The Future of Procurement Technology

Research has shown that leading companies today employ extensive use of procurement technology for purposes of driving high performance. Procurement masters do this in the following ways:

  • Provide heavy support to their source-to-pay process via a complete suite of integrated technology modules.
  • Achieve “one version of the truth” through the harmonization of master data across systems and consistent maintenance procedures.
  • Have access to highly visible data so as to enable full reporting.
  • Boast a full portfolio of supplier integration technology.

Today’s procurement masters therefore enjoy significant payoffs, delivering 2.5 times more value for every dollar spent in procurement, in comparison to average performers. But what lies ahead with regards to procurement technology benefits of the future? Take a look.

Innovative Technology

With the economy still in recovery, business focus has shifted to technology that is easy to deploy and which delivers a quick and tangible ROI. Granted, technology today typically focuses on the manufacturing element of the enterprise, which is where the money is made. Nevertheless, procurement remains at the heart of every organization; therefore innovation in technology can help boost procurement engagement ultimately leading to a reduction in costs and increase in savings.

Increased Connectivity

Procurement managers of the future will increasingly need to adapt to the convergence of work and play. Consumer-style expectations will persist in their migration into the workplace with access via the traditional PC/ browser-based platforms being superseded by apps. Procurement technology applications will shift their focus to engagement and usability so as to drive efficient processes and fantastic compliance. Additionally, as with the internet, technology is set to become even more connected over time.

Intelligent, Multi-Dimensional Data

Business procurement is set to resemble consumer procurement platforms such as eBay and Amazon. This will be achieved through technology that is more intelligent and which utilizes multiple dimensions of data to steer spending behavior towards the most attractive deals. In this way, procurement managers will be able to make purchasing decisions that are quick and better informed.

An efficient and integrated technology foundation is critical for achieving such results for the business of the future. This will also require thought leadership in procurement and sourcing, specialized skills for SAP procurement and global client experience to assist an organization in the maintenance of a reliable, high quality supply base while reducing costs. It is such a foundation that will provide your business with a procurement technology framework that will power high performance for years to come.

The Technology Bugaboo

Technology is here to stay! Well, not really, because it just changed while you were reading this. But technology as an ever-advancing, ever evolving, rapidly changing phenomenon, and an important business necessity, is here to stay. 

IT’S LIKE LEARNING A FOREIGN LANGUAGE

Bits and bytes, scrolls and ribbons, right clicks and icons, shortcuts and pathways, worms, viruses, and Trojan horses, function keys and cold boots, displays, screens and keys, mainframes and PC’s, laptops and notebooks, CPU’s and Accessories, USB’s and thumb drives, CD’s and floppies, cursors, underscores, webs and websites, URL’s, Windows which open and close, software, hardware, WiFi and wireless connectivity, cyberspace, touchscreens and keyboards, bugs and crashes, freezes, mice, and tabs, portals, Java, Word and Excel,Twitter and Tweets, wikis, Ning, Facebook or YouTube.  Need I go on?

The technology comes with an always expanding vocabulary, and technical references that would “choke a horse.” And, just when you think you’ve mastered some version of software, along comes a new release.

YOU CAN’T CATCH UP

Might as well reconcile yourself to the fact that you can never catch up. The programmers, software and hardware designers, chip-makers and technology companies (like Microsoft, Intel, Samsung, Sony, AMD, ASIS, and HP), like it this way. They follow a supply/demand mentality although in this case, the supply always precedes the demand. They create a new and better product, and the world “beats a path to their door.”

They constantly look for new products and features, create technology releases that render the current ones obsolete and give you the impression you’re always behind the times – and you are!

THE DIGITAL NATIVE and IMMIGRANT DESCRIBED

If you were born before 1980 you’re in deep do-do. Although not all those born after 1980 are considered “Digital Natives,” those born prior to that year are considered one of the “Digital Immigrants;” a term used to describe those who migrated to the world of technology versus the ‘Natives’ who were born and raised in it.” “A digital native is a person for whom digital technologies already existed when they were born, and hence has grown up with digital technology” as defined by Marc Prensky (On the Horizon [NCB University Press, Vol. 9 No.5, October, 2001]). “Digital Natives are used to receiving information really fast. They like to parallel process and multi-task. They prefer their graphics before their text rather than the opposite. They prefer random access (like hypertext). They function best when networked. They thrive on instant gratification and frequent rewards. They prefer games to ‘serious’ work’.” (Prensky 2001a, p. 1) “They have spent their entire lives surrounded by and using computers, videogames, digital music players, video cams, cell phones, and all the other toys and tools of the digital age.” (Prensky, 2001)

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

As a digital native you may be more comfortable than the immigrants, but in either case you can’t afford to become a digital refugee. If you’re an immigrant consider the following:

–You have to begin learning, understanding, and becoming proficient with the technologies.

–Recognize that you may be constantly behind the “learning curve.”

–Just as any newcomer to a foreign society, you must take time to learn the culture, practices and language; you must invest the time and effort.

–Tackle your fears. Don’t worry about looking foolish or inept. The NATIVES are generally FRIENDLY.

–Purchase a new Smartphone and laptop; start using them.

–Practice, practice, PRACTICE. This is the only way to master the technologies. Remember, most natives have spent tens of thousands of hours immersed in the technologies.

–Consider your studies and exploration an adventure, and an education; ENJOY.

Copyright ©, 2009, Dr. Ben A. Carlsen, MBA. All Rights Reserved Worldwide for all Media. You may reprint this article in your ezine, newsletter, newspaper, magazine, website, etc. as long as you leave all of the links active, do not edit the article in any way, leave my name and bio box intact, and you follow all of the EzineArticles Terms of Service for Publishers.

Leadership Skills Are Necessary for Technology Managers in the Current Business Economy

Technology oriented careers have been making a comeback. Accordingly, talented technology managers are necessary in every area of the field – from Web design and development, to database-driven e-commerce, to software engineering, to technical service and support. Technology positions, from programmer to CIO, are also critically important in organizations from all industries, including manufacturing, healthcare, education, government and service firms. Technology professionals often seek career advancement but need the leadership skills necessary to advance their careers. In response to these industry demands, adult-learning and distance learning schools now offer technology degrees at the bachelor’s and master’s degree levels, often in accelerated formats.

However, other necessary characteristics of successful technology managers cannot be found on a silicon microchip or in a line of CSS markup code. Some of these characteristics include a talent for leadership; the ability to communicate ideas and directions, and the ability to motivate and mentor staff. These skills are not taught in all technology curricula of the 21st century. However, some information technology and computer science academic curriculum designers are beginning to recognize the importance of teaching soft skills in the classroom. Accordingly, some programs of study now emphasize specialized leadership training for would-be technology managers.

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that computer and information systems professionals typically require advanced-level training (namely, a master’s degree) in order to be considered for leadership positions in technology. The BLS also points to the need for technology job applicants to have diverse experience in technology systems and applications. This experience will allow them to lead staff who work in different departments and who have different types of technology skills. An additional benefit to pursuing training for technology management careers is the bright future outlook of this field. These careers are expected to grow 16 percent through the year 2016.

Technology leadership training programs at the master’s degree level will typically have two or three core academic components. The first core component, obviously, is technology. Students who pursue this type of master’s degree typically begin the program with knowledge of at least one higher-level programming language; and are comfortable with database management or development, as well as computer networking systems administration. The master’s in leadership and information technology course of study will build on students’ foundations in information science and systems, enabling students to approach these disciplines from a leadership and management perspective.

Students will learn to lead employees as well as communicate with all levels of the organization and customers.

In CIO Magazine’s 2007 State of the CIO survey of more than 500 IT professionals, the three skills “most pivotal for success in your role” were: the ability to communicate effectively, strategic thinking and planning, and ability to lead/motivate staff. In other words, leadership skills. The primary characteristics that all technology managers must have are leadership skills. These attributes enable technology leaders to motivate staff; to direct projects or business activities in a way that maximizes profits, and to ensure that staff on hand are competent and contribute to strong worker retention. According to career advice site Monster.com, the best managers and leaders in technology are those men and women who are directly involved in project management and task delegation, rather than those who give orders from afar.

In the tech industry, there exists a decades-old stereotype about the social inclinations of technology workers. Unfairly or not, they have been historically pegged as lacking in leadership skills and strong communication abilities. Industry efforts to disassemble this stereotype is one primary reason why students interested in technology management are able to enroll in master’s-level programs of study that combine technology skills with interpersonal and leadership skills.

The other reason more and more master’s-level technology programs of study focus on business and leadership skills is because technology manager careers have become more specialized and decisions-driven. Managers in tech fields must be able to assess the technology systems in place at their companies, and make system implementation and upgrade decisions that will be positive for their employees and clients. Technology must support and align with organizational goals. Making the right technology decisions requires developed leadership skills, strong soft skills, and polished business acumen.

As technology continues to change and develop rapidly, technology leadership master’s degree programs will continue to develop targeted curricula, integrating technology with the business world to produce strong leaders.