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2021 Procurement and Supply Chain Predictions from the market — SAP (part 1)

12/22/2020 By

Last year at the end of December 2019, Spend Matters 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!

This year, the market provides its predictions again, and of course the best learnings for the future come from looking back.

Today let’s look at what enterprise technology and intelligence firm SAP foresees:

A shift away from the traditional, linear supply chain to a broader supply network

2020 has been defined by supply chain disruption. The impact of COVID-19 has accelerated trends that will not only lead to the diversification and localization of supply chains, but also increase the need for digitalization and end-to-end visibility. Now more than ever, procurement is uniquely positioned to be transformative and highly impactful for businesses as we enter a new era of data-driven intelligence. A shift away from the traditional, linear supply chain to a broader supply network, coupled with dynamic partnerships driving innovation, will be key to gaining a 360-degree view of supply, improving cash flow, developing new products and pursuing sustainability initiatives. Breaking away from reactivity and focusing on proactivity will be essential in tackling new business challenges in a post-COVID-19 world. Network strategies, and making use of data-driven insights, will be important in avoiding repercussions from future shocks and shifts, replacing linearity with interconnectivity.

Sean Thompson, Executive Vice President, Network and Ecosystem, SAP Procurement Solutions

It’s time to recognize the power of supplier relationships

COVID-19 undoubtedly shined a light on the importance of procurement. As businesses experienced major shifts and disruption on a global scale, procurement leaders rose to the challenge and emerged as heroes in their organizations by securing critical supply and ensuring business continuity. Even more importantly, by laying the foundation for functional excellence in this way, they were freed up to connect to their organizations’ strategy and purpose despite challenges that at times seemed unsurmountable. However, as we come out of the crisis-mode that defined most of 2020, changes must be made to truly overcome supply chain disruption and ensure long-term resiliency. A critical lesson learned is the importance of establishing and maintaining strong supplier relationships. By proactively listening to suppliers and better understanding their experience and challenges, procurement leaders can take the necessary action to improve their businesses through their ability to secure critical supply, deliver with a greater degree of resiliency and accelerate savings by uncovering and addressing barriers. As we head into 2021, it is time to recognize the power these relationships have in providing insight for leaders to better understand their KPIs and move the needle for their businesses in a positive direction.

Jason Wolf, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Intelligent Spend and Business Network, SAP

Procurement’s role is paramount to restoring confidence to organizations 

As the year draws to a close, the full measure of the pandemic’s devastating effects is just coming into view. Beyond its incalculable human toll, COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on nearly every business, in every industry, in every region. As we welcome a new year, I believe that procurement — and particularly procurement technology — has a paramount role to play in restoring confidence to organizations as they seek to regain their competitive edge, revive their operational resiliency, and replenish their hopes for the future. That level of confidence requires a seamless, integrated approach to digital business processes that extends visibility, reduces complexity, and fosters collaboration. That’s how procurement “makes it happen,” and it’s why we’re placing a strong focus on executing against our SAP Procurement “North Star” vision in the year ahead.

Salvatore Lombardo, Senior Vice President and Chief Product Officer, SAP Procurement Solutions


Thanks to all the executives at SAP, with more to follow, 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.