In our last couple of posts, since They Terk Er Jerbs!, we have been discussing Procurement Innovation today and how automation and tactical data processing is actually a good thing for robots and software to take over, since most of it is mind-numbingly dull and hinders our creativity and productivity — and as that is about the only area we can truly best the machine (although they are making a damned good effort to take over there too), we better focus it on it now when we can.
(Even though it’s not likely we’ll see true AI in our lifetime, as processing power and parallel computing continues to improve, the prediction capability of machines will eventually get so high that some people might be tempted to say eh, good enough and let machines take over jobs and make decisions in areas they will be 95% accurate and sufficiently successful, or at least, good enough, on average. (Moreover, by the time they make one mistake so catastrophic that people die in a situation where no human would ever have made that mistake [as they can't see what they are not coded to see], it will be too late as we will be living in the world of E.M. Forster, The Machine Will Stop, and that will be it … and then, in a few dozen millennia, Earth will again be the Planet of the Apes).
But the power that comes from the machine’s ability to number crunch is going to go beyond number crunching, m-way matching, and guided buying with visual guilt. For example, one of the common innovations you are going to see tomorrow is invisible buying. And the invisible touch of the machine once it takes over some of the most boring buying tasks will be such that it will crawl under your skin, you’ll fall for it, it will take control, and if it ever gets taken away, it will take you apart. (And your only recourse will be to play Genesis.)
Just what do we mean by invisible buying? Basically stock room and MRO ordering, the bane of your buying existence, will be a thing of the past.
Who is better able to analyze purchase and inventory data and:
- Auto-detect regularly needed items
- Auto-compute typical usage schedules
- Auto-predict best order quantities
- Auto-re-order on reaching an auto-computed minimum threshold
- Auto-adjust inventory levels using RFID, Arduino, & IoT
- Auto-m-way match between all e-docs and auto-pay
Us? Or the software-driven machines?
That’s right, the software driven machines. Besides, what value is there wasting our time doing regular re-orders off of established contracts. None. Our time is better spent identifying the next contract to get in place to avoid cost, achieve savings, and, hopefully, provide more value to the organization. So the machines will take this over. And that’s fine. Because, at the end of the day, there is too much spend falling into the tail costing us big $$$. In most organizations, tail spend, which can be as much as 30% of the spend, is, on average, 15% to 30% over best market cost. 20% of 30% is 6%. That could be hurting your bottom line more than your top spend that is strategically sourced every three years and typically only has 2% to 3% left to shave off through smarter sourcing. Think about that.