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Spend Friends podcast discusses the human side of supplier innovation

01/14/2021 By

Despite its focus on technology, procurement innovation will shift the industry’s attention to more of the human side of doing business — specifically in supplier innovation, said Clive Heal, an innovator and keynote speaker at CRH Innovation.

Heal joined Spend Matters and CIPS in the second episode of the video podcast Spend Friends. It’s a monthly talk hosted by Bill Michels, the VP of Operations — Americas at the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) USA, and Pierre Mitchell, Spend Matters’ Chief Research Officer. Its goal is to focus on all procurement matters under the sun, like spend management, supply chain and other topics.

In the second episode, Michels, Mitchell and Heal discussed supplier innovation.

Traditionally, procurement has rated innovation low on its list of priorities. Mitchell cited a Deloitte CPO survey he is working on that again found that innovation was rated low on priorities last year. High priorities remained digital transformation, new products and services, and cost reduction.

However, Heal argued that innovation can integrate and go across all business priorities. When just beginning an innovation movement, Heal said it’s most important to really home in on the specific business needs of the organization. Using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as a model, Heal said the first priority of supplier innovation should be addressing the most prominent needs of the business.

“People in our business, the stakeholders, are much more open to innovation if it’s helping address one of their business needs rather than bringing them the shiny new toy,” Heal said. “Procurement should always know what the business needs are. … If you can help solve those big issues with innovation, you’ll get the buy-in. People need that resolution, that innovative idea to help them.”

In the Spend Friends’ last podcast episode, Mitchell and Michels theorized that value was increasingly becoming an important metric in procurement.

When Mitchell and Michels asked Heal about value, he said supplier innovation can drive value to an organization in six ways. Innovation can “support any or all of these” measures:

  • Cost-savings assessment
  • Headcount efficiencies (reducing the number of people in the process)
  • Speed/time
  • Risk monitoring
  • Customer service
  • Revenue growth

Although innovation is often about technology — things like artificial intelligence or robotics — Heal argued that the human-centric approach is only going to grow in importance as innovative measures take hold. As technology gets better, the person also will become stronger — becoming a more creative and empathetic person along the way.

“We’re moving to a whole new world where the technology is playing a different role,” Heal said. “Where the relationships we have internally and externally become paramount. We’re moving to a world that is very much human-centricity and human centric. … There’s a whole portal opening up and we’re walking into a world which is much more technology-enabled and also about people and relationships that we have.”

Spend Friends will return Tuesday, Feb. 9, for more intriguing procurement discussions! Register here to attend the next live Zoom session. And listen to the second episode below.