The Digital Procurement Era – Listen To Prof. Rob Handfield’s Webinar for BravoSolution

Last week BravoSolution held the latest in the Real World Procurement series of webinars with author and academic Professor Rob Handfield talking about the Digital Procurement Era. His opening question was this - How can digital supply chains help drive visibility, capabilities, knowledge management, cost reduction, contract compliance, risk, and flexibility in the face of uncertainty?

That is a big question, and one that he and Tom Linton have explored in a book that is coming out soon called “The Living Supply Chain – The Evolving Imperative Of Operating In Real Time”.  (We’ll look out for that and hopefully review it when it is available).

He started by talking about Uber and how its digital technology has revolutionised its industry and flattened the existing competition. Top managers expect “industry convergence” to be the single biggest external trend affecting their business – for example, how many different sectors will Amazon influence? Big data continued to grow exponentially and data / analytics is vital to allow businesses to compete and thrive.

Handfield then introduced the concept of “velocity” – the flow of information through the supply chain which can reduce cost (and risk) and improve customer satisfaction. He also discussed “interactive collaboration” which can apply in issues such as supply chain risk and visibility, as well as in military contexts (which he touched on). But it is key to have real-time visibility – your car speedometer would be no good if it told you how fast you were going a week ago!

Supply chain visibility is also key to driving “Good” – the whole range of sustainability and corporate social responsibility issues such as provenance. Perhaps we will have a “product genome” so we know everything about the history of the product we’re buying.

In what was perhaps the most thought-provoking section of the webinar, he drew parallels between the living world on the one hand and business and supply chains in the new digital era on the other.  Handfield quoted the book “The Serengeti Rules”, which is all about how the living world works, as well as his own forthcoming publication to talk about issues such as how a “balance of species (competitors) keeps the entire ecosystem healthy”.

To test these linkages, I do need to run these ideas by my wife and daughter who are much more au fait with Darwinism and the biological world than me! But whether or not we can really draw all these parallels, it is interesting and thought-provoking stuff.

As usual with Professor Handfield, this is a full “lecture length” webinar, with 50 minutes of strong content, and you can access the recorded version and download the slides if you wish using this link.

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