2020 Predictions for Services Procurement: Scenarios and Black Swans [PRO]

As discussed in “2020 Problems in Services Procurement — No Light at the End of the Tunnel,” services constitutes the largest and perhaps most poorly managed non-payroll spend category. It covers an expansive set of sub-categories, from temporary staffing to other forms of directly sourced contingent workforce to a multitude of contracted B2B services (consulting, MRO, travel, IT management, legal, marketing).

“Human performance,” usually connected with the use of tools and resources/assets, has traditionally been the basis for the production and delivery of services. But services also have been becoming more digitized, both in terms of production and delivery. And there are now pure digital services, the production and delivery of which involve little or no human performance. Many are familiar with IBM Watson, but for nearly every form of human-based service, there is some type of digital/augmented solution that exists or is being worked on by an upstart firm. Look no further than the legal services industry, transportation or BPO industry and the impact that AI is having on those services.

There is no hiding the fact that gaining control over services represents a massive, complex undertaking — without exaggeration, a new frontier — for procurement. And obstacles and barriers to making significant, rapid progress abound, including inadequate (incomplete, fragmented) technology solutions and legacy enterprise architecture as well as organizational inertia. Still, there is hope — and there is innovation afoot.

This outlook and backdrop strongly conditions our view on what is likely to happen in 2020. Most of us would probably place our bets on a continuation of recent trends in the space (see “Incremental Scenarios” below). But we cannot rule out unexpected events/developments over the course of the year, either (see “Disruptive Scenarios” below).

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