offers procurement entry into new strategic areas- CSR, risk, revenue/service enhancement and new roles, data-driven advisor to the business with access to unique insights, and a coordinator role between different entities within the value chain.” Being able to apply this kind of thinking to dig deeper and find not just how technology can improve procurement, but also the business will be important for any function looking to get the most value out of their tools.

Although there were many impactful conversations over the past 3 days, there is one quote from day three that directly speaks to the importance of technology in today’s environment. In the words of Armijn Verweij “Technology is not a nice to have anymore. Companies that ignore this will phase out like cars did to horses.” The takeaway is that technology is no longer the future it is the now and any organizations that ignore this are effectively a part of the past.

‘Innovation In’ is our virtual series to challenge your thinking and inspire your strategy. Visit ‘Innovation In’ website to register your complimentary place for upcoming Innovation In: Asia Pacific event.

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