Does Procurement Have a Future Despite Automation? (Plus: Peter Smith’s First Video!)

Peter Smith (Editor of Spend Matters UK/Europe) is working on a series of videos in which he will talk about the future of procurement. So the biggest question, which Peter addresses in this first video, was initially put to him by a group of students, who wanted to know whether the profession of procurement has a future at all.

Where does all this pessimism come from? It’s procurement, after all, not journalism. As Peter explains, about a decade ago an eminent professor named Richard Lamming proposed the “black box” theory, which stated that many procurement activities could be automated. “The black box, the computer, if you like, could do virtually all the activities that people could do.”

Peter goes on to pose a counter-argument and a few questions: “How is the black box going to manage the appointment of a strategic consulting firm to do some really sensitive work for the organization? How is the black box going to manage choosing and contracting with a marketing agency?” Computers have made no little progress in the past decade, but they’re not so advanced that we can trust them to work without supervision.

Peter concludes that first, human labor in procurement will not be replaced by computers any time soon, and second, procurement will be… Why spoil it? Watch the video.

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