Ariba’s Alex Atzberger and Jason Busch on the ‘Golden Age of Procurement’

Over on our sister Spend Matters US site, there is an interesting two-part discussion between Jason Busch, Spend Matters founder, and Alex Atzberger, SAP Ariba President. They’re talking about digital disruption generally and in the supply chain – and what it means for procurement. Here is Atzberger:

“My view is, I believe we are entering a new golden age of procurement. And when I think about a new golden age of procurement, I truly believe that procurement has an enormous potential. With the way digital is affecting the supply chain, it gives procurement not just a seat at the table but it actually gives them an opportunity to become an actor and a value creator inside of the business. What that means, for one, is that we need to help make procurement truly awesome for everyone for who is involved with either the procurement organization or touched by procurement processes inside the company. Because if we are perfectly honest, in many companies, procurement doesn’t have the best reputation. Procurement is seen as sometimes slow to respond to market changes”.

He talks about moving to “no-touch” interactions for less valuable work and getting procurement to think about “bringing risk and supplier management to the next level, and how we look at not just the compliance function but also how we help the business innovate”.

So he is positive about the future: “This gives me a lot of confidence that we really are entering a golden age for procurement, because it is data-driven, it is cross-company, it touches every single process and it can, with the capabilities in the marketplace, be a connector between finance and the supply chain. If CPOs take the advantage of this, it creates an enormous value creation opportunity for the business”.

It’s well worth reading – part 1 of their conversation is here, and part 2 is here.

Our take on all of this is slightly more cautious; you can see what we mean by downloading our “Future of Procurement” paper here (co-written by Sigi Osagie and me). Whilst we are also broadly optimistic, there is also a non-trivial possibility that procurement as a function could be dis-intermediated by the digital revolution. So we need to be aware of the risks as well as the opportunities over the next few years.

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