The “Future” of Procurement: Ongoing Blues Part II

It’s been a tough slog, but we’re finally in the midst of the trends that are recent enough to be classified as “we should be mastering this” as opposed to “we should have mastered this (a) decade(s) ago”. This should be good news, but considering that it’s still going to be eight (8) more trends and two (2) more days before we get to a “future” trend that’s actually recent enough to classify as “like new remanufactured shoes”, when we look at the big picture, it’s not. We need more innovation, not renovation, or, even worse, reincarnation of trends that should have been entombed with the mummies.

But let’s get back at it. We’re not quitters here. We’re going to finish what we started. Even if the state of affairs has left us broken hearted, we’re going to tough it up and not ask for sympathy.

15. System Integration With Partners

This is a logical consequence of e-Procurement System Adoption, Better Governance Models, Business Process Convergence into Supply Management, Increased Strategic Focus, and Stronger Supplier Relationships. As more companies adopt e-Procurement systems, a trend that has been going on for over a decade, there is more need for integration. As more companies adopt better governance models, they acquire the need for more visibility, which can be obtained through system integration. As more companies converge their business processes, the supporting software platforms need to be integrated and merged to support this. As focus gets more strategic, it gets more inclusive of partners. And as the need for stronger supplier relationships takes root, henceforth comes the need for strong system integration with those suppliers for greater supply chain visibility.

14. Shorter and More Complex Product Life-Cycles

I’m not sure what industry to blame for this one — the console industry, which releases a new platform every few years, the electronics industry, which feels the need to double the output power of whatever it’s selling every two years, the cell phone industry, which has insisted on releasing newer and better phones every year, or the portable (laptop/tablet) industry which does the same. Regardless of who’s to blame, despite the fact that product complexity is going through the proverbial roof, product cycles have been steadily shrinking for the last two decades with no end in sight. It’s getting to be old news, but because the sophistication of the processes and technology required to handle these ever shortening life cycles needs to continue to increase as well, the doctor has promoted this trend to the category of ongoing blues. It might be more than it deserves, but qui ita iustus est.

13. The Cloud

The Cloud. The mega-trend, future-trend, you-must-have-it trend. The proverbial answer to all our problems. The two words that can unleash a verbal assault from the the doctor so intense that a psychiatrist might be compelled to consider diagnosing the doctor with with the worst case of Tourette Syndrome ever recorded. Despite numerous claims, the cloud is not a fluffy magic box (and we’ve told you this again and again). It’s a storm cloud that is filled with hail. And if you got cloud, I got your mail. No crystal ball (which the cloud is not) required. While the doctor doesn’t know how many more years we’re going to have to put up with the constant stream of nonsense marketers are pushing upon us where the cloud is concerned, he does know that every year is another year too many. And trying to fight it makes one feel all black and blue. It’s a flood of folly. How do you stop it? Calling it ongoing blues is an understatement. It’s a flood of despair that never, ever ends! The only positive is that when the flood of despair washes over you, you no longer care that Kim Kardashian wore the same outfit three times in a week.

12. BYOD / Mobile Procurement

Twenty-two “future” trends later and we’re finally at a trend that is almost forgivable. Almost. But only if it’s on a trend list produced by the most junior of analysts charged with a task that is way above his pay grade and competence level. And even then, its just almost forgivable. Because, regardless of it’s status, it’s been easy to predict for years that this is one trend that is going to increase in prevalence now that tablets are cheap, people expect choice, and BYOD just makes sense for many business that aren’t big enough to negotiate better plan deals than what is available to an individual. Why spend time and effort managing cell phones and plans when it’s quicker and cheaper to just reimburse an individual 65% of her mobile bill on her monthly expense report? And not have to pay for the phone. And why force an employee to carry around a cumbersome laptop that is likely to get lost or stolen if she can do the site visit on a light, cheap tablet (that you might not even have to pay for)? It just makes sense for a lot of companies, but because they have yet to wake up and smell the roses, this one actually needs to be on a few trend lists for a few more years (even though it should be old-news). Just don’t tell the doctor it’s the grand future when it’s really the right now!