‘To Boldly Go’ Where No Procurement Professional Has Gone Before (part 2)

We are delighted to publish the second part of the post from guest author Daniel Ball, Director, Wax Digital, discussing innovation in procurement technology.

In his article he considers how four emerging technologies of today are set to revolutionise procurement and corporate buying in the 21st century. The first two discussed were The Internet of Things and Collaboration Technology. Today he discusses Wearable Technology and Online Search Technology.

Wearable technology

Analyst firm IHS predicts that the global wearable technology market will have grown by 500 percent between 2011 and 2016, from 14 million units to 92.5 million units being shipped as adoption levels are expected to soar. Wearable technology currently divides opinion. Some view it as being a productive way to gain immediate access to information, thereby replacing the reliance on smartphones and physical documentation. Others view wearable devices with scepticism as just a cynical means to track employee activity. While wearable devices such as Google Glass are relatively embryonic, their potential to extract and receive data from multiple sources (smartphones etc) and connect to external databases will help to track activities throughout the supply chain to increase efficiency and collaboration.

We anticipate that wearable devices will make a significant impact on the acceleration of purchasing processes, as procurement professionals stand to benefit from having immediate access to real-time relevant data to make better informed decisions. Mobile workforces in particular are expected dramatically to increase efficiency through being able to carry out their daily tasks instantaneously while ‘on the move.’ An outsourced delivery network could utilise wearable technology to provide data on its efficiency performance, benchmarked against SLA targets or provide accurate, up-to-the-minute evidence of hours of work completed. Purchase-to-pay bottlenecks will also be eliminated as wearable technology will make purchase approvals and sign-offs easier - as authorised approvers will be able to approve, request more information or directly call the requisitioner from their device to resolve any queries.

Wearable technology’s undoubted strength rests in its ability to provide relevant, real-time data and information seamlessly bringing what we need, when we need it without burdening us with unnecessary administrative processes. For example in the health sector the impact of wearable technology is likely to be profound. Nurses, who typically are limited by what they can carry on their person, could wear watches fitted with scanners allowing them to re-order ‘stock’ while at a patient’s bedside rather than having to remember to do it when returning to their desk, transforming the efficiency of patient care.

Online search technology

Online search and shopping can pose one of the biggest threats to purchasing compliance, offering ample opportunity for employees to buy from unqualified suppliers without proper spend authorisation. However, emerging context-based search technology, which sits seamlessly alongside procurement platforms, offers a significant opportunity to help businesses save money and actually improve purchasing controls.

We are currently working to deliver a new technology initiative called FUSE, within Wax Digital web3, which we think has the potential to revolutionise the way businesses buy goods and services by ‘fusing’ procurement software with internet shopping. It is developments like this that will bring the web at large, as well as punch-out and locally hosted supplier catalogues, together into a single search function.

This would benefit buyers by allowing them to automatically compare prices of similar items from multiple sources to ensure they are paying the best price, for example. For a growing number of organisations using procurement tools the web can become their extended supplier catalogue. Spend would remain properly coded and authorised before it is committed.

Current approaches to strategic procurement could be yielding tangible results. The globalisation of markets presents a constant wave of challenges which some organisations may struggle to keep pace with. The technologies of tomorrow have the potential to spark a revolutionary change for procurement and corporate buying to boldly go where it has never gone before.


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