Intelligent computers to act as expert advisors to buyers 'within next five years'

14 September 2015

Intelligent computers will soon act as expert advisors to purchasing professionals, while the 'Internet of Things' will eliminate some processes entirely, according to research into the future of procurement.

A report from Accenture looked at how procurement organisations will evolve from generating cost savings to meeting wider business demands. It highlighted how digital technologies will revolutionise procurement and its professionals by 2020, and how procurement will interact with internal stakeholders and the external supply base.

The study, Procurement’s next frontier: The future will give rise to an organization of one, said procurement would look very different in the next five to seven years. It concluded companies will rely heavily on a small group of strategic suppliers to help reduce costs and risk, as well as boost the top line through more effective innovation.

A more strategic focus will mean procurement functions help deliver value to the business far beyond securing needed supply at the best possible cost, the study predicted.

Mobile networks and the 'Industrial Internet of Things' (IIoT) will radically change or even eliminate certain procurement processes, the study found.

Intelligent and self-learning computers will become trusted “expert advisors” to procurement professionals, augmenting complex decisions and, in some cases, operating autonomously under human supervision.

Accenture also made recommendations to accelerate the transformation of procurement organisations. These included embedding procurement professionals within the business, connected to a smaller core decision-making team, and pairing analytics technology tools with procurement, analytics and technology experts to make more effective, data-driven business decisions.

“Our research also suggests that this new digitally powered procurement organisation will continue to significantly drive down its operating costs, while delivering more strategic value to the larger enterprise," the report said.

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