The Procurement industry has changed dramatically over the last 10-15 years, whereas initially the Procurement professional was “just” a figure who managed business contacts, orders and contracts, now the CPO plays an increasingly strategic role and must have a cross-functional skill set, including for example risk management, sustainability, category and change management.
Who deals with procurement, both in the public and private sector, plays in fact a fundamental role in the realization of the business vision and the relative ability to innovate. eProcurement supports CPOs in this challenge, primarily because it enables them to process large amounts of data, obtaining information that would have been impossible to collect otherwise.
Data must be put at the centre of any business decision, and thanks in part to new technologies such as AI, machine learning and big data analytics, the collection and processing capabilities of eProcurement platforms are evolving rapidly. As a result, the focus of CPOs has broadened considerably, and their skills need to do the same.
The pandemic has accelerated a process of renewal of the figure of the procurement officer that had already begun some time ago, particularly as regards the attitude to the use of technology. Many companies have, in fact, redesigned their supply chains by adopting, also as a matter of urgency, new digital solutions, including integrated eProcurement platforms.
In order to fully realize the benefits of change, it is essential to implement information centralization; data must be shared across business structures in order to identify room for improvement and better allocate resources holistically.
Modern procurement solutions such as vortalvision enable the processing of large amounts of data, the problem is knowing how to leverage it effectively. It still happens, for example, that data is collected by different systems that are unable to collaborate, and that the resulting analysis is partial, bringing little value to the business.
The real key, then, is the correlation between data pertaining to different dimensions/phases of procurement and other business functions, such as logistics and finance. The more correlations are established, the greater the ability to generate innovation through data analysis.
Procurement platforms also help develop the skills of dedicated staff by facilitating the application of best practices, an example being the automation of the simplest and most repetitive purchases, which saves time and increases efficiency, a practice made possible by technology for several years now.
Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning applied to procurement are certainly among the most interesting new technologies to explore. And it is precisely in this area that VORTAL has invested in recent years, enabling the interoperability of its platform and the development of Business Intelligence tools.
Purchasing processes must, however, be fully computerized, and used extensively and effectively, before the benefits of these new technologies can be activated. In this historical moment it is first fundamental to digitalize all the phases of the procurement, having the attention to guarantee the interoperability of the data between different systems, done that it will be possible to define and to obtain new ambitious objectives thanks to the technological innovation. The eProcurement platforms must therefore no longer be thought of as tools that simply increase the efficiency of processes, which I would take for granted, but as strategic assets that allow for innovation.