KPMG Is Listening To Too Much Bob Dylan …

… but still failing to understand the subtlety of the message the Nobel Laureate conveyed in the message he imparted to us 53 years ago.

Recently, as pointed out by the procurement dynamo over on Procurement World in his post on 4 Fascinating Futures, KPMG gave us four potential visions of Procurement’s future in their recent Future-Proof Procurement paper (co-published with Florida State University’s College of Business). [It’s a great read, by the way, for those of you that always enjoy a good alternative universe/timeline SciFi story.)

According to KPMG, we are headed to one of four possible Procurement futures, namely:

  • Primacy of Procurement
    where Procurement becomes the center of power as a result of technology enablement
  • The Creative Agency
    where Procurement totally re-invents itself in order to stay relevant
  • World of Project Economy
    where Procurement disperses (and becomes merely a means to an end)
  • R.I.P. Procurement
    where Procurement brings about its own demise (and is replaced by machines)

All Depending upon the outcomes of the following matches:

  • human centricity vs. algorithms
  • centralism vs. decentralism

In the second case, it depends upon whether or not the march to centralization continues or decentralism retakes center stage. And in the first case, it depends upon whether technology becomes good enough where it can be trusted in place of a Procurement pro.

And, according to KPMG, the futures are defined by the winners as per the following graphic:

In other words, KPMG believes that we need to either prepare for

  • The Path of Dominance
    where Procurement takes total control of the extended supply chain, and, as a result, the business world
  • The Path of Salvation
    where Procurement totally reinvents itself and stays relevant in the turbulent global economy as time shifts the sands
  • The Path of Harmony
    where Procurement adapts to the gig based project economy and simply becomes a means to an end OR
  • The Path of Progress
    where we enter a new era where there is no Procurement. R.I.P. Procurement. (It’s already among the walking dead and soon to be entombed, anyway.)

But all this assumes that there will be one winner in the human centricity vs. algorithm war and one winner in the centralism vs. decentralism, but until SkyNet takes over and locks us in The Matrix, there will be no winner in the humans vs. algorithm war, just like there will always be no winner in the centralism vs. decentralism war as there will always be new recruits to factions on both sides.

We’re not in the world of Anachrony where there can be only one one winner if the cataclysmic future is to be prevented. We’re in the real world, and the situation is a lot more complex.

Bob Dylan said it best:

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slowest now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is rapidly fading
And the first one now will later be last
Cause the times they are a-changing

The line is drawn and the curse it is cast. The two sides of the centralist debate will fight to the last.

The slowest now will later be fast. As the laggards adapt new technology and the leaders drown in that they amassed.

As the present now will later be past. And leaders will fly different masts.

The order is rapidly fading.

And the first one now will later be last. Emerging economies take lead and leading economies are surpassed.

Cause the times they are a-changing.

But the more things change, the more they stay the same. And that’s the underlying message. The conflicts won’t be resolved, fueled by emerging and changing economies, with new governments and organizations taking center stage, discovering and rediscovering the Procurement revolutions, while leading economies go through devolutions as a result of shifting market landscapes and first generation solutions failing to deliver.

Procurement will still be on the verge of death, or among the walking dead, 20 years from now. Only the technology (vendors), processes, and terminology will have changed. The only question is, will your organization have switched sides (from laggard to leader or vice versa).

Despite Bob’s plea, fifty three years later:

Senators and Congressmen still block the hall
They stand in the doorway, don’t heed the call
and the country gets hurt for they have all stalled
and the battle outside keeps raging
it shakes all our windows and rattles our walls
for the times they are a-changing.