The profession of buyer has already been established through the digital communication channels and the
the use of the Internet has changed significantly. My father worked in purchasing for many years and many years ago Proudly showed me the thick books of “Who Delivers What” and his then new fax machine. No one needs both anymore. “Who delivers what” is now also fully digitally available. Due to the advent of artificial intelligence, we can expect a particularly strong change in the coming years. Even though the effort for simple “repetitive” tasks has already been greatly reduced in operational purchasing in recent years, we are still in the early first place. The increasing productive use of artificial intelligence, such as intelligent OCR software, will gradually lead to a far-reaching abolition of operational purchasing. The experts are quite unanimous on this. Most of the solutions that are needed for this are already available on the market. The only question is at what speed these new solutions are being established in purchasing.
With empathy to success
But what happens in strategic purchasing? The German philosopher Richard David Precht takes the view that almost all the work of the human brain can be better taken over by machines and that we should turn more to the craft in order to continue to find work as human beings. I do not want to fully endorse the conclusion. This will certainly apply to complicated mathematical calculations and many decisions. But what humans will surely be able to do better than robots is to be emphatic. It is precisely this ability that is becoming increasingly important in purchasing. In the relationship with the suppliers, a real paradigm shift in purchasing has already taken place. In the past, only prices were depressed, today we see the A-parts suppliers in particular as value-added partners. Of course, this also changes the skills that a buyer has to bring with him. The “material-like Hau-drauf” is no longer needed. The negotiations will take over machines in the future, as algorithms and AI can be used to analyse the competitive situation much better and to use it to achieve better negotiating results. Rather, it is about forging partnerships and, as a partner of the business, intelligently increasing the value creation of the company. Development partnerships will certainly play an even greater role in the future, so that companies can continue to be innovative and successful. This means that the design of collaboration and partnership relationships with suppliers, which take effect very early in the value chain, must work. Thus, strategic supplier management will be in the foreground, as will the design of creative solutions with partners.
With agile approach to speed
Getting digitalization in purchasing on the road is certainly challenging, but it is also quite a task to master. If you are open to the changes as a buyer and are willing to change your role, you don’t have to be afraid of it. Although almost no company has yet achieved complete digitization, there are many examples in the companies that work well. Nevertheless, almost all companies are still at the beginning of this journey. It is important to have an idea of where the journey should go. Due to the complexity of the situation, a complete target image is probably currently impossible to sketch. It is recommended that an agile approach is taken in an iterative approach. This means that one result after another is generated and I can always reorient myself so as not to accidentally run in the wrong direction. The most important thing is to just start. It is possible that you will first take care of the Procure to Pay process and connect the suppliers, then all the receipt flows will be digitized and in the further andreas Zimmermann founder and managing director mysupply and initiator Supplytechs course the automation of the B and C parts purchasing. We have founded Supplytechs to support you as a partner in digitalization with an overview of the latest innovations of the purchasing startups.
Career as a digitizer
Anyone who makes digitalization in purchasing their topic their topic builds up a highly valued knowledge and is particularly in demand in the labour market. If you put yourself at the forefront of digitalization, you will have many opportunities to be at the forefront of shopping in the next few years, when there will definitely be a lot of changes. The digitization departments are usually located as a staff office at the purchasing management. For the future, it is recommended to be a potential purchasing manager or for other exciting tasks in the company. A major problem in purchasing is certainly that shopping in the company is often not given enough attention and appreciation to carry out its activities well. Often, as a purchase, you don’t even have the tool support you need. Colleagues in sales are often better equipped and also remunerated. This is not least due to the fact that the purchase was seen more as an operative vicarious agent and not as a strategic designer. This role needs to change a lot. In the future, machines will take over the more operational part. Savings alone are not a particularly value-adding task and, for the reason, the task of purchasing must change very much in the future. In order for me to get from the role of negotiator and administrative handling into the role of the designer in the eyes of the managing directors and departments, purchasing must proactively offer this new role and actively shape it. Only then will purchasing 4.0 be created.