It’s Conference Season Again — Do We Have to Talk About the Future?

Conference season is around the corner and, with it, plenty of talks on the Future of Procurement, Procurement in 2015, and Procurement 2025 — What it Will Take to Get There.

Regular readers will know the doctor is beginning to really despise this. Why? First of all, as will be outlined in an upcoming series of posts, it’s a lot of the same old, same old … which, in some cases, will be recycled for the tenth year in a row. Second, many* of the solution providers will be doing their best to instill in you an unnecessary sense of urgency to adopt second rate sourcing and procurement solutions that you aren’t ready for or that won’t deliver the returns you need now. (While 9 out of 10 companies do need better sourcing and procurement solutions, the solutions these companies need to start with often aren’t the solutions that money hungry solution providers push upon them.) Third, and most annoyingly, come the questions on what does the doctor think the future of Sourcing / Procurement is.

Why is this annoying?

  1. A Future Vision Doesn’t Change Much In Six Months

    Conference season is every six months, but unless a radical, ground-breaking, unexpected innovation hits the scene, between one conference season and the next, one’s future vision is not going to change a heck of a lot. And when one considers there has not been any radical new offerings in Supply Management in over 5 years, one’s future vision doesn’t have much reason to change at all.

  2. Tomorrow Has Come And Gone Many Times, but The Promised Future Has Not Arrived

    If you look at the predictions for 2020/2025, they are not that much different than the predictions for 2010/2015 that were made 10 years ago. Why? First of all, as per our last point, there haven’t been any radical new offerings in Supply Management in over 5 years (just steady improvements, with a few providers progressing much faster than others). Second, adoption of mainstream sourcing and procurement solutions remains slow. Third, the best solutions, and the advanced solutions that an organization really needs to make an impact on their Supply Management return, have not yet been adopted outside of a handful of best-in-class organizations.

  3. It’s Not What You Think the Future Will Be, It’s Where You Need To Go

    When an organization asks What’s the Future of Procurement, it’s asking the wrong question. First, while most of the consultancies, analyst firms, and providers feeding these consultancies and analysts firm their provider preferred messaging tend to agree on what the future is at a high level, each tends to tailor their message to the product or service offerings they can deliver to you today. Second, the future is in a state of flux due to uncertainties in supply management, business, and globalization. Third, and most important, it doesn’t matter what the future is, it matters what the future needs to be for your organization to succeed. The question an organization needs to ask is what is our Procurement Future — where do we need to go to succeed.

So while it’s very important to plan for the future, it’s very annoying to keep talking about it again and again in a way that adds nothing to the message. So, since the medium is the message, unless you want to be annoying, let’s ditch all this feel-good future talk and focus on figuring out how to get the right solutions into the companies that need those solutions now if those companies are to have any hope of having a future. Capis?

*Many, but, fortunately not all. But do you know enough to tell the difference?