The tech-savvy but common-sense-less buyers of the future

6 March 2012

A recent survey from energy company npower has uncovered some startling statistics about the buyers of the future. According to its survey of 5-13 year olds, more children can use an iPhone (42 per cent) or iPad (31 per cent) than read a map (19 per cent) or make a cup of tea (35 per cent).

Now I can understand if you doubt the significance of this, such as, why would a five-year-old be making a cup of tea in the first place? But I think the survey touches on an important point. Specifically, that technology and all the short cuts it offers is in danger of eradicating the need to develop basic practical human skills. As survival expert and TV presenter Ray Mears said of the results: “The latest figures are really shocking and I can’t believe our young people are so ill-equipped when it comes to practical skills.” Now I know technology offers great opportunities for buyers, so it’s good news that as the young ones grow up and enter the profession they will take to buying portals and spend management systems like the proverbial ducks to water. But I’m slightly more concerned they will just see them as numbers on a page, especially if they’ve never been to the supplier site and instead have carried out all meetings with suppliers over Skype. Technology is a good driver of innovation and offers some great opportunities, but it shouldn’t be used as a replacement or a shortcut. If it is valued over and above practical nous then procurement people will no doubt be able to drive efficiency savings on buying washers and screws thanks to data from spend analytics, but sadly they won’t know what they’re used for. And I think that could throw up some serious issues.
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