Category Archives: Anti-Trends

Future Trend 34: Digital Transformation

How did SI miss this one in it’s two in-depth series on the future of procurement and it’s follow up future trends expose???

This anti-trend is as old as the internet!

But let’s back up. Recently, the procurement dynamo published a piece on the digital transformation of procurement where he asked if it was a good abuse of language. In this post he started off by noting that the digital transformation expression is an overused buzzword — which is an understatement.

Secondly, as the procurement dynamo notes, no one has a proper understanding of what it actually means. the procurement dynamo attempts to rectify this by giving a clear definition of the term with respect to the also overused digitization and digitalization terminology. According to the procurement dynamo

  • digitization is the conversion from analog to digital … atoms to bits …
  • digitalization is the process of using digital technology and the impact it has and
  • digital transformation is a digital-first approach that encompasses all aspects of business

… and, in particular, digital transformation is a digital-first approach to the extent that digital can be applied.

And this means that this is yet another anti-trend in Procurement as leading organizations have been doing this ever since the adoption of e-Auctions. The best organizations have been adopting, to the extent possible, new technologies since the e-auction hit the scene 20 years ago. RFX. True e-invoicing. Supplier Information Management. Contract Management. Decision Optimization. And so on. The leaders (which are very, very few) have pushed for, and embraced, digital transformation for the last two decades.

And, to be honest, when you get right down to it, the concept of digital transformation is, as a farmer would say, hogwash. You’re either continually adopting and using the best tools and processes available to you, or you are counting down to the days your doors close. The organizations that have survived decades have embraced multiple technological revolutions. They’ve went from carbon paper to copiers to digital transmission. Digital transformation is just the latest technological revolution, and may not be the last. (If quantum tech gets perfected, you’ll have to move to technology based on qubits … a blend of atoms and bits.)

So don’t fall for the latest fad — keep focussed on the goal. Better business building.

Procurement Trend #17. Talent

Fourteen anti-trends from the grey-beards’ glory days still remain, and as much as we’d like to provide more entertainment to LOLCat who is bored with our anti-trend coverage, we must make sure that no good deed goes unpunished and since the futurists’ advice is as good as it gets, we must break it all down until you can look past the shiny new paint job and realize that it’s a twenty year old Skoda you are being sold.

So why do so many historians keep pegging talent as a future trend? Besides the fact that they are, unfortunately, still cemented in the people-process-technology (and not the talent-technology-transition management) mindset, it is probably because, no matter where your organization is on its Supply Management journey:

  • more knowledge is required

    Supply Management professionals are currently climbing the Devil’s Staircase

  • more technology is required

    because most work is still tactical paper pushing work (even if it’s pushing scanned PDFs, it’s still paper pushing work)

  • more skills are required

    to transition to better processes, use new technology, and identify more value generation opportunities for the organization

So what does this mean?

Knowledge

As per our previous posts on inter-departmental collaboration and more stakeholder collaboration you need to implement knowledge management. You need to capture the knowledge you have. You need to capture the knowledge your partners bring you. And you definitely to capture the knowledge you generate before it walks out the door when your people move on to the next stage of their professional and/or personal life. It is a knowledge economy, and if you don’t have the knowledge required, you won’t be in the new economy much longer. C’est la vie dans le nouveau monde de l’enterprise.

Technology

As per our previous posts on increased accuracy in demand planning, process convergence into Supply Management, and e-Procurement System Adoption, you need to implement new and better technology solutions. These solutions need to automate the tactical, optimize the operations, and enable the strategic. Electronically pushing paper is not strategic. Monitoring dashboards is not strategic. Re-sourcing a category for the third time through an e-Auction for a measly 3% savings is not strategic. Doing detailed analyses that allow you to identify untapped opportunities, define new processes that will get marketing or legal on-board with spend management methodologies, or helping R&D design a product that is both more cost efficient to produce and more desirable to the market — that’s strategic.

Skills

It’s like we keep saying here at SI, a modern Supply Management professional needs to be a jack of all trades and a master of one. You need to continually enhance your soft skills, your tech skills, and your knowledge of different organizational disciplines, processes, and goals and learn to take advantage of the new technologies and opportunities that are continually being made available to you.

Anti-Trends from the 21st Century Supply Chain

Kinaxis on Response Management, on its 21st Century Supply Chain blog, recently published it’s anti-trends for the down economy.

  • Procurement practices will become more adversarial in 2009
    as cash-strapped buyers try to force suppliers to accept longer payment terms (instead of adopting good supply chain finance)
  • Integrated Business Planning will remain a wish
    due to a lack of incentives for Finance and Supply Chain to cross the divide
  • Western brand owners will lose market share
    as Asia emerges from the global slump sooner than the west, Asian contract manufacturers will establish their own brands to beef up production

These are certainly well thought. I urge you to read the original post in full.

The Strategic Sourceror’s (Supply Chain) Anti-Trends

The Strategic Sourceror was first to the plate with a trio of home-run anti-trends for 2009.

  • Strategic Sourcing Outsourcing Finally Gets a Good Rap
    The Sourceror notes that even though the list of anti-outsourced strategic sourcing excuses (just like the list of excuses for why we don’t need no consultants) goes on and on and on, this is the year that people who just made a big investment in (e-)sourcing software realize that software alone is not enough and you need to balance the tools with the human expert techniques.
  • Networking Costs You That Job
    Every time the economy takes a bath in the crapper, every person and his dog comes out of the woodwork with a list of techniques for landing that next job, and networking is always at the top of the list. And this time, the media has outdone themselves and convinced people that “networking” means getting in touch with every single person you have ever heard of in your life and bombarding them with your resume and story … every single day. Now, while you should contact everyone who you honestly think could, and would try to, help you, and while you should be persistent in your job hunt … there’s persistence, and then there’s good old fashioned harassment. Go overboard, and you might just find that you’re the first person blackballed next time something opens up.
  • Hasta la Vista to the Fat Cats
    This post is just too good to every try to summarize.

Cross Blog Challenge: (Supply Chain) Anti-Trends for 2009

A week and a half ago I alerted you to Vince Kellen’s Technology Duds for 2009 which highlighted five “anti-trends” for 2009 that stand out as a brilliant counterpoint to the rose-colored predictions of the laissez-fair wannabe analysts that tend to dominate the technology landscape.

After writing the post I started thinking about how great it would be if there were more voices like Vince’s that spoke the truth and opened our eyes to reality and not marketing fantasy. Thus, I have decided to make anti-trends the focus of the next Sourcing Innovation Cross-Blog series, which I will kick-off with this post.

My first two and a half trends echo Vince Kellen’s. My last two and a half diverge into the space.

1. Social Networking Will Unravel
As Kellen says, “at the risk of offending Web 2.0 enthusiasts, most firms, especially those hardest hit in this recession, consider social networking speculative and in some cases frivolous. And as I said in my last post, there’s a reason why “facebooked” has become an urban slang slam, “myspaced” has become a synonym for a late-night booty call, and why the blogger elite (including the doctor and Loren Feldman of 1938 Media) slam Twitter on a regular basis (as the only thing you can do with it is say nothing in only 140 characters). There’s no real value in these technologies, and no commercial value to a productive business. Businesses will drop these efforts to focus on projects with value.

2. Web 2.0 will soon be Web 2.Done
Similarly, mash-ups, fancy portals, and other web 2.0 projects are going to be axed because speculative ROIs or projects not directly assisting with significant savings are going to be difficult for IT leaders to advance. While mashups can be a useful component of B2B 3.0 platforms if they focus on enhancing content, community, and connectivity, on their own they are just useless eye-candy.

3. Traditional “Spend Analysis” will Lose Luster
Although a sound spend analytics package (you know the one) in the hands of a true expert (you know who they are) will find you limitless savings opportunities, the reality is that most of the offerings on the market are just static data warehouses with static reports in the hands of recent grads with little real-world experience and almost no training. As a result, as early adopters come to the end of their maintenance agreements, which came with six figure (plus) maintenance fees, you’ll see a lot of movement towards modern low-cost B2B 3.0 data analysis packages or spend analysis as-a service offerings.

4. Home Country Sourcing finally comes back in vogue
Regular readers will know that I’ve been pushing not just for best-cost, but home-cost country sourcing for a while now. Giving the skyrocketing transportation costs from mid 2007 to mid 2008, the repeated product safety scandals with imported products, the current recessionary environment, the low dollar, and fears of protectionism with the new US administration, more companies will finally start looking for strategic sourcing opportunities close to home — which will also come with more predictable costs, and savings, over the long term.

5. Sustainable green catches on, despite the recessionary environment
Although green initiatives that cost more than they return will be scrapped faster than unburied copper cable, as my fellow bloggers on Supply Excellence and 2 Sustain are pointing out, more and more companies will be looking at sustainable initiatives to save them money, and those green initiatives that save money as well as improve the corporate social responsibility image will catch on.

Now it’s time for my fellow bloggers to join in with their anti-trends in and help you understand where supply and spend management is headed.