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It’s 2030 and your role of Procurement Manager has long since changed to that of Virtual Acquisition Manager.  You’re sitting at your place of work in a high-tech ‘Focus Space,’ which in 2016 was known as your home office. Your focus is on strategic procurements, not the purchasing of common goods and services; the latter is now carried out by artificial intelligence, where the ‘big data boom and predictive analytics’ have come and gone. Decades worth of spend data is at last now shared, residing in highly secure floating clouds where information is so harmonious that it can be used to make automated purchasing decisions.

World class procurement technology is offering you flexible working such that you can work when and where you choose, and you’re able to make faster and more informed decisions.  The days are long gone when you sat in an open plan office evaluating bids using proportional scoring methods, with an Excel® spreadsheet that had been reused and rehashed many times.  Those working methods seem archaic and so out of date now.

As far as 2030 goes, you are leading a major procurement for a new Driverless Highway Project. 2016 seems like the old days - your ‘Focus Space’ resembles a minimalistic pod with the power of NASA Mission Control, where a coffee-making robot provides the morning caffeine fix. As well as your mobile tablet, you possess a virtual reality headset which enables highly interactive communication with your virtual project team and suppliers.

Cost reductions for your project mean offsite construction and onsite assembly are a priority, as is the importance of 30% of the infrastructure build being met by 3D-printing on an industrial scale. Times have changed, and cost efficiencies can be met in ways barely conceivable back in 2016.  Supported by your unique AWARD® RVfM Module, the creation of different pricing and weighting scenarios helps to quickly analyse and predict how your scoring methods will ensure the project achieves value for money.

Compared to 2016, globalised trade has increased;  along with this, so has the volume of international suppliers bidding for your high profile contract. Decisions you once made face-to-face during business hours are now being made in an intertwined virtual world 24-hours a day, 7-days a week. Your haptic touchscreen and powerful electronic collaboration tools put you in contact with global stakeholders, aiding simultaneous communication. Correspondence is automatically recorded for disclosure when audited.

Here in 2030 the challenges posed by the integration of procurement technology in 2016, that put most of your peers’ heads in the Cloud, have now gone.  However, the pressure to align constantly changing policies to business systems remains. The thought-leaders in 2016, who inspired your organisation and its staff to embrace technology with niche SaaS delivered applications, were well ahead of the game. This means here in 2030 you and your organisation are far more confident and better prepared to take on the challenges posed by a faster and ever-evolving procurement environment.

Whilst this brief story may paint a futuristic picture, and you might not have your virtual headset just yet; the truth is that the future of procurement is being shaped by emerging technologies now. By being open to considering and rolling out niche best practice procurement technologies today, your organisation will be knowledgeable and better prepared for what will be achievable in 2030.

Thinking may help, but in reality you’ve got to take action to make change as soon as possible. After all, the electronic procurement tools that you use today are being used to make decisions on projects that will benefit and shape our future.

For a number of us the future of procurement technology and the benefits it provides are already here. The pace of innovation is relentless;  those who haven’t embraced technological advances and stick to ‘doing what they have always done’ will be left further and further behind.

Now where’s my kettle? I need to make a coffee!

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