These could be the procurement and supply chain roles most in demand in three decades’ time
Buyers will no longer be working on the basis of being the price makers. “The balance of power will be with the seller,” says Andrew Forzani, chief commercial officer at the UK’s Ministry of Defence, which means relationship management skills will be key. “Procurement will play a key role in the management of these critical suppliers and supply chains. We might even get renamed ‘risk managers’ or ‘supply chain protectors’.”
Business partnering specialist
There will be fewer administrative aspects of the procurement role and an increase in the intellectual rigour required to connect the dots from various data or information streams and come up with competitive breakthroughs, says Bilal Shaykh, former group CPO at Centrica. Business partnering skills will be in greater demand, he says, as future procurement professionals will possess the insights to earn a seat at the leadership table and shape company strategies to better reflect what the supply markets can offer.
Supply capacity developer
In the future, being carbon neutral may not be enough. Future trade is likely to be much more localised as a result of environmental issues, believes Forzani. This means procurement professionals will be focused on developing their local economic and national capability and industrial capacity. “As resources become more scarce, national security over specific minerals and chemicals and more will be protected, inhibiting international trade and meaning country alliances are more important.”
Head of complex procurements
Future employees may expect to self-serve the majority of their procurement needs through established systems, leaving purchasing and supply professionals to concentrate on solving complex issues, partnering and sustainability. Professionals will continue to exist in companies that procure large, non-repeatable and complex projects, such as infrastructure, says Simon Whatson, a principal at procurement consultancy Efficio, and they will be expected to manage content platforms, analysing them and spotting patterns to further help improve logic and algorithms.
The challenges may change but relationships, commercial acumen and leadership will remain the bedrock of the procurement role, believes Jim Townsend, CPO at Walgreens Boots Alliance. “The world will have different levels of political and economic uncertainty, industries that don’t exist today will appear and become the powerhouses of our future economies. We may see even more monolithic businesses that dictate to markets and buyers, coupled with greater uncertainty.” This will require fresh strategies and skills and see companies increasingly working together in new forms of partnerships to create advantage.
What will our supply chains look like in 2050?