Millennial Procurement (Part 1) – a New Generation, a New Approach

We are pleased to welcome this post, in two parts, from Sibby Smith, Management Consultant - Procurement and Commercial with AECOM, a global provider of professional technical and management support services. 

Crowdsourcing your procurement: progressive? wacky? hair-brained? Is it really too radical a movement for the more traditionally risk-averse industries? Our dynamic young group of progressive consultants don’t think so.

As the largest generation in history enters its economic prime and establishes an unyielding dominance across global markets, it’s high time we wake up to a tech-savvy, socially intelligent, group of business leaders who demand, nay expect, immediate results executed with the precision efficiency of a Japanese sushi chef.

Millennials cut their teeth on technology, and with roughly 2 billion people now regularly accessing social technology, we have access to human capital on an unprecedented scale - quite literally at the touch of a button. We share our experiences online; we make our business connections online; we fall in love online; we follow our idols online; we run political campaigns online; we raise money online ... But most simply, and most crucially, we buy online.

Millennials have been on the receiving end of a lot of criticism from previous generations: branded lazy, entitled, unrealistic, over-sensitive, self-obsessed - to name but a few. But millennials are no longer a bunch of adolescents: they are on the cusp of economic sovereignty. It is true: every generation is unique, and every generation has had its time in the limelight to put a new feather in an old hat. Millennials are no different: it’s just our turn - and we think we’re crafting a brand new hat. We too have approached our careers with a different set of priorities borne from a different set of experiences - not least, in our case - coming into our earning years at the start of arguably the most potent financial crisis since the Great Depression. Millennials don’t come to work to just get a pay cheque, we come to work to meet new people, add new skills and experiences to our quivers, and enrich our lives.

Placing more value in community and creativity in our work, and investing more in human capital than any other generation before us, we boast a great number of innovators, entrepreneurs, and collaborators amongst us. Our unique experiences have cultivated behaviours idiosyncratic of a generation brought up in a period where change, facilitated by fibre optic broadband, occurs at breakneck speed, and as a consequence we have evolved to turn on a penny, demonstrating a sharp and agile response capability. We have high expectations of the achievable, and our priorities appear to be in stark contrast to generations before us.

The millennial generation is reshaping the economic playground, offering unique characteristics with a potency that is demanding businesses to scrutinise their operations in order to adapt to a new way of doing things. Organisations must therefore future proof for a highly expectant demographic who are in control of the purse strings, and revolutionising the way we buy and sell.

Some of the questions that we are seeking to answer will consider what this means for the future of our business to business relationships: what we can do differently to update our supply chains and bring them into a more collaborative, innovative, and sustainable world. Most businesses have now adapted to the latest in procurement- making it ‘e’- and whilst that brings with it efficiency improvements and cost savings, we need to accept that it in many cases it simply transfers carbon procurement practices onto an electronic platform.

In Part 2 we will start to look at ways in which we can do procurement differently, and how we can harness the full economic potential of our millennials when seeking to procure and strengthen our B2B relationships.

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