Virtual Supplier Rooms Will Drive Procurement Innovation: Accenture

virtual supplier room

Historically, Accenture has not been known for creativity. Consistency and scale are 2 modifiers that come to mind to describe the firm. But when it comes to procurement, Accenture is pushing the envelope of thinking in a bunch of areas in its thought leadership efforts.

A recent paper, Procurement’s Next Frontier – The Future Will Give Rise to an Organization of One, explores the future role of the procurement function, including duties, charter and what it will need to leverage and deliver to meet expectations.

One of the 5 areas Accenture says will define the future of procurement technology is a concept it terms the “virtual supplier room.” A critical component of the virtually integrated enterprise, this room will:

… enable the company to virtually interact with strategic suppliers to share insights and ideas, as well as collaborate on innovation programs via common social media methods. It will also provide uncharted suppliers with an avenue to collaborate with the company on possible future innovations.

In other words, as we see it, the virtual supplier room will:

  • Provide an alternative and complement to face-to-face interaction with suppliers
  • Help suppliers interact with procurement and other internal groups as if they were members of the organization instead of simply a vendor
  • Leverage both traditional collaboration and new approaches to bring parties together
  • Facilitate supplier development activities and the co-creation of new IP with suppliers
  • Become a source of innovation to filter ideas from the supply community into the business

The concept of the virtual supplier room sounds relatively simple, especially compared with some of the other areas Accenture proposes will form the basis of future procurement technology. But the supplier room will require much more than a virtual water cooler to become effective, as I’ll explain in a follow-up post.

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