Daily Archives: December 12, 2013

Is the Emerging Share Economy Going to Disrupt Your Procurement Practices?

My Purchasing Center recently ran a very interesting article from a Senior Consultant of the Hackett Group on Considerations for Supply Chain and Procurement in the Share Economy that did a great job of explaining how the Share Economy is disrupting consumer purchasing patterns, and thus demand. However, in SI’s view, it did not do as great a job when it came time to make the case that it would disrupt daily Procurement operations.

In SI’s view, while the share economy may change the approach to certain categories, it’s not going to change fundamental procurement processes, methodologies, or the best practices that a leading Procurement organization brings to the table. We will elaborate on this, but first let’s review the main points of the My Purchasing Center article.

Noting that the share economy is projected to reach 3.5 Billion this year, with no signs of slowing down, the author of the My Purchasing Center article posits that these trends are going to have a significant, innovative, and potentially disruptive impact on Supply Chain and Procurement.

Zeroing on on services like Lyft and Airbnb where legions of people use their own car or living space as an on-demand taxi-service or rental, the author notes that this reduces the demand for additional cars and short-term rental properties. Similarly, services like zip-car, where people can rent on demand, not only reduce the demand for taxis and limos, but for second vehicles altogether, and thus reduce the total demand for vehicles from a manufacturer. This can effect economies of scale, and increase the cost of each vehicle produced if the demand drop is significant.

Then there is the emergence of 3D printing that is now to the point where even non-engineers can assemble a 3D printer, download some software, and produce their own goods at home. When the cost drops, demand for products that can be just as cheaply printed at home may drop but, more importantly, demand for products that can be printed in bulk just as cheaply as needed on the shop floor could wipe out entire categories for a supplier.

And these are valid observations. Demand is going to change, and shift, and it’s going to have an effect on what an organization can and can’t sell and on what a supplier can and can not profitably produce. No argument there.

But, unless it takes us back to a barter economy, it’s not going to have much of an impact on a good Procurement organization. The first thing a good Procurement organization does when it starts a sourcing event for a category is analyze the category in depth to determine the demand for the product or service, the criticality of the product or service, the strategic nature of supply relationships in the delivery of the product or service, etc. to determine what supply strategy is the most relevant, how the sourcing event should be conducted, what technology should be brought to bear, etc. If demand has dropped 50% in a category since it was last sourced and the economies of scale have diminished, then sourcing is going to shift from a lowest TCO approach to a strategic relationship where it can work with the supplier to take cost out of the production or delivery process or, if necessary, innovative a new design that will allow it to use lower cost materials and production / delivery processes. With or without a share economy, the mandate, and function, of Procurement is the same — source each category in the manner which generates the most value to the organization and procure each part or service against the identified strategy.

Do you think SI is missing something? If so, leave a comment.