Copy Uber's model to tackle next big challenges in procurement says CIPS economist

Paul Snell is managing editor at Supply Management
2 October 2014

The next big challenge for procurement and supply professionals over the next 12 months will be to adopt the business model of taxi sharing app Uber, says CIPS economist John Glen.

It may come as a surprise, but according to CIPS economist John Glen, speaking at the CIPS Annual Conference in London this morning, Uber is not actually in the business of taxis.

"Uber is in the business of looking out into the world where there is excess capacity and resources that are not being fully utilised and matching the resource with customers who want to use it," Glen told delegates.

"The key thing is you can take the Uber model and put it in so many different models. They are already talking about doing it with hotels, it would be quite easy."

"How do you look at capacity that exists within your own business that is not being currently fully utilised, that you could rent out to someone else or use in imaginative ways?"

"We now have to start to be very clever about how we form alliances with our supply chain, how we understand what it is our customer wants, how we use technologies that are out there cleverly with assets and customers in different geographies, and that is going to be our world in the next 12 months and beyond."

In his address on the state of the global economy, Glen also warned that purchasers in the UK would face cost pressure from rising wages over the next 12 to 18 months.

"If you are in the construction industry you already know that is happening to you. The labour market will get tighter. We have increased participation. Now we need to think about how we upskill and develop our people to improve productivity," he added.

Glen, who is a professor at Cranfield School of Management, also said the "investment boost" that has supported economic growth as businesses restocked their inventories following the financial crisis could continue. And this would push GDP growth above expectations.

"Speaking to one or two people before I came in here this morning, people are still saying 'when I go into my supply chain while the demand is very robust I still have problems securing inputs in my supply chain'. So that investment boost may go on a bit longer. If that is the case, that growth figure will be slightly higher," he said.

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