I found it somewhat humorous to read that IBM is moving its procurement headquarters to China simply by relocating one key individual, John Paterson. According to an article in Supply Management, "Paterson, who has been with IBM for 35 years, will relocate from New York to Shenzhen this summer. He oversees the company's global procurement function made up of around 5,000 employees in more than 80 countries and has a $40 billion worldwide spend." The rest of Paterson's team is staying behind, missing the lavish banquets, $1,000 a year drivers, and other perks that relocating to China provides. They'll also probably breathe a bit easier (literally).
To explain the symbolic move, an IBM spokesman is quoted in the article as saying, "By moving the leadership of procurement into this region, we believe it will strengthen our ties to suppliers there. "In addition, Paterson's move should help IBM in the region as it develops its sales and marketing efforts throughout Asia. Another angle to this announcement is how this will impact IBM's procurement outsourcing offering, which shares resources with the global procurement organization. IBM is already marketing its capabilities to outsource direct materials procurement for companies (unlike other BPO providers who tend to focus on indirect). Might IBM scale up this offering in China?