Technology and not the least generative AI seem to take over the corporate narrative. Having a DJ, exaggerating delegate numbers and overall having a really high pitch voice when talking about conferences seem to be the norm. EBG | Network have chosen to stick with low key, honest, smaller, informal and experience based conferences. Last week and for the 13th year in a row, EBG hosted a two day summit focusing on just that. CPO Outlook 2023 delivered what most people need – a place to learn how others are tackling the same challenges they have.
It was a relief to experience that it is still the most valuable to meet face to face and talk to each other. Not pretending like any of us know what lies ahead but still being curious to learn.
Anna Bjärkerud started off the summit by suggesting that if all at the end will conclude that people are the biggest opportunity and the biggest hurdle to change, if data is as crap as we all think and that processes indeed are cut in pieces making it hard to create end to end visibility and control – let’s start all conversations with that insight.
An EBG summit focus on keynotes, round table discussions (32 last week), workshops (8 last week) and a dinner event. Below some of the key takeaways;
People are indeed the opportunity and hurdle and companies will have to consider what talents to bring in ahead
Companies were once during the industrial age organized into silos to be as productive as possible. Still this is how most companies are organized yet the need for cross function insights and end to end processes is being more and more desired. Working in a networked and process oriented way seem to be a way forward to avoid or explore organizational gaps (see professor Mats Tyrstrup research).
All were in agreement skills like change management know how, collaboration mindsets and communication skills are and will be increasingly important.
What is your reason to be (as a professional and within your company and function)?
This question is as old as dividing functions into pieces in an organization. Going back to management to learn what mandate procurement have – is it creators of value, protectors of value, margin keepers or policy police or something else? It is not necessarily so that management understand the true value procurement can create so what do you do? Again being the gap connectors, the cross function collaborators – possibly even without a mandate but knowing this is key. Are you that person?
What is stopping you from doing what you want (back to reason to be)?
The discrepancy between what procurement do, want to do and do not want to do is as high as ever. How can this be? To what extent are people within the procurement function prohibited to do what they perceive to be most value creating? To what extent are they not able to solve the problems needed in order to achieve the results asked for?
Try asking “what is the problem” ad learning what that problem is – how big of a problem is it? How important is it to solve that exact problem? If it is huge yet you do are not able to solve it – what should you do?
Should procurement force the business into its systems or the reverse?
Technology is advancing rapidly including introducing artificial intelligence in different shapes and forms. Still most have experienced systems not delivering as intended. Why? An interesting discussion came up focusing on if procurement instead of forcing the business into procurement systems should incorporate ways of working and data required into business systems.
System landscapes can often be described as spaghetti landscapes, putting applications on top of a scattered system landscape. Again, how much of a problem is that to the business outcome? Not many companies have a clean sheet to start from.
Management focus highlighting paradoxes
The recent Deloitte CPO Survey 2023 stated that among the top enterprise priorities – 72% stated Digital transformation (third most important after driving operational efficiency and enhancing ESG/CSR).
As their number two strategy to deliver the most value – 42% stated investing in digital transformation (number one was increasing level of supplier collaboration).
Still – when asked within which talent areas these companies invest the most – Strategic Sourcing/Category Management was a clear number one at 61%. Data and analytics came in third at 51% and digital capability development not until no 9 at 23%.
So how much of a possibility is really digital transformation seen as? Or put differently – how much of a problem is not having enough digital development skills perceived as? Not that much it seems.
Coming back with more reflections!