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PurchasingB2B

Looking ahead

Procurement trends for 2018


January 4, 2018
by Michael Power

From the December 2017 print edition

Michael Power is editor of PurchasingB2B.

There’s nothing like the end of the year and the beginning of a new one to put me in the mood for making lists. To me, whether it’s a Christmas wish list or things to try (or give up) in the New Year, December means committing items to paper.

To indulge this, below is a list of trends I’ve noticed in procurement and supply chain during the past year. It’s by no means comprehensive—and in no particular order—but provides a snapshot of what I’ve noticed over the last 12 months that we’ll likely see more of in 2018.

Technology: Everywhere I turned this year, I heard about the disruptive yet transformative effects of technology. Whether it’s data, artificial intelligence or robotics, everyone seems to be talking about how these shifts will affect the purchasing function.
Supplier diversity: As Canada’s demographics shift, and as diversity becomes even more the reality in the country’s population, organizations will increasingly realize the benefits supplier diversity offers. So much so, that having a supplier base that’s diverse in many ways will cease to be the exception (one day).

Soft skills: Knowledge of and proficiency in core procurement skills will, of course, remain important for any procurement professional going forward. But in the future, skills like communication and collaboration will gain in importance. Those looking for a job in procurement and the supply chain should combine these skills with a solid understanding of technology.

Risk: Supply chains (and economies generally) will continue to globalize. While this leads to opportunities, it can also present risks. This means that uncertainty and volatility will remain the new norm for procurement, as will working with internal risk experts.

Innovation: Procurement will also continue to look to suppliers as sources of innovation. In 2017, I’ve heard procurement professionals say that they ask key suppliers to identify what they will deploy in the next three to five years. As globalization continues and technology moves forward, this practice will continue.

There you have it, a look at a few of the trends I’ve seen over the past year that will continue in 2018. Speaking of looking ahead, we at PurchasingB2B magazine are delighted to announce that we have a new owner. Toronto-based iQ Business Media has acquired the magazine. We’re very excited about this, as PurchasingB2B aligns well with iQ Business Media’s existing publications. With some magazines that have served their industries since 1955, the company has no shortage of expertise and experience.

It’s a great way to start 2018, which coincidentally is also our 60th year of publication. Nothing like hitting two milestones in one year!