Author Archives: Sydney Lazarus



Blockchain is the Future of X (Insert Anything from Visa Applications to Real Estate)

If you can’t think of a good headline for your blockchain article, there’s always this trusty formula: “Blockchain is the future of ______.” And you can fill in the blank with whatever the article’s about, whether it’s seafood supply chains or cannabis, as chances are your article is extolling blockchain technology and how it will transform some particular field. But where is blockchain — basically an open, distributed ledger that has been likened to Google Docs — actually being implemented? Despite what it may seem like, blockchain isn’t all hype. Here is a roundup of real-life cases where blockchain is being implemented or under serious consideration, starting with the U.S. federal government.

How Do Procurement People Buy Flowers? Or, Using Procurement Smarts in Everyday Life

Procurement is basically shopping with a strong emphasis on value. Does that mean procurement people also better shoppers in their everyday lives? To find out, I asked around the office: “What have you recently used your procurement smarts to buy for yourself?” Take, for example, flowers. They are ordinary and yet can be exorbitant in cost. And despite what it may seem, this is a complex purchasing category.

On the Amazon Robotics Challenge, Warehouse Automation and Expired Oatmega Bars

Recently I was on the phone with a Target customer service supervisor, explaining that for the third time in a row, the Oatmega nutrition bars I ordered online had arrived past their expiration dates. If you haven’t heard of Oatmega bars, their nutritional content is thoroughly impressive, and the taste is pretty good, too (after all, it took three shipments of expired bars for me to stop buying them). But there’s one catch: The bars become progressively harder to bite into as the expiration date approaches. And so I was explaining all of this to the supervisor, who blamed it on the warehouses’ robots.

Latest Modern Slavery Index Released: Turkey and EU See Increased Risk

No company wants its global supply chains to have any exposure to slavery. Yet new research shows that the risk is on the uptick worldwide, including in 20 European Union countries. Global risk research firm Verisk Maplecroft released its Modern Slavery Index 2017 on Thursday. The index assessed 198 countries for risk of modern slavery, which the researchers define as including slavery, human trafficking and forced labor. The percentage of countries at “high” or “extreme” risk for modern slavery has grown to 60%, a 2% increase since last year.

New Report: Obstacles in Advancing Marketing Procurement’s Strategic Value

marketing spend

There is still a case for marketing procurement, as a new report on the function’s obstacles and opportunities shows. Globality, which connects clients with small service providers, commissioned a survey of 300 senior procurement professionals from around the world. It gleaned eight major takeaways from the survey, which are presented in the report, Marketing Procurement 2017: Key Opportunities and Barriers in Advancing Procurement’s Business Impact. We’ll look at a few of these more closely.

What Sets World-Class Procurement Organizations Apart? Use of Digital Technology for One

There are many things that set world-class procurement organizations apart from their average-performing peers. It may be working closely with suppliers to drive innovation and manage risks, or perhaps it’s collaborating with senior management on strategic initiatives. According to a new report from The Hackett Group, world-class procurement organizations also have 29% fewer full-time workers on average, and they rack up 22% lower labor costs. But how is it that these organizations can achieve more with fewer full-time employees? One indispensable factor is digital technology, the report says.

What Worries Procurement Professionals the Most? Trade Comes Out on Top

trade

Global trade disputes. Automation and job losses. Immigration policies. Which of these three worry procurement the most? In a survey of 200 procurement professionals recently conducted by Beroe Inc., 55% of the respondents cited trade squabbles as their top concern, reflecting broader anxieties about current political and economic uncertainty.

New Report: Are Our Supply Chains Less Responsible Than We Think?

hidden workers

Corporations are becoming wealthier. As of last year, 69 of the world’s 100 biggest economic entities are not nations but businesses, an increase from 63 in 2015. Can it be argued that those behemoth private sector corporations should be held to stricter procurement regulations and transparency, more like, dare one say, public procurement? This is a question that arises from the findings of a recent report from The Economist Intelligence Unit on supply chain responsibility.

Centralized, Decentralized or Hybrid Sourcing Structure: How Do We Decide?

Today’s Ask Spend Matters question came from Piyush Shah, a PhD student of supply chain management at Arizona State University: “Centralized, decentralized or hybrid sourcing structure? How do we decide?” This is a classic question and one that has sparked decades of passionate debate. Proponents of centralization point to the potential for higher savings. Defenders of decentralization argue that regional procurement teams can bring about better supplier relationships.

The easy answer is “It depends” or “A hybrid of the two.” But what does a hybrid structure look like? And how do factors like purchasing category, industry and stakeholders play into the assessment?

Employers and Employees Agree: Let Robots Take Over Non-Core Tasks!

What jumps to mind when you hear the words “work automation”? Maybe the topic leaves you indifferent. Maybe it’s anxiety that your job will go to the robots. Or maybe you think, “Gee, I wish a robot would take over the more mundane tasks so I can focus on the more valuable and interesting parts of my job.” Recent research supports that last sentiment.

ICYMI: What Have You Always Wondered About Procurement (But Were Afraid to Ask)?

The Spend Matters editors have been busy working through reader questions these past two weeks. Our recent submissions run the gamut from how to implement supplier relationship management to what professional skills will be most in demand in the supply chain and procurement field to, er, prank questions from our own colleagues. You might be thinking, “But hang on! What’s all this? Can I submit a question? Is this a new feature?” Yes and yes! In case you missed it (this is peak vacation time, after all), earlier this month we launched Ask Spend Matters, where you tell us what procurement questions to investigate, and we report out the answer in the form of an article.

Blame the Supplier: A Roundup of Recent Supply Chain Scandals

Makeup for tweens is controversial enough on its own, but when asbestos is involved, national news headlines follow. ABC11 reported this week that asbestos was found to be present in the “Just Shine Shimmer Powder” sold at Justice, a national retailer of girls’ apparel. Asbestos fibers, once inhaled, remain in the lungs permanently. As Sean Fitzgerald, the director of research at the lab where the investigation was conducted, told ABC11, children “could die an untimely death in their thirties or forties because of the exposure to asbestos in this product.”