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Procurement Leaders Lagging Behind on Sustainability Integration, Sedex Study Finds

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Procurement Leaders Lagging Behind on Sustainability Integration, Sedex Study Finds

A recent study conducted by Sedex, a prominent provider of supply chain sustainability solutions, sheds light on a concerning trend among procurement leaders in North America: a significant portion are still overlooking sustainability factors in their decision-making processes. Despite growing calls for businesses to operate more sustainably, many procurement professionals fail to recognize the importance of integrating sustainability into their operations.

Key findings from the survey of senior procurement professionals in the US and Canada, conducted among companies not currently collaborating with Sedex, reveal troubling statistics. Shockingly, 40% of respondents admit that sustainability is not a consideration when making procurement decisions. Furthermore, half of the participants acknowledge that sustainability remains an afterthought or is disregarded entirely in their overall business decisions.

This disparity between corporate commitments to sustainability and actual procurement practices underscores a significant challenge faced by businesses today. Despite the widespread adoption of sustainability commitments and the production of annual ESG reports by many companies, there remains a disconnect between rhetoric and action within procurement departments.

Even more concerning is the perception among some procurement professionals that sustainable practices are incompatible with short-term procurement goals such as ensuring supply continuity and securing competitive pricing. This mindset is reflected in the fact that 34% of respondents fail to recognize any benefits associated with sustainable practices.

However, mounting evidence suggests that sustainable supply chain management can yield substantial benefits, including enhanced supply chain resilience and improved business performance. A recent study conducted by Forrester found that companies investing in sustainable practices through Sedex realized a remarkable 372% return on investment.

Despite these potential benefits, procurement leaders who prioritize sustainability are in the minority, with only 28% stating that it is central to all decisions. Additionally, the study highlights a concerning lack of awareness regarding sustainability legislation, with 37% of procurement professionals admitting to being unaware of relevant legislation that affects their business operations.

Maurizio Capuzzo, Chief Marketing Officer at Sedex, emphasizes the urgent need for businesses to realign their ESG commitments with operational goals. By embedding sustainable practices into their organizations, companies can unlock numerous tangible and intangible benefits, including improved supply chain management efficiencies, more effective ESG risk management, and enhanced reputation supporting long-term success. This study serves as a wake-up call for businesses to prioritize sustainability in their procurement strategies for a more sustainable future.

ivalua business procurement

10 Innovative Approaches to Enhance Procurement Efficiency in 2024

Optimizing procurement efforts can launch businesses into new realms of success. However, the steps between implementation and increased profits can seem murky even for the most experienced industry professionals. 

Use these tips to enhance procurement efficiency this year with innovative approaches that make finding, negotiating and purchasing goods much more manageable.

1. Consolidate Various Supplier Lists

Suppliers serve different purposes, so procurement leadership teams keep numerous lists. Although it may help keep suppliers organized by the departments they support, it can also make it more challenging to identify issues like maverick spending or overlapping suppliers.

Consolidating the lists into one software platform removes some of the administrative work. Leaders can filter them to get instantaneous answers. Maintaining secondary sourcing lists as purchasing backup options is even easier because procurement experts will keep track of their primary suppliers with less effort.

2. Conduct Frequent Educational Courses

Companies with long-term employees or high turnover positions would benefit from recurring educational courses on procurement processes. Informative videos or quick lectures would help eliminate the risk of human error caused by forgetfulness or communication issues.

Teams could watch a presentation on the current process to understand how to reduce overall procurement costs with existing company software that makes every expenditure visible in a single location. If they don’t use that software feature daily, it could be easier for team members to forget it exists and accidentally overspend because they don’t have the collective data in front of them.

Even a short training session once a quarter would remind team members of the information they need to solve problems in real time, use at-hand technology with confidence and remain as efficient as possible.

3. Work on Supplier Relationships

Negotiation and communication are two foundational parts of any procurement relationship between a company and a supplier. Noting the aspects of each one, such as negotiation patterns, will point leadership teams toward the relationships that need strengthening. 

Efforts like checking in frequently could build the trust or communication necessary for improved conversations regarding their services.

4.  Review Expectations With Suppliers

Leadership teams have expectations for their supply base. They set specific schedules and shipment amounts outside of negotiating purchase points. Procurement could become more efficient by reviewing those expectations with each supplier. 

Industry leaders will gain greater respect from suppliers by showing their dedication to each relationship and improving their workplaces simultaneously. Everyone benefits when suppliers and purchasers know what isn’t working for them and how they could improve their professional arrangements.

5. Remain Open to Solutions of All Sizes

Leadership teams should keep an open mind if supplier shipments still struggle to meet a company’s expectations or needs. Innovative approaches to procurement efficiency come together from new ideas of all sizes. A business may need to communicate with its suppliers earlier when placing orders. Team members could also change how they input them to avoid quantity or item selection errors.

Little details matter when problem-solving issues like these. Procurement experts could make purchase amounts and specifications more evident by arranging the request differently per email or highlighting the data on an order form. The changes would easily catch the supplier’s eye, creating an innovative approach without a total process overhaul.

Organizations can also find procurement solutions by consolidating steps and making tasks easier for employees. For instance, integrating procurement and accounts payable functions produces a single procure-to-pay process. With this strategy, leadership can reduce costs and streamline processes while enhancing procurement visibility. However, professionals should be aware of the implementation required to ensure all stakeholders support the solution. 

6. Use AI to Review Processes

Another innovative solution is to use artificial intelligence (AI) for procurement efficiency. The global procurement market will grow 11.1% through 2030, but only if the experienced professionals leading the way know how to wield advancing industry technology. AI simplifies the learning curve and gets employees on board with the technology of the future.

AI software monitors live data streams during each workday. When granted permissions, it tracks factors like purchasing orders to detect patterns that reveal inefficiencies. Leadership teams don’t have to spend as much energy searching through files and data sets for areas needing improvement when AI presents its findings automatically.

7. Try New Inventory Software

Updated inventory software takes the guesswork out of enhancing procurement efficiencies. Outdated programs could lack helpful tools like AI data analysis. They might also not use communication servers or platforms for daily collaboration with suppliers using newer software.

Installing new inventory management software could provide more accurate data for goods or materials before submitting purchase orders. It depends on what each company already uses compared to their competitors, suppliers and industry software trends. Given that the procurement software market will increase by $4.9 million through 2027, there are new programs available yearly that could solve developing inefficiencies.

8. Formalize the Procurement Process

Companies that have recently experienced growth may need to formalize each team’s procurement process to eliminate recurring errors. The word-of-mouth system that worked for a smaller team may be less effective when 10 or 20 more people join.

Team leaders can formalize the process with step-by-step, accessible outlines during the workday. Printed and digital copies would make each system clear, no matter an employee’s responsibility. Training would also need updates to include the formalized process. These efforts would make things understandable to new hires and those adjusting from previous procurement methods.

9. Strategize Market Analysis

Keeping an eye on local or global market trends is much easier with multiple workers watching assigned statistics. Procurement leaders should work closely with management teams or employees by giving each a specific market sector to watch.

They pay greater attention to a single market because it’s easier to track than numerous sectors. The company would gain more eyes on upcoming changes like the low-code platforms two-thirds of procurement companies already use to implement department-specific code for greater efficiency.

Team leaders could report their findings in weekly or quarterly meetings. Details like possible changes in procurement prices due to market fluctuations or high-demand shipment delays would become apparent long before they disrupted the schedule.

10. Reassess Cost Evaluation

Procurement managers can easily slip into habits where they look for vendors offering the lowest individual product pricing. Although that might work with budgets at the moment, the total acquisition cost might not benefit the company.

Managers could practice factoring in things like the cost of using each item and the financial loss regarding product disposal before finding the price point from a consumer’s perspective. Even if it means purchasing things for more money from different suppliers, overall profits increase when consumers get more competitive final prices. The ultimate sales boost would negate the increased supplier costs, resulting in more efficient budgetary decisions.

Enhance Procurement Efficiency Year-Round

It’s always a good time to reflect on procurement since efficiency is an ongoing process. These innovative approaches make it easier to obtain and maintain information on how to improve. Industry or company leaders should keep an open mind to trying new strategies to improve their purchasing processes, budgets and overall company performance.


Ivalua NOW: A Global Summit Redefining Procurement for the Future

Ivalua, a renowned leader in spend management solutions, has unveiled the details of its highly anticipated event series, Ivalua NOW – Procurement [RE]Imagined. Set to commence in Versailles, France, on March 13-14, followed by Miami, Florida, on May 22-23, 2024, this premier gathering promises to convene thousands of procurement and supply chain leaders to shape the future of procurement collaboratively.

In today’s dynamic business landscape, characterized by constant change and market uncertainties, organizations worldwide are grappling with evolving challenges. To ensure seamless supply continuity, enhance sustainability practices, and drive profitability, procurement professionals are embracing innovative strategies and cutting-edge technologies, particularly Generative AI, to unleash their team’s potential and revolutionize procurement practices.

David Khuat-Duy, Founder and CEO of Ivalua, emphasizes the importance of leveraging advanced technologies like Generative AI to enhance decision-making and productivity in procurement operations. With the aim of reimagining the future of procurement, Khuat-Duy looks forward to engaging with customers and industry leaders at Ivalua NOW.

The anticipated event series is expected to attract over 2000 attendees who will gain valuable insights from industry pioneers and innovators representing globally acclaimed brands such as L’Oréal, ArcelorMittal, Deutsche Telekom, and Hiscox. Attendees will also have the opportunity to explore Ivalua’s latest innovations designed to optimize spend management and supplier relationships, with a particular focus on Generative AI.

Ivalua NOW sessions will delve into various topics, including change management strategies for driving transformational success, future-proofing value chains, enhancing sustainability practices, proactive risk management, and the pivotal role of data in revolutionizing procurement and supply chain management.

With a diverse program and esteemed speaker roster spanning both the EMEA and AMERICAS regions, Ivalua NOW promises to be a global summit redefining procurement practices for the future. Attendees can expect to gain actionable insights and collaborate with industry leaders to shape the trajectory of procurement in the years ahead.

transfix container ocean freight ASIA mycarrierpackets

Transfix Unveils RFP Manager for Effortless Freight Procurement: Revolutionizing the Source-to-Settle Process

Transfix, Inc. (“Transfix”) has introduced RFP Manager, an innovative tool aimed at simplifying and expediting the traditionally manual and time-consuming RFP and freight procurement process. This all-in-one centralized solution, accessible through the Transfix Shipper App, empowers shippers to seamlessly navigate every step from sourcing to settlement in a single platform.

RFP Manager, the latest addition to the Transfix Shipper App, boasts a centralized dashboard featuring automated bid management, acceptance workflows, and robust analytics capabilities. Shippers can leverage this tool to collaborate with selected carriers at a fair market price, significantly reducing the time typically associated with running an RFP or mini-bid.

Through digitalized and automated processes, RFP Manager enables shippers to initiate an RFP within minutes. Brokers and carriers receive invitations to participate in the bidding process, accessing the RFP through a personalized portal link sent via email, and effortlessly submitting their bids.

Once the bidding window closes, shippers gain access to a comprehensive comparison of carrier bids, along with invaluable lane-level pricing insights, facilitating data-driven award decisions. Transportation professionals can then seamlessly execute freight within the Transfix Shipper App, streamlining the entire process.

Jonathan Salama, Co-founder and CEO of Transfix, emphasized the need for innovation in the outdated RFP process. He expressed excitement about bringing a product to market that not only empowers shippers and suppliers but also sets a new standard for freight procurement solutions.

Savar Sareen, Senior Product Manager at Transfix, highlighted the importance of market research and a robust beta program in developing RFP Manager. The insights gained underscored the significance of creating a product that not only streamlines the RFP process but also instills confidence in shippers to run RFPs more frequently, effectively addressing market volatility.

Transfix’s RFP Manager stands as a groundbreaking solution, promising a transformative shift in how shippers approach freight procurement, making the process more efficient, data-driven, and user-friendly.


How to Adapt Procurement Skills in the Era of AI Innovation

The age of artificial intelligence (AI) is here. It’s not a question of if AI will change the industry, but one of when and how. As this shift approaches, employees and leaders alike must prepare for the impact of AI in procurement.

AI will become more common in procurement, changing what skills are most important in the industry. Those who can get ahead of that trend could thrive over the coming years, while those who don’t may fall behind.

The Impact of AI in Procurement

AI’s impact on procurement will be significant. Digitization remains the second most-cited procurement strategy today, and analytics and robotic process automation are the most deployed and value-driving of these investments.

Analytical applications are the most promising in procurement circles. AI can compare multiple suppliers to identify the best one for each job faster and more reliably than humans. Alternatively, it could analyze spending patterns to highlight cost inefficiency and find new ways to save.

The rise of AI in procurement also has significant implications for compliance and risk management. Machine learning models can automate regulatory assurance tasks to ensure all forms meet applicable standards or alert managers to compliance issues with supply chain partners. Similar tools can look for supply chain risks to inform better decision-making.

Automating repetitive tasks is another key use case for AI in procurement. Models can manage billing, data entry, basic outreach, summarizing feedback and similar time-consuming tasks to give employees more time. Businesses can then accomplish more, even without a larger workforce amid labor shortages.

Preparing for an AI-Driven Future

Because there are so many use cases for AI in this field, the procurement workforce will shift in response. The skills employees need to succeed will change, so it’s important to prepare for this shift.

Learn to Work With AI

The most important part of that adaptation is learning to work with AI. That’s crucial both for effective AI implementation and remaining competitive as a worker.

AI is impressive, but it’s only a tool. Procurement operations need people who know how to use it properly to experience all its benefits. At the same time, 51% of IT decision-makers say they lack the in-house talent to meet their AI goals. That leaves both an opportunity and a challenge for the procurement workforce.

If more existing employees learn general AI skills, businesses wouldn’t have to scramble to find outside talent. Workers who pursue this career development would also better their chances at employment and promotion in the future. That skills shift will take time, but it’ll be worth it long term for everyone involved.

Foster Tech Talent

Procurement professionals can take this trend further. As AI grows, so will the other technologies that support it, like digital data, cloud computing and the Internet of Things (IoT). Employees who get more familiar with tech will be better suited to thrive in these more tech-centric environments.

Automation through AI will leave employees with more time but fewer of the same tasks to complete. Consequently, they’ll have to perform different roles. Making sure all the company’s new technology works as it should is one of the most crucial of these roles.

The shift to tech talent lies on both employer and employee. Employers can provide upskilling opportunities to foster these new skills and employees can pursue them on their own time to get ahead of the trend.

Emphasize Strategy, Communication and Creativity

Previously, humans had to do much analytical work to find the best procurement options. Open tendering was the most transparent but most time consuming, so employees had to be able to make complex choices quickly. AI in procurement removes that inefficiency barrier and automates decision making, so the same skills won’t be as in demand.

In the age of AI, it’ll be more important to be strategic, communicative and creative. AI can handle analytical, efficiency-focused tasks, so it’s up to employees to find ways to apply its insights effectively.

Real-world implementation, communicating with other stakeholders and finding creative solutions based on data aren’t strong suits for AI. However, humans excel at them. Consequently, the workforce of tomorrow will center around these skills while AI manages the administrative and analytical side.

Cultivate Soft Skills

As procurement professionals develop these new talents, they shouldn’t overlook soft skills. Job-specific hard skills were more important in the past, but as AI changes jobs, businesses will need people who can adapt amid the shuffle. Soft skills are the key to meeting that demand.

People skills are some of the most crucial of these talents for procurement. As AI handles more of the paperwork, employees will likely need to spend more time on maintaining supplier relationships. Being personable and a good communicator is essential for that role.

Developing these soft skills also gives employees an edge AI can’t beat. That’s hard to ignore amid rising fears of job displacement as AI automates more roles.

Apply AI and Human Talent Where They Fit Best

Those fears over job loss deserve more attention. In a perfect world, AI in procurement will help human workers do their jobs more efficiently, not replace them. However, it can be tempting to automate some roles entirely to save money.

Replacing humans with AI may seem profitable, but it’s not ideal for anyone in the end. AI has several significant risks that could endanger procurement workflows that rely too heavily on it. The best solution is to learn AI and humans’ distinct talents, and distribute tasks accordingly.

AI is great at data-heavy, repetitive and analytical tasks, whereas humans are better at roles requiring adaptability or intrapersonal communication. As the workforce shifts in response to AI, employees should focus on developing the latter to solidify their value. Employers should note this distinction and view AI as a complement to people, not a replacement.

It’s Time to Adapt to the Age of AI in Procurement

Jobs and their required skills have always shifted as new technologies have emerged. The difference with AI is this change could happen much faster than previous innovations.

Employers and employees alike must get ready for the changes AI in procurement will bring. If they can adapt early, they can ensure AI and the workforce work together to achieve optimal results.

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Emerging Technologies Transforming Defense Procurement: Trends and Impacts

As we could see, the defense world is going through a massive transformation thanks to cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing, and the metaverse. These technological advancements are revolutionizing defense strategies and procurement processes. These technologies are offering both new opportunities and challenges that global superpowers must address.

The Rise of New Technologies in Defense

The Impact of AI on Warfare

Between 2009 and 2017, the number of American soldiers in combat decreased by 90 percent, while the number of U.S. drone strikes surged tenfold. This confounding shift underscores AI’s transformative impact on the battlefield. 

By empowering automated surveillance, data processing, and decision-making, AI enables the military to enhance situational awareness. It also helps the military to execute operations with unparalleled speed and precision.

Key Ways AI is reshaping defense:

  • Algorithmic warfare: AI rapidly analyzes battlefield data to optimize troop movements and combat maneuvers.
  • Enhanced ISR: AI dramatically improves aerial and satellite surveillance capabilities through real-time analytics.
  • Predictive maintenance: Using AI and IoT sensors helps defense organizations for predicting equipment failures before they occur and optimize maintenance.
  • Logistics automation: AI helps in streamlining logistical operations, enhancing efficiency in areas like inventory and supply chain management.

As AI continues to advance, its role in defense strategy will undoubtedly expand further.

Emerging Quantum Technologies 

While AI is visibly impacting warfare, quantum technologies are also getting advanced to reshape defense capabilities. The ongoing research and development process in government procurement primarily focuses on quantum computing applications. This includes areas like cybersecurity, surveillance, and advanced simulations. 

The market size for quantum technologies in defense is expected to grow significantly. In 2020 between USD 80 million and USD 500 million showcasing rising investment.

Key applications of quantum technology in defense:

  • Securing communications by using quantum cryptography that helps to detect hacking attempts.
  • Powerful simulations of complex battle scenarios that help with training and decision-making.
  • Additionally, this technology also helps to enhance GPS accuracy and resilience using quantum sensors.
  • Furthermore, it also helps in developing quantum radars for superior detection abilities.

As quantum platforms grow, they help by providing exceptional computing capabilities to strengthen defense networks and outpace global rivals.

The Impact of Metaverse on Military Operations

The emerging metaverse also has extensive applications across defense operations. These include training, intelligence, manufacturing, and more. 

A survey found 70% of public service executives believe the metaverse would benefit defense organizations. The metaverse can transform military training with interactive real-world simulations. However, this can be achieved by enabling collaborative virtual environments. It can also enhance remote maintenance and operations through digital twins of assets and bases.

Other metaverse use cases include:

  • Virtual command centers for coordinated operations
  • Digital engineering models to accelerate design and manufacturing
  • Immersive cybersecurity training platforms
  • Increased intelligence with 3D virtual data analysis

As virtual interfaces and hardware improve, the metaverse will help to unlock new possibilities for defense innovation.

Transformation of Defense Procurement Strategies 

Using these technologies helps to adapt defense procurement strategies. Here are some of the key changes:

  • Data-driven procurement: Using big data analytics and AI enables defense organizations to predict capability requirements while optimizing spending.
  • Blockchain for security and transparency: With the help of Blockchain-based systems, the defense can strengthen supply chains more resilient against cyber threats while increasing transparency.
  • Cradle-to-grave lifecycle view: A lifecycle approach to procurement enables defense with better cost and maintenance planning as systems get more sophisticated.
  • Open architectures: Adopting open systems architecture allows third-party innovation and flexibility to upgrade systems. This is vital for rapidly evolving technologies.
  • Non-traditional contractors: Defense procurement is expanding beyond traditional contractors, this allows to tap innovation from commercial space startups like SpaceX.

These strategic shifts are enabling defense organizations to stay agile amidst technological disruption.

Global Impact on Defense Strategies

The impact of emerging technologies on defense strategies is undeniable. It is crucial for defense alliances and global superpowers to adapt to these advancements. Let’s take a look at how it’s shaping defense strategies worldwide:

  • NATO’s Technology and Innovation Strategy

NATO recognizes the importance of staying at the forefront of technology. Hence, has launched a new strategy focused on continuously adopting emerging and disruptive technologies. 

They are paying close attention to areas like AI, big data analytics, quantum-enabled technologies, autonomy, biotech, hypersonics, and space. Also, by embracing these advanced technologies NATO aims to enhance its capabilities and maintain its edge in defense.

  • U.S. Army Aviation Modernization

The U.S. Army is modernizing its aviation fleet to improve readiness, capabilities, and interoperability with emerging technologies. As part of this effort, they are replacing the aging C-12 Huron with a new Beechcraft c-12 huron. By bringing such advancements, they are trying to reflect their commitment to keeping up with the latest advancements in defense aviation.

  • U.S. Third Offset Strategy

The U.S. Department of Defense has initiated the Third Offset Strategy. This strategy is designed with an aim to leverage cutting-edge technologies. These technologies include AI, autonomous systems, and human-machine collaboration to develop innovative capabilities and tools. This strategy enables the U.S. military to stay ahead of its competitors. These also help to strengthen its technological leadership in the field.

  • China’s Intelligentized Warfare Strategy

China aims to become an “intelligentized” military by 2035. In order to achieve this, they are investing in new technologies like intelligent and autonomous unmanned systems, AI-enabled biotech, and quantum communications. This strategy reflects China’s ambition to be a major player in the global defense arena.

  • Russia’s Technological Sovereignty

Due to sanctions, Russia started focusing on building indigenous technological capabilities in crucial areas like cybersecurity, drones, AI, and quantum-enabled tools. This search for technological sovereignty helps Russia to develop its defense capabilities independently.

These are a few major pieces of evidence that show the rapid advancement of emerging technologies is leading to a new arms race among global superpowers. However, it is also seen that each contends for technological superiority and military dominance. 

As these technologies continue to evolve, defense strategies worldwide will continue to adapt to stay ahead in this competitive landscape.

Balancing Innovation With Security

However, fully capitalizing on these technologies requires carefully weighing benefits against risks.  Here are some key trade-offs defense organizations face:

  • Innovation vs. Vulnerabilities: Adopting advanced technologies increases vulnerabilities like cyber threats. This is why it is important for considering strong security protocols, especially for AI and quantum platforms.
  • Operational Superiority vs. Ethical Risks: Technologies like autonomous weapons and AI-enabled warfare raise moral difficulties in defense sectors. Hence defense organizations should consider establishing appropriate safeguards standards.
  • Military Dominance vs. Global Stability: Over-dependence on technology instead of diplomacy can further lead to destabilizing geopolitical relations between global rivals. Hence being mindful while making advancements is essential. 

By upholding transparency, cooperation, and ethics as core principles, defense organizations can maximize emerging technologies for good rather than seeking superiority alone.

Frequently Asked Questions 

How can advancements in technologies enhance military capabilities?

Advanced technologies enhance military capabilities by offering superior intelligence gathering, accelerated decision cycles, stronger cybersecurity, cost-efficient logistics, and more. These advanced technologies include  AI, quantum computing, autonomous systems, and the metaverse. 

Are there any potential risks associated with integrating new technologies into defense operations?

Yes, in addition to benefits, these technologies include risks as well. They may be expanded attack surfaces for cyber threats, tech-enabled escalation of global tensions, loss of human control/oversight in combat, and ethical concerns around autonomous weapons.

How are international defense alliances like NATO adapting to the technological revolution?

These alliances are focusing on establishing frameworks for the interoperability of new technologies among member states. They also collaborate on emerging technology research while upholding shared values. 

The opportunities ahead are challenging enough for defense organizations to maximize productivity while mitigating risks. With ample preparation and foresight, these new technologies can empower defense strategies to advance global peace and prosperity.

Wrapping Up

You wouldn’t believe how much the defense sector is changing because of these amazing emerging technologies. These advanced technologies, such as AI, quantum computing, and the metaverse, are revolutionizing defense operations. 

As these technologies continue to mature, they will reshape how militaries operate, train, and make decisions. However, to unlock their benefits, defense organizations must try to adapt procurement strategies, foster an innovation mindset, and prioritize security. These can be achieved by upholding ethics and transparency, they can direct a new era of responsible and collaborative defense innovation.



3 Ways Negotiation Skills Can Improve Your Procurement Strategy and Results in 2023

In 2023, global enterprises must evaluate where they have supply chain risk and pursue creative solutions to mitigate it. Two of the biggest procurement challenges in 2023 will continue to be inflation and a lack of supply chain resiliency.

In January 2023, the Producer Price Index (PPI) was up six percent over the previous 12 months. This echoes ongoing trends like that seen in March 2022 when PPI was 11.2% over the previous twelve months. If enterprises aren’t diligent, inflation will creep into their supply chain input costs undetected, with the potential to impact every facet of procurement and sourcing spend.

Inflation impacts direct sourcing costs through services and raw materials that go into making a product. Inflation also impacts indirect sourcing costs such as office supplies, travel, utilities, janitorial services, and even employee benefits. Each of these areas require strategies to detect and fight inflation creep.

Risks to supply chains in 2023 are as great as ever. Improving supply chain resiliency requires plans and strategies to prepare for these unexpected risks.

Geopolitical risk will undoubtedly continue to be an ongoing factor affecting supply chain continuity for global enterprises in 2023 and beyond. Government responses to pandemics like those seen in 2020 when many countries shut down factories and ports to slow the spread of COVID-19 will continue to cause uncertainty. Last year, the Ukraine-Russia war hit the automotive industry with Ukraine-based suppliers pausing or slowing production of critical parts. Now in its second year, the supply chain impacts are still ongoing. Government implementation of sanctions and tariffs are another geopolitical risk that supply chain operations must prepare for when prioritizing supply chain resiliency.

Natural disasters are often similarly unexpected but always pose a potential supply chain risk that must be considered. Hurricanes in the U.S. Gulf Coast region have a history of impacting the chemical industry and interrupting regional supply chains for unpredictable amounts of time. After an earthquake and tsunami led to the Fukushima nuclear disaster, procurement teams faced sourcing challenges with electrical components originating in Japan.

These supply chain challenges won’t disappear anytime soon, which means companies must build supply chain redundancy and mitigate risk within their supply chain. The companies that develop proactive procurement negotiation strategies across their business units will ultimately fare better than their competitors.

To do this effectively, global enterprises must think of negotiation strategy as a critical business process. 

Here are three ways better negotiation skills help improve your procurement strategy:

#1: Robust supplier agreements build resilient supply chains.

A robust supply agreement with your supplier base must cover more than just price and terms. Today, it must also reinforce supply chain continuity. 

Robust supplier agreements should align performance expectations between the customer and the supplier. The more performance areas addressed in an agreement, the greater the opportunity of having those expectations met. 

Procurement teams need to think strategically and negotiate value where they can reasonably expect to have challenges. One of the key areas that provides supply chain flexibility is inventory. Inventory exists to accommodate mismatches between supply and demand. 

Procurement negotiators must think through creative solutions to accommodate mismatches in supply and demand. How much inventory should be in the supply chain and where should it be held? Will the supplier hold planned inventory levels? Will they deliver parts directly to your line? If supply is interrupted, how will they prioritize delivering parts to your site?

Communication should also be a negotiated factor in supplier agreements. Early notification of supply chain disruption of materials is critical in today’s world full of possible supply chain risks. Real-time insights into supplier constraints help identify priorities for building supply redundancy and creating supply chain resiliency. These insights into your supplier’s materials should be considered a negotiation component. What’s happening on their supply side? How many suppliers do they have for their critical materials? What supply contingency plans do they have in place?

Understanding your supply chain beyond your first tier can help identify risk and inform choices about building redundancy into the supply chain. Defining and aligning on these expectations in a broad supply agreement is the first step to building a better supplier relationship. 

Expert negotiation skills are essential to build a strong and positive supplier relationship, ensuring both sides are able to work through issues productively. The success of a commercial relationship isn’t defined by how it is when things are going well, but how effectively parties work through issues and problems together. The better the relationship you have with a supplier, the better the performance results you’re going to get when it comes to discretionary effort with your suppliers.

Good supplier relationships can get you more than your fair share of attention, prioritization, and service during difficult supply chain conditions. If you have a good relationship with the person who makes that decision, you can both help each other during tough times. Good supplier relationships can set you up for a better response when the unexpected happens.

#2: Procurement negotiators must be cost reducers and value builders.

All value delivered by procurement is negotiated (or it’s not and left to chance).

Too often during tough economic environments, companies relentlessly pursue arbitrary and short-sighted cost reductions without looking at the real stopgap for cost creep: procurement negotiators. Some companies even make the mistake of cutting their cost cutters instead of investing in and building a talented team. Procurement negotiators are the stopgap to inflation creep driven by supplier sales teams. 

During inflationary periods, sales teams tend to smell blood in the water, expecting price increases when the market is on their side. This may cause some enterprises to solely focus on the sales side of their business by increasing the cost of goods and services, overlooking the opportunity and tools they already have on the procurement side to reduce costs and mitigate inflation. 

Negotiation is a critical business process that requires the proper tools for success. These teams need to be supported with expert tools and world-class training during challenging times. Expert procurement negotiators with well-defined negotiation processes are key to delivering value and safeguarding a company’s bottom line.

So how do procurement teams ensure success?

#3: A world-class negotiation process bolsters success.

Procurement teams often have either a solid negotiation process and unskilled negotiators or they have no defined process with some skilled negotiators. Either of these situations leaves value on the table. 

Enterprises know they need well-defined processes for business functions like financial reporting and performance measurement. Why is negotiation any different?

Negotiators need a clear process to follow, but they also need a common language to ensure alignment with key internal stakeholders. A well-documented process gives the right tools to every team member no matter their current skill set and enables the opportunity for Kaizen -continuous improvement.

Skilled and trained procurement negotiators rely on six key principles that help them build a resilient supply chain: 

  1. Position the case advantageously
  2. Set high aspirations
  3. Manage information skillfully
  4. Know the full range and strength of your power
  5. Satisfy needs over want
  6. Concede according to plan

Each of these principles reinforces positive supplier relationships, strengthen the supply chain, and drive value. When procurement teams plan ahead and rely on repeatable process, they produce long-lasting results that minimize cost and maximize profits. Implementing a robust negotiation process is a critical first step for success, but negotiation skills require continuous reinforcement and refinement across the procurement team. 

Building a Robust Procurement Negotiation Plan for 2023

Experienced procurement experts know the 2023 economic headwinds are more challenging than ever. Global enterprises need a plan to reduce risk in their supply chain in the face of unprecedented inflation, widespread supply chain disruption and ongoing geopolitical issues. 

The global enterprises that use skilled negotiation tactics as a tool to reevaluate opportunities and reengineer their supply chains will be the most successful in mitigating supply chain risk. Those organizations that build a highly-trained, highly-skilled negotiation team with a world-class negotiation process will quickly outpace their competitors. 

Author’s Bio

Mike Slomke has over 30 years of Procurement leadership experience with three Fortune 100 companies, including 17 years in Chief Procurement Officer roles. He served six years as a board member for CAPS Research, a non-profit research center at the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, established in 1986 in partnership with the Institute for Supply Management. Mike currently serves as a leader at RED BEAR Negotiation, helping forward-thinking companies around the world, across every industry, from the Fortune 500 to high-growth start-ups receive impactful procurement-focused negotiation training that produces measurable business results. Learn more at



Procurement as a Service Market is Expected to Cross USD 15 Bn by 2032

The Procurement as a service market is set to grow from its current market value of more than $5 billion to over $15 billion by 2032; as reported in the latest study by Global Market Insights, Inc.

Procurement as a service (PaaS) market is slated to witness lucrative gains through 2032, owing to the surging inclination of businesses towards outsourcing. Outsourcing procurement services brings operational expenses down while streamlining business operations. Many organizations across the globe are investing in outsourcing their non-core functions, such as procurement, to specialized service providers to focus on their core business functions, which is positively affecting the industry landscape.

On the basis of components, the PaaS market from the transaction management segment is slated to grow at a considerable CAGR from 2023 to 2032. PaaS providers invest considerable amounts into security technology and developing custom software to mitigate the risk of online fraud during transactions. Surging cases of cyberattacks attributed to rising automation in transaction management processes have escalated the need for dependable solutions, further bolstering the demand for reliable PaaS solutions.

On the basis of organization size, the PaaS market from the large enterprise segment accounted for a valuation of over USD 5 billion in 2022, owing to the rising adoption of IoT and AI applications. PaaS providers offer scalable procurement solutions to large organizations which help effectively deploy AI and IoT technology. Additionally, by offering enhanced onboarding, monitoring, and performance management services, PaaS providers can help these enterprises streamline their supplier management procedures.

Regarding the end-user, procurement as a service market from the BFSI sector is poised to accrue notable gains through 2032. The rising number of cyberattacks and data breaches in the BFSI sector has propelled the demand for reliable procurement as a service technology for risk mitigation. Moreover, the surging deployment of cloud-based technologies in the BFSI sector has further propelled the need for an effective and dependable procurement as a service platform. In fact, in October 2022, Banco Santander, S.A., a Spanish multinational financial services firm, inked a deal with Google Cloud to help its clients transform from mainframe systems to the cloud.

On the regional front, Europe procurement as a service market is anticipated to register lucrative gains through 2032, owing to the strong presence of market leaders such as Capgemini, Sastrify, and others, indulged in product innovations. In fact, the governments in the region are investing significant amounts in the digitalization of businesses, which is also expected to create a strong impetus for regional expansion.

procurement women opportunities

Procurement Trends Under the Spotlight at the Women in Procurement Conference 2023

The procurement industry is in a transition phase, presenting both challenges and exciting opportunities.  The important and key role that procurement professionals play was thrust into the spotlight during the COVID-19 pandemic, as the world came to note the importance of stable supply chains. Talent management, technology, Environment, Social and Governance (ESG), Enterprise Supplier Development (ESD) and Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) are some of the important procurement topics that will be under the spotlight at the third Women in Procurement (WIP) Conference, which takes place on 23 March 2023 at Times Square in Pretoria.

Procurement is a key driver of development and enabler of service delivery. The government is the single largest buyer in the country, spending more than R500-billion on goods, services and construction works a year through more than 1 000 procuring entities.

The one-day WIP Conference will address how women in the procurement space can accelerate their journey to value, by better harnessing networks, intelligence and the experience of those at the forefront.

The WIP Conference aims to:

  • Introduce a targeted mentorship and coaching programme for procurement professionals;
  • Increase awareness of opportunities for women empowerment and funding;
  • Expand networks to enable collaboration with other experts; and,
  • Provide a platform for women in procurement to network and collaborate on various business opportunities.

The draft Programme includes:

  • Keynote address: Mpho Matsitse – Head of Industry and Value Advisory: SAP Africa
  • Fireside Chat: MJ Schoemaker (SAPICS President) and Allison Anthony (Senior Lecturer of Public Procurement Law:  UNISA)
  • Master Class: Dawn Smith – Head of Training: Caliba Group
  • Pressures in procurement: Mmatshepo Rasebopye – Director for Supply Chain Management; Gauteng Provincial Government

 The hybrid event takes place on 23 March at Times Square in Pretoria and online. To register, go to Tickets can be purchased on Quicket –

The event is being supported by the Black Management Forum (BMF), the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport: South Africa (CILTSA) and CVLC Communication. For details of sponsorship opportunities, email Mookho at


AI Beyond the Hype: This is Our Moment to Embrace Digitization

AI for business is one of the most talked-about innovations and for good reason. As in other areas of our lives, it holds the potential to fundamentally alter the processes and structures humanity has been accustomed to for decades and, in some cases, even centuries.

Yet, like many other groundbreaking technologies before it, when it comes to real-world business processes, it’s understandable to feel that the recent attention around AI’s value has outpaced the current reality. Yes, today AI can more precisely tailor content recommendations in social media apps like Instagram, Twitter and YouTube and help refine the photos we take on our phones.

But where is the AI-driven revolution in the way we work—helping us do our jobs better, more efficiently, and unlocking value in unexpected places? We believe it’s here, today.

How do we know? Because at BT Sourced, our new standalone procurement company within the BT Group, we’ve already started to see the benefits. We’ve come to believe that, properly implemented, AI can be a game-changer—and that while there’s a lot of excitement about the future of AI, we’re proof that the future is now. Here’s why.

Why AI—and Why Now?

Out of sheer necessity, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated what had been a gradual shift toward the rapid digitization of procurement. In the face of disruption, from remote work to shortages of goods and services across the value chain, having the adaptability to quickly source the best suppliers became critical. Agile procurement teams armed with cutting-edge technology were and will continue to be, best positioned to streamline sourcing, driving long-term growth and value for the BT customer and operating model.

Deloitte’s 2021 Global Chief Procurement Officer Survey found that driving operational efficiencies was the new No. 1 priority for CPOs, replacing reducing costs for the first time in the report’s 10-year history. In this next normal, procurement must modernize and simplify its processes to become faster and more agile for the near and long term.

The biggest barrier to transforming procurement is changing the way people work. Critically, the new AI-powered platform BT Sourced is using enables us to collaborate from any location by improving visibility, workflows, and communication across all functions. Increasing agility and efficiency is also key to achieving another important goal: enabling a greater focus on strategic initiatives and collaboration.

Adopting AI, along with tools that feature analytical intelligence and enable self-procurement, means our teams can now study recurring behaviors, empower end-users and discover new areas to contribute value. These new platforms are giving us the insights to make fast, data-driven decisions that benefit everyone throughout our value chain. They can be shared across the business, enabling us to work more closely than ever with our stakeholders while AI manages manual and repetitive tasks in the background.

AI for Good 

The financial benefits of AI and automation in procurement are clear. But what about other important goals such as inclusion and corporate social responsibility? How can AI in procurement support workforce development and contribute to the greater good?

At BT Sourced, we’re committed to expanding economic opportunity and reducing our environmental impact. In many ways, AI supports our commitment to more sustainable sourcing—from driving new efficiencies to enabling deeper analysis and awareness of environmental, social and financial risks throughout our supply chain. Now more than ever, we’re able to more precisely track compliance with our global responsibility model, sustainability criteria and principles of responsible behavior for suppliers regarding ethics, conduct, social issues and the environment.

We’re also leveraging AI to support supplier diversity and inclusion, expanding our network to include qualified alternatives from a base of top-performing, diverse small and midsize companies, increasing access to innovative service providers that may have otherwise been overlooked.

The Present and Future of AI

As the last year has proven, AI is no longer procurement’s future—it is our present and, without question, our future. Agile, value-added procurement requires the insights and efficiency that only AI and automation can deliver at scale. The pressing need to develop more responsible, inclusive supply chains and practices only makes the case for digital transformation stronger.

We have an unprecedented opportunity for change. Companies have a unique opportunity to move quickly to modernize their procurement technology and achieve benefits for both their stakeholders and their broader communities. We’ve arrived at the right moment to disrupt traditional models and processes, making the vision of a more efficient, sustainable and inclusive AI-powered future, a reality today.


Cyril Pourrat is the Chief Procurement Officer at BT Group