Strategic Sourcing Summit 2019: Transforming sourcing through digitisation | by Kate Ferreira

Kate Ferreira 2Bespoke’s sixth annual Strategic Sourcing Summit took place in Sandton, Johannesburg on 27 and 28 August 2019. The event was themed around the needs and benefits of digitisation within strategic sourcing and category management.

Delegates and speakers came from several countries in addition to the South African locals, including China and Kenya, and enjoyed a host of insightful presentations on the topic.

As we know, strategic sourcing is the process of identifying, evaluating, negotiating and optimising the procurement of strategic goods and services that best support the strategic objectives of the business. Digitisation here - as in all areas of business - offers opportunities to see deeper into the trends and metrics therein, and to exploit the resulting insights to elevate the function.

This was a theme that ran through the day’s speakers, many of whom had strong but encouraging words for the sourcing professionals in the room - as representatives of the industry.

Kgosi Musi, head of procurement at BME, a member of the Omnia Group, emphasised the idea of data being “the new oil”. He believes that disruptive tech like quantum computing, smart machines, and blockchain all have their place in the procurement function of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR), and that digital transformation in category management and strategic sourcing will help reduced risk and streamline processes, and should drive continuous improvement.

To respond to this, Joonas Jantunen, CEO of Cloudia Middle East and Africa, said that speed and agility will be needed to remain competitive in “today’s digital economy”, where adoption of new technologies is happening at “10x scale and 5x speed”.

eventSS 002Kobus van der Wath, founder of The Beijing Axis - who is based in China - says we need to stop talking about “future technologies”. Artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and the Internet of Things, he says, are embedded in the world today and are already transforming business, especially where he lives. Africa must not be left behind.

But it wasn’t all about the technology. Procurement expert, author of “The other end of the telescope”, and keynote speaker at the event, Ian Russell challenged delegates to think about centering people within the technologically driven revolution around us, saying: “We have to be good at communication, at building relationships. Think about all the different people that you have to work to, all the stakeholders. If you don’t manage these, you don’t get much done.”

Kervin Ali, head of group procurement at PPC Group, delivered the closing presentation, entitled “The transformative power of strategic sourcing and category management through digitisation”, arguing that for procurement to remain relevant, it must do more than “just" embrace digital, going further to also rethink their strategies and create a new organisational structure that enables digitisation wins.

“Procurement transformation,” he said, “is about moving from the tactical to the strategic”.The Summit day was then followed by a one-day workshop today presented by Jothi David on “Effective application of IR 4.0 in strategic sourcing and category management”.

Kate Ferreira is the contributing editor of Bespoke's Bulletin -

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Posted on September 20, 2019