Procurement Tomorrowland …

… could be here sooner than we think, but are we ready for it? For over a decade, everyone has been talking about Procurement 2020 and how advanced and great it would be, and 2020 is fast approaching. It’s less than two and a half years away. But what will it look like. The short answer is not much different than today. That’s why the new date is 2035, because we haven’t gotten to where every big consultancy, and vendor, proclaimed we’d be 10 years ago.

So, the big question is, what does Procurement 2035 look like? Well, last year KPMG said the future is likely going towards one of four scenarios:

  • Procurement Primacy where democratic co-existence between man and machine is common
  • World of Project Economy where companies become decentralized and most of the work is done by free-lancers and there is no central procurement department with procurement the responsibility of project managers
  • The Creative Agency where procurement becomes the primary source of business and finance model development and not only purchases for, but defines the organizational projects


  • R.I.P. Procurement because the age of cognitive procurement has ushered in fully automated processes that have replaced buyers

The most likely scenario now is the last scenario because the cloud has eliminated the need for tactical procurement people who buy on someone else’s behalf. Office supplies, janitorial supplies, and simple electronics? Amazon for Business. MRO — Grainger and Home Depot — punch-out online. Electronics, Best Buy, Dell, HP, Apple, etc. Point, click, and order. Custom uniforms, a few dozen suppliers can take your RFX, easily found on half a dozen procurement networks. And so on.

And if you think knowing how to set up an auction will save your job, you’ve got another thing coming. It’s not only very easy to setup and run an auction with a modern platform that makes it eBay easy, but with today’s platforms it’s just as easy to push a category to a platform with demands that can automatically invite all the approved suppliers, send them the specs, get e-Signatures on acceptance and guarantees, run the auction, make the award, send out the draft contract, get a response, analyze it, send it to legal, who can put the finishing touches and it’s off to the races with no human intervention whatsoever. Modern platforms can be set up to automate RFXs and e-Auctions with no human intervention whatsoever.

Similarly, your job is not safe if the extent of your analytics prowess is running the canned reports; identifying the top n categories, suppliers, and geographies; identifying those not under contract, and queueing those categories for sourcing and suppliers for contract negotiation. This can be easily automated too. Who needs a buyer?

In this scenario, not the organization! For Procurement, Tomorrowland is a wasteland …