2021 Procurement and Supply Chain Predictions from the market — Icertis

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Last year at the end of December 2019, we ran a series of predictions about procurement and supply chain trends for 2020 from expert tech and service providers in the market. Read about those predictions here. But who could have foreseen what happened in 2020!

It just goes to show that none of us can really predict anything — if we could we'd all be billionaires by now! However, it is always interesting and often useful to try to look ahead at what might be in store for our profession, our industry and our way of working (while avoiding politics). And of course the best learnings for the future come from looking back, which this year's contributors have attempted to do in our 2021 market predictions series.

So let’s start with our first contribution and see what Bernadette Bulacan, VP and Global Evangelist at contract management automation and intelligence provider Icertis, has to say:

Regulatory changes will increase complexity

As Brexit talks resume, we will soon find out the verdict of the deal that will be struck between the UK and the EU. Businesses in those markets will need to keep a keen eye on what this means for them. Changing regulations will take time to understand fully, and contracts — which are vital to a business’ operations — will need to flex to ensure continuance of commerce and compliance with a new regulatory framework. This will trigger a sprint within companies to understand the commercial terms and financial repercussions of these relationships while they prepare to address this new world order through new or amended contracts. Companies with contract management systems that structure and connect the critical information in those contracts with other enterprise systems will be able to surface intelligence that will give them a significant advantage over competitors who need to review these vital documents manually.

The rise of digital compliance in the supply chain

The start of 2020 focused on the importance of Environmental Social Governance (ESG); customers and consumers wanted more visibility in how companies were managing sustainable and ethical supply chains. Notwithstanding the turn of events in 2020 and the focus on supply chain resiliency in the pandemic, a number of businesses were criticized for unethical practices within their supply chain. So, while many will claim 2021 will be the Year of Supply Chain Resiliency (a continuation and reaction to the pandemic) because of consumer and customer sentiment, I believe that 2021 will be the Year of Supply Chain Visibility. Companies must transform their contractual relationships with these suppliers into data so that they can exercise hyper care and be data-driven to understand whether these goods are sourced responsibly, ethically and sustainably. Company reputations will be at stake. Those companies that prioritize digital compliance have access to data about their contractual partners and require and monitor that all suppliers adhere to the same level of ethical and sustainability standards set out in their contracts will be the winners of 2021. This could see supply chain operations becoming increasingly digital, integrating technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchain to manage, flag and mitigate risk.

Diverse supply chains/equitable supply chains

In 2020 in the US, citizens took to the streets to protest the death of George Floyd at the hands of police. Corporations also took up the call to address long-standing racial inequities and use their financial strength to reduce the barriers that existed, including committing significant budget to support supplier diversity initiatives and making their supply chains more equitable. This includes dedicating supply chain spend and procurement spend to suppliers who are minority, disabled, veteran, LGBTQ and woman-owned businesses. Companies that serve diverse markets globally know that supplier diversity initiatives are a critical competitive advantage, helping win new business, retain customers and reinforce their brand reputation. As the recipients of dollars in the supply chain become diversified, contract lifecycle management (CLM) technology plays a critical role in tracking supplier diversity and, ultimately, ensuring these initiatives succeed.

Thanks to Icertis, and look out for more solution provider predictions over the next couple of weeks, with an overall take on the series from our analysts at the end. See all of the vendor predictions here.

*Please note that the order of vendor predictions in this series is based entirely on the order in which they dropped onto our digital doorstep, nothing more. 

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