The Supply Chain Black Box: Fantasy or Future? [PRO]

Some time ago, Professor Richard Lamming, one of the most eminent and influential procurement and supply chain academics of our time, first wrote about a somewhat provoking idea of his. In the future, he said, most of the work by procurement functions would be carried out by computers. Lamming talked about “a black box, a man, and a dog.” The black box would carry out all the routine procurement work – establishing internal requirements and specifications from internal stakeholders, talking to suppliers’ black boxes to agree pricing, delivery schedules, managing the purchase to pay process and so on. The man (or woman – let’s not be sexist) would be there to turn on the black box every morning. And the dog was there to attack the man if he tried to turn off the black box when he shouldn’t! Lamming also explained that there would be a role for globetrotting deal-makers who would identify new sources of supply and manage key relationships. But the vast majority of work would be automated, and supply chain relationships would be largely black box to black box.

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