The latest episode of the Digital Insight welcomes Sam Achampong, Head of CIPS MENA…

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The latest episode of Digital Insight welcomes Sam Achampong, Head of CIPS MENA as we discuss procurement maturity and how the Middle East is on a journey towards being recognised as a procurement benchmark for the rest of the world.

“Procurement, in the Middle East was still a developing function and to some extent it still lagged behind other parts of the world in terms of overall maturity and recognition of the function itself. That’s where we were pre-COVID and I think everyone involved in the profession at any level recognizes that. Significant efforts were being made to improve that and they have been going on for many years to try and elevate procurement. The efforts to bring the full procurement supply chain really to the fore in the region had been going on for a while. COVID has accelerated those efforts significantly.

Can the Middle East become THE global benchmark for procurement? 

Undoubtedly. I think, it’s the old cliche of “it’s not a question of if, but when”. You have is organizations out here who are very ambitious, innovative and very keen to be at the forefront of business operations and not only maturity but performance.

When it comes to procurement, they’re very ambitious, very keen to have the best systems in place. Those that have that ambition, in this day and age, are very blessed that there is an abundance of technology that serves procurement and supply chain that they’re able to utilize, and there’s a huge adoption of technology relevant to procurement and supply chain, in this region. For that reason alone, I can really see the organizations out here really leapfrogging others around the world and fulfilling that ambition to be world-leading where it comes to procurement and supply chain.

You see a real adoption of all sorts of solutions, whether it’s dashboards, eSourcing systems, supplier relation management systems, or a whole gamut of solutions that allow practitioners to be a lot more strategic and less transactional.

The added benefit that organizations have here is that, at the point that they are fully versed and fully engaged with procurement at the very highest level, they already have these tools at their disposal. They don’t have to learn them. They don’t have to unlearn anything. So ,they’re perfectly placed to really be world-leading.”

LISTEN TO THE EPISODE BELOW:

With procurement taking its rightful place in the limelight it has opened the door for incredible opportunities for procurement, but…

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With procurement taking its rightful place in the limelight it has opened the door for incredible opportunities for procurement, but only if we work to capitalise on them. Dr Louise Epstein (Partner, Kearney) and Lance Younger (CEO & Founder, ProcureTech) return to look at what we can do right now to seize this moment, one of the most important moments in the history of procurement.

Issue 23 of CPOstrategy is now live!

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Procurement transformation is very often the name of the game in the pages of CPOstrategy, but what happens when that transformation acts as more of an enabler towards greater sustainability in the supply chain?

What does sustainability really  mean to an organisation and how can procurement accelerate the conversation? Well, Renee Leong, CPO of Engie NA. says it’s a question of how we actually measure the value of procurement that’s important before  looking at how it can help a company significantly improve its impact on the environment around it. We caught up with Renee as she discussed procurement and the company’s ongoing move away from fossil fuels.

“We have the power to actually influence how the product is being made and how the services are being offered to us so we can really help drive positive change to society,” she says.

We also caught up with Mahmoud Al Alawi, HCT Director of Procurement & Contracts, two years after launching a significant procurement transformation to see how the organisation continues to take procurement to new heights even during the challenging COVID19 pandemic. 

And finally, we sepak with Douglas Klimak, CPO of Banco Bradesco, as he walks us through a procurement journey that will see an institute of Brazillian banking define a new age of procurement maturity. 

Enjoy the issue below

Opportunity knocks for digital procurement…

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The Digital Insight podcast welcomes Dr Elouise Epstein, Partner at Kearney, and Lance Younger, CEO and Founder of ProcureTech to discuss the continued evolution of digital procurement.

Are we witnessing one of the most significant moments in the history and future of procurement?

I could spend hours talking about this. Where we are is a great place and we need to take the opportunity, because it may not come again, for another 20 years,” – Dr. Elouise Epstein, Partner at Kearney.

I’d hate to look back and for people to not to have taken the opportunity. It’s not just the leader, it’s anybody who works in and around the procurement space. There’s so many different things to capitalize on, you just need to decide on which one it’s going to be and make the most of it,” – Lance Younger CEO & Founder of ProcureTech

Data analytics is certainly not a new concept. It’s something we have been fascinated with, both personally and professionally, for…

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Data analytics is certainly not a new concept. It’s something we have been fascinated with, both personally and professionally, for decades but its an area which continues to see dramatic change when it comes to our understanding and indeed our application analytics tools. Data is key to transformation. We knew that already. But what we don’t know, as much as we love discussing it, is how far data analytics can truly take us. In order to try and understand where we can go, Transformation Executive Paul Bailo joins the Digital Insight to take a look at where we are. What are we seeing right now in terms of our data analytics maturity and what does it say about the opportunities ahead of us? 

Control towers are the key to end-to-end visibility of the supply chain…

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This year, supply chain organisations have faced unparalleled levels of disruption as consumer demand changed overnight. Yet, despite many of these businesses having already begun their digital transformation journey, the majority found themselves ill-equipped to respond to sudden changes, with research from InterSystems discovering that this was largely due to data silos and disparate systems causing a lack of flexibility and visibility. 

As supply chain businesses continue to experience significant and sudden changes in demand, increasing resilience, visibility, and agility in the supply chain is critical with the control tower emerging as one of the most effective ways to achieve this. 

What is a control tower?

The concept of a control tower is simple, if not yet widely implemented. According to Gartner control towers combine people, processes, data and organisation, supported by a set of technology-enabled capabilities, for transparency and coordination. In practice, this means that supply chain businesses can use a control tower to gain a real-time, comprehensive view across different parts of the organisation, as well as of data silos and applications both within their enterprise and those of their partners, such as manufacturers and distributors. 

In short, a control tower removes data silos to provide a real-time, trusted view of the supply chain, and consequently offers businesses more visibility. In turn, this gives supply chain organisations a better foundation from which to make more accurate and insightful business decisions to respond to changes in demand and circumstances in real-time.

Getting the most from control towers

Gaining comprehensive control tower functionality isn’t something that can be achieved with an off-the-shelf solution – after all, every organisation has a unique set of processes, partners, and technology, as well as a custom set of goals and thresholds. Therefore, the most effective approach is to implement a control tower by implementing and customising a data management platform to create an environment within which businesses can connect all data sources and harmonise that data so that it’s consistent. In doing so, businesses can continue to leverage existing infrastructure, rather than ripping and replacing existing solutions. 

Using a data platform-driven approach to implementing a control tower also allows supply chain businesses to incorporate intelligence such as business rules, machine learning, and self-service analytics. As well as allowing them to gain more actionable insights from the data, it ensures that if a business analyst sees a potential problem, for example, that they can interrogate the data in a multitude of ways and visualise the data to understand the core drivers behind it. 

Ultimately, a successful control tower implementation enables organisations to diagnose an issue, notify relevant stakeholders, and then enable them to introspect and analyse the issue. Armed with this information, the analyst can then make smarter decisions and continuously learn from the solution. This approach offers supply chain businesses the simplicity and speed they need to be agile and resilient, so that they can make necessary changes to respond to fluctuations in demand and any problems that occur.

Gaining resilience and agility 

For supply chain organisations, this resilience and agility is vital not only to cope with the ongoing pandemic and unexpected surges in demand that it has brought for products such as bicycles and vitamin D, for instance, but also to ensure they futureproof their business. 

End-to-end supply chain visibility will help to ensure supply chain organisations are able to maintain adequate stock levels, while early warning alerts will allow them to identify and rectify any issues in terms of supply and demand before they occur. Meanwhile, advanced analytics allow organisations to make better predictions to foresee which products might be popular and when to better prepare for changes in the types and quantities of products that are needed.

Futureproofing the supply chain

Currently, the vast majority of supply chain businesses have the underlying data needed to gain the right insights to improve supply chain resilience, but they just don’t have the capabilities to make them visible and actionable. Control towers provide this functionality by breaking down data silos and helping supply chain organisations gain a comprehensive and real-time view of their organisation. However, like digital transformation, increasing resilience in the supply chain is a virtuous cycle, therefore, long-term success will only be achieved if businesses also have the right people, processes, infrastructure, and architectural approach, in place. 

How do we inspire, mentor and lead?

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What does being a leader really mean to an individual and to an organisation?

We learn from a young age about the significance of mentorship and role models, people who can guide us, teach us and inform our development both in life and in our careers. 

But do we talk about them enough? When it comes to dealing with transformation, evolution and change, what then becomes of the leader, the mentor and the role model? 

Rachel Lemos, Director of procurement at Canadian Western Bank, joins Dale Benton to discuss how role models, mentors and leadership has and continues to defined her own professional journey. 

“Success is borne out of  the people surrounding you. You cannot think of success by looking to one person, one leader – that’s a failure right there”

In times of great change, the responsibility to lead and to inspire now rests upon her shoulders. In her journey, Lemos has come up against the barriers and the challenges of being a woman in largely male dominated industry space. These are a crucial part of hers and any female procurement professional’s story. 

“We’re far away from where we should be. But we see that there is a change, there’s a trend and there’s willingness for organisations to develop more and more women into leaders,” says Lemos. “My personal experience has shown that the more you progress in your career, the more challenges you face because you’re dealing with something that people are just not comfortable with. You have to be prepared to deal with the discomfort they may be experiencing with a lot of diplomacy and be prepared to start difficult conversations sometimes, and touch on the discomfort of other people when you are sitting at that leadership table.”

Enabling positive change for an organisation is the key for any leader and Lemos recognises the duality of her role; to enable positive change for a business from a procurement perspective, but also to enable positive change as a female leader and to open the doors to future female leaders. “I have a responsibility to coach, to inspire, to mentor,” she says, “I take personal time to do that. It’s not only with my team. Very often I get people asking me to help them and be their mentor. Interestingly enough, I have also received a few invites from men in procurement for mentoring too, which I’m always happy to provide.”

“It is a responsibility. You can’t just dismiss that. You’re not here just to look into your career path, but what you do in your career influences others. My advice for females is this: come with an open heart and with a winning attitude. Give your best, be humble to learn, step back when you need to and be ready to advance when the opportunity presents itself. Results are not gender based and they speak for themselves and they speak loud many times. So if you present results, if you do your best, you’re in the right place and you will succeed.”

Lemos also stops to take a moment and invest time assessing her teams in order to understand and support their career goals. Talent is crucial and when change is constant it can be easy to lose that talent as you focus too much on what can be, rather than what it is. “You should always keep an eye on and review what type of talent you have and how you are working to retain those talents,” she says. “It’s really the responsibility of the leader to assess, understand, see what the gaps are in your people. Can we build in time to develop? Do those individuals want to develop? Because you can’t just assume they are open to change.”

Rachel Lemos

“Results are not gender based and they speak for themselves and they speak loud many times”

This isn’t the sole responsibility of Lemos, or other CPOs, alone. It’s a shared responsibility of all levels of the leadership team to get together and have what she describes as “mature and honest” conversations that identify what the endgame is, what’s needed to get there, and identify any gaps in our teams that need to be addressed.

“Success is borne out of the people surrounding you. You cannot think of success by looking to one person, one leader – that’s a failure right there,” she says. “It’s becoming rare to see leaders taking interest in people’s journeys and career goals. You need to be candid. You need to be honest, and you need to be having those conversations and that’s how you grow your team and achieve any form of success.” 

What does it mean to be a leader?

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How important is it, when undergoing a transformation journey, to focus on your role as a leader of people in order to deliver meaningful change? 

It’s certainly a key question for any procurement professional and in issue 22 of CPOstrategy, Rachel Lemos, Director, Procurement, Canadian Western Bank, tells us how she has spent the best part of her career looking to answer it. She sits down to tell us how procurement leaders are often guilty of losing sight of what we really need or what we are trying to solve in transformation.

“We’re looking to ride that wave of procurement transformation and say ‘Let’s do something about it!’, which ends up with us just breaking things that were working instead of solving problems,” she says. 

Stephany Lapierre, CEO of Tealbook, walks us through the 2021 Supplier Information Study, produced by Tealbook and Wakefield Research. After surveying 200 Procurement and Sourcing Executives (Director-level or higher), we have a clear picture of the current procurement and supplier data landscape.

Lance Younger, CEO and Founder of ProcureTech, joins us to explore where we are on the procurement technology maturity curve and what we can be doing to push the needle further. Hint: it includes the way we work with tech vendors! There’s also part two of our discussion with Michael Pleuger and Detlef Schultz, and insight into how the control tower is one of the most effective ways to achieve resilience, visibility, and agility in the supply chain.

Enjoy the issue!

It’s time we reconsidered change management…

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Welcome to part two of the Data transformation trilogy with Paul Bailo, a leading digital transformation executive.

In this installment we take a look at Change management, two words that will either unlock your transformation, or block it. Love it or hate it, change management is vital to any transformation, so why is it so polarizing? 

Transformation and change are and perhaps always will be, the key topics defining the business conversation. 

And for every headline that focuses on a new technology, or indeed a strategic roadmap, how often do people address the elephant in the room that is change management? 

Leading executives will tell you about the significance of change management, but what does that mean? What makes change management more than just another trendy buzzword that gets trotted out when you need to try and quantify change? What is wrong with our approach to change management? 

It’s all well and good saying change management is necessary and essential to transformation, but what are you doing to address it? What does change management look like for an organisation? As with any journey, there has to be a beginning, so what first steps do you need to take to act on the promise of change management, but also to fully embrace the change in the first place? 

We all knot the importance of sponsorship. Get the backing of the board, and the teams around you, and change comes naturally.Leaving you to wonder; what were you even worried about?

Any leading executive will tell you that if you don’t have the sponsorship of those around you, you’ve failed before you’ve started. It makes sense of course,, if you don’t buy into an idea, are you just going to willingly go along with it? 

This is where storytelling comes in, obtaining quick wins and achieving results and being able to establish a sense of credibility in what you’re doing.

But, change is different and people aren’t always wired to accept change immediately. You can be the best storyteller in the world, and have all the data in your hands to prove that change is good,  but for some, that sponsorship just will not come your way….so the question then becomes; what happens now?

Missed part one? Watch The Data Transformation Trilogy Part 1: C-level talent and leadership; do you have it?

 

Change is needed – but change is overwhelming. An increase in data is an increase in knowledge. And an increase in knowledge is an increase in power…making change isn’t easy. Make the mistake, and the results could be catastrophic. Remain frozen in fear, and fall away into irrelevance. The only way to succeed is to try.

Change is hard and while isn’t always priority number one, change is necessary to evolve as a business.

So when you are about to embark on a change journey, and you cast your eye over your organization, your processes,, your strategic roadmap and both your existing and future technologies….consider how you’re going to get there. Consider the sponsorship you need, the wins and how you can cultivate the culture that’s required in order to embrace change. 

It’s time we reconsidered our love hate relationship with change management….

The data transformation trilogy, with Paul Bailo…

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The latest episode of The Digital Insight podcast brings you the first in a new three part series with Paul Bailo, Digital Transformation Executive.

We explore how leadership teams must reassess their current operating models, take an honest look at their existing talent pool of both their employees and executive teams and think about how they attract future data and digital leaders.

What changes should they be making today to ensure that they attract the right talent, don’t fall behind or go out of business tomorrow?

Is the EV market as mature as it should be?

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According to a recent report from EV volumes, 2020 was a great year for plug-in vehicles.

It reveals that global Battery Electric Vehicles +Plug in Hybrid Electric Vehicle sales hit 3,24 million, compared to 2,26 million for the year previous. 

All over the world right now, governments are fast tracking the journey towards the end of petrol and diesel cars. 

But this is all future talk. Lets think less about 2025, 2030 and 2035, and think about 2021 and the paths we are on right now. 

What has the last ten years brought in terms of EV development, and where are we right now when it comes to the EV market? 

Paul Loustalan, a partner with Reddie & Grose, a provider of patents, trade marks and designs and particularly patents coming from the EV market, sits down with Dale Benton to explore the significant advancements made in the global  EV market.

The next ten years will be an interesting time for the automotive industry: 

Change isn’t coming. It’s already here.

But much like any other industry, the larger players dominate the headlines (and the market) but the smaller players bring about true disruption. In the financial space, the larger incumbents were once upon a time disinterested in what the start ups and fintechs were doing, but now they are making radical changes in order to catch up to them and cater to the new financial customers of today. So is it fair to assume that the smaller start-ups and disruptors in the EV and automotive space, are forcing the bigger companies to not only look over their shoulders, but think about their own futures?

If you were to look around the world right now EVs are here. As noted already, global EV and Plug in hybrid  sales soared to 3,24 million in 2020. But for some, EVs remain just out of reach. We were lead to believe we’d all be driving fully automated EVs by now, and yet we aren’t.

EVs are something that we’ve spoken about for many years as coming soon. But as we can see they’re here right now. So why is there still a perception that, despite the promises and government mandates, EVs will always remain a technology of the future? 

We know the benefits, we see what it can and will and already is doing in terms of carbon emissions and energy consumption, but as with any technology there will always be the challenge of; do the customers want it? For every customer who wants a new, energy efficient car, there will be one who is happy to continue using what works best for them – and why shouldn’t they?

It can never be as black as white as saying; there are those who want the new and those who don’t, and companies need to cater to all consumers and ease those who are reluctant into the new era of the automotive industry.

As with any technology, when it works, it sells itself. We as consumers can see it operating successfully and the benefits it will bring to our lives. In the automotive industry, we think of a car and outside of cosmetics – we simply ask that it works and that it allows us to go about our daily lives with relative ease.

If it can save us some money, and reduce our carbon footprint, then even better. Success stories sell. But what significance is there in focusing on failure? Can that actually be a good thing in terms of the conversation surrounding EV technology? Can we gain more from hearing about those failures than we would by simply focusing on the successes?

As we speak in 2021, the next 10 years are going to see huge shifts in the EV market and we will start to see them in the next four. We don’t know for sure what’s going to happen and how well its going to pan out. But we can see trends and see data and anticipate the next wave of innovation.

Whatever the future has in store for us all, EVs are here. People are driving them right now. And there’s going to be more of them appearing on the roads and parked up on the driveways as the world moves away from diesel and petrol combustion engine vehicles. 

New disruptions might push supply chains to their breaking point without immediate foundational improvements…

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The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare widespread problems with supplier information on a global scale. While many procurement leaders had initially vowed to invest in supply chain resiliency, almost a year later, procurement leaders are still grappling with a cascade of issues surrounding poor supplier information. In fact, the 2021 Supplier Information Study, commissioned by supplier intelligence platform, Tealbook, revealed that 72% of procurement leaders are very concerned that their supplier intelligence has still not improved to crisis-proof supply chains.

The Tealbook Survey 2021 with Stephany Lapierre, CEO and CPO Strategy

“COVID-19 was a wake-up call to organizations around the world. Without a solid data foundation in place, the next big disruption could be even more disastrous for supply chains,” said Stephany Lapierre, CEO of #. “Access to up-to-date supplier data will afford companies the agility necessary to weather future disruptions, but also to make the most of supplier innovations in a rapidly evolving landscape.”

More information on the survey can be accessed here.

Watch Now: Why reliable supplier intelligence matter? with Stephany Lapierre (CEO of Tealbook) and Jim Bureau (CEO of JAGGAER)

The survey confirmed that agility was of utmost importance to procurement organizations, with 96% of procurement professionals saying that agility is even more important than cost savings for their companies’ bottom line. However, at a time when organizations need the ability to pivot and respond to disruptions, 57% of procurement leaders reported that they are still relying on antiquated, manual data entry; compounding the time and resources to update supplier information. Leaders also cited secondary concerns about their lack of a data foundation, including missing out on innovation (30%), falling behind the competition (25%) and not being able to determine ROI (22%). This inability to be agile is compounded by the cost of adding a single supplier record, which procurement leaders estimated to be $2431. 

Perhaps most alarmingly, a third of procurement leaders (33%) admit they have no way of knowing how much a supplier record costs.

Listen: Why reliable supplier data matters?

In short, there are a staggering number of critical issues that organizations are facing as a result of inadequate supplier data. Not only did 41% of procurement leaders find their supplier data inadequate during the COVID-19 pandemic, a concerning 26% found it mostly or completely inadequate, reflecting a data foundation that’s nowhere near strong enough to stand up to current or future supply chain disruptions.

The Tealbook Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research among 250 Procurement and Sourcing Executives director-level or above at companies with $200 million or more in annual revenue.

More information on the survey can be accessed here.

The Vaccine Administration Management solution can help organisations rapidly administer COVID vaccines at scale…

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ServiceNow, which is supporting vaccinations for more than 20 million people with the Now Platform and its Vaccine Administration Management solution, has released further product enhancements to its Vaccine Administration Management solution to help organisations quickly meet the “last-mile” challenges of vaccinating and protecting people at scale. The latest enhancements make it easier for people to schedule vaccination appointments and for providers to manage vaccine inventory.    

With the Biden administration directing states to make all U.S. adults eligible for vaccinations by May 1, ServiceNow is committed to leveraging the Now Platform to help states and healthcare providers convert vaccines into vaccinations as quickly as possible. The Now Platform and Vaccine Administration Management solution are being deployed in just days by some providers, using ServiceNow’s workflow technology to rapidly improve vaccine distribution, administration, and monitoring. The NHS National Services Scotland, for example, is using ServiceNow to help quickly vaccinate Scottish citizens.    

Additionally, Children’s Minnesota, one of the largest pediatric health care systems in the U.S., recently went live with ServiceNow Vaccine Administration Management in just five days. When Children’s Minnesota expanded its vaccination rollout beyond staff, to patient caregivers and the most vulnerable members of the community, it experienced similar challenges as those faced by other organizations across the country. With its new system, Children’s Minnesota has reduced wait times from three hours in a walk-in model to 20 minutes with an appointment and successfully vaccinated nearly 1,400 staff members, caregivers and the community in 11 hours. 

“At Children’s Minnesota, our mission is to champion the health needs of children and families. Right now, that means ensuring our vaccine management process is efficient and able to get our community vaccinated as quickly as possible. After all, one arm at a time is how we can get out of this pandemic,” said Patsy Stinchfield, MS, CPNP, Nurse Practitioner, senior director of infection prevention at Children’s Minnesota and head of the health care system’s COVID-19 incident command center. “We’re thrilled that we are efficiently vaccinating our staff, caregivers and our most vulnerable patients.”  #

ServiceNow is helping organisations across healthcare, government, education, and the private sector distribute COVID-19 vaccines and get people vaccinated quickly, including:  

The Department of Homeland Security is facilitating vaccinations for its 240,000 employees via ServiceNow for vaccination eligibility checks, communication management, and coordinating mass vaccinations at Veterans Affairs facilities. 

The University of Central Florida is leveraging ServiceNow to coordinate and schedule first and second dose vaccinations for its faculty and staff. 

The State of North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) is relying on ServiceNow’s technology as the foundation for its command center for healthcare providers, clinicians administering the vaccine, and supporting NCDHHS staff to access the latest information related to state vaccine requirements and to get their vaccine‑related questions answered. 

Outside the U.S., The NHS National Services Scotland using ServiceNow’s Now Platform as the digital backbone of its program to rapidly roll out the vaccine to protect citizen health in the fight against COVID‑19. Over 220,000 vaccination appointments were booked in the first 12 hours of the Now Platform going live. 

Introducing more control and visibility for vaccination scheduling  

The latest updates to the ServiceNow Vaccine Administration Management solution improve the vaccination scheduling process for vaccine recipients, administrators, and clinicians, providing increased visibility into inventory, to help convert all available vaccines into vaccinations.  

New capabilities announced today offer increased control and visibility over available vaccine doses to help match vaccine appointments with inventory supply to minimise waste and avoid overbooking appointments. This has been a challenge for many organisations, leading to long wait times and leaving many recipients in line with cancelled appointments. New capabilities include: 



The ability to schedule and cancel appointments based on vaccine inventory as vaccines are distributed. Organizations can automatically track vaccine inventory in real-time and open, close, and reschedule appointments based on the number of vaccines they have available. 

Location-level configuration capabilities enable organisations managing multiple vaccination sites to specify inventory, available hours, and appointment slots by location.  

Additionally, new capabilities announced today give vaccine recipients more control over the scheduling process for a seamless booking experience, including: 

The ability to select a specific day and time for appointments and independently book second appointments. Previously, users were automatically booked into the first available spot.  

The ability for contact center agents to book appointments on behalf of recipients. 

Options for family scheduling will be available soon, allowing families to book appointments together and at the same time, rather than signing up individually with different accounts at varying times. 

These updates will support smoother and more efficient experiences for both those receiving and administering vaccinations as more people become eligible and vaccines are made widely available. 

“The rapid distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine is one of the greatest workflow challenges of our time,” said Mike Luessi, AVP and GM, Healthcare and Life Sciences Industry at ServiceNow. “We are working closely with organizations to rapidly ramp their vaccination efforts and adding new capabilities to our Vaccine Administration Management solution twice a month as the landscape evolves and more vaccines become available.” 

Workflow a healthier future 

The recently passed U.S. stimulus package has prioritized helping state and local governments recover from the challenges of COVID-19 to get people back to work and to restart the economy.  

ServiceNow also continues to innovate its previously announced Safe Workplace suite to allow governments and organizations to safely return to work. ServiceNow’s Safe Workplace Solutions support all aspects of creating a safe and efficient return to work for governments, campuses, and companies. This now includes Vaccination Status, an app that helps public and private sector companies track the status of vaccinations in the workplace.   

With the ServiceNow Vaccination Status app, employees and stakeholders in an organization can easily submit documentation of completed health vaccinations to meet return to workplace requirements, where permissible by law. Organisations can also collect vaccination data to assess when it’s safe to bring employees and stakeholders back to a workplace and provide benefits to employees who received vaccinations, in accordance with their respective policies.   

To date, more than 1,000 organisations globally have downloaded the Safe Workplace suite apps with over 12,000 unique installations. 

“When educators became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Florida, we quickly began working with the Florida Department of Health in Orange County to coordinate the safe and efficient vaccination of faculty and staff,” said Dr. Michael Deichen, Associate Vice President of UCF Student Health Services, University of Central Florida. “We knew we needed a solution to seamlessly manage the vaccine scheduling process.” 

“We worked diligently with ServiceNow to build a solution that would meet our goal of safely vaccinating more than 2,000 faculty and staff in just five days,” said Scott Baron, Associate Director, Performance and Service Management, University of Central Florida. “This is a continuation of the work we’ve done with ServiceNow throughout the pandemic to build solutions that support faculty, staff and students.” 

Innovation and change when fighting legacy infrastructure and an antiquated operating model…

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As a market leader in a world of continuous change and digital disruption? What more could you be doing to embrace true digital disruption and deliver on the promise of tomorrow to an ever evolving customer base?

Amanda Heintz, Devops and IT Automation Release Manager at Schneider, joins us to talk about what it’s like to work in an industry that is still perceived to be lagging behind in the digital conversation due to legacy infrastructure and an antiquated operating model…

The question then is, what is Schneider doing to define and redefine the technology market of transportation? 

The benefits of embracing innovation and implementing new technologies are clear to see and yet as we speak in 2021 one could argue that there is still evidence to suggest that there is resistance and hesitance to take the risk of digital transformation. It stands to reason that many organisations could be too afraid to embark on a digital transformation journey, despite the seemingly endless cases of major success for those that have done so already.

Listen to Amanda on the Bitsize episode of The Digital Insight podcast below:

With transformation, there are common challenges that come with legacy infrastructure, and with transition and change, so how can businesses cope with such a major shift?

There s no such thing as a guarantee of success. As much as we’d love it. We often speak of successes and looking at what went right, but perhaps more importantly should we explore the importance of admitting that things have not worked out according to plan.

It is no secret that change comes from recognising that there is a need to adapt and to evolve, so the greatest lessons can come from the smallest of missteps.

Digital transformation, disruption, and embracing innovation and change, is no easy task. It is no secret that we all look to other organisations, other industries for inspiration and we look for the big companies that are recognised as the benchmark for innovation, but when you are one of these companies, and you are in an industry that has that label of falling behind the pace, how aware of you of your responsibility to help drive the industry forward? How much do you recognize yourself as a benchmark for others to follow?

Schneider is but one example of the many organisations (big or small( that are truly embracing innovation and disruption and doing so in a way that will help propel the industry forward.

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Why not check out some of our recent episodes of The Digital Insight below:

Digital twins could provide a unique information management solution to the current Covid-19 crisis, now and later, at any scale

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That’s certainly what Michael Jansen, CEO and Founder of Cityzenith believes, as he joined Dale Benton to discuss the booming digital twin technology market and how it can help prevent and respond to something like the COVID19 pandemic.

According to a recent report from ABI Research, the digital twin market is expected to grow from $3.8bn, as of 2019, to $35.8bn per year by 2025, with more than 500 urban digital twins expected to be in use. 

So what’s behind this expected growth? Well, perhaps unsurprisingly, COVID19 has meant that now more than ever before we need to increase resilience and optimise resource management. 

Examples of digital twin technology can be seen all over the world. The most notable examples is in its use in urban planning, but we also see it in the healthcare industry to virtualise the healthcare experience in order to optimize patient care, cost, and performance. 

“Digital Twins developed to aggregate, manage, analyze, visualize, and predict information in today’s smartcities, manufacturing plants, and building construction sites, can be successfully re-purposed to provide a unique information management solution to the current Covid-19 crisis, now and later, at any scale”

Another example, and perhaps one of the more famous ones, is in aerospace. Back in the 1970s, NASA developed what is believed to be the first digital twin to better analyse and foresee any problem involving the airframes, engine, or other components to ensure the safety of the people aboard the Apollo 13 shuttle.

Digital twin technology can also play a key role in the monitoring of and response to natural disasters, so is it out of the question to suggest it can help prevent and respond to something like the COVID19 pandemic? 

Listen to the Bitesize episode of The Digital Podcast below:

The digital twin technology market is most certainly booming and in just 4 short years, we will see a monumental shift in the adoption and implementation of digital twin technology.

As the technology continues to grow, so too will the use cases and as Jansen himself discussed,  Digital Twins developed to aggregate, manage, analyze, visualize, and predict information in today’s smart cities, manufacturing plants, and building construction sites, can be successfully re-purposed to provide a unique information management solution to the current Covid-19 crisis, now and later, at any scale.

Find out more about the impact of COVID-19 on the Implementation of Digital Twins in the Global Building Industry.

Stephany Lapierre and Jim Bureau join us to tell you why supplier data is key…

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Is access to fast and reliable supplier data more important now than ever before?

Stephany Lapierre, CEO of Tealbook and Jim Bureau, CEO of JAGGAER as sat down with Dale Benton to discuss a new partnership between the two that will provide enriched supplier data for JAGGAER customers through access to Tealbook’s Supplier Intelligence Platform.

Why not listen to Bitesize episode of this discussion below:

Supplier data matters. But you knew that already…

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The question is, does high-quality supplier data matter now more than ever before? Stephany Lapierre, CEO of Tealbook, joins us this month to give it to us straight; in 2021 we have absolutely no reason to be working with messy vendor masters. 

“Your e-procurement technology stack is only as good as what you feed it,” she says. So it’s time to start rethinking about your supplier data. 

Elsewhere, Abe Saxionis, CPO of Keolis North America, lifts the lid on a major procurement transformation journey that will see the transportation services provider collaborate better with each and every part of its ecosystem under a vision of One Keolis. 

“As a company starts out and we begin to grow organically, we all are working more like independent businesses. It gets to a point where, in order to continue to expand and take advantage of the value the company brings to the table when dealing with customers or suppliers, we need to be more united. That’s the concept behind One Keolis.”

In an enthralling discussion, the gloves were off as I sat down with Michael Pleuger and Detlef Schultz – two powerhouse names in procurement. From an over reliance on consultants, to Jurgen Klopp’s philosophy on legacy, we tackle some of the key issues that procurement professionals are (and aren’t) addressing in 2021. 

You definitely don’t want to miss this issue. 

The adoption of smart building systems has become a case of “when”, not “if”

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More than half of organisations plan to increase their investment in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and smart building technology in 2021. This is according to Johnson Controls’ annual Energy Efficiency Indicator survey. Interestingly enough, these business plans are comparable with investment trends that came after the 2010 recession; now likely a result of preparation for the post-pandemic world. 

As people begin returning to shared spaces once herd immunity has been reached, the health of building occupants and energy efficiency will continue to be top of mind—and an investment priority for facilities managers around the world. 

What are the drivers? 

– Health and safety concerns. 

– Reducing energy use and working towards net-zero targets.

– New awareness around reducing the spread of infection as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

– The need to increase the ability to operate under different conditions, both planned and unforeseen.

In this article, we’ll delve further into the survey and reflect on the conclusions drawn. It is important to note that while the report reflects an analysis of the US market, many of the themes are appropriate to the European property industry, and the research opinions are likely shared by the majority.

Net zero is the new hero 

As Paris Agreement obligations edge closer, facilities managers are under increasing pressure to reach net-zero targets.

– 70% of organisations are very or extremely likely to have one or more facilities that are nearly zero, net zero or positive energy or carbon status in the next 10 years (an increase of 7% from 2019).

– 66% are very or extremely likely to have one or more facilities able to operate off the grid in the next 10 years (an increase of 3% from 2019).

– 63% invested in onsite renewable energy in 2020 (a 22% increase from 2019).

How smart tech can help: 

The key to harnessing energy efficiencies is having access to accurate, real-time energy consumption data. By knowing how energy is used in your facility (and when), you can identify an “energy action plan” that works for you. This is the role of a smart energy meter;  using these will put you in control of your consumption. 

Other smart, sensor-based technologies can help reduce energy consumption. For example, occupancy sensors can control lighting and heating so that energy is only being used when someone is in the room.

A breath of fresh air

With the evidence strongly indicating that COVID-19 is spread through aerosol transmission, indoor air quality is set to become tantamount to facility safety for facilities managers. 

According to the survey:

– 79% are planning to or have already increased air filtration.

– 75% are planning to or have already installed an air treatment system.

– 72% are planning to or have already increased outdoor air ventilation rates.

How smart tech can help:

New technology is enabling better air quality by observing and monitoring air quality in real time. Indoor air quality sensors can continually measure the air quality within a given area and send an immediate alert if the air quality or ventilation is compromised in any way. 

Simple, smart management systems

According to 81% of survey respondents, increasing the flexibility of facilities and buildings to quickly respond to a variety of emergency conditions was a “very” or “extremely important” driver of investment.

Managers are looking for multi-faceted, ‘all-in-one’ solutions that can streamline workflows and business operations at a glance.

– 75% have invested in the integration of security systems with other building monitoring systems (an increase of 36% from the 2019 study).

– 33% plan to invest in the integration of building technology systems with distributed energy resources in the next year (an increase of 15% from the previous study).

– 79% say that data analytics and machine learning will have an extremely or very significant impact on buildings. 

How smart tech can help:

From occupant health to energy efficiency, having an interconnected smart building system is fast becoming the norm rather than the exception. The ability to monitor, maintain and control various aspects of a building remotely via a single dashboard allows the facility manager to—quite literally—ensure a safe, efficient, energy-saving environment at all times, from anywhere. 

The future is here; and, as evidenced by the survey, the adoption of these smart systems has become a case of “when”, not “if”. 

About the author 

Matthew Margetts is Director of Sales and Marketing at Smarter Technologies. His background includes working for blue-chip companies such as AppNexus, AOL/ Verizon, and Microsoft in the UK, Far East and Australia. 

About Smarter Technologies 

Smarter Technologies tracks, monitors and recovers assets across the globe in real time, providing asset tracking systems to the open market and fulfilling the world’s most complex asset tracking requirements. Our services cover a vast array of business sectors, products and equipment from container or pallet tracking to military-grade devices; and can be used across a broad spectrum of industries. 

As a leading IoT company, we also provide smart building solutions for modern businesses, offering wire-free, battery-powered and low-cost IoT smart sensor technology. Our solutions will put an end to scheduled maintenance and help businesses utilise their building’s efficiency, benefitting from real-time alerts and facilities management tools that will bring them into the 21st century. 

Featuring Claro Brazil, England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and more!

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Issue 20 of CPOstrategy is here!

We have a fantastic issue for you this month, as we take a closer look at how procurement can be a true competitive advantage…for the sporting industry!

Exploring this with us, is Nour-Eddine Boufertala, Head of Procurement at England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) the national governing body for all cricket in England and Wales. ECB is working to promote the game of cricket as widely as possible and as part of its Inspiring Generation Strategy for the national game, the ECB will look to put a bat and ball into more and more hands and introduce more people to the power of cricket over the next five years.  

And procurement is the key to doing exactly that.

“We want everyone to enjoy playing cricket and to enjoy the game. What we have is not a complicated network, but a lot of people are included in the process and the procurement plays a key part in all of this,” explains Boufertala.

Elsewhere, Ivan da Mata, CPO of Claro Brasil, is tasked with delivering a major procurement transformation journey for the telecommunications giant. Running alongside a significant digital transformation, his goal is to create a fast, business oriented and best in class procurement function.

“Quite simply,” starts da Mata. “Procurement was not keeping up with Claro’s businesses’ fast pace transformation and so we laid out a roadmap that would see us achieve Procurement 4.0 for Claro Brazil by 2021-2022 and beyond.”

We also look at supply chain resilience with Annie Li of Movado Group, Rod Robinson of COUPA talks about connecting minority owned enterprises with larger businesses through procurement and we detail five trends set to hit the healthcare industry in 2021.

With Michael Jansen, CEO, Cityzenith

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According to a recent report from ABI Research, the digital twin market is expected to grow from $3.8bn , as of 2019, to $35.8bn per year by 2025, with more than 500 urban digital twins expected to be in use. 

So what’s behind this expected growth? Well, perhaps unsurprisingly, COVID19 has meant that now more than ever before we need to increase resilience and optimise resource management. 

Michael Jansen, CEO of Cityzenith, sits down with us to explore the booming digital twin market and what role digital twins could play in tackling a global pandemic…


Read the whitepaper here:

https://cityzenith.com/covid-19-whitepaper

Engaging members virtually and competing in the fast-developing digital fitness market…

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One of the UK’s leading technology developers, which works with operators to deliver virtual fitness content to their customers via livestream classes and premium on demand fitness channels, connecting over 300,000 activity users with over 6000 providers, has partnered with a global health and fitness giant.

Move and Les Mills are partnering up to provide a key element of Les Mills’ new digital content solution empowering health and fitness operators to engage their members virtually and compete in the fast-developing digital fitness market.

By making use of Move’s technology – Virtual Studio from Move and Les Mills Content, the partnership ensures clubs can launch their own digital solutions quickly and easily.

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The turnkey platform means operators can host Les Mills Content in their own branded ecosystem (web and app) which can be seamlessly integrated into their existing membership system, as well as livestream their own content.

Commercial Director at Move, Justin Mendleton, explains how the partnership helps solve the challenges that the fitness industry faces:

“The demand for virtual fitness products and services continues to accelerate at light speed. It’s going to be a critical part of every operator’s offering long after the pandemic has receded.

We know that operators face huge operational and technical challenges launching and sustaining a high quality digital solution. That’s why we’re thrilled to partner with Les Mills to deliver world class fitness content and world class digital technology that all operators can benefit from.

Read our exclusive interview with Jean-Michel Fournier, CEO of Les Mills Media:

Locking down a virtual strategy now is essential: according to a recent paper from Allied Market Research the global digital fitness industry is now expected to grow by nearly £4bn between 2020 and 2024.

Some of our partners taking advantage of our digital engagement expertise are already using Virtual Studio and seeing retention rates as high as 79%.  Having a high quality digital solution during these lockdowns has been an absolute lifeline for them.

If you want to continue to engage and retain your members, it’s pretty clear what you need to do.”

How ports and marinas are capitalising on IoT solutions

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On-board, berthed, and on the marina, smart technologies are driving widespread digitalisation – a process which has the potential to guide shipping processes into the future, writes Matthew Margetts, Director of Sales and Marketing at Smarter Technologies

Digitisation in the maritime industry assists with complex logistics, asset and supply chain management. Smart technologies are taking this a step further, with so-called smart shipping set to address challenges and offer far-reaching benefits for a range of maritime players. From big data and cross-operations visibility to AI, blockchain, and automation, the entire supply chain stands to benefit from these smart, accessible advancements. And with Brexit adding further complexities to shipping logistics, there’s an even greater need to accelerate the adoption of smart technologies that streamline operations and save time, money and resources. 

Smart ports for a digital tomorrow 

Through simplified data communications, smart ports achieve high-level efficiencies and reduce costs through an ecosystem of smart security, asset management, and network infrastructure capabilities. Simple, affordable IoT technologies optimise inventory-keeping, container and contents monitoring, provide data-inspired logistics, and are the basis of a formidable safety and security system. 

Cloud-based reporting offers a real-time, dynamic overview of all tagged assets. It is through these data insights that processes can be refined. The smart port in Rotterdam, for instance, incorporates digital infrastructure to drive predictive maintenance schedules, predictive berthing, and a range of other processes for the enhanced operational running of the physical infrastructure. The improved efficiencies are one focus point for smart ports. Another is the need to pivot around a growing trend of digitised and automated vessels – with port authorities needing to evolve to remain relevant.  

Technology to meet marina challenges 

Marinas around the world face many challenges that can be traced back to slow uptake of technology and poor digital services to customers in marinas and tourist ports. At the same time, this is a fast-growing industry with a digitally savvy clientele. This makes the adoption of data-intelligent processes an urgent consideration for operators. In addition, COVID-19 has reinforced the need for contactless, effective digital solutions upon arrival and exit. Smart technologies use data to design highly-effective digital systems around access and inventory control, asset management, and communications. This improves customer experience and paves the way for automation and remote management, allowing operators to concentrate on high service levels and hospitality. 

For example, asset tracking devices can be placed on cargo, containers, vehicles, forklift trucks and vessels. By keeping an eye on the location of these assets, ports can make sure that they are where they need to be, allowing operations to run smoothly. 

For example:

– An asset tracking device can warn the port operator if a cargo or cargo container is damaged or tampered with. 

– IoT networks can be used to monitor the state and status of equipment to detect potential failure ahead of time. 

– A temperature monitor can be used to identify a faulty part as heat builds up, allowing for an engineer to take corrective action before something turns critical.

Safer, streamlined smart ships 

On vessels themselves, smart technologies are fine-tuning efficiencies – with the potential to drastically reduce costs. Smart technologies provide data-driven onboard organisation, maintenance planning, and the creation of a digital bridge between at-sea and on-shore operations. The result is elevated safety and reliability. With these outcomes in mind, BOURBON’s smart shipping programme in Angola anticipates a future cost saving of 25% – an example of how ships of the future are geared to make better use of resources and increase productivity. 

Going smarter across the supply chain 

From the location of ships to the status of individual containers – and beyond to ports, warehousing, and trucking operations – the whole supply chain is getting smarter. By collecting data across meaningful metrics, personnel can check in on cargo and get notifications on undesirable changes around factors like temperature, shock, humidity, gas, and smoke to maintain the integrity of shipments no matter where they are. These actionable notifications give personnel a head start to reduce risk and mitigate losses. Some technologies incorporate two-way communication on this front, which has the added advantage of reduced manpower requirements, safety, and risk of human error. 

Securing vessels against Legionella and other bacteria

Another opportunity presented by smart technology in the shipping industry is the implementation of automated potable water temperature monitoring and flushing systems. These systems can help vessels save thousands of pounds on manual testing and avoid fines, penalties or prosecution. 

Maritime legislation in the UK, namely the Merchant Shipping (Crew Accommodation) Regulations 1997 and the Merchant Shipping (Crew Accommodation) (Fishing Vessels) 1975, amongst others, require: “The supply of drinking water and fresh water to be such as to prevent any risk of contamination.

This legal requirement translates into immense costs for seafaring vessels, which need to perform regular tests for colony-forming units. This can be overcome by adopting an automated system that continuously monitors a vessel’s water systems and provides real-time alerts if safety parameters are breached. Safety parameters are set according to the temperature ranges needed for the formation of colonies, and sensor technology can identify exactly where the areas of risk are present, such as a specific cabin or section of the vessel. 

Effective monitoring is the foundation of effective management – and data is, without question, the best way to monitor people, processes, and assets across the shipping supply chain. The benefits of collecting and analysing this data in real time span customer experience, labour requirements, and costs – to name a few. 

The latest episode of The Digital Insight welcomes back Dave Ingram, CPO of Unilever. The company recently announced a series…

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The latest episode of The Digital Insight welcomes back Dave Ingram, CPO of Unilever.

The company recently announced a series of significant commitments and actions to help build a more equitable and inclusive society by raising living standards across its value chain, creating opportunities through inclusivity, and preparing people for the future of work.

At the very centre of this vision, lies procurement. 

Ingram sits down with Andrew Woods to tell us what exactly Unilever is promising to do in order to achieve such lofty goals, and the policies and real differences it’s making to ensure that it can deliver on its promise of a more equitable and inclusive society.

Physical stores do not offer the same browsing experience as we would usually expect…

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There is no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic has changed the landscape of the retail sector. Social distancing regulations and civil anxiety surrounding the virus mean that physical stores do not offer the same browsing experience as we would usually expect. Meanwhile, a growing reliance on online shopping has been boosted by instructions to remain at home as much as possible.

The impact of COVID-19 and our new shopping behaviours have a profound effect on retailers. Changed buying experiences, falling and rising sales, and new consumer demands have defined an adverse year in retail. Here, we look at how customers and businesses have been affected by these changes.

Rising and falling sales

The Office for National Statistics points to eight key industries within the retail sector to define its overall performance since the start of the pandemic. Only two industries managed to increase their sales in the immediate months following lockdown. Unsurprisingly, these were food stores and non-store retailing (otherwise known as businesses which do not utilise a traditional brick-and-mortar location). All other industries within the retail sector saw their figures drop the most in April.

While most industries have since recovered and now show high sales figures when compared to February, two still fall behind their historic performance. Clothing and fuel saw sales drop by 67.6% and 60.7% respectively. This is significantly lower than the 22.2% drop the entire retail sector experienced. The latest figures indicate that the pandemic’s impact is still damaging. In October, clothing was still 13.8% below February sales. Fuel was still 8.8% down.

The reasons for these fallings are a consequence of reduced demand. Limited social activities reduced the need for new clothing. Working from home, furlough, and further travel restrictions also reduced the need for fuel.

However, there are some promising industries within the sector. Household goods now achieve sales 14.4% above what they achieved in February, despite falling 50.5% in April. In fact, this recovery is seen across the board. Total retail in October achieved 6.7% more sales than it did in February. This indicates that the sector should remain optimistic for a stimulating recovery and boost when restrictions are eased, and normal consumer behaviour resumes. 

An online boost

During the initial national lockdown, non-essential stores closed to prioritise the public health crisis. Unsurprisingly, consumers became more reliant on online shopping services as reflected in the rise of none-store retailing sales. But the lockdown changed more than the shopping experience, the limitations on public activities changed the demand for some products and services. For example, where social activities were limited, exercise was encouraged. In-store clothing retailers felt the force of lockdown, but for online sport sales companies, sales saw a significant boost. Cycling saw an increased popularity during lockdown, with many searching for more isolated ways to exercise and commute to work. For example, Google searches for ‘mountain bikes’ increased by 522% between February and April in 2020.

One bike sales company, Leisure Lakes Bikes, shared how their online activity grew during the pandemic. Demand for bicycles increased. In fact, visits to their website increased by 295% between March and April — only one month. By May, visits to their website had increased by 580% compared to March. The appeal of cycling during the lockdown was strong.

Time on their website also increased. Between March and April, the average time spent on the website increased by 57%. This shows that consumers are spending longer online, researching products and showing a real intention of making a purchase. One consumer survey found that 55% of customers prefer to visit stores before buying online. COVID-19 is directly responsible for changing this consumer behaviour.

This example reflects changing customer demands and the impact of selling online. Recognising the retail landscape, offering a product which consumers need, and offering an unchallenging buying experience will allow modern retailers to benefit during this period of uncertainty.

Prioritising responsibility

The retail sector is adapting to the changing views of consumers. Customers look towards stores to provide a safe and COVID-secure environment through hand sanitation stations, social distancing recommendations, and PPE equipment and cleanliness among staff. However, the coronavirus pandemic has not just pointed towards an improved health awareness in businesses. Other aspects, including the environment and social contributions, are a focus of consumer choices.

The pandemic has created a sense of ‘mindful retail’. One consumer index suggests that during the pandemic, 55% of people are shopping in local stores in their community or are buying more locally sourced products.

In the same manner, 61% of consumers say they are making more environmentally friendly or sustainable choices when shopping. Even more, 89%, of these people intend to continue this habit when the crisis ends. This means that a majority of people intend to prioritise sustainability in the future through their shopping choices.

Retail businesses have responded to these changing behaviours, promising to ‘build back better’ in the future. While the pandemic may have impacted the affectability of sustainable strategies, there is a clear drive to improve the retail sector in the future in this respect. One study of the largest businesses in the retail sector shows this intention. Retail giants, including Dunelm, B&Q, and IKEA lead among companies which mention sustainability most through their social media and professional platforms. Measures may include recycling, limiting waste, and utilising renewable energy.

The retail sector has been irreversibly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Whether looking towards consumer behaviour, e-commerce rises, or company culture, retail businesses must reflect on their potential recovery in the future and understand how they can improve on their services going forward. As the pandemic recovery continues, businesses must adapt to the constantly changing landscape of retail

IoT data set to unlock significant innovation over the coming years…

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What organisations can do with data is set to dramatically shift in 2021 and beyond, according to IoT connectivity specialist Eseye, as more IoT devices are deployed and the data they generate dwarfs that collected through traditional online channels. Eseye predicts that data mined from user interactions with things rather than digital services will create a wealth of rich data, bigger and more detailed than online data ever was, enabling new business models, the creation of new products and services and new levels of understanding of human behaviour.

Services like Amazon, Facebook and Netflix capture a wealth of consumer usage and behaviour data which is stored, analysed and used to digitise and reinvent shopping, social interactions and entertainment as custom personalised, data-driven services. This has had an extraordinary effect on the creation of new personalised services and new disruptive business models. As radical a change as this was, now IoT data is set to power unprecedented levels of innovation over the coming years.

According to Eseye, this innovation will be seen not just in the next generation of classic IoT devices, which will become much more interactive and personalised to real time behaviour, but also in the development of a new set of devices created through the fusion of multiple sensors, cellular connectivity to the cloud and advanced AI techniques. This combination will enable near real time predictions of what services should be dynamically configured into those devices to maximise revenue and collect even more data and deliver huge value.

“IoT companies that see the potential, not just in the device but also in the data collected, will be the big winners,” comments Nick Earle, CEO, Eseye. “As we come out of the pandemic, organisations will be looking for new ways to innovate, and IoT data has the potential to disrupt business models and processes in practically every industry. Disruption, by its nature, comes from places we haven’t even dreamed of, but it can be radical. For example, the people who invented the internet could never have predicted the emergence of services such as Uber and Netflix. Likewise, we can only speculate around what IoT entrepreneurs will come up with once they have access to data from billions of devices capturing rich intelligence on every aspect of our lives and businesses. We predict it will be an even bigger wave of innovation than the first wave of IoT adoption.”

One of Eseye’s customers is already using rich data to predict diseases before they happen. A leading digital therapeutics provider manufactures and sells a next-generation clinical-grade wearable, which delivers actionable insights powered by machine learning, deep neural networks and AI on real time disease trajectory. This helps clinicians predict and prevent serious medical events. For example, chronic diseases, like heart failure, can lead to billions of pounds of unnecessary hospitalisations and re-admissions. Therefore, the potential benefits across the healthcare sector if this model becomes widely adopted are enormous.

Another example is how IoT is helping vulnerable people remain independent through condition monitoring, whereby such devices use personal health data combined with behavioural patterns, and analytics predict when changes in care regimes might be required. These are just two examples of millions of potential applications.

“In 2020 the pandemic has accelerated many of the IoT trends we predicted last year. That’s because an economic slowdown, like we are experiencing, puts enormous pressure on enterprises to reduce costs and increase customer delivered value. IoT does both of these things, and so the pressure for adoption is growing. This sudden need for new technological approaches has happened at a time when IoT is reaching a level of cost and maturity that allows for mainstream adoption. This will increase the ability to collect rich data from these next generation IoT devices, delivering unimaginable insights to power innovation in years to come,” adds Earle.

This is just one of 10 IoT predictions that Eseye is forecasting for 2021 and beyond. Others include how IoT can deliver real time visibility into the food supply chain with technology advances such as printing IoT circuits, batteries, and cellular connectivity onto flexible labels. It’s exploring how IoT – as it becomes more integrated into consumer and industrial products – can provide brands with a direct line to customers, collapsing supply chains to bring original equipment manufacturers closer to consumers.

Furthermore, Eseye is also analysing how mobile network operators (MNOs) are adapting to compete globally and why a federation approach creates a more viable economic model for MNOs to deliver IoT, as well as the emergence of virtual MNOs. Eseye announced its global alliance of MNOs, The AnyNet Federation, in 2019 and over the last year the AnyNet Federation has grown to 12 MNO members, a number which Eseye expects to further grow in 2021.

To find out more about Eseye’s 2021 IoT predictions, download the report here.

Deal volumes up 18% and deal values increase 94% in second half of 2020

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M&A valuations are soaring, with rich valuations and intense competition for many digital or technology-based assets driving global deals activity, according to PwC’s latest Global M&A Industry Trends analysis.

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Covering the last six months of 2020, the analysis examines global deals activity and incorporates insights from PwC’s deals industry specialists to identify the key trends driving M&A activity, and anticipated investment hotspots in 2021.

In spite of the uncertainty created by COVID-19, the second half of 2020 saw a surge in M&A activity.

“COVID-19 gave companies a rare glimpse into their future, and many did not like what they saw. An acceleration of digitalisation and transformation of their businesses instantly became a top priority, with M&A the fastest way to make that happen — creating a highly competitive landscape for the right deals,” says Brian Levy, PwC’s Global Deals Industries Leader, Partner, PwC US.

Key insights from the second half of 2020 deals activity include:

  • Dealmaking jumped in the second half of the year with total global deal volumes and values increasing by 18% and 94%, respectively compared to the first half of the year. In addition, both deal volumes and deal values were up compared to the last six months of 2019.

  • The higher deal values in the second half of 2020 were partly due to an increase in megadeals ($5 billion+). Overall, 56 megadeals were announced in the second half of 2020, compared to 27 in the first half of the year.

  • The technology and telecom sub-sectors saw the highest growth in deal volumes and values in the second half of 2020, with technology deal volumes up 34% and values up 118%. Telecom deal volumes were up 15% and values significantly up by almost 300% due to three telecom megadeals.

  • On a regional basis, deal volumes increased by 20% in the Americas, 17% in EMEA and 17% in Asia Pacific between the first and second half of 2020. The Americas saw the biggest growth in deal values of over 200%, primarily due to some significant megadeals in the second half of the year.

COVID-19 accelerates deals activity for digital and technology assets in a highly competitive market

In demand assets have commanded high valuations and fierce competition, driven by macroeconomic factors. These include low interest rates, a desire to acquire innovative, digital or technology-enabled businesses and an abundance of available capital from both corporate (over $7.6 trillion in cash and marketable securities) and private equity buyers ($1.7 trillion).

By comparison, assets in sectors that have been hardest hit by the pandemic like industrial manufacturing or those being shaped by factors such as the transformation to net zero carbon emissions are creating structural changes that companies will need to address. Where the future viability of their business models are challenged, companies may look to distressed M&A opportunities or restructuring to preserve value.

Deal makers widen assessment of value creation to non-traditional sources

Non-traditional sources of value creation such as the impact of environmental, social and governance factors (ESG) are increasingly being considered by deal makers and factored into strategic decision-making and due diligence, as they focus on protecting and maximising returns from high valuations and fierce demand.

“With so much capital out there, good businesses are commanding high multiples and achieving them. If this continues – and I believe it will – then the need to double down on value creation is now more relevant than ever for successful M&A,” says Malcolm Lloyd, Global Deals Leader, Partner, PwC Spain.

The impact of a hot IPO market on M&A

The last six months saw the prevalence of the use of special-purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) to pool investor capital for acquisition opportunities in a highly active IPO market. In 2020, SPACs raised about $70 billion in capital and accounted for more than half of all US IPOs. Private equity firms have been key players in the recent SPAC boom, finding them a useful alternative source of capital. More SPAC activity is expected in 2021, especially involving assets such as electric vehicle charging infrastructure, power storage, and healthcare technology.

Read PwC’s Global M&A Industry Trends for more insights on 2020 and 2021.

Canonical’s Charmed OpenStack will enable industry-leading cloud-based online charging system

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Canonical, the publisher of Ubuntu, today announced that its Charmed OpenStack has been selected by Telefonica Brazil to – in a first for the region – migrate its online charging system (OCS) to its private cloud, Unica Next. The transformation project will see eight private clouds built on Charmed OpenStack, geographically distributed to service Telefonica’s customers in Brazil.

As the country’s biggest mobile operator with 76 MM mobile subscribers, Telefonica uses its OCS to give B2C & B2B customers real-time control and visibility of their precise usage across voice and data calls. 

Instead of selecting a conventional virtualised environment, Telefonica opted for Charmed OpenStack for future scalability on which to build a long term roadmap. With new market trends such as 5G, this migration will give Telefonica the agility to develop new features at scale, staying ahead of customer demand by providing more advanced offerings with a faster time to market.

“Migrating our OCS application to the cloud will give us the base and agility we need in order to consistently offer best-in-class solutions for our customers,” commented Flavio Matiello, Head of PrePaid Platforms & OCS at Telefonica Brazil. “This selection was an obvious choice to enable us to scale our charging capabilities to a future-proofed private cloud platform.”

As the OCS requires close proximity to the network, the clouds will be geographically distributed in Brazil. This architecture will consistently deliver the low latency needed to meet the needs of Telefonica’s wide customer base and was a key factor in the selection of a private cloud infrastructure. 

“Canonical is dedicated to enabling customers to drive new innovations and we’re pleased to have collaborated with Telefonica Brazil on its OCS migration,” said Nicholas Dimotakis, VP of Field Engineering at Canonical. “This represents a growing trend of telecoms companies moving towards OpenStack, and we’re excited to see what other cloud-based services this could open up across the industry.”

Telefonica’s OCS cloud will be built on Canonical’s Charmed OpenStack, and utilise Canonical’s open source tools to automate the deployment and operations of their infrastructure. Telefonica will benefit from Canonical’s Managed OpenStack offering for the ongoing maintenance and support of operations. The project’s initial phase was successfully rolled out in early August 2020. 

“Canonical has been an important community member in helping make OpenStack among the most widely deployed open infrastructure software for telecom in new markets. We’re proud to see Telefonica Brazil choose OpenStack for its flexibility to support a fast-changing telecom landscape. But more importantly, we’re thrilled to welcome their team to the community, representing a growing user base in Latin America,” said Mark Collier, COO, Open Infrastructure Foundation.  

Whether you’re purchasing for a small business or you’re part of a procurement team in a large organisation, harmonising the various needs of your company can be a challenge…

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How do you create efficiencies by centralising procurement, while maintaining staff independence? How can you ensure everyone in the organisation has the items they need without overloading the procurement team with purchase requests? 

Online digital procurement presents an opportunity to balance these requirements.

Below are some tips on how to use a digital purchasing system to improve your business function and achieve goals which may initially seem difficult to reconcile.

1. Consolidate tail spend 

Tail spend – everyday purchases which aren’t needed for production, such as office supplies and IT equipment – can rapidly become a headache for the procurement team. As 20% of tail spend purchases are spread across 80% of suppliers, this broad base means it can become extremely difficult for Procurement to keep up with who in the organisation is spending what, and where these purchases are being made. The procurement team can end up wasting significant time trying to locate these purchases, which are often not bought at the most competitive prices.

However, staff want to feel respected and trusted to make purchasing decisions for their own departments. They want to buy supplies as they need them, rather than asking Procurement for permission for every small item. An art teacher is best equipped to know which paintbrushes are right for their class, but equally the procurement team needs to know employees are achieving best value for the organisation.

This can be solved by buying all tail spend items online, using a central transparent and efficient program. Olivia Rowling, founder of the Butterfly Patch Nursery group, did exactly this. Her business’s previous procurement model, using multiple suppliers, meant they used to spend around £20,000 kitting out each new facility. Moving to online purchasing meant the cost of each nursery was driven down by 60%. 

This online shift was also instrumental in helping save hours in planning and administration for her team. As the approval purchasing process has been made easier, managers can simply add what they need to an online basket, before their orders are approved and processed by a central decision-maker. Her team saved time, and could focus on other goals. Olivia sees digital procurement as a useful aid to help reach her goal to launch 300 nurseries within the next three years.  

2. Compare prices quickly and efficiently

It’s important to get the best possible value when making purchases, and this is especially relevant in an organisation managed by strict overarching policies. For Rob Owens, Chief Operating Officer of Stephenson Multi-Academy Trust, procurement was guided by governmental requirements. Under MAT rules, the price and quality of each item which the procurement team wants to buy has to be compared against three different suppliers. Owens recalls that on some days, the finance team had to place hundreds of orders – from stationery to software for departments, to furniture – making the process of seeking and quality-checking three different suppliers very protracted and inefficient.

By moving to online purchasing, Rob’s team could easily and quickly compare suppliers’ prices and quality, satisfying the Trust’s procurement rules and saving a huge amount of time and resource. Not only were they able to secure cheaper prices than they were getting previously, but the time invested in procurement was massively reduced. It also gave the procurement team freedom to explore interesting new projects, which they had been unable to do due to time constraints. Staff felt satisfied and excited by the prospect of reducing laborious paperwork and using that time to focus on new ways to develop the MAT’s provision to students.

This also generated substantial time-saving benefits for the teaching staff. According to Rob, the less time teachers spent procuring, the more they could focus on their core job. There was an additional cost benefit too: Rob explains that any savings teaching staff make is more in their budget, so they can buy more for their departments and consequently, more for the students the schools serve.  

This ability to compare a vast selection of suppliers creates a competitive market that is a huge advantage to any organisation. In fact, business customers have reported a 94% competitive selection parity, which can reduce prices by up to 70%.

3. Decentralise the procurement process

It is often practical for wider parts of an organisation to have purchasing powers, so they can order individual items, rather than making requests to the procurement team every time they need to buy a printer ink cartridge or a box of pens. This has obvious time-saving advantages for the procurement team, but it can rapidly become complicated and difficult to track.

The University of Leicester employs 4,000 people, over 100 of whom have purchase cards. The lack of a digitised procurement system, coupled with the relatively large number of staff with purchasing responsibilities, made it difficult for the procurement team to track expenditure across the institution as a whole.

For Anthony Midgley, Category Manager and Procurement Systems Lead at the university, modernising the procurement process so spend was immediately visible was extremely useful. Midgley was able to clearly see, in real time, what was ordered with the system, instead of spending time chasing records at the end of the month. This allowed him to use time more wisely, enabling him to ensure the university procurement function ran as smoothly as possible. 

Another advantage of decentralised procurement is the ability for each office and branch in the online shop to have their own name and billing address, set up by the CPO. If the same invoice number and payment terms are defined for all orders, expenses can be easily consolidated. This improves purchasing efficiency, with business customers determining a 13% average cost saving when procuring online, compared to their manual procurement processes. 

As well as improved accuracy and granularity, this feature helps provide greater control and visibility, giving CPOs a reliable overview of tail spend and related expenses, without having to micro-manage every purchase of printer paper or staples. Moreover, CPOs will have access to a wealth of new data that allows them to make sound recommendations and demonstrate value to internal stakeholders. At the same time, employees with purchasing responsibilities have the freedom to purchase items as they need them, demonstrating trust and building strong working relationships between Procurement and the organisation as a whole.  

Online procurement helps solve organisational challenges

 

It can often be a delicate balancing act to manage an organisation’s numerous challenges and goals. It’s important for staff to feel valued and respected, to know they are trusted to buy items for their function without having to seek permission for every last pencil and printer cartridge. But it’s critical to an efficient procurement process that the CPO can track and manage these purchases effectively, ensuring the business stays on track to achieve its key priorities. 

There are obvious advantages to digital procurement; as Accenture’s Next Generation Digital Procurement report shows, businesses can dramatically improve speed, agility and efficiency with an online purchasing system. Digitising procurement provides CPOs with a strategic advantage, providing all the information they need to help them future-proof their procurement process while ensuring continued growth and a competitive edge. 

So, with the right features that allow the CPO to balance the time and cost savings with the requirements of the wider team, online procurement offers clear benefits. For the Butterfly Patch Nursery, the University of Leicester and Stephenson MAT, a digital purchasing process has been instrumental in helping Procurement to move these organisations forward.  

Access to accurate supplier data is a huge challenge for most enterprises, hindering decision-making, innovation and resilience…

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This week saw the start of a new partnership, as JAGGAER and Tealbook joined forces in order to provide enriched supplier data for JAGGAER customers through access to Tealbook’s Supplier Intelligence Platform.

The collaboration enables JAGGAER’s customers to find new suppliers and access accurate and comprehensive supplier information, including diversity status, compliance, certifications and more, providing JAGGAER with a competitive advantage over other portal-based supplier information, community insights and networks that come with traditional S2Ps.

Access to accurate supplier data is a huge challenge for most enterprises, hindering decision-making, innovation and resilience. Through this unique partnership, JAGGAER customers will have access to autonomously enriched supplier data tagged with diversity status, compliance and certifications linked to suppliers’ profiles within Tealbook’s Supplier Intelligence Platform. This collaboration will also enable JAGGAER customers to automate supplier profiles, removing the dependency on suppliers to update their information. Suppliers will have their profiles self-maintained in Tealbook as a complement to the JAGGAER portal.

Profile photo of Jim Bureau

“Access to Tealbook data, which is updated continuously and autonomously through machine learning technology, will allow JAGGAER customers across multiple vertical industries to make better decisions about suppliers faster and more easily than ever,” commented Jim Bureau, CEO, JAGGAER.

“Many of our customers are currently exploring options to diversify their mix of suppliers for a number of reasons, including the need to reduce risk, especially in response to the pandemic, and the pursuit of environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) objectives. Partnership with Tealbook will give customers the confidence to respond quickly to changes and opportunities by moving reliable supplier data to upstream decision-making processes. More broadly, these capabilities are yet another step forward in our march toward fully autonomous procurement, relieving both buying organizations and suppliers of the onerous burden of manual data updates,” Bureau added.

Longer term, JAGGAER and Tealbook will set out a roadmap for full integration of their respective software platforms.

Tealbook’s supplier data foundation offers an innovative and easy-to-implement approach to autonomously gathering and validating supplier information from over 400 million websites and 600 data sources. The platform helps organizations avoid supply disruptions in times of crisis, support strategic objectives like increasing spend with diverse suppliers and improve the quality and savings from strategic sourcing, especially in new categories where there is less knowledge of the market.

Stephany Lapierre

“Even with millions of dollars of investments in cloud S2P solutions, 93%* of supply chain and procurement executives are experiencing negative impacts to their business on a regular basis due to misinformation and poor supplier data,” commented Stephany Lapierre, CEO of Tealbook. “This includes financial loss, delayed timelines and projects, unhappy internal and external customers, termination of supplier relationships and more. The solution is Tealbook, a trusted data foundation that can be leveraged by eProcurement solutions to ensure these investments are successful.”

“We are thrilled to partner with JAGGAER to enhance JAGGAER ONE’s Spend Management Platform with the power of AI generated supplier data and our advanced supplier network,” Lapierre added. “This collaboration will allow JAGGAER customers to enhance supplier data and gain access to their entire supplier base, reducing the need for data enrichment services and dependency on suppliers to enrich and maintain portals. This partnership will enable JAGGAER customers to better utilize the spend management platform to create real-time access to their entire supplier base while expanding their vendor data to quickly identify suppliers that meet their requirements, gaining intelligence, speed and agility.”

After a growth in alert volumes, and unpredictable spikes driven by global volatility, its time to close alerts quickly and accurately…

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Silent Eight today announced a multi-year partnership with HSBC that will support the bank in enhancing its industry-leading compliance operations. A recognized leader in technology innovation, HSBC sought a financial crime partner that could successfully improve its manual processes and existing statistical models to decrease risk while simultaneously increasing efficiency.

Silent Eight Alert Resolution investigates, and resolves cases in the same way an analyst would; with greater speed, precision and consistency. Following a successful trial period, the solution is set to be integrated into HSBC’s existing infrastructure to provide case adjudications that are explained and auditable.

“Given the growth in alert volumes, and unpredictable spikes driven by global volatility, we saw an opportunity with Silent Eight that would give us the ability to close alerts quickly and accurately,” said HSBC’s Group Head of Compliance Services, Matt Brown.

Silent Eight CEO and co-founder, Martin Markiewicz, said, “We’re delighted to find a partner that shares our focus on eliminating financial crime. HSBC’s dedication to this project is just one aspect of their tireless commitment to improvement, and to helping drive AI innovation across the industry. We’re proud to partner with them on their mission to make the world safer.”

“Silent Eight’s business case was extremely compelling,” said Ben Rayner, HSBC’s Global Head of AML and Sanctions Screening. “We have chosen their solution as we believe it will provide significant business benefits across all our success metrics.”

Silent Eight is a technology company leveraging AI to create custom compliance models for the world’s leading financial institutions. Our mission is to empower our clients in their fight to eliminate financial crime. Founded in Singapore and with global hubs in New York, London, and Warsaw, we are deployed in over 150 markets. For more information, visit: www.silenteight.com

Our fitness habits have changed dramatically in 2020…

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ClassPass, the world’s leading fitness and wellness membership and a global provider of corporate wellness benefits, has released their annual data-driven trends report. ClassPass has the most robust database in the world of fitness, wellness and beauty search behavior, with insights compiled from 30,000 boutique studios, gyms, spas and wellness partners across 30 countries.

This year’s report focuses on the impact of the pandemic on fitness, wellness and beauty, the trends that have emerged post-lockdown and where these industries are headed in 2021.

The data is broken out into the following categories:

● Top Workouts of 2020 – Digital
● Top Workouts of 2020 – Studio Fitness
● Most Popular Days and Times to Sweat
● How Your City Is Working Out
● Social Trends in Fitness
● Beauty and Wellness Trends During COVID-19
● The Future of Fitness: 2021 Trend Forecasting

As 95% of studios around the world closed their physical spaces, ClassPass helped 5,000 top studios to add livestream and on-demand workouts, and 81% of ClassPass customers reported that they worked out using digital options. Here’s how they got their sweat on:

Top digital workouts of 2020:

  1. Yoga
  2. HIIT
  3. Pilates
  4. Strength Training
  5. Barre
  6. Dance
  7. Stretching
  8. Boxing

● HIIT’s share of all workouts increased by 26% and Pilates’ share of all workouts increased by 16%.
● *Restorative fitness is also very popular in 2020. Meditation and Stretching both rank
in the top 10 on-demand activities booked through ClassPass.
● At home classes that require less equipment are more popular. Classes that require
bodyweight only pulled in double the number of bookings as classes that require
equipment.
● When you find a strength training workout you love, you’ll repeat it. Strength
training is the on-demand workout most likely to be replayed.
Fitness travel is in:
● More than half of members have tuned in for classes taught in other cities.
● UK fitness fans are likely to “travel” to NYC and Amsterdam.
● North America fitness fans are likely to “travel” to London, Sydney and Amsterdam.
● APAC fitness fans are likely to “travel” to NYC, London and Los Angeles.

UK TOP WORKOUTS OF 2020 – STUDIO FITNESS

It has been an extremely tough year for studios, with many being forced to close for months, and some having a second round of lockdowns. However, the global data has been promising:

Top in-person workouts of 2020 as studios have reopened:

  1. HIIT
  2. Indoor Cycling
  3. Reformer Pilates
  4. Vinyasa Yoga
  5. Bootcamp
  6. Circuit Training
  7. TRX
  8. Hot Yoga

Additional insights:

● Members are booking equipment-heavy classes such as HIIT, Cycling, Pilates and Boxing classes. It’s likely that many members will continue with some combination of digital workouts, but rely on studio classes for the workouts that are tough to do at home.


● Since studios have been able to reopen, two underperforming genres during lockdowns have climbed back to the top: Indoor Cycling bookings have increased by 30% and Reformer Pilates bookings have increased by 18%.


● There was a 400% increase in the number of outdoor classes being offered by studios this year as many closed studios moved outside, taking advantage of fresh air and room to socially distance. 4 in 5 surveyed members reported a willingness to attend these classes, and we anticipate this will be a lasting trend into 2021.

● Transparent safety information is a key factor in the decision to return to studios, according to more than half of ClassPass members. To help, ClassPass added a feature that allows members to preview the specific safety and sanitation precautions of every studio, from distanced bikes to contactless check-in.

Professionals are now much more likely to take a lunch class instead of an after work class. 89% of professionals say they feel more productive during the work day after exercising.

Workouts used to be stacked earlier in the week. Due to limited end-of-week happy hours and more time spent at home, there is less of a rush to get workouts done before the weekend.

FITNESS HAS STAYED SOCIAL, EVEN WHEN SOCIALLY DISTANT

Fitness fans have gotten creative with distant happy hours and remote meetups, inviting friends and colleagues to join them in a class.

● Most popular digital workout to take with friends based in other cities: HIIT

● Digital happy hour – most common time to take a digital class with friends: 12pm


● Most popular time to meet up at a studio with friends: 6pm


● Most popular studio workout to meet friends at as restrictions lift: Cycling


● Most popular workout to take with a colleague: Strength Training

THE FUTURE OF FITNESS: 2021 TREND FORECASTING

Taking A Crunch Break For Lunch Break:

● For the first time ever, 12pm is the most popular time to work out during the week.

● Lunchtime workouts have seen a 67% increase in popularity. This shift can largely be attributed to a rise in remote work, and the ease of no shower required virtual meetings. Even as people have returned to studios, the 12pm weekday time slot for in-person classes is more popular now than it was before lockdowns.

● Bristol, London, Edinburgh, Dublin, Manchester and Brighton have all leaned into this trend, becoming this year’s Lunchtime Warriors, or the cities more likely to book a lunchtime class.

Open Air Gyms Are a Breath of Fresh Air:

● Outdoor workouts first emerged in Europe and have continued to grow in demand throughout the US. 4 in 5 surveyed ClassPass members are willing to try outdoor classes — ClassPass has added a search for “Outdoors” classes to support this trend and the number of outdoor class options has increased by 400% in 2020.


● Many studios are getting creative with outdoor classes including using beautiful city backdrops for class. One studio in Amsterdam even rented out an underutilized wedding venue! Los Angeles is the most likely city to book an outdoor class in the US. Edinburgh is the most likely city to book an outdoor class in the UK.


● For members who feel more comfortable with 1:1 instead of group workouts, ClassPass has also added personal training options through a new partnership with Fyt.

Corporate Wellness Benefits Have Become a Must-Have for Companies:

● 25% of professionals are exercising more now than at the start of COVID-19, with 1 in 5 using their previous commute time to exercise


● 4 in 5 professionals say fitness activities have been crucial to establishing a new work-from-home routine. 96% of professionals say they feel more motivated and less stressed after exercising, with 89% of professionals saying they feel more productive during the work day after exercising.


● 3 in 5 professionals who have participated in a team workout report feeling more connected to their team afterwards. Teams are most likely to book a private HIIT or yoga class to stay engaged and workout together, and hundreds of private classes have been booked.


● Since the start of the pandemic, ClassPass has offered remote fitness benefits to one million employees across companies of all sizes. The interest from companies is continuing to grow, and we expect fitness and wellness benefits to be more important than ever in attracting and retaining talent.

People Will Head Back To Studios Once They Feel Safe

● 92% of professionals hope to return to fitness studios and gyms in 2021, with 40% planning to return exclusively to in-studio workouts when they feel safe to do so (source: Nov 2020 study of 2,185 professionals from 19 countries)


● After attending their first indoor class since the start of the pandemic, 89% of subscribers responded they would go back as or more frequently to future classes

Digital health passport providers must also work to address any potential data privacy issues…

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Digital health passports should not be introduced on a mass basis until coronavirus tests are available and affordable to everyone in the country, a new report warns. The same considerations apply to vaccines once these are approved and ready for widespread use.

Failing to address issues with the availability and affordability of tests and vaccines risks excluding already vulnerable populations from protection against the virus, according to the research. This could also restrict people’s legal rights.

Digital health passports, sometimes also referred to as ‘immunity passports’, are digital credentials that, combined with identity verification, allow individuals to prove their health status (such as the results of COVID-19 tests, and eventually, digital vaccination records).

The report also urges digital health passport providers to work to address any potential data privacy issues. It calls for policymakers to strike an adequate balance between protecting the rights and freedoms of all individuals and safeguarding public interests while managing the effects of the pandemic.

The research was carried out by Dr Ana Beduschi, from the University of Exeter Law School and is funded by the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC), as part of UK Research & Innovation’s rapid response to Covid-19. 

The report warns that deployment of digital health passports may interfere with several fundamental rights, including the right to privacy, the freedoms of movement and peaceful assembly. It also warns that the use of digital health passports may have an impact on equality and non-discrimination. If some people cannot access or afford COVID-19 tests and vaccines, they will not be able to prove their health status, thus having their freedoms de facto restricted.

Dr Beduschi said: “Digital health passports may contribute to the long-term management of the COVID-19 pandemic, but their introduction poses essential questions for the protection of data privacy and human rights. They build on sensitive personal health information to create a new distinction between individuals based on their health status, which can then be used to determine the degree of freedoms and rights individuals may enjoy.

“Given that digital health passports contain sensitive personal information, domestic laws and policies should carefully consider the conditions of collection, storage and uses of the data by private sector providers.

“It is also crucial that the communities that have already been badly impacted by the pandemic have swift access to affordable tests and, eventually, vaccines. Otherwise, deploying digital health passports could further deepen the existing inequalities in society.”

Multiple initiatives to develop and deploy digital health passports are currently underway in the UK and abroad, to facilitate the return to work, travel, and live-audience large sports events. The World Health Organisation (WHO) and Estonia have recently agreed to develop a digital vaccination certificate that could be used for COVID-19 once a vaccine is available. Rapid antigen tests for COVID-19 are increasingly offered by private sector providers and results are often managed through digital platforms. Vaccine trials have shown promising early results, raising hopes for vaccine availability and widespread vaccination by next year.

The aim of the report is to inform decision-makers at an early stage, before large-scale deployment of digital health passports, about the risks they pose to the protection of these rights, and to recommend effective strategies for potential risk mitigation. The research analysed the existing legal framework, including UK laws, judicial decisions and international human rights law.

A financial health check with a professional qualified to give advice is an investment in your future…

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Nick Gornall, Head of Business Development at Wealth Management Specialists Arbuthnot Latham discusses the recent shift from advice to self-serve across the financial services sector due to the impact of technology and the arrival of new players in the fintech space disrupting the traditional houses.

Anyone who enjoys reading about politics or listens to leaders seeking election may raise a smile when they are given the definition of the Dunning-Kruger effect which is a cognitive bias that causes people to overestimate their knowledge or ability particularly in areas where they have no experience. 

While we should celebrate the broader access to financial education and the fact that information on global markets, tax and jurisdictional issues and wealth planning solutions is more available now than ever before, I’m wary about the implications this shift could have on long term financial plans.

Seeking and receiving good financial advice is something that we should be celebrating. Like mental and physical wellbeing, having a financial health check with a professional qualified to give advice is an investment in your future. 

The benefits can be enormous from saved tax, to ensuring your loved ones are financially secure, aligning your investment plans to your goals for the future and managing the level of volatility you want from financial assets. Creating a plan with a desired outcome can help you feel in control and confident for your – and your loved ones’ – financial future.

But despite these benefits, I come back to the subject of behavioural bias. It is a uniquely human foible that can cloud our judgement add a prejudice or insert an illogical preference – here are three biases that I have observed the most in over 35 years in the industry.

Status Quo syndrome; the inherent danger of doing nothing. The suggestion that the plans you have today will meet your needs in the future. Whilst a global pandemic might make you stop and think, leaving matters to another day means that you may miss opportunities – from maximising tax and pension allowances to IHT mitigation, or pre-structuring a business sale – having regular financial advice means that your financial plan can adapt to your changing circumstances. Having a plan also allows you to use multiple advisers and change advisers if you deem it right for you as the plan will capture your financial journey as you go.

The lack of inter-generational communication – there are many reasons that family wealth is often lost within just three generations. Some of them are external forces outside of our control like economic and financial market risk and for some political risk – but the real reason wealth succession often goes wrong is because of the lack of communication and trust between family members. We simply don’t talk enough and for many of the next generation we do not prepare them to inherit. Using an intermediary or an advocate means that decisions and advice get recorded and can be more easily shared – an impartial third party can also assist with cross family communication.

The IKEA effect – The tendency for people to place a disproportionately high value on objects that they partially assembled themselves, (such as furniture from IKEA) regardless of the quality of the end product. This is common in particular around the perceived value of property as an asset class – it is often much easier simply to stick to what you know. Using a financial adviser allows greater access to a means of diversifying which brings value by reducing the overall volatility of investment assets but also opens up potential to build trust and knowledge in a broader range of investments. 

So let’s celebrate the pace of change in the financial services sector the improvements in technology bringing cheaper easier access and a greater range of choice – but also do not forget that financial advice remains a vital part of the equation to help to maintain your family’s financial health despite there being behavioural biases that might prevent us from helping ourselves. 

A report identifies the younger generation as an emerging powerbroker in the global economy…

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Attributed to Jasper Judd, Co-Founder and Trustee, Global Returns Project

Comments on millennial wealth often focus on unfavourable comparisons to Baby Boomer prosperity. But while Boomer affluence remains indisputable, millennials’ control of global assets continues to rise. With millennial wealth already topping $24trn, financial institutions have not ignored this shift in fortunes. Instead, those institutions have already worked to attract millennial attention with ESG options that recognise millennial concerns about the Climate Crisis.

To continue adapting, financial institutions can offer similar options for clients to support not-for-profit climate solutions. Normalising that support gives millennials another powerful mechanism to mobilise their assets for climate action.

Millennials’ economic influence and interests

The ‘millennial’ generation has long been plagued by perceptions of financial frivolity or misfortune. From failing to save effectively to drowning in student debt, millennials are often imagined as a global cohort incapable of economic heft.

A recent report from UBS calls many of these assumptions into question. Estimating millennials’ combined wealth at approximately $24trn, the report identifies the younger generation as an emerging powerbroker in the global economy. Driven already by income growth and entrepreneurial activity, this accumulation of assets will only increase in the wake of ‘one of the largest intergenerational wealth transfers ever’. A report from Accenture suggests that in North America alone, inheritance from Baby Boomers may top $30trn by 2050.

Rounding out this portrait of millennials’ financial power is a generational stereotype that has held true. Millennials pay attention to purpose: acting personally and professionally with a set of values in mind.

As a purpose for taking action, tackling the Climate Crisis consistently tops the list of millennials’ global concerns. Deloitte’s most recent Millennial Survey identified the durability of this climate concern even in the wake of COVID-19. Despite the ongoing pandemic, the issue of climate change and protecting the environment remained essentially tied with health care and disease prevention for millennial respondents in mid-2020.

Sustainable options from financial institutions

Faced with millennial wealth and climate consciousness, financial institutions have already adapted their outreach. Sustainable investing and ESG options offer important opportunities for savers and investors to protect the planet. A recent report suggests that global sustainable investment had reached $30.7trn in 2018, up 34% from 2016 levels.

Millennials already make up a significant portion of that total. 95% of millennials report interest in sustainable investing, and a staggering 67% have been involved with one or more sustainable investment activity. In the coming years, this engagement will only increase.

The need for climate not-for-profits

To further adapt to millennials’ economic influence and interests, financial institutions can also offer opportunities to support not-for-profit climate solutions.

ESG and sustainable investing allow market forces to encourage important climate action. But markets are not all-powerful. No market solutions exist for suing polluters, protecting rainforests, or accelerating clean energy to the billion people with no power. Not-for-profit organisations perform these critical tasks.

Take the environmental charity ClientEarth as an example. In September, the organisation was instrumental in accelerating the closure of Poland’s Belchatow power plant: the single largest greenhouse gas-emitter in Europe. This victory reminds us that not-for-profits play a key role in climate action – a role that for-profit organisations cannot fulfil.

In their effort to engage with millennials, financial institutions can acknowledge the role played by climate not-for-profits and provide their clients with simple ways to support them. Climate-conscious millennials will take advantage of an opportunity to channel their assets into issues beyond the reach of ESG initiatives.

An option to Reinvest in Earth

The Global Returns Project has coined the term ‘Reinvesting in Earth’ to describe that simple way for individuals with assets to support climate not-for-profits. When an individual Reinvests in Earth, they commit at least 0.25% of their savings and investments annually to funding not-for-profit climate solutions.

Financial institutions could make Reinvesting in Earth normal and easy by offering it as a tick-the-box option for clients. In addition to attracting millennials, normalising this regular, proportional funding could raise remarkable sums for the climate.

Globally, private individuals hold approximately $140trn in assets. If just 3% of those individuals Reinvested in Earth, they would raise $10bn every year for critical climate solutions.

Despite stereotypes to the contrary, millennials play an increasingly powerful role in the global economy. While ESG initiatives have proven popular with this younger demographic, financial institutions can also incorporate climate not-for-profits into their options for clients. Normalising the practice of Reinvesting in Earth gives millennials the ability to support non-market climate solutions with their assets.

The Global Returns Project:

The Global Returns Project (GRP) is an initiative from the Climate Crisis Foundation which seeks to transform the way we use private assets, by normalising “Reinvestment” in Earth.

It was founded in 2019 by finance gurus Yan Swiderski and Jasper Judd, after they grew frustrated by the lack of support being given to climate-initiatives.

With its unique funding structure depending on the commitment of assets rather than income, the organisation hopes to turn the table on traditional philanthropy and make it easy for individuals to fund not for profit climate solutions, whilst also encouraging financial institutions to make such reinvestment normal and easy for their clients.

Now that the COVID-19 pandemic has moved the Overton window for what we understand as achievable social and policy change, the next decade could prove fertile ground for climate change initiatives. As such, the Global Returns Project has set itself a target to raise 10 billion dollars per year for environmental causes. These funds will then be divided between the organisation’s partners, all of whom are identified via a rigorous selection process as the most highly effective climate solutions. Current partners include Ashden, Client Earth, Global Canopy, Rainforest Trust and Trillion Trees.

Jasper Judd Biography:

Jasper Judd is co-founder of the Global Returns Project. A Cambridge graduate and Chartered Accountant, he has held several senior finance, strategy and innovation roles in large listed global business throughout his career.

In recent years, however, Jasper has been increasingly focused on the Climate Crisis and what people with professional backgrounds can do to make a difference. Spurred by the desire to build a brighter future for his children, he decided to co-launch the Global Returns Project where he uses his financial expertise to empower people to easily fund not for profit climate solutions.

Enterprises that gather customer data also suffer 62% more financial damage due to data breaches…

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Customer data is a valuable commodity to businesses, which they use to improve and market their products. However, some companies profit from selling your data to other businesses.

According to data presented by the Atlas VPN team, one in ten businesses globally sell customer data to third parties.

The numbers are based on The Kaspersky Global Corporate IT Security Risks Survey, which features data from interviews with 5,266 IT business decision-makers from 31 countries globally. The interviews took place in June 2020 and were released in November 2020.

The survey reveals that around half of businesses worldwide collect client data. A total of 48% of small and medium businesses (SMBs) and 52% of enterprise representatives reported that their companies gather information about their clients. One-fifth of these businesses (18% of SMBs and 21% of enterprises) also sell that data to third parties.

Rachel Welch, COO of Atlas VPN, shares her thoughts on how people can protect better protect their data online:

“Nowadays, people face a challenge of balancing privacy and usability. They cannot control how securely companies store their information or in whose hands their data might end up. However, people can make sure that they limit the information they reveal online.

Using a VPN, reconfiguring your device’s privacy settings, and reading Privacy Policy before you sign up for a new service are just some of the things I would recommend to protect your personal data better.”

While 24% of SMBs and 21% of corporations do not currently gather customer data, they plan to do so in the upcoming 12 months. A quarter (25%) of small and medium businesses and 23% of enterprises do not collect any customer data. The remaining 3% of SMBs and 4% of corporations do not know whether they collect client data.

Companies that do not collect client data suffer less from data breaches

Companies that collect client data are attractive targets to cybercriminals and, therefore, always at risk of a data breach. Naturally, they also have more to lose if they get hacked.

SMBs that collect customer data typically lose around $117 thousand per data breach — 37% more than their counterparts that do not collect user data. Enterprises that gather customer data also suffer 62% more financial damage due to data breaches. On average such enterprises lose $1.3 million per data breach.

But its future is uncertain…

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The Collaboration Progress Monitor, the National Centre for Universities and Business’ (NCUB) annual tracking of long-term trends in UK university-business collaboration, shows the number of interactions increased across the board in 2017/18. The Monitor forms part of the State of the Relationship report 2020.

The Collaboration Progress Monitor revealed that 2017/18 saw:

  • Almost 113,000 interactions between universities and businesses, with the number increasing by 10.2% from 2017 to 2018;
  • Investment by UK businesses in university research and development (R&D) soar by 8.7% in real terms in just one year – taking the total investment to £389m, between 2017/18;
  • In just one year, 2017/18, the number of interactions between universities and SMEs grew by 11.9% to 85,218, and interactions with large businesses grew in the same period, by 5.5% to 27,645.

Dr Joe Marshall, Chief Executive of the National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB), said: “New analysis, published today, shows that collaborations and partnerships between universities and businesses were soaring before the Covid-19 pandemic. Between 2017 and 2018 the numbers of collaborations increased by more than 10 per cent on the previous year. It is hugely positive that these partnerships were becoming deeper and better embedded into the working practices of business and university actors across the ecosystem. Undoubtedly, working together helped universities and businesses to build the resilience to help carry them through the Covid-19 crisis.”

Marshall continued: “Although we have seen a rise in collaborations between universities and businesses for many years, the future looks challenging for collaboration as organisations respond to unprecedented change and uncertainty. Although university-business collaboration in the UK had been deepening, we need, now more than ever, to see collaborations continue to rise. Now is not the time for complacency. These vibrant, and productive partnerships that create lifesaving, innovative products and processes and develop our skilled graduates, are the lifeblood of the UK economy.”

David Sweeney, Executive Chair of Research England, which commissioned the report, said: “This report showcases how universities and business have worked together effectively across the UK and the benefits of that collaboration locally, nationally and internationally. Continuing and deepening university-business collaboration will be essential to help the country recover from the impact of the pandemic and to thrive in the future. Support for university knowledge exchange is a key element in regional resilience, as described in the report, and UK Research and Innovation is now working with the Government on a Place R&D Strategy to deliver improved local R&D outcomes in regions which currently face investment and capacity constraints.”

a few methods as to how ML can be used to aid security…

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) is defined as ‘the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence’. Machine learning (ML) is a sub-field within AI. The pioneer, Arthur Samuel, promoted the term ML in 1959, as the “Field of study that gives computers the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed”.

In the Cambridge Dictionary Machine Learning is referred to as ‘The process of computers changing the way they carry out tasks by learning from new data, without a human being needing to give instructions in the form of a program’. And, in the Oxford Lexico, it is used to describe ‘The use and development of computer systems that are able to learn and adapt without following explicit instructions, by using algorithms and statistical models to analyse and draw inferences from patterns in data’.

Generally speaking, ML relies on mathematical models which are built by analysing patterns in datasets. These patterns are then used to make predictions on new input data. Similar to the way Netflix offers recommendations for new TV series, based on previous viewing experiences, ML is one of the many approaches to AI that uses a system that is capable of learning from experience, and builds upon what has been learnt.

Misconceptions

People are often scared or apprehensive about what they do not understand. Although ML is not a new concept for experts in the field, many are only just getting to grips with what it is and how it can be used. Because the term ML is associated with depictions portrayed in the media of power-hungry robots with a thirst for human destruction, many recoil at the thought of utilizing it in business or private use. But the truth is that these portrayals are not accurate representations, and ML is used by the majority of us, on a daily basis, without us even fully recognizing how or where.

Examples of daily ML in action includes the use of portrait mode on your smart phone, social media feeds on applications such as Facebook or Instagram, music and media streaming including BBC iPlayer or Netflix, online adverts tailored to the user journey, pretty much every online game, banking apps, smart devices… the list is endless.

From reinforcement learning, semi-supervised learning, self-learning, feature learning, sparse dictionary learning, anomaly detection and robot learning, there are many different approaches and techniques used. But, on the whole, machine learning can be broadly classified into two classes, known as supervised and unsupervised learning.

Supervised Learning

Supervised Learning is where a machine learns from training data, and maps out inputs and outputs, based on rules provided in said training data, and from inferred functions. In Supervised Learning, the dataset is labelled, wherein there is a target variable. The value of which the ML model learns to predict, using different algorithms. For instance, it may do this based on IP address location, frequency of web requests and so on. From this, an ML model can then predict if the IP was part of say a Distributed Denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, and more.

The main goal is for the machine to extract the information from the unlabelled data sets, that could aid performance and increase productivity.

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Unsupervised Learning

In Unsupervised Learning, there is no labelled data, thereby, no prediction of a target variable. Unsupervised Learning tries to find interesting associations, or patterns, within a dataset. For instance, clustering can be applied in user analytics where application users can be grouped together. By doing this, it is possible to see what data should belong to a specific group, or not. 

Machine learning is about developing patterns and manipulating those patterns with algorithms. In order to develop patterns, we need a lot of data that has complete, relevant and rich context. It is not just about the quantity of the data, but also the quality.

Essentially, accurate and rapid security depends on the initial data collection. There are many systems out there, buzzing away, both on-premise and on the Cloud. You need to be able to get the data from those systems, process it, correlate, and analyse those systems. Whether via traditional Syslog, Cloud API, AWS, Azure, Statistical Analysis Systems (SAS) services, or something else, you need to get that data, and have it presented in a way that can be processed quickly and efficiently.

And, once you have the right logs, they need to be validated. You can start to standardise and normalise them. Start with basic correlation. By contextualising the traffic logs against threat intelligence data, analysts can see where risky user activity might be present. This, very quickly, moves along to advanced analytics.

Which is why Data Cleansing is an important part of machine learning, and helps analysts make sense of the raw data captured from multiple sources.


‘If intelligence is a cake, the bulk of the cake is unsupervised learning, the icing on the cake is supervised learning, and the cherry on the cake is reinforcement learning (RL).’ – Facebook AI Chief Yann LeCun

Applications of Machine Learning in Cyber Security

To better understand previous cyber-attacks, and develop respective defense responses, ML can be leveraged in various domains within Cyber Security to enhance security processes, and make it easier for security analysts to quickly identify, prioritise, deal with and remediate new attacks.

Automating Tasks

A great benefit of ML in cyber security is its capacity to automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks, such as triaging intelligence, malware analysis, network log analysis and vulnerability assessments. By incorporating ML into the security workflow, organisations can accomplish tasks faster, and act on and remediate threats at a rate that would not be possible with manual human capability alone. Automating repetitive processes means that clients can up or down scale easily, without changing the manpower needed, thus reducing costs in the process.

The method of automating practices via ML is sometimes referred to as AutoML. AutoML signifies when repetitive tasks involved in development are automated to specifically aid the productivity of the analysts, data scientists and developers.

Threat Detection and Classification

Machine learning algorithms are used in applications to detect and respond to attacks. This can be achieved by analysing big data sets of security events and identifying patterns of malicious activities. ML works so that when similar events are detected, they are automatically dealt with by the trained ML model.

For instance, the dataset to feed a machine learning model can be created by using Indicators of Compromise (IOCs). These can help monitor, identify, and respond to threats in real time. ML classification algorithms can be used using IOC data sets to classify the behaviour of malwares.

An example of such a use is evident in a report from Darktrace, an ML based Enterprise Immune Solution, that claims to have prevented attacks during the WannaCry ransomware crisis. According to David Palmer, Director of Technology at Darktrace, “Our algorithms spotted the attack within seconds in one NHS agency’s network, and the threat was mitigated without causing any damage to that organization,” he said of the ransomware, which infected more than 200,000 victims across 150 countries.

Phishing

Traditional phishing detection techniques alone lacks the speed and accuracy to detect and differentiate between harmless and malicious URLs. Latest ML algorithm predictive URL classification models can identify patterns that reveal malicious emails. To do this, the models are trained on features such as email headers, body-data, punctuation patterns, and more to classify and differentiate the malicious from the harmless.

WebShell

WebShell is a piece of code that is maliciously loaded into a website to provide access to make modifications on the web root directory of the server. This allows attackers to gain access of the database. Which, in turn, enables the bad actor to collect personal information. By using ML, a normal shopping cart behaviour can be detected, and the model can be trained to differentiate between normal and malicious behaviour.

The same goes for User Behaviour Analytics (UBA), which forms a supplementary layer to standard security measures, to provide complete visibility, detect account compromises, and mitigate and detect malicious or anomalous insider activity. By using ML algorithms, patterns of user behaviour are categorised, to understand what constitutes normal behaviour, and to detect abnormal activity. If an unusual action is made on a device on a given network, such as an employee login late at night, inconsistent remote access, or an unusually high number of downloads, the action and user is given a risk score based on their activity, patterns and time.

Network Risk Scoring

Use of quantitative measures to assign risk scores to sections of networks, help organisations to prioritise resources. ML can be used to analyze previous cyber-attack datasets and determine which areas of networks were mostly involved in particular attacks. This score can help quantify the likelihood, and impact of an attack, with respect to a given network area. Thus, helping organisations to reduce the risk of being victimized by further attacks.

When you are doing business profiling, you have to decipher what area, if compromised, is going to destroy your business. It could be a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, your accounting system, or your sales system. It’s about knowing, within your specific business environment, what area is most vulnerable. Say, for instance, HR goes down, this may have a low risk score within your company. But if your oil trading platform goes down, that could bring down your entire business. Every company has a different way of doing security. And once you understand the specifics of an organisation, you know what to really protect. And if there is a hack, you know what to prioritise.

The Future of ML

ML is a powerful tool. There is no denying that. But it is no silver bullet. It is important to remember that, while technology is developing, and advancements in AI and ML are evolving at a significant rate, technology is only as good, or as bad, as the minds of the analysts controlling and using it.

There will always be bad actors developing their skills and technology to find and exploit weaknesses. Which is why it is crucial to combine the best technology and processes with industry experts, to be able to detect and respond to cyber threats accurately and rapidly.

To learn more about the use of Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) within security analytics, and to debunk some of the common misconceptions and myths surrounding what constitutes AI and ML, view our video on ‘Using Machine Learning & AI to Hunt Risk in the Real World’ here.

For one last time in 2020…

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Hello and welcome to the final CPOstrategy Magazine of 2020 (issue 19 if you’re keeping count!) 

Cover star Alan Rankin, CPO of STADA, discusses how a procurement journey aims to truly cement STADA as a world-leading procurement organisation.

We explore what ‘world-class’ procurement organisation entails and how that enables a future of growth for STADA. “It’s a massive transformation in the sense that you’re building the plane, but you’re also flying the plane. So it’s a question of transform and perform,” he says.

Elsewhere, we have an exclusive feature on CSA Group. Four years into a massive procurement transformation journey, we catch up with Manny Satija, Senior Director, Integrated Supply Chain, and the man in charge of bringing this journey to life through experience and a transformational mindset.

We also speak with Paul Harridine VP of Procurement and Supply Management at CN, as he praises the resilience of his procurement team in delivering procurement efficiencies during what has been a most challenging year. 

Rounding out the magazine Dave Brittain of Amazon Business looks at how digital procurement can help manage organisational goals, we look at the five worst practices in procurement as compiled by the GEP and Greg Watts tells us why AI and procurement is a match made in heaven. 

Leading retailers across the EU and US are running outdated applications, leaving them vulnerable to cyber attacks….

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In another episode of The Digital Insight Bitesize, we take a look at cybersecurity. 

With a recent report indicating that leading retailers across the EU and US are running outdated applications, leaving them vulnerable to cyber attacks, we ask:

Can you be complacent when it comes to your approach to cyber security? 

Traditionally such matters would be placed on the desk of the CIO and the IT teams, but Is it their responsibility to focus on cyber security?  There’s certainly an argument that the wider organization could and should be more involved.

In a year defined by crisis, how has the COVID19 pandemic impacted the cybersecurity conversation moving forward?

Answering these questions for us today is Stephan Kornakowski of Output24, a leading cyber assessment company focused on enabling its customers to achieve maximum value from their evolving technology investments…

Identifying opportunities across people, processes and technology has created significant operational efficiency improvements around complex claims handling…

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Tesco Underwriting has partnered with Netcall, a leading provider of low-code and customer engagement solutions, to significantly enhance its complex claims handling process.  Tesco Underwriting, who underwrite Tesco Bank-branded car and home insurance policies and provide claims services to customers, worked with Netcall to evaluate its ways of working, processes and technology for complex claims. Tesco Underwriting then identified and implemented operational efficiencies which led to an improvement and streamlining of customer and colleague journeys around complex claims, and a significant boost to its customer Net Promoter Score (NPS).

Tesco Underwriting wanted to manage complex claims efficiently to give their colleagues and customers the best possible experience. This meant focussing on the improvement of internal processes, including the effective management of workflows, to ensure claims handlers could accurately identify the priority status of work. Tesco Underwriting needed a system that could provide full visibility of all claims, and the handlers assigned to them, as well as displaying the order of priority and providing the ability to adjust as required.

Tesco Underwriting had three of their Continuous Improvement Team trained on Netcall’s Liberty Create low-code platform in just three days. The members of that team then went on to develop a highly customisable application that helps manage internal claim workflows and has significantly improved efficiency. The company is now able to provide its handlers with a visual tool that automatically prioritises each claim – whilst also breaking down individual work queues. The application development process took under three weeks, with full deployment – including the training period – completed in three months. It can take the same period of time for a company to gather requirements for the development of an internal system, demonstrating the efficiency of the low-code platform. By using Create, Tesco Underwriting was able to adopt the desired, agile approach and achieved an even faster time to delivery.

Being able to build a prototype during the training stage and within such a short timeframe enabled Tesco Underwriting to move quickly and show quick time-to-value to stakeholders. What’s more, since implementation, the company has witnessed a significant increase in claim handling efficiency – with the number of claims processed per hour increasing by 57% due to the implementation of the new low-code based application. Using Liberty Create, the company has met its own goals for claims processing within the first six months – and the new system has also contributed to a substantial seven-percentage-point rise in Tesco Underwriting’s customer NPS.

“The speed and agility that the low-code platform has given us has meant we’ve been able to build, iterate and change processes really quickly and effectively. Without the project, I don’t think we’d have been able to achieve the NPS and the efficiency benefits that we have derived – the speed and agility has been fantastic,” commented Neil Arrowsmith, Head of Operational Excellence, Tesco Underwriting.

“We’re thrilled that Netcall has been able to assist Tesco Underwriting in its venture to optimise its business processes in such a short time frame – six times faster than using traditional development tools and methods. The fact that the company has already seen such an increase in efficiency is fantastic and we’re excited to see what further benefits to customer experience Tesco Underwriting uncovers with our platform in the future,” commented Mark Holmes, Chief Sales Officer, Netcall.

England’s first smartphone-enabled vaccination status feature will assist economic recovery and encourage vaccine uptake…

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myGP – the UK’s largest independent GP booking and healthcare management app that connects patients with primary care – has announced its intention to provide the people in England with a simple, clear means of communicating their verified vaccination status, via their Smartphone.

The new vaccination status feature will display, within the patient profile page of the myGP app, whether or not a patient is sufficiently protected from COVID-19; illustrated via a few personal details and a simple green tick, which will appear 21 days following the final vaccine dose, when a patient is considered protected from the virus. This ‘tick’ will act as a clinically assured means of proving one’s vaccination status, displayed in real-time, generated directly from a patient’s medical record.

myGP – home to the myGP TICKet feature – is developed by Hammersmith-based iPLATO Healthcare. Currently available to patients at 97 percent of England’s GP practices, myGP has spent years working alongside the NHS to gain NHS accreditation. As a result, the app already enables around two million patients in England to view their medical records, request repeat prescriptions, request GP appointments, and access other complementary healthcare services. More than 200,000 patients in England have accessed their medical records via the app in just the last two months.

Economic recovery, at capacity

Currently planned for release in February 2021, and dependent upon availability of the clinical data, the myGP TICKet could allow businesses whose viability depends upon operating at capacity – such as the arts and hospitality sectors – the ability to open either full or part-time to vaccinated individuals, without the need to observe strict social distancing rules. In addition, the technology will reduce the administrative burden on GPs, who will likely be inundated with requests for verification of vaccination status as people begin to return to everyday life around the country.

Since the start of the pandemic, myGP has regularly undertaken patient research, to gauge feelings and intentions regarding their health, access to primary care, and their intentions regarding the Covid-19 vaccine. Last week, upon learning that a vaccine had been approved, myGP asked 2,000 adults if they intend to have the new vaccine, of which 31 percent said no. However, of this group, 23 percent said they could be swayed to have the vaccine if it meant they could attend live events and other activities without strict social distancing measures in place.

Tobias Alpsten, the innovator behind myGP TICKet and Founder and CEO of iPLATO Healthcare and myGP comments on why it could be a game-changer for the UK: 

“Not only does our research tell us that the public would respond positively to this kind of incentive; we believe that our solution can provide an economic lifeline to industries who have been crippled by the pandemic. 

Further, this innovation will absolutely relieve administrative burden on GPs by simplifying an individual’s access to his or her own vaccination status. The myGP TICKet means that patients will not have to contact their GPs, get certificates printed, apply for vaccination passports, or other long-winded solutions. Simply download the myGP app, register, and it’s done.”

Katie Coull, Artistic Director of Charity ‘Artists for Essential Workers’ (AFEW), comments on why the myGP TICKet could be game-changing for the arts:

“Being unable to operate at capacity has been absolutely crippling for artists and arts venues alike. The ability to fill a venue to capacity, even just part of the time, would make a world of difference to the organisations who provide Britain’s cultural lifeblood. We are fully in support of anything that can open our doors earlier than planned.”

James Balfour, CEO of 1Rebel, one of the UK’s leading fitness brands, explains why the myGP TICKet will help bring the country’s fitness industry back:

“The fitness industry has been faced with unique struggles during the pandemic, due to social distancing requirements. Exercise has been a buzz word during the pandemic, but gyms have been one of the casualties of the lockdowns and tier-systems, despite low transmission rates, and the well-known physical and the mental health benefits it brings. 

“Any solution that will help group exercise in particular get back to business safely, will be very welcome by 1Rebel. We can’t wait to get back to helping boost the nation’s health; including having a  positive impact on England’s economy.”  

Register here to be notified when the myGP TICKet technology is live: www.myGP.com/ticket

Technology is key to all businesses in one way or another, so it’s important to adapt a digital twist to our everyday operations…

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After COVID-19 forced the UK to stay at home, we have had no choice but to make some changes to our everyday lives. A lot of us have used our time wisely and come up with some quirky ways to continue life as somewhat normal – just with a virtual take on things. Being blessed with the age of digitalisation, our digital devices do just about everything for us at the click of a button. 

The pandemic has seen a digital transformation in everything from online weddings to an an e-commerce takeover. According to a recent Ofcom report, the average daily screen time for TV and online video content increased to six hours 25 minutes per day since April 2020. This is up by almost a third from the year prior. 

In this article, we will discuss how COVID-19 has forced the world to digital in recent months. 

Virtual vows: The rise of online weddings 

After recent announcements reduced the number of guests at wedding ceremonies to 15 people, the big day that many couples have dreamt of might not be as big as they expected. To overcome this issue of crossing names off the guest lists, many couples have favoured an online wedding ceremony instead. So much so, Google search data found that the term ‘virtual marriage’ experienced a 21,900% increase between February 2020 and July 2020 – proving that virtual vows have been the go-to for many couples recently. 

Not only that, but for the search term ‘Zoom wedding’ has also experienced an increase of 3,800% between February and July this year. By using video call platforms such as Zoom, the new measures put in place that limit the number of physical attendees is avoided. Although saying your vows over a screen may not be initially what you had in mind, nothing should get in the way of celebrating your big day. 

Technological try-ons 

As basic luxuries such as being able to go to a store and try on clothing or jewellery have been stopped, many have solved this problem with the help of technology.  Since searches for the term ‘virtual engagement ring try on’ experienced an increase of 433% between March and August, jewellery crafter Angelic Diamonds has skilfully implemented a virtual ring try-on service. This helps their customers see how the ring will look before making a purchase. 

FaceTime fitness 

Since attending our favourite sport and fitness classes in person has been put on hold, virtual classes have become the next best thing. Fitness company Les Mills International experienced a 900% increase in virtual sign-ups over the course of lockdown as more and more of us rely on home workouts to keep fit.

Other than virtual classes, many have taken this a step further and brought the gym to them. In recent news, high-end department store John Lewis & Partners has revealed that sales of fitness machines had increased by 369% during lockdown. Sales of yoga equipment also experienced a staggering increase of 267%.  

Digital driving days 

Who’s to say you need a car to drive? Since driving lessons were placed on hold, many turned to virtual driving lessons during lockdown. Driver training simulator company Driver Interactive provides customers with a realistic driving experience that allows them to practice driving in hazardous situations from the comfort of their home. 

The thriving e-commerce market 

As technology advances throughout the years, the e-commerce market continues to thrive. This has been even more apparent during lockdown. Since the start of the first UK lockdown in March, e-commerce market sales increased by a staggering 161%, adding a hefty £5.3 billion extra to the market. Not only that, but more than 85,000 businesses have joined the online marketplace over recent months. 

Although industries have financially suffered as a result of restrictions, many have now embraced the digital world as a result. From clothing stores opening online shops to pharmacies offering virtual prescriptions, almost every industry has found a way to continue making profits through these difficult times. 

For the likes of Amazon, however, they have seen sales soar over recent months, achieving a 40% increase in sales to $88.9 billion in the second quarter of 2020. Being at an advantage when it comes to already being an entirely e-commerce store that sells everything from clothes to new car parts, there is something that all businesses can learn from Jeff Bezos’ business operations. 

We have seen businesses across all industries get creative with digital in 2020. Technology plays advocate to all businesses in one way or another during these difficult times, so it’s important to adapt a digital twist to our everyday operations. 

Lack of confidence in long-term ability to implement digital processes is a growing concern…

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ServiceNow research highlights opportunities for organisations to boost productivity as today’s new pace of working creates the perfect environment for innovation

Legacy technology is causing UK businesses additional concerns during lockdown, according to new research by ServiceNow (NYSE: NOW), the leading digital workflow company that makes work, work better for people. Prior to the announcement of a second national lockdown, both C-Level leaders and employees had low confidence that they would be able to adapt to another major business disruption.

The Work Survey gathered opinions from 900 C-suite leaders and 8,100 employees across 11 countries, including 100 C-level executives and 1,000 office workers in the UK. It found that, despite 96% of UK leaders and 87% of UK employees stating that their company transitioned to new ways of working faster than they thought possible during the initial lockdown, many departments would not be able to implement new digital processes within a month in the event of another major disruption, such as the one we are facing now. Only a minority of UK leaders believe that customer service (37%), finance (38%) and IT (39%) could introduce new workflows within 30 days.

This challenge is exacerbated because most businesses still have a digital disadvantage, with 98% of UK C-level leaders admitting to still using offline processes. These include:

Offline workflows such as document approvals (59%)

Security incident reports (41%)

Performance reviews (39%)

Leave requests and processing (37%)

“Organisations innovated rapidly, and initial sprints enabled them to react to the immediate COVID-19 challenges,” said Chris Pope, ServiceNow’s VP Innovation. “Some decisions made were knee-jerk and rapid, but at what cost? There may be good short-term gains, but are they ‘match fit’ for our new ways of working? For organisations still struggling to integrate and implement a fully integrated workflow system, the future of work will not arrive, and soon they’ll fall behind.”

Worker safety is paramount

The survey also showed there are doubts when it comes to workplace safety from both UK leaders and UK employees.

Almost a third (31%) of UK leaders and 51% of UK employees are concerned their company will prioritise business continuity over safety. In addition, over a quarter (26%) of UK leaders and 40% of UK employees agree that their company will not take all the necessary steps to keep employees safe when returning to work in the office.

“The critical challenge for UK organisations will be balancing the immediate need for business continuity with the personal needs of their employees,” said Pope. “2020 has been a difficult year for a lot of people. Many have seen restrictions over the past several months, which look set to continue through the winter. Businesses need to lead with compassion and combine empathy with meaningful action to help their employees navigate the months to come. In this distributed working environment, how organisations handle the moments that matter, from when a hire joins to when they leave, not only determines talent retention but will also contribute to overall business continuity and success.”

Business leaders split on return to office preferences

UK business leaders are also divided on how to keep their company most productive. While 49% want to maintain new ways of operating once the crisis subsides, 51% are keen to return to business as closely as it was prior to COVID-19, indicating a divide in approach.

Despite 57% of UK employees feeling they now have a better work-life balance, both UK leaders (99%) and UK employees (80%) have concerns about how remote work will impact their business moving forward.

The research indicates that leaders are prioritising speed of business while staff care about the human side of working. In terms of the largest challenges posed by remote work, UK leaders are most concerned about extended timelines for new releases or innovations (48%). Conversely, UK employees see reduced collaboration (48%) as their largest worry.

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56% of organizations suffered a ransomware attack in the last 12 months costing $1.1M per hack

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According to data acquired by the Atlas VPN team, 56% of organizations worldwide experienced at least one ransomware attack in the past 12 months, with an average ransom costing victims $1.1 million.

The numbers are based on the Global Security Attitude Survey conducted by CrowdStrike, where 2,200 senior IT decision-makers and security professionals were interviewed on questions concerning cybersecurity in their workplace in the last 12 months. The survey took place between August and September of 2020.

Ransomware is malicious software that infects victims’ systems, devices, or files and blocks access to them unless a ransom is paid. A total of six in ten organizations worldwide faced at least one such attack over the past year.

Out of all the countries featured in the survey, businesses in India had the most ransomware events in the last 12 months. A whopping 74% of respondents from India said their organizations had suffered from ransomware attacks in the past year.

In total, 38% of company representatives said their organization faced only one ransomware attack, while 36% reported they endured more than one such attack in that period.

Next up is Australia, where 67% of the respondents reported that their organization had suffered ransomware threats in the last 12 months. While in France, which occupies the third spot in the list, 60% of businesses faced ransomware attacks during the same period.

Rounding out the top five list are Germany and the United States. According to the survey, 59% of organizations in Germany had ransomware events, followed by the United States, where 58% of organizations experienced ransomware attacks in the period of the past 12 months.

Companies in the United Kingdom endured the least amount of ransomware threats. According to the survey, 39% of respondents said their organization was targeted by a ransomware attack in the past 12 months.

Asia Pacific companies pay the biggest ransom

Once attacked, organizations do not always pay ransom to cybercriminals. In fact, only 27% of respondents confirmed their organizations paid the cybercriminals as a result of a ransomware attack, with the average payment being $1.1 million per hack.

Organizations in the Asia Pacific paid most for ransomware attacks. The average ransom payment in this region in the last 12 months was $1.18 million.

Companies in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa regions do not fall far behind with ransomware payments. On average, a single ransom payment in the region cost victims $1.06 million.

Finally, businesses in the United States paid the least per ransom to cyber criminals compared to other regions featured in the survey. An average ransom payment in the United States was $0.99 million.

Tips on protecting organizations from ransomware attacks

With ransomware attacks posing an increasing threat to organizations around the world, it is essential to take all the possible precautions to minimize the risk of falling victim to cybercriminals. Here are some key things to remember:

Keep your software up to date – Regularly update the software you use. The updated software has the latest security patches, making it harder for cybercriminals to exploit system vulnerabilities. Also, do not forget to conduct regular software scans to ensure it operates efficiently.

Minimize administrative privileges – Restrict employees’ ability to install and run software applications on work devices outside of the responsible department.

Back up your data – Keep your data backed offline. This way, even if you experience a ransomware attack, you will not need to pay cybercriminals to get your valuable data back.

Educate employees – The majority of data breaches happen due to human error. Test your employees’ security awareness with phishing tests. This will help educate them on how cyberattacks may look like and keep them vigilant at all times.

If your organization has fallen victim to a ransomware attack, it is generally not advised to pay ransom to cybercriminals. Paying a ransom does not guarantee you will get your data back and also encourages the criminal behavior.

Instead, organizations should prepare an incident response plan, planning what actions need to be taken should the unfortunate event happen. While no organization is infallible to cyberattacks, having a response plan can mean you will come out of the situation with minimum damage.

Increased responsibilities are pushing IT to breaking point

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Increasing pressure on IT teams is pushing many IT decision-makers to the brink of burnout, according to new research from Pulsant, a leading UK provider of regional data centre and cloud infrastructure services.

Nearly two-thirds of UK IT decision-makers (65%) have felt under increasing pressure to keep the organisation running effectively over the past 12 months, with 80% of these admitting this has harmed their health and wellbeing.

The research, which was conducted on 201 UK IT decision-makers in mid-market organisations, finds increased pressure on IT has manifested in various ways: 40% of IT decision-makers impacted say they are experiencing anxiety as a result of increased pressure; over a third (35%) are suffering from increased stress which is unsustainable and will result in burn out if not addressed, and nearly a quarter (24%) have experienced burn out which has resulted with absence from the business. Plus worryingly for businesses, 20% have either resigned or started looking for a new job.

The rise in pressure could be due to an increase in expectations with 77% of IT decision-makers saying expectations of IT have risen within their organisation in the past 12 months. The biggest reasons for this increase were noted as a greater focus on security and compliance (45%), the expectation for IT to work with more areas of the business (39%), the expectation for IT to support and have knowledge of a broader range of technologies (38%), increased pressure to update ageing infrastructure (36%) and being expected to deliver projects quicker (35%).

This, in turn, means that IT teams are left stretched across a wide range of responsibilities, with over a third (34%) of IT decision-makers saying too much workload/not enough time is one of the top challenges within their teams. 

“An accelerating pace of change means that IT teams are under more pressure than ever to support more critical business initiatives and deliver results faster, while at the same time ensuring business systems remain available, secure and compliant,” says Pulsant CTO, Simon Michie. “This can place IT teams under immense strain which is detrimental to both the success of the business, and more importantly employee wellbeing, with staff left stressed, anxious and having to take time out from the business.”

The research also revealed a divide in opinions on the purpose of IT, with IT seen as both a caretaker of information and technology and also the driver of innovation across the business. Over half of IT decision-makers (58%) and business leaders (55%) believe the primary role of IT is either a help desk or technical support function or to be responsible for maintaining and running business-critical systems, while 40% of IT decision-makers and 45% of business leaders see the main role of the IT department as an enabler of innovation.

IT has also become influential in board-level business decision making with the majority (87%) of IT decision-makers saying IT is involved in setting the business strategy for the year ahead. An overwhelming majority (93%) say their organisation has a representative from the IT team on the board/leadership team, highlighting that IT is now widely regarded as a critical function.

However, while there is clear recognition for the role of IT in driving the business strategy and innovation, IT teams face challenges in delivering on expectations. Nearly two-thirds of IT decision-makers (65%) say their team is under pressure to be more innovative but there is not enough investment for this to be possible. IT decision-makers are also put off from driving new ideas forward by challenges including conflicting priorities (38%), lack of resource (36%) and time (35%).

“It’s hugely positive that both business leaders and IT decision-makers recognise the role of IT in driving innovation, but it’s clear that more attention needs to be paid to providing the IT team with the right support and resources it needs to perform both functions effectively and maintain the wellbeing of IT professionals,” concludes Michie.”

The research was conducted by Censuswide on 201 IT decision-makers and 200 business leaders in UK mid-sized companies (200-2,500 employees). The full report – The IT Paradox: Balancing support and innovation – and further insight into the findings can be found here.

New web application security study found US retailers had a larger attack surface, while EU retailers run more outdated services…

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Outpost24, an innovator in identifying and managing cybersecurity exposure, today announced the results of the 2020 Web Application Security for Retail & E-commerce Report, which analysed the web applications of the top 20 retailers in the US and EU. Research shows exploits targeted at web applications remain one of ecommerce’s most significant threats. Using an average risk exposure score based on Outpost24’s multi-layered attack surface discovery tool, Scout, the findings revealed that web applications used by US retailers were more at risk with an aggregated average risk score of 35 against a maximum score of 42.33, which was higher than their EU counterparts at 31.

On average, the report found US retailers to be running more publicly exposed web applications (3,357) compared to EU retailers, which ran fewer applications (2,799). Yet, despite having a smaller attack surface, EU retailers had a higher percentage of applications using old components that contained vulnerabilities (27%) as opposed to their American rivals (22%). Nonetheless, all retailers had security risks within their web environments that could expose them and their customer data they hold to potential exploitation and compromise.

The list of retailers were chosen based on Deloitte’s Global Powers of Retailing Report 2019 and had their public-facing web security environments analysed against the seven most common attack vectors used by hackers during reconnaissance, to ascertain the risk score, including Security Mechanisms, Page Creations Methods, Degree of Distribution, Authentication, Input Vectors, Active Contents and Cookies (score 1-100 each).

Security Mechanisms was the single biggest attack vector for both EU and US retailers, attaining a risk exposure score of 90.5 and 99 respectively. For retailers using HTTP websites, and not restricting access to adversaries trying to get into unsecured parts of a site without encryption, this will contribute to a higher attack surface score. Active Content, which observed how web applications were running scripts, was the second most dangerous as both US and EU retailers acquired scores of 88 or more. Third highest was Degree of Distribution with all retailers attaining scores higher than 77.9, which is attributed to the high number of product pages commonly found on large ecommerce sites making it difficult to secure everything.

Nicolas Renard, Security Analyst at Outpost24 comments “hackers are masters of reconnaissance and will go to great lengths to identify weak spots in their target. The rather high risk exposure score among the top retailers is a worrying trend, as bigger attack surfaces create more opportunity for bad actors to find holes in their security defense and execute potential exploits.”

Outpost24’s Scout tool also examined the components that were used to develop the web applications and discovered that 90% of EU retailers and 50% of US retailers are currently running outdated jQuery versions on their applications which could expose them to common cross site scripting attacks. Furthermore, the top retailers are found to be using a variety of outdated servers to run their applications, making their shared hosting environments vulnerable to unauthorized access through potential exploitation of known vulnerabilities.

Stephane Konarkowski,  Security Analyst at Outpost24 said “how the web application is built and developed is a key risk indicator if you know where to look. Our research shows the complexity of modern-day applications and the need for retail organizations to understand their attack surface and risk levels. To avoid data breach and the loss of customer trust and revenue, retailers must address security hygiene as an essential step to protect their web applications and ensure the attack surface is kept at a minimum through continuous assessment.”

2020 Web Application Security for Retail & Ecommerce Report

New study found US retailers had a larger attack surface, while EU retailers run more outdated services

Even before COVID-19, many organisations faced considerable IT challenges. Now, COVID-19 is rapidly pushing companies to operate in new ways…

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Even before COVID-19, many organisations faced considerable IT challenges. Now, COVID-19 is rapidly pushing companies to operate in new ways and IT is being tested as never before. As businesses juggle a range of new systems, priorities and challenges, including business continuity risks, sudden changes in volume, real-time decision-making, workforce productivity, security and customer satisfaction, leaders must act quickly to address immediate systems resilience issues and lay a foundation for the future. If leaders wait until the other side of the pandemic before applying lessons learnt from the experience so far, it will be too late. Long-term strategies for greater resilience need to be determined now; for many, strong technology partnerships will be critical to this.

Here at Babble, we’ve recently been announced as the Five9 EMEA Reseller of the Year for the second consecutive year, so you could say we know a thing or two about successful partnerships. Our relentless strive to build long-term relationships with clients and implement services that guarantee business continuity and eliminate the hassle and expense of traditional on-premise contact centre software, has in turn benefitted our relationship with Five9, driving record European sales for the business.

So, what’s the key to building successful long-term partnerships?

1.       Seek seamless integration: Firstly, if you lack the skills or resources in-house to deliver business-critical technology solutions, you must look to a partner that can seamlessly integrate into your business – and quickly. But always remember, the best technology partnerships are those that are worth more than the sum of their parts, and these relationships must be mutually beneficial.

2.       Look beyond the costs: Cloud technology negates the need for bulky upfront costs, which can boost digital transformation, especially where financing is an issue. However, leaders should not focus on the partnership costs alone. Businesses must carefully consider the supplementary support they need and will receive when it comes to innovation, digital transformation and engineering. It is crucial that decision makers understand this at the outset to ensure they don’t enter into partnerships that are ultimately disappointing, and short term.

3.       Leverage expertise: Business leaders must be prepared to put the innovation and investments being made by cloud and technology experts to good use. Most businesses will choose to work with at least one technology provider as they look to leverage their deep expertise and numerous cloud services, and getting the most out of them is about committing to a partnership. Don’t think about the short-term – you should be committing to a relationship that allows you to leverage expertise for years into future.

4.       Remember the basics – check product functionality/offering: Don’t lose sight of what you require the partner for and ensure that the products the chosen partner can deliver align with and provide the functionality that your end users require.

5.       Nurture relationships Don’t forget that technology partnerships are no different to any other relationship. The best partnerships are built on a long-term basis, so while it is critical that a strong working relationship exists from the outset, this is not the only consideration. The relationship needs nurturing. Communication is fundamental – and with a global workforce that is now more technologically agile and available than ever before – there really is no excuse.

MTS looks to better enable multi-vendor and cross-platform integration…

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Russia’s largest mobile operator and a leading provider of media and digital services, announces the selection of Canonical’s Charmed OpenStack to power the company’s next-generation cloud infrastructure. MTS plans to leverage Charmed OpenStack’s advanced lifecycle management capabilities and flexible cloud-native architecture to better enable multi-vendor and cross-platform integration.

Serving over 77 million subscribers in Russia, MTS has chosen to partner with Canonical, the publisher of Ubuntu, to further its efforts in building out a full-fledged digital ecosystem based on an open source platform. The partnership is aimed at decreasing time-to-market and speeding up deployment of new services — including toward MTS’ expected future 5G deployment — as well as reducing the total cost of ownership (TCO) of cloud infrastructure. MTS also anticipates to enhance its core technology expertise and set up a competence center for developing OpenStack-based solutions.

MTS plans to begin operationally rolling out the project next year, ultimately deploying Canonical’s Charmed OpenStack solution across 11 data centers in Russia.

MTS CTO, Victor Belov, commented: “The selection of OpenStack is another step forward in our strategy to migrate towards open source software. Building an ecosystem based on OpenStack will speed up our technology adoption, lay a foundation for future 5G rollout, and enhance our network’s edge compute capabilities. This solution will also enable us to improve virtualization cost effectiveness, as well as expand our ability to leverage a wide variety of virtual platforms. That will not only help us maintain a technical edge in the Russian telecom industry, but also enhance our IT agility and enable us to tackle complex challenges to better meet the needs of our customers.”

“Canonical is truly excited to partner with MTS and provide a platform on which they can roll out their 5G network,” said Regis Paquette, VP Global Alliances at Canonical. “The partnership will help build an underlying network and IT infrastructure bringing the latest updates in a predictable and automated fashion. With comprehensive security built-in, and unified automation from core to remote edge locations, this partnership places MTS at the forefront of innovation with open source.” 

“All around the world, carriers love OpenStack. What started as an agile framework to deploy and manage network functions has grown to become a preferred platform for managing the evolution of networks from LTE to 5G,” said Mark Collier, COO, Open Infrastructure Foundation. ”Canonical has been an important vendor since the earliest days, and we congratulate their team on working with MTS to deliver agile, open infrastructure for the company’s 77 million subscribers.”

For two in five UK consumers, the telephone has replaced face-to-face interactions during the pandemic When many organisations had to…

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For two in five UK consumers, the telephone has replaced face-to-face interactions during the pandemic

When many organisations had to close their doors and restrict face-to-face activities during the pandemic, the telephone has proven to be a vital and effective tool, with two in five consumers saying phoning business and call centres has replaced face-to-face and in-store interactions with brands. In fact, the survey, which was carried out by Netcall in conjunction with Arlington Research, has revealed that more than a third of consumers (34%) have found it vital to phone businesses during the pandemic. That’s despite recent speculation that COVID could spell the end of the call centre.

And, contrary to many popular beliefs, the telephone has been a vital channel for younger consumers as much as it has been for older age groups. 38% of Millennials, 40% of Generation X, 39% of Baby Boomers, and 39% of the Silent Generation all agree that phoning businesses or call centres is one of the main ways they contact a brand. In addition, 36% of 18-24 year olds agreed it has been vital to telephone a business during the pandemic, compared to 27% of 55-64 year olds.

With England now entering its second national lockdown, which will see all non-essential businesses closed to the public once again, society’s reliance on alternative contact methods is set to continue – and could even escalate. 

However, it’s not all good news for the contact centre. More than half (55%) have been kept waiting longer on phone calls to brands during the pandemic. Whilst there may be explanations for this in terms of increased demand and challenges with staffing traditional contact centre sites, this still harms brands when it comes to reputation and customer loyalty. Customer experience and the way that companies respond to consumers has never been so important. In fact, 69% agree that bad customer experience/support over the phone negatively impacts the way they feel about a brand, whilst more than one in three (37%) think businesses should be available by phone 24/7.

And, as the demand for round-the-clock services to be delivered remotely increases, self-service channels are rapidly being seen as the solution. Two-in-five (43%) respondents prefer to use self-service channels such as online chatbots, rather than phoning a call centre. And these preferences vary with age: 58% of 25-34 year olds prefer self-service channels, compared to 33% of 55-64 year olds and 28% over 65. That doesn’t mean self-service for all types of interactions; rather, that organisations should focus their efforts on providing customers with the appropriate channels for the complexity and effort of the engagement.

Richard Farrell, Chief Innovation Officer at Netcall commented, “For simple transactions, automated channels, underpinned by low-code software, can provide convenience for users and free up resource in contact centres for more complex, emotional, or high-value interactions. Chatbots are an obvious example, but organisations shouldn’t neglect telephone-based services such as Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and other forms of voice bot for call routing, direct debit creation, and payments. When customers need to call or escalate from an automated channel, there are ways to help manage the experience, such as call centre callback, that removes much of the frustration for callers and delivers more effective staff utilisation.

“Agents must also be empowered with the right tools to do their job, and that means information being readily available, as well as systems and processes that remove friction from customer journeys. Robotic Process Automation can quickly gather information from multiple systems and perform steps once a call completes, improving customer experience and improving efficiency,” Farrell concluded.

What does strategic procurement actually mean and how is it changing thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic?

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So, who is Jeremy Bowley? 

I’ve been in procurement for 20 years, scarily. I started out like most people did in buying within a graduate scheme role in a water company. I’ll leap forward to today, now I run a boutique procurement consultancy [Insider Pro]  and we specialize in what we call enterprise value creation.

What’s your view on how procurement is becoming a different beast for businesses?

We definitely have an image problem. It is distinctly uncool. If you go to a graduate fair at university, people will gravitate towards sales, marketing, HR and to a degree accountancy, which in itself is not the most exciting thing. If I say to people do you want to add up for a living and do spreadsheets? I think they’d probably say no. But what those professions offer is the ability to influence and to have impact and I think what we’re starting to see, and it’s been a long journey of 20/30 years probably, is procurement is starting to get its mind around how it delivers impact. But there are still though those of us, even in the profession, who would describe it as going shopping for a living. I think one of the reasons that we really struggle as a profession is we’ve not got very good at describing the impact that we can have to other people, then that feeds through to our ability to attract talent, our ability to influence the organization and our ability to make a big difference at a strategic level.

As a procurement professional, if you were to speak to me and I was a graduate asking why I should care about procurement more than any other business area,  what would be your quickfire way of, at least introducing to me, the true value and the importance and even the significance and enjoyment of procurement?

For me, procurement is all about coordinating collaboration between organizations and that’s way more challenging and exciting than just doing it within a business. So if you go into a business and go into a normal functional role, generally speaking, most of your effort is going to be around how do I coordinate the efforts of the people within my business? What procurement allows you to do, this is the exciting bit,  it allows you to go and say, “Okay, I want to try and help a much broader group of people collaborate and drive value.” In a junior role in procurement, you’re going to get to speak to and interface with managing directors, sales directors, operations, directors, COOs, all those sorts of people, of your supply chain. And then your job is to coordinate those, to deliver value for your company.

To use Steve Jobsism, make a dent in the universe. I can’t think of another function that offers that at such an early level. Of course the rub being we don’t really talk about it like that, and we don’t really tell anybody about that so we underplay our ability to have an enormous impact. That’s probably why we’ve got a bit of an image problem. I don’t think we back ourselves enough. I do, I struggle to find another function which has that enormous impact, particularly at a sort of entry level.

What do you think is key to changing that conversation?

It’s about being able to demonstrate the impact that we have and being honest with the business about it. There’s an authenticity that sits behind this. I think it comes back to what is our role and therefore, how do we articulate it? Our role is to look into the organization and say what the organization needs and  help resolve some of the conflicts, because different people in the business will want different stuff, depending on which function they’re within. It’s then about looking outward into the world and saying, “Okay, how do we best satisfy that need?”

If we start to talk about it in those terms, it becomes a strategic conversation. What that means though, is that we need to take ourselves away from the stuff that’s safe and comfortable. I hear people talk about strategic procurement and it is the least strategic thing you’ve ever heard. What we’re looking for is opportunities for us to make a real difference to the business model. So for example, if you were to say, “Through my supply chain strategy, I’m able to build such strong relationships with my suppliers, but that represents a massive barrier to our competitors, getting their hands around that supply chain or replicating that supply chain and therefore that delivers X or Y in our business proposition,” That’s strategic. We’ve got to spend the time talking about that, because until we do, we are going to be a back office function and probably rightly so.

How much of it has to be that meeting in the middle, if that makes sense?

You’ve got to have people who are open to the conversation. So you’ve definitely got to be in a business that’s functional, that’s working. If you’re in a completely dysfunctional business where there’s just no conversation, of course it’s going to be pretty much impossible. But what I’d say is that’s not most organizations. Most organizations are by virtue of the fact that they’re trading and being profitable and throwing off cash, then they’re going to work. They’re going to have their problems, but they’re going to be open to anything that delivers real value.

So if you can demonstrate that through how you orchestrate supply chain, you can grow sales, you can improve consistency, you can reduce risk, you can increase cash flow, you can improve profitability, you can take away some of the barriers that stop the organization growing. Then it is not a difficult conversation to get people to come across the bridge towards you, because ultimately the C-suite is motivated by, and certainly in our world, but I think this is true of all organizations, by the value that it can create. So by definition, you become part of the solution. And if you turn up to any CFO CEO and say, “Hey, look, I think I can make the organization’s share price go up by 10%.” And if you can do that credibly, you will get traction. There’s absolutely no question about it. The trick is of course, to do that credibly and have something that really does make a difference.

What does it mean for, not just the procurement guy, but obviously the wider business, to have a seat at the table?

“Procurement deserves a seat at the table is something I hear a lot. My response to that is always pretty much the same. And I say, “Well, does it deserve it?” So if procurement is adding strategic value, it deserves that seat at the table. If procurement isn’t doing that and it’s just doing tactical work, delivering slightly better prices or managing day-to-day supplier relationships, but not really elevating them and creating extra value for the customer or creating barriers to entry for the competition or locking in value at an enterprise level, it doesn’t deserve a seat to the table. I’m sad to say that that’s probably true in 8 out of 10 companies where procurement isn’t something that they potentially need to be good at, or can be good at, because of the nature of the way that they manage themselves.

It frustrates me intensely because it just sounds like we’re moaning. It’s almost as if to say, “Oh, I deserve a seat at the table.” Well, go and earn it. Because if I’m looking around that board table as a CEO, I’m looking at each of those people, each of those posts, each of those functional roles, and I’m saying sales, how does that add strategic value? Finance, how does that add strategic value? Marketing, how does that add strategic value? And if I can’t respond to that with a clear demonstration of adding proper strategic value, then I don’t deserve that seat at the table. And let’s be clear, sending out a tender or following a seven step sourcing process, that’s not strategic. It’s not moving the organization fundamentally forward. It might be doing a good job, which is very valuable and needs to be done, but it’s not strategic. And unless you are genuinely adding value to the enterprise at a fundamental level, then we definitely do not deserve that seat. We need to work hard for that.

As the conversations have moved forward and now procurement has been given a chance to show off and say, “Look what more we can do than just save money,” at the end of the day, you still have to save money. So how is that balancing act unfolding and how difficult is it?

The sort of classic adding savings and basic EBITDA through things costing less, that’s the day job. That’s not strategic. What we’re well-placed now to uplift other parts of the organization because what’s quite exciting is, as the world changes and there are more small organizations and innovation, we’ve got more of an opportunity to bring those things into play. So you’ve got to do both.

I always think the challenge with procurement is to, yes, deliver the basics, but then to start thinking in system terms. It’s shifting our thinking away from tactical and almost a tick box exercise of, “We’ve done a tender and they’ve passed all of our tests and I’ve read their accounts, I’ve done all the basic stuff.” We need to shift into systems thinking now, and how do we manage the ecosystem of potential that is out there, which is huge and changing? That is an exciting piece that we’ve got to get our minds around.

It depends on your organization’s appetite and the need to be good at procurement. Not all organizations need to be good at procurement. It depends on your appetite to go and do more. The best news is that there is more opportunity out there now than there has ever been.

What has the general impact been of COVID on that procurement conversation?

In lots of ways, I like to think about COVID as being an accelerant. So COVID really has probably accelerated or amplified all the things that were probably going to happen anyway. The suppliers in which we took too much risk as a profession and we let stocks run too thin, got caught out by COVID, by the logistical challenges, by factories shutting down, by borders closing.Those things would have probably happened anyway, they just wouldn’t have happened all at the same time and it would have been slightly less stressful, I guess. But those weaknesses would have played out in the supply chain over time anyway. And all COVID did was just make that happen quickly and all at once. COVIDt, and it’s a blunt instrument, will shake out the companies that weren’t going to make it.

All of a sudden we’ve realized that some of the suppliers, who we thought were in good shape, were not in good shape and actually our risks were much bigger than we thought they were, so there’s a big re-evaluation. And in the sort of rebuild, I guess, we’ve now got a real chance to shape things, which is actually really exciting. 

Looking at Insider Pro then, why do we need a business like Insider Pro in procurement?

We help businesses build their enterprise value. We help organizations look internally and say, “What do we actually need in order to grow?” and we help them look back out to the supply chain and say, “Okay, what’s the best way of doing that?” We sort of sit in a space between procurement and operations in many respects. A lot of the work we do is really helping the larger group of stakeholders, both internally and externally collaborate for more value.

That’s the bit that’s super exciting because we have in excess of 50,000 people in our suppliers and supply chain. Imagine leveraging 50,000 people’s brain power. That’s what’s exciting. That’s what we do and what’s quite exciting is, you are sitting on a huge amount of opportunity if your eyes are open to it.

When we talk about bringing outside people in or outside consultants in, there’s often teething problems and even reluctance to engage a third party . How do you mitigate this and work collaboratively? 

There is no one way to do things, there’s more than one way to get there and you’ve got to find the way that’s right for the organization. You hear an awful lot about best practice and I’ve even written about best practice myself and I sort of hate that. In our minds, there’s absolutely no best practice whatsoever. What there is, is some things that work and some really good ideas and what you’ve got to find is the organization’s next practice. We understand how we better service the things that that organization needs next, rather than some mythical idea of what’s best.

In light of  COVID, a lot of people are looking inwards and examining where they may be thinking that while  things have been going well, things could still be better. What would be the one permanent change you could make if you were given the power to do so?

Back in the 1970s, there was  an economist called Goodhart, who gave rise to something called Goodhart’s Law. It basically says that as soon as you measure a target, it ceases to be a good measure, because essentially people start to game the system. So the one thing I’d like to see the end of is things like savings targets or improvement targets or KPI improvement. It just drives me to distraction because all it does is force us to change the definitions of what success looks like. The setting of arbitrary targets, which our industry is absolutely awash with is well-intentioned, but entirely counterproductive the vast majority of the time.

Gracing our front cover is Oksana Glavachek, Chief Procurement & Administrative  Officer at VF Ukraine.  In our exclusive feature, Glavachek…

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Gracing our front cover is Oksana Glavachek, Chief Procurement & Administrative  Officer at VF Ukraine. 

In our exclusive feature, Glavachek details how the rapidly evolving telco industry and the market demands in Ukraine have created great challenges for companies and their procurement functions and even greater opportunities.

 “The Telco industry is one of the most investment-hungry industries in the world,” she explains. “To establish a Telco Company you have to make a huge investment in setting up a network first of all and then you must make significant annual investments in the expansion and maintenance of that network due to continuous technology development and tougher market competition.”

Elsewhere, Jan Clysner, VP of Procurement and Sustainability, explores how procurement and sustainability go hand in hand as the company looks to create a better world.

“One is connected with the other. It’s not that procurement is a different animal from sustainability. They’re very closely connected and going forward, I see the connection growing further and getting closer and closer”

We also look at how we define strategic procurement with Jeremy Bowley of Insider Pro, Dave Ingram, CPO for Unilever, discusses how the company is putting its money where its mouth is and making real, lasting sustainable change through procurement and we look at five key learnings from WMG at The University of Warwick and Blue Yonder’s  the Supply Chain Digital Readiness in Retail report.

Enjoy the issue!

Lenovo™ and Intel®-sponsored study looks into how updating technology can improve productivity, employee engagement and customer satisfaction…

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A new Lenovo and Intel commissioned study, “Empower Your Employees with the Right Technology,” conducted by Forrester Consulting, has found that the impact of technology in improving the employee experience (EX), or an employee’s full journey in an organisation, is much more than anticipated — highlighting opportunities for organisations’ IT decision makers (ITDMs) in today’s remote and hybrid work environment. The key insight points out that while companies on average see a 5x return on investment in the EX driven by increased productivity, organisational agility and customer satisfaction, ITDMs and employees disagree on technology priorities. While ITDMs are prioritising strategic IT integration, software and service needs, employees are more focused on their fundamental daily technology experience. This suggests that business leaders have room to collaborate more closely with employees on their IT purchase decisions to elevate team engagement, increase customer satisfaction and improve the bottom line.

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Bridging the divide between employees and IT decision makers

With organisations now shifting their focus toward remote and hybrid work, ITDMs are upgrading devices, software and services as part of EX initiatives to improve team engagement and satisfaction. Based on the research findings, this has led to more tech spending. IT leaders are reporting a 5x return (USD $1 spent on these programs yields USD $5 of increased staff productivity, organisational agility and customer satisfaction), with many expecting to increase their investment by nearly 25 percent in two years.

Yet employees still report that they’re frustrated with their PC hardware and software experience:

  • Fifty (50) percent of respondents say their PC devices are out of date or insufficient (e.g. not fast enough, reliable enough or powerful enough)

  • Forty-six (46) percent note their software frequently malfunctions and disrupts their work

  • Only 33 percent are extremely satisfied with the current laptop provided by the company

  • Only 30 percent said their laptops or desktop work well for cross-collaboration.

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Importantly, ITDMs and employees both define employee satisfaction with technology as a crucial goal. Satisfaction with technology also has the greatest observable positive impact: nearly 60 percent of ITDM respondents noted a more than 10-percent increase in EX scores by improving employee satisfaction with technology. It’s evident that IT departments and the technologies they offer are instrumental to driving EX, beyond conventional factors such as human resources, worker benefits and more.

Yet again, there is a clear disconnect between employees and these ITDMs, whose primary concerns are the longevity of their technology investments rather than its impact on team engagement. According to the study, whereas 84 percent of ITDMs believe employees can easily switch to a different PC device if their current one needs to be replaced, only half of employees agree that’s an available solution. Ultimately, both ITDMs and employees agree that refresh cycles can be improved and better aligned. In addition, ITDMs believe the integration of hardware and software will impact EX the most, whereas employees simply want devices that work consistently.

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Prioritising employees to better leverage technology investments

The study outlines a few key recommendations on how business leaders can better improve employee engagement and business outcomes through technology investments.

  • Realign investments. While many ITDMs are investing resources into exploring newer, emerging technologies such as 5G, augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), and artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning tools, based on worker respondents’ feedback there is an opportunity to focus first on immediate employee priorities—building a strong foundation of collaboration tools and PC devices—while IT departments explore more advanced technology tools in parallel.

  • Reorganise priorities. Decision-makers should also focus on improving EX vs only focusing on specific productivity metrics. In fact, according to the study nearly 80 percent of ITDMs plan to focus on improving employee engagement over the next few months.

  • Focus on PCs. PCs have become critically important to employees, with 77 percent of full-time employees saying that PC devices are a critical factor in their daily work and collaboration with one another. A renewed focus on PCs can make the greatest impact on the bottom line and customer satisfaction, with most respondents agreeing that PC devices are critical to increasing customer satisfaction (69 percent), revenue growth (62 percent) and employee retention (55 percent).

  • Involving employees in PC investment decisions. Overwhelmingly (72 percent) of employees responded that listening to workers or getting clarity on what they need ranks in the top three of what companies should do to improve EX. This feedback is important, as employees understand their work devices’ value in driving business outcomes, based on technology factors such as performance, connectivity, reliability, portability, size/weight, battery life and more.  Listening to employee feedback can go a long way towards making the case for better technology options.
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“Our new study findings further affirm our belief in the strategic importance of technology as critical investments, and not as simple transaction costs. The right deployment of technologies delivering returns can far exceed the initial expense of new business models and opportunities,” said Christian Teismann, President, Commercial PC and Smart Devices Business, Lenovo. 

“Given employees are a company’s greatest asset, the study further maps out opportunities to uplift the return on technology investment by focusing on PC devices and collaboration tools, while better involving employees in purchase decisions. In today’s new remote and hybrid work set-up, these steps are pivotal for companies in yielding opportunities that go far beyond the initial spend on their technology.”

Visit www.lenovo.com/EnterpriseSolutions for the full study findings.

Digitising procurement to drive efficiency, transparency and effective supplier management…

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Ivalua, a leading global spend management cloud provider, and Consus, a leading global supply chain solutions provider, today announced that Jollibee Foods Corporation (JFC) has successfully deployed Ivalua’s platform to empower its procurement digital transformation, with Consus leading implementation. The comprehensive project spanned Supplier Information, Risk, & Performance Management, eSourcing, Contract Management, Catalog management, Spend Analysis, Savings Tracking, Category Management & overall change management.

Jollibee Foods Corporation (JFC) is a chain of fast food restaurants with a worldwide store network of more than 5,000 stores. It operates the largest food service network in the Philippines with 3,316 stores in the country and 2,655 stores abroad as of December 2019. JFC leverages only best-in-class processes and technologies, with its full operational procurement system used over the years to support its rapidly growing store network in the Philippines. As it continues to grow and expand internationally, there was a need for an integrated global procurement platform for its upstream or strategic processes that would perform amid presence of risks and complexities, and would improve cross-functional collaboration between internal stakeholders, procurement, and suppliers.

JFC selected Ivalua’s platform due to its ability to support every stage of its planned transformation, including quick deployment, flexibility to meet evolving requirements, analyst-recognised best-of-breed capabilities and complete, unified suite. Consus was selected as implementation partner for its deep source-to-pay expertise. Additionally, JFC was looking for a trusted partner aligned with their “customer experience first” vision to jointly disrupt current processes and adopt best practices globally.

The deployment of Ivalua’s platform has been tightly integrated with JFC’s backend SAP ERP systems to ensure seamless flow of information and maximum automation. The platform will deliver a range of benefits to JFC, including improved governance and auditability, more efficient procurement processes, more informed analysis and decision-making, proactive risk management, improved supplier qualification and collaboration and better compliance with contracts and policies.

“This represents a significant milestone in our procurement transformation, which will allow us to deliver more value to the organisation, employees, customers and suppliers,” explains Susan Tanmantiong, Chief Procurement Officer of JFC. “This project was successfully implemented by Consus and Ivalua through the commitment and support of their executive leadership.  Ivalua’s platform empowers us with the leading technology needed to deliver on our vision.”

“My heartiest congratulations to JFC and the entire Project Ruby Team,” explains Shantanu Bhowmick, Chairman & CEO at Consus Global. “I believe that the combined team of Ivalua, Consus and JFC have delivered a long-term and sustainable solution to digitise the enterprise wide Source-to-Receipt Process at JFC. With procurement transformations of this nature and magnitude, there are both short term and long-term benefits. The integrated Ivalua solution deployed will not only bring increased spend under management on one platform but also allow Jollibee to collaborate both internally and externally to create sustainable value, improve supplier performance and manage supply chain risks.”

“This project is a great example of how ambitious transformations can be successfully launched in record time when innovative procurement teams work with the right partner and leading technology,” explains Dan Amzallag, CEO at Ivalua Inc. “Consus has been a long-term partner of Ivalua, whose experience translates to significant value for our customers. And the JFC team’s customer-centric approach, vision and energy was key to the rapid deployment.”

Accenture and ServiceNow have formed a new business group to help private and public sector clients accelerate their digital transformation…

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Accenture and ServiceNow have formed a new business group to help private and public sector clients accelerate their digital transformation and better address today’s dynamic operational challenges. The Accenture ServiceNow Business Group represents a significant multi-million dollar investment from both companies over the next five years.

In the COVID-19 era, organisations are under more pressure than ever to innovate faster, reduce costs, enhance productivity, and meet their customers’ needs. The Accenture ServiceNow Business Group will help organisations rapidly evolve organisational processes and unlock the full value of technology investments by adopting digital workflows that deliver modern, personalised customer and employee experiences. This includes empowering employees and customers with self-service and remote work programs that offer increased flexibility, mobility, and choice. By establishing a more modern workplace with platform-driven, technology-enabled workflows, organisations are better positioned to balance business needs, satisfy customer demands, drive employee engagement, deliver productivity expectations, and realise workplace cost optimisation.

“By further strengthening our strategic alliance with ServiceNow, we will enable our clients to more quickly embrace change,” said Julie Sweet, chief executive officer, Accenture. “With a move to the cloud, they can reimagine their operations, reskill their employees, and become more sustainable. Working together with ServiceNow to automate complex processes and create better experiences across industries, we will help organisations deliver greater 360-degree value that benefits all — their customers, people, shareholders, partners, and communities.”

ServiceNow CEO Bill McDermott said: “Leaders in every organisation know that their 20th century technologies are too slow, too siloed, too stuck in the status quo to meet the dynamic digital demands of employees and customers today. Speed, agility, and resilience are what’s needed now. Our ServiceNow and Accenture partnership brings together world-class teams, expertise, and our modern workflow platform to accelerate every organisation’s digital transformation. The Accenture ServiceNow Business Group will help every organisation become a 21st century digital business.”

The Accenture ServiceNow Business Group will deliver industry- and domain-specific solutions and services to customers. Together, Accenture and ServiceNow will initially help accelerate digital transformation programs for customers in telecommunications, financial services, government, manufacturing, healthcare, and life sciences. Workflow innovation will focus on employee engagement, customer service and operations, artificial intelligence for IT operations, and security and risk. Additional industry solutions will be developed in the future.

Supported by approximately 8,500 Accenture people skilled in ServiceNow, the new group brings together dedicated professionals from both organisations with expertise in transformational workflow and platform development, marketing, sales, and business development across numerous priority industries. The business group will develop advanced industry and domain-focused solutions designed to deliver tangible, positive outcomes for clients at scale.

For example, Boehringer Ingelheim, a leading, research-driven pharmaceutical company with more than 51,000 employees and an Accenture and ServiceNow customer, uses ServiceNow’s technology and Accenture services to create a seamless, consumer-grade experience for global employees and customers.

“Our work with Accenture and ServiceNow has strategically fueled our innovation power. By optimising our global employee experience, we’ve made our work processes across business functions faster and more efficient, ultimately driving better patient outcomes,” said Andreas Henrich, corporate vice president of IT Enterprise Data Services at Boehringer Ingelheim. “We’ve reduced complexity across our disparate bespoke systems and, in doing so, have transformed our business for growth.”

Accenture and ServiceNow also collaborate to serve government entities. Earlier this year, Accenture Federal Services (AFS) announced a $96 million task order to help the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) modernise its enterprise service management and IT capabilities, using ServiceNow to power the digital transformations end-to-end. Using the Now Platform, AFS will work with the VA to automate its manual workflows and introduce applied intelligence (AI) and machine learning capabilities, allowing the VA workforce to focus on more complex tasks that serve veterans.

“Today, Veterans Affairs is truly running IT like a business,” said Greg Rankin, Service Management Office Director, Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Information & Technology. “We are utilising ServiceNow’s powerful discovery engine and Accenture’s expertise to create top-down business service maps that eliminate the guessing game as to which configuration items underpin which business service. With a mission as critical as providing service to veterans, it’s imperative that we have real-time visibility into the health, availability, and costs of the services we provide – we have that now.”

Accenture’s use of ServiceNow is a strategic enabler of customer-facing innovation at scale and, as a ServiceNow customer, the company uses ServiceNow workflows for employee engagement, invoice processing, asset management, artificial intelligence for IT operations, and its universal service desk. Accenture recently made the Now Mobile app available to its more than 500,000 people.

As a ServiceNow Global Elite Partner, Accenture is one of ServiceNow’s largest global go-to-market partners and winner of its Global Partner of the Year award in 2020.

IBM and ServiceNow today announced an expansion to their strategic partnership designed to help companies reduce operational risk and lower…

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IBM and ServiceNow today announced an expansion to their strategic partnership designed to help companies reduce operational risk and lower costs by applying AI to automate IT operations. Available later this year, a new joint solution will combine IBM’s AI-powered hybrid cloud software and professional services to ServiceNow’s intelligent workflow capabilities and market-leading IT service and operations management products.

The solution is engineered to help clients realise deeper, AI-driven insights from their data, create a baseline of a typical IT environment, and take succinct recommended actions on outlying behavior to help prevent and fix IT issues at scale. Together, IBM and ServiceNow can help companies free up valuable time and IT resources from maintenance activities, to focus on driving the transformation projects necessary to support the digital demands of their businesses.

“AI is one of the biggest forces driving change in the IT industry to the extent that every company is swiftly becoming an AI company,” said Arvind Krishna, Chief Executive Officer, IBM. “By partnering with ServiceNow and their market leading Now Platform, clients will be able to use AI to quickly mitigate unforeseen IT incident costs. Watson AIOps with ServiceNow’s Now Platform is a powerful new way for clients to use automation to transform their IT operations.”

“For every CEO, digital transformation has gone from opportunity to necessity,” said ServiceNow CEO Bill McDermott. “As ServiceNow leads the workflow revolution, our partnership with IBM combines the intelligent automation capabilities of the Now Platform with the power of Watson AIOps. We are focused on driving a generational step improvement in productivity, innovation and growth. ServiceNow and IBM are helping customers meet the digital demands of 21st century business.”

Organisations are under pressure to deliver innovation and create great experiences for customers and employees, all while driving efficiencies and keeping costs and IT risks down. Yet in today’s technology-driven organisation, even the smallest outages can cause massive economic impact for both lost revenue and reputation. This partnership will help customers address these challenges and help avoid unnecessary loss of revenue and reputation by automating old, manual IT processes and increasing IT productivity.

IBM and ServiceNow will initially focus on:

  • Joint Solution: IBM and ServiceNow will deliver a first of its kind joint IT solution that marries IBM Watson AIOps with ServiceNow’s intelligent workflow capabilities and market-leading ITSM and ITOM Visibility products to help customers prevent and fix IT issues at scale. Now, businesses that use ServiceNow ITSM can push historical incident data into the deep machine learning algorithms of Watson AIOps to create a baseline of their normal IT environment, while simultaneously having the ability to help them identify anomalies outside of that normal, which could take a human up to 60% longer to manually identify, according to initial results from specific Watson AIOps early adopter clients. The joint solution will position customers to enhance employee productivity, obtain greater visibility into their operational footprint and respond to incidents and issues faster.

Specific product capabilities will include:

  • ServiceNow ITSM allows IT to deliver scalable services on a single cloud platform estimated to increase productivity by 20%.

  • ServiceNow ITOM Visibility automatically delivers near real-time visibility from a native Configuration Management Database, into all resources and the true operational state of all business services.

  • IBM Watson AIOps uses AI to automate how enterprises detect, diagnose, and respond to, and remediate IT anomalies in real time. The solution is designed to help CIOs make more informed decisions when predicting and shaping future outcomes, focus resources on higher-value work and build more responsive and intelligent applications that can stay up and running longer. Using Watson AIOps, the average time to resolve incidents was reduced by 65 percent, according to one recent initial proof of concept project with a client.

  • Services: IBM is expanding its global ServiceNow business to include additional capabilities that provide advisory, implementation, and managed services on the Now Platform. Highly-skilled IBM practitioners will apply their expertise to facilitate rapid delivery of valuable insights and innovation to clients. IBM Services professionals also will introduce clients to intelligent workflows to help improve resiliency and reduce IT risk. ServiceNow is co-investing in training and certification of IBM employees and dedicated staff for customer success.

For example, using the IBM and ServiceNow joint solution, a bank will be able to obtain a full view of an incident, from start to finish. With recommendations and deep diagnosis from Watson AIOps, a service agent will be able to quickly understand the incident, without ever leaving the ServiceNow ITSM platform. Leveraging more than an agent’s own knowledge and research, Watson AIOps can provide anomaly detection along with automated recommendations from the historical deep analysis of prior incidents.  Using incident management tools from ServiceNow, actions and insights can be recorded for auditing purposes and for leveraging future insights. Watson AIOps can then push important context to tickets, discovered only via AI algorithms and baselining techniques, helping to make the data more useful to agents and retraining the AI over time.

“Businesses are facing increased pressures to match the digital pace of a cloud-first market in order to meet the demands of their customers,” said Stephen Elliot, program vice president, DevOps and Management Software, IDC. “The C- suite is transforming workflows to deliver insights and automation for more efficient customer engagement models and cost containment strategies for the business, while simplifying IT operations and increasing collaboration between IT and business stakeholders.”

Today’s news strengthens the partnership previously announced by IBM and ServiceNow to help enterprises simplify IT operations for multi-cloud environments.

A new ‘smart infrastructure’ and carbon-neutral energy era will see the US state emerge a global leader to fight Climate Change.

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New Mexico is launching a new ‘smart infrastructure’ and carbon-neutral energy era on a grand scale, after its 2019 Energy Transition Act (ETA) positioned the US state as a global leader to fight Climate Change.

Its ambition will be enabled by partnership between The Agile Fractal Grid (AFG), developing a new integrated power and broadband network, and Cityzenith, creator of the revolutionary Digital Twin platform SmartWorldPro.

The World Of Digital Twins – Cityzenith – The world’s most advanced digital twin software solution

Digital Twins are virtual replicas of buildings, infrastructure and physical assets, fully interconnected with the data in and around them that optimize project performance, and help predict and visualize future outcomes. Delivering value across multiple functional areas like maintenance, energy consumption, space utilization and traffic management, Cityzenith’s Digital Twin platform, SmartWorldPro, aggregates and analyzes information needed to design, build, and run projects at any scale.

The state and these partners predict the multi-billion-dollar project will transform life and the economy in New Mexico (pop. 2.35m, GDP $104bn) and ripple outwards as other energy operators, states and nations see the benefits: 1,000s of new businesses, 100,000s of new jobs, better and faster data links, higher infrastructure efficiency, and up to six new smart cities.

The 5th largest US state’s fossil fuel power will also be replaced by a cleaner ‘smart’ energy network, featuring North America’s biggest solar and wind array, and generating ample surplus for trading on energy markets.

Those living there will experience ‘smart’ IT benefits in entertainment and hospitality venues, retail, transport hubs, health and hospitals, security, telecoms, power utilities, employment, and manufacturing.

Key to all this potential is Cityzenith’s SmartWorldPro, a breakthrough software able to unify all planning data and diverse software. It speeds hi-res 3D Digital Twin modelling of the replacement infrastructure towards efficient design before construction, and streamlines ongoing operation and development of the new assets.

Cityzenith’s CEO Michael Jansen said: “It’s the kind of visionary project SmartWorldPro was designed for and we are already modelling New Mexico’s biggest city, Albuquerque (915,000) before rolling out across the state over a 10-year program.

“SmartWorldPro can integrate with AFG’s futuristic portfolio of AI, smart building, and other technologies towards a ‘Smart Connected Community’ for cities, large venues, and even whole states.”

AFG CEO John Reynolds said: “The project is a highly efficient deployment of services for 21st century public, commercial, and industrial needs.  

“But individuals will also be impressed by Living-as-a-Service™, the emerging bundled entertainment, ticketing, hospitality, housing, transportation, food and beverage, wellness, and utilities platform.  

“And Cityzenith’s SmartWorldPro means we can show and deliver this data-rich ‘smart lifestyle’ to everyone in New Mexico – urban and rural. Longer-term, this sustainable power, comms, and lifestyle ‘reset’ could span North America, and national 10GB broadband maybe just 10 years away.

Michael Jansen added: “It’s easy to see the benefits for New Mexico, but this cutting-edge technology can go global, pushing back against urban pollution and Climate Change and trillions in economic and environmental damage.

“Cities occupy less than 2% of the Earth’s surface, yet consume 78% of global energy and pump out 60+% per cent of greenhouse gas emissions* while 100 megacities like New York, Seoul, Hong Kong and Shanghai produce a shocking 18% of those emissions.

“So, partnership with fellow visionaries at AFG also fits our long-term ‘Clean Cities – Clean Future’ mission.”

This follows the recent media coverage across the US where Cityzenith has pledged its SmartWorldPro technology to the worlds most polluted cities

Loyal subscribers ‘rejected’ and ‘ignored’ by brands that show favouritism to new customers

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TV subscription brands are their own worst enemy when it comes to losing customers, according to an in-depth report launched today by Singula Decisions, a specialist in subscriber intelligence. 

The new findings highlight that while brands obsess about the problem of ‘churn’ they only have themselves to blame for customers cancelling their subscriptions. Respondents are left rejected and ignored by OTT brands that prioritise winning new customers instead of building valuable relationships with existing ones. In addition, brands often avoid customer communication completely for fear of alerting consumers to the fact they are being billed for a service they may have grown tired of, and that futile efforts to retain customers only truly start when they request to cancel.

 

Speaking about the findings, Bhavesh Vaghela, CEO of Singula Decisions, said: “Brands spend a huge amount of time and effort building predictive models and using analytics to identify potential churners and understand why they are leaving – but what they often don’t consider is that they’re the biggest part of the problem! By the time a subscriber has requested to leave, the damage has been done. To reduce churn, brands must change their mindset; efforts to build a long-term, happy relationship must start at the beginning, not a short burst at the end to try and save a customer that’s cancelling.”

Retain subscribers

The ‘Psychology of a Subscriber’ research has highlighted the need for brands to do more to listen, understand, and engage with customers throughout the entire journey. Learning what makes each individual subscriber tick and responding appropriately – from the moment they join, through the power struggle over billing, and even the pain of cancellation – is essential to the long-term strategy of reducing churn and building positive, long-term relationships with subscribers. 

Report author and Director of QualiProjects, Jennifer Whittaker, said: “A lack of focus during the early stages of the customer journey means loyal subscribers can feel rejected by brands, and that they are not getting enough value. It’s disheartening for loyal subscribers to see favouritism shown to new customers who have not yet spent any money with the brand. When brands avoid loyal subscribers due to a fear of losing them if they are reminded too overtly of their monthly spend, they are unconsciously sabotaging what could have been a healthy relationship.”

Make cancellation easy

Those surveyed also commented that communications and marketing offers are rarely personalised – treating all customers with a one-size-fits-all approach instead of individuals with unique desires and needs. The process of cancelling was also flagged as a major problem by consumers who feel there are too many barriers, and that some brands act in a cynical way, using interrogation tactics and pressure to get them to stay or find out why they are leaving.  

“Churn is inevitable – and doesn’t have to be viewed negatively. Some cancellations are involuntary, either due to financial difficulty or a change in lifestyle, so it’s important that brands listen and make it easy and painless for customers to go. Giving the subscriber a positive experience at the end – by making it easy for them to leave and rejoin, and providing great customer service – means there’s a strong possibility that they will return in the future,” Vaghela added. 

Churn

This is the final paper in a series of three that looks at the ‘Psychology of a Subscriber’. The latest report focuses on ways brands can look to reduce churn and win back customers through better communication and creating positive sentiment with loyal subscribers. The research explores how brands can:

  • Create valuable engagement with loyal subscribers and give rewards for their commitment
  • Shift from a cold, transactional relationship to a warm, emotional one
  • Enable customers’ wishes for flexible subscriptions that offer easy ways to ‘dip in and out’
  • Make it easy for customers to cancel and rejoin, generating positive sentiment for the brand
  • Reimpress past subscribers by gaining permission to keep in touch, while maintaining login details and watchlists so they feel remembered and like they’ve ‘come home’ when they rejoin

Download a copy

The ‘Psychology of a Subscriber: Part 3 – Churn’ report explores the psychological and emotional drivers that consumers experience when subscribing to an OTT service and can be downloaded here

The qualitative study, which was conducted and authored by Qualitative Researcher, Accredited Psychotherapist and Director of QualiProjects, Jennifer Whittaker, and Business Psychologist and Researcher, Katharina Wittgens, explores subscriber attitudes towards OTT TV brands in the UK and US, gaining a deep understanding of how consumers think, feel and behave throughout the customer journey. 

Join the webinar

There will be an opportunity to hear the authors of the study discuss the research with Colin Dixon, Founder and Chief Analyst of nScreenMedia in a live webcast on October 19th at noon Pacific Time (8pm BST, 9pm CET). This webinar is part of the Let’s DEW Lunch webinar series from Digital Media Wire and you can register to attend here.

The winners of ABX 2020!

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Amazon Business announces the winners of the second annual Amazon Business Exchange Awards: Zalando, HC-One, Airbus, and Telefónica. The awards honour leaders and organizations that are driving change in procurement and embracing digital transformation – from simplifying purchasing and helping teams enable more modern ways of working to save costs, to removing barriers and creating inclusive environments within procurement.

“We are excited to see that so many teams across small businesses, schools and universities, as well as large enterprises with tens of thousands of employees, were able to accelerate the digital shift in procurement to help their organizations focus more on their core missions and pivot quickly to new conditions,” said Nabil De Marco, Director, Amazon Business Europe. “With the Amazon Business Exchange Awards, we want to recognize our winners HC-One, Airbus, Telefónica and Zalando for showcasing their best practices in creating more agile workforces and streamlined procurement processes – to share with the broader procurement community.”

The award ceremony took place online on October 7th, during the Amazon Business Exchange (ABX) 2020, the company’s cross-sector business customer conference in Europe.

The 2020 ABX Awards winners

The Bringing People Together Award

This award showcases an organization that is leading actions to remove barriers and create inclusive environments, especially important during this unprecedented time.

The winner: HC-One

“Our objective is to make procurement simple, agile and efficient, while focusing on the needs and experiences of our residents and colleagues. By integrating Amazon Business, we were able to automate the end-to-end process and move quickly. For example, we purchased Amazon Fire Tablets for our care homes to support the connection between residents and their loved ones, while visiting has been restricted due to the Coronavirus pandemic,” said Michael Robson, Head of Procurement at HC-One.

The Innovating with Intent Award

This award gives recognition to organizations that are pushing the boundaries in procurement, to not only innovate purchasing processes but also contribute to the advancement of the entire organization.

The winner: Airbus

“We’re delighted to accept the Innovating with Intent Award from Amazon Business. Here at Airbus we innovate in different ways – whether that’s through our extensive ecosystem of technology scouts, through our global innovation centres, or in partnership with research institutes. Our role in the procurement division is to support and accelerate the Airbus innovation projects with their sourcing needs and to deliver these goods as fast as possible. We’re partnering with Amazon Business to source the diverse range of items needed to build prototypes for our innovation projects. Amazon Business has given innovators at Airbus an efficient and familiar route to purchase with easy adoption. The key outcomes we have seen are a reduction in the number of suppliers, shorter delivery times with next day delivery, and, crucially, a significant reduction in project duration as prototype parts are now easily accessible,” said Alec Dent, Category Manager, Innovation Procurement at Airbus.

The Sustainable Procurement Award

This award highlights organizations that are making a measurable difference in creating sustainable supply chains to drive excellence and best practice.

The winner: Telefónica

“In 2020, we launched our new global Sustainability Policy in our supply chain to reinforce respect for human rights and the environment. As part of this, we started working with Amazon Business in July 2020 to gain an understanding of how we can make the most out of their sustainable products. We’re absolutely thrilled to win this award and hope for much more success as the partnership develops over the months and years to come,” said Maya Ormazabal, Head Environment and Human Rights at Telefónica.

The Procurement Hero Award

This award is sponsored by American Express. It recognizes an individual who is the driving force of change in a procurement team and is paving the path to an easier purchasing process.

The winner: Alejandro Basterrechea, Zalando

“It’s an honor to win the first ABX Procurement Hero Award. There are so many great procurement professionals in our industry, that to even be nominated, feels like an award in itself, but to win is something I never expected. While this is a personal award, it would never have been possible without the support, engagement and drive from the Indirect Procurement team at Zalando. I’m passionate about procurement and I can’t wait to see what the next 12 months hold,” said Alejandro Basterrechea, Head of Procurement Operations at Zalando.

Check out our exclusive feature with Zalando:

About the winners:

HC-One

HC-One, The Kind Care Company, provides residential, nursing and dementia care services, with 328 care homes across England, Scotland and Wales, and a mission to deliver the kindest possible care.

Airbus

Airbus is an international pioneer in the aerospace industry and a leader in designing, manufacturing and delivering aerospace products, services and solutions to customers on a global scale.

Telefónica

Telefónica is today one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world in terms of number of customers. Its vision is focused on technology making people’s lives easier and its aim is to promote progress in that direction, so that technology can make a positive impact on the world both socially and environmentally, and, ultimately, to provide value and trust in an ever-changing and accelerating world.

Zalando

Zalando is Europe’s leading online platform for fashion and lifestyle. Founded in Berlin in 2008, they bring head-to-toe fashion to over 34 million active customers in 17 markets, offering clothing, footwear, accessories, and beauty.

ABX caters for procurement, finance and supply chain leaders who want to discover how to innovate quickly and build more efficient processes and organizations. The conference partnered with the procurement community this year to feature a series of sessions including inspiring ‘ABX Changemakers’ who are driving transformation in their sectors.

To watch speaker sessions from the event, including the Amazon Business Exchange Awards 2020 session, click here.

Featuring Lufthansa Group, Telkom Group and much more…

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We are proud to unveil another fantastic issue of CPOstrategy and wish warm greetings to all of our readers!

This month we are delighted to see Angela Qu, Senior Vice President, Chief Procurement Officer at Lufthansa Group grace the front cover of CPOstrategy. In this exclusive feature, Angela tells us how procurement is becoming a true business enabler.

With a focus on strategic enablement, Qu has been able to see significant improvements across the Group’s procurement performance and believes empowerment is key to delivering on any strategic vision. “We empower our group category managers by letting them understand what they’re responsible for and what their mandates are. Empowerment means that they are truly aligned to the procurement vision and understand how they can play a key role in the transformation. In the end, the team has to deliver the requested results.”

Click the image below to read the latest issue of CPOstrategy :

Elsewhere, we continue to explore the impacts of empowering procurement as Ben Van Zyl, Group Executive Procurement and Contract Management, at Telkom, discusses the procurement journey for business and how the internal stakeholder sits at the very heart of it.

“When you listen to business owners, you are able to translate their vision and strategy for their business into a sourcing strategy that will enable them to succeed,” he says. “It’s about getting the language right.”

Rounding out the magazine; Rich Ham, CEO of Fine Tune, tells us how the time is now for you to teach your team how to engage third parties to optimally advance the business’ interests, and award-winning CIO Phil Clayson provides the CIO’s perspective on on navigating the challenges of a pandemic by bringing IT and procurement closer together.

Enjoy the issue!

How AI-driven technology is gaining momentum in the digital payments market, both in backend operations and customer-facing payment systems…

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Over the past few years, the digital payments market has exhibited steady growth. To keep up with the increasing number of transactions, companies are continuously looking for ways to utilize new tools that would help ensure smooth and efficient processes. Currently at the heart of this lookout is the use of artificial intelligence and its use-cases in reducing the number of false positives in fraud and AML monitoring, and facial recognition-based payment verification.

Marius Galdikas, CEO at ConnectPay, has shared his insights on the current trend of harnessing the power of intelligent systems and their role in fraud prevention and streamlining transactions.

AI-enabled facial recognition

The pandemic gave precedence to AI-driven facial recognition solutions. A group of restaurants and retailers in California combined the need for stemming the spread of Covid-19, and the task of handling payments securely. The effort resulted in a face-powered payment confirmation system, or PopID. According to Marius Galdikas, the pay-by-face idea bears great potential as it requires a lot less engagement from the customer’s perspective, which adds to its appeal.

“Such AI-powered payments decrease the required effort from the customer to the bare minimum,” said Marius Galdikas. “Eliminating the extra steps in the process—taking out the card, entering the required PIN—is likely to improve perceived shopping experience, as customers can focus on a grab-and-go approach and save time. This leaves very little room for hassle, which, in fact, may lead to increased shopping cart values too.”

Interruption-free transactions

While conducting a digital payment transaction, users want one thing above all else – a smooth, glitch-free experience, as unexpected lags are too much of a disruption for the modern-day customer. VISA has already attempted to bridge any possible outages by introducing a Smarter Stand-in Processing (Smarter STIP), which leverages deep learning to analyze past transactions before generating decisions to approve or decline transactions on behalf of issuers. The prototype is set to be released in October, and the smart stand-in solution may push other players in the payment industry to also look for additional measures that could help limit the number of declined transactions.

Listen to Marias on our exclusive episode of The Digital Insight:

“For merchants, a smooth payment process may be the single most important aspect in terms of retaining customers with the ever-decreasing attention span,” said M. Galdikas. “Bypassing issues related to system glitches could help avoid costly failures for both PSPs and merchants. In addition, combining such solutions with AI enables to adopt a more dynamic approach and deal with similar situations in a timely manner, without any noticeable mishaps for the customers.”

Fraud-resilient settlements

The past few months reemphasized the importance of anti-fraud measures, as having more users switching to online shopping instead of brick-and-mortar businesses resulted in skyrocketing levels of scams. The finance sector has already ramped up the cybersecurity spent to keep the fraudsters at bay.

AI can assist with recognizing patterns and exceptions, minimizing fraud for complex, high-volume transactions. Human error is one of the more pronounced weaknesses, so using task-specific AI to recognize dubious transactions will have a significant impact on the overall fraud resistance of digital payment systems. In addition, fraud prevention not only protects against the loss of funds but also saves businesses additional costs for legal settlements, which can add up to above $3 for each dollar lost to scammers.

“The circumstances surrounding Covid-19 and the growth of online fraud adds up to the stressors that urge both merchants and PSPs to deepen their search for novel security tools even more,” explained M. Galdikas, “thus AI-driven solutions are highly likely to become a must-have among tools for ensuring transparency and reducing fraud.”

Without a doubt, the real impact of AI usage in the digital payments market will reveal itself over time. That said, it seems a wider implementation of AI-driven integrations is inevitable, as it carries the promise of next-level actionable solutions that would sustain the growing demand for digital payments.

How much would it take for you to part ways with your data?

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To some, personal data is priceless. But most Brits would be willing to part with various aspects of their digital identity if they were financially compensated, according to research of over 2,100 UK consumers by Okta and Juniper Research.

The survey finds that almost two-thirds would be willing to sell their purchase history (63%), location data (62%), browsing history (59%) and details of their online media consumption (59%). Over half would also be happy to share their social media activity, including what they post on social platforms (56%) and who they follow or engage with (56%).

The results vary by age. Generation Z (55%) and millennials (49%) are most willing to sell their data for a price, with this figure dropping significantly when looking at older generations. Only 16% of those aged between 65 and 75 would be happy to part with any type of their data.

“Our research found that many Brits do not understand what makes up their online identity. Most are aware that things like usernames, online profiles and browsing history are readily available, but do not consider some less obvious aspects, such as listening history, details of devices connected to the internet and work done online. All of these things create personal data,” commented Ben King, Chief Security Officer EMEA at Okta. “Personally, it doesn’t bother me too much if a company is tracking what I’ve listened to on Spotify. But particularly in Europe, privacy issues are increasingly prevalent and there are multi-million fines coming out for businesses breaching compliance.”

What’s the damage?

Of those willing to sell, most Brits would accept under £100, dependent on the type of data. In fact, the research shows that consumers would generally accept between £10 and £50 for their location data (31%), browsing history (30%) and purchase history (29%).

“Many are willing to part with their valuable personal data for a surprisingly low amount. For instance, 10% would be willing to give away their password data for under £30,” added King. “The reality is that companies are getting a huge amount of personal data for free at the moment. But with public awareness on the increase, there’s a risk of alienating those who remain cautious about how their data is handled, so offering a financial incentive could potentially offer a solution to this. The best move for companies collecting personal data is to be brutally honest in saying ‘yes, we use your data and this is what we do with it’.”

Despite many UK citizens feeling prepared to sell their data, there are some areas they draw the line. Passwords (69%), offline conversations (67%), biometric data (67%) and personally identifiable information (61%) are the top areas of digital identity that Brits would not want to sell at any price. Other areas of concern include email and messaging history (61%) and dating app activity (56%).

“Most importantly, continuing to raise awareness of data tracking and how commonplace it is in our daily lives will eventually help people realise that it might not be as big a deal as they think. At the end of the day, if someone receives a targeted ad that shows them exactly what they need, they’re getting convenience. And for most, that’s a benefit,” said King. “Where we need to pay attention is to the vulnerable parts of the population who might be less aware and more easily led. The question is, where does the responsibility lie? Both the government and corporates have a role to play here, but individuals of a working age should be responsible for doing their own research and educating themselves too.”

Methodology

The survey was commissioned by Okta and carried out by Juniper Research. It was a nationally representative sample of the online population of Australia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States. The overall sample size was 12,239, including 2,218 respondents in the UK.

It’s hard to find many upsides to the global pandemic the world is living through, but one positive is the…

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It’s hard to find many upsides to the global pandemic the world is living through, but one positive is the lower CO2 emissions being recorded, with Nature Climate Change estimating that emissions fell by a quarter when lockdowns were at their peak.

We are at a moment in time where we need to consider our carbon footprint and what impact it is having on the environment, especially within the business sector. The BBC claims that aviation accounts for two percent of the world’s carbon emissions with this only set to rise as passenger numbers are expected to double to 8.2 billion by 2037. In 2018, eight million business trips were taken from the UK. Some of these flights are long haul, and flying further generates more carbon emissions than the average person does in a year. As other sectors are taking more steps to create a greener world, aviation’s negative contribution is set to continue.

The emission levels through lockdown show that when the whole world works together change can be seen. So, in this article we will see how you can make your business travel eco-friendly.

Is your journey necessary?


Working from home during lockdown has seen a surge in innovative ways to allow us to connect as an office, outside of the office. Software such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Skype for Business have been heroes in allowing businesses to continue running effectively. From meetings to training, these programmes have allowed us to continue our daily routine without having to all be in the same room.

These technologies can further outside of lockdown allowing companies to save money. Rather than spending money on unnecessary travel, switch to virtual meetings. Through these technologies mentioned relationships can be maintained around the world without having to leave your home or office.

Try a train?


If you need to travel, think about how you can get there. Is it possible to take the train rather than flying? Try and see if you can get an electric train as they release around seven times less emissions than a plane does on the same route. This may not be good for cross-country trips, it’s more sustainable than using flying for regional or national travel.


If travel is essential, consider your mode of transport. For example, do you really need to fly? If it is possible to take a train or bus instead of a plane, you should consider it. If you are travelling domestically have you thought about bus travel. Additionally, plenty of buses are now being run on biogas, significantly cutting down on emissions.

Go cheaper!


Flying in first class may be nice, but it heavily impacts your carbon footprint. According to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) the emissions produced by a passenger in first class are four times higher than someone in economy and business class is three times higher. This is due to the bigger space between the seats, meaning each person accounts for more of the pollution. So think about how much money you will save getting the cheaper ticket, and how much better your carbon footprint will be.

Go direct


Because the biggest consumption of fuel an aircraft uses is when it takes off, getting a direct flight rather than having to stop off reduces your carbon footprint. On the average four hour flight the fuel used to take the flight to its cruising altitude accounts for between 10 and 20 percent of total fuel consumption.

Limit what you take


Simply, by taking less, less fuel is needed to get it to where you are going. It’s unlikely you will be packing a huge amount for a few days business trip, but just try and limit what you take to a minimum.

Give feedback


If you see that your airline is not doing much to be more environmentally conscious, change. There are actually eco-friendly airlines. Companies are trying to reduce their fuel consumption and meet industry-wide targets. The targets set may include modernising the fleet for they use newer aircraft, rather than old aircrafts that use kerosine a liquid derived from petrol. You can do research on which models are more fuel-efficient and if your chosen airline uses them. You can search the emissions your flight will create with Matrix Airfare Search and you can compare which airlines and routes are more eco-friendly.

Carbon offsetting?


Airlines now have started to offset carbon emissions, or some of them anyway. This is due to the rise in ‘flygskam’, the Swedish for flight shame, which means more people are now looking at ways they can make their flights eco-friendlier. Carbon offsetting is when the emissions of a journey are calculated and you are allocated carbon credits from projects which then remove the same amount of emissions from somewhere else, this could involve projects planting trees to help absorb the carbon dioxide from the environment.

The flights you take over a period of a year will make up the majority of your carbon footprint. This will be higher for those who go on many business trips. Think about what has been written in this article and try and apply it when you are planning your next trip.

The global pandemic is an unprecedented situation, with many economies experiencing significant hardship.  Ultimately, for the foreseeable future, businesses –…

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The global pandemic is an unprecedented situation, with many economies experiencing significant hardship.  Ultimately, for the foreseeable future, businesses – in all sectors – are going to have to adapt to survive, not least robust post-pandemic planning for pedestrian movement. 

The reality is that humans get confused and break rules. Having signs, tape lines and crosses on the floor are all good measures – but will people stay in their boxes and comply to the rules? Will they have real fear of proximity? Knowing how to manage your space as guidelines ease, or if the government asks you to double down again overnight in the face of new waves of infection, is vital. 

Tech that maps social distancing …

It will come as a relief to learn that raw materials for greater certainty, and the flexibility to keep up with a dynamic situation over the months, and possibly years, are all readily available. The likes of 2D and 3D CAD drawings for your building can be used to render a 3D model of the building which can be populated with realistic, intelligent agents whose behaviour is modelled by pedestrian movement software. 

Massmotion, a type of crowd simulation software, is an example of technology that can be used to help map social distancing.  MassMotion, which is used by global consulting engineers and architects. It’s rather timely that the software world’s ubiquitous move towards subscription rather than outright licensing has come at just as professionals across the built environment are grappling with the need to understand pedestrian behaviour in more detail than ever before. 

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Its proximity modelling tests and visualises scenarios within computer models. Its native 3D design means that crucial potential pinch points like stairs and elevators are also modelled accurately and can be observed in animated visualisations. Its sheer power means that new parameters can be entered into the model and a new simulation will run to test new ideas within minutes. Proximity modelling tools are used to show how close people are likely to get and for how long and highlight risk areas. 

Oasys added proximity modelling to its pedestrian simulation software and explained that: “What the team has done is to produce a new set of analytics that can be drawn from the software. We have also accelerated some experimental research to give customers the ability to test personal space preferences.”

Using technology for existing buildings

Technology such as MassMotion will be crucial in designing and building future structures to ensure social distancing is far more achievable for the building’s occupants. But how can other technological solutions help support social distancing measures in pre-existing buildings? After all, spatial awareness cannot be accurately relied upon. 

Currently, personnel distancing systems known as PDS are being trialled around the country. These proximity warning gadgets can be fastened to a person’s arm or belt, or in the case of construction sites, onto a hard hat. The technology can also be added to lanyards or wrist bands. Once the exclusion zone has been programmed, these tags will sound an alarm and vibrate if the wearer gets too close to another wearer. 

This technology will be particularly useful in warehouses and shops, allowing staff in a highly mobile environment to focus on their jobs around the building and let the PDS alert them if social distancing measures are being breached. 

The future 

Understanding and optimising how people use space is increasingly recognised by architects, but can it also inform smart environmental and energy management?  As well as wearable smart sensors for people, there had been an innovation of smart sensors for buildings that detect the number of occupants in a space would suggest that there is a growing overlap here. 

Pedestrian movement analysis could be a long-term addition to our toolbox, not just an interim response to the pandemic.

Sources: 

It should come as no surprise that a strong environmental ethos within an organisation is a driving factor for many…

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It should come as no surprise that a strong environmental ethos within an organisation is a driving factor for many jobseekers when choosing where to apply for work. 

However, a recent report has detailed just how important sustainability aligned with social responsibility really is in terms of recruitment. 

When we think about sustainable brands in 2020, Innocent Drinks is never too far from our consideration. Incorporating recycled plastic into their packaging for the past 17 years, Innocent is not only a manufacturer of delicious drinks, they are a sustainable giant, continually giving back to the planet that they take from. 

The fruit used for their drinks are purchased through the Rainforest Alliance, a scheme which works in conjunction with farmers, protecting their rights and preserving their land, and 10 per cent of their profits are devoted to charitable causes. Unsurprisingly, staff are more than keen to shout about their business’ efforts. According to Glassdoor, 92 per cent of staff would recommend the business to a friend.  

With this in mind, in this article we take a look at the millennial mindset regarding sustainability, why sustainability and social responsibility mean so much more to organisations than meets the eye, and how you can detail your business’ focus in a job description to target the ideal talent pool.

Millennial mindset 

In research conducted by Totaljobs it became apparent that 26 per cent of British workers would be willing to take a pay cut in exchange for working for a business which acted responsibly in terms of the environment. 

Furthermore, 28% would actually consider quitting their current role and transitioning into one which was offered by a more environmentally responsible company. Of this 28%, within the age range of 23-28, which harbours a significant number of millennials, 50% would do so. 

Ultimately, for any business, that is why it is so important — the aforementioned demographic. By 2025, millennials will account for approximately 75% of the overall workforce. This is a group which was also discovered to offer their services for a considerably lower salary — up to £8,100 per annum — to a business who demonstrated environmental care. 

Although, for employers, the current situation might not reflect this mindset, this will be thanks to the fact only 17% of Generation Xers feel the same way. 

Head of Sustainability at IKEA Joanna Yarrow suggested that millennials are excited by the prospect of working for companies that play a positive role within society. This is supported by a PWC report that discovered 65% of people in China, Germany, India, UK, and US want to work for a company with a strong social conscience. 

This list of economic superpowers is surely enough to demonstrate that it is an incredibly pressing matter. 

Think outside the box and focus on the globe

What we’re looking at here isn’t just a change in processes to benefit the planet, this is an opportunity to completely remarket your business, attracting key talent along the way. 

Go beyond the simplistic development of an environmental and social conscience and make it the foundations of your business and you have, in effect, opened up Pandora’s box. 

Gudrun Cartwright, Environmental Director at BITC, comments: “For those that get ahead of the curve, the opportunities are immense.” 

Implementing a strategy such as corporate sustainability is, simply, another form of competitive advantage. Not only will customers be drawn to your brand, the best talent pool will be too. 

Around 30 per cent of staff have suggested that they have given more effort to a business they have worked for which employs these strategies. This repeats the rhetoric from an age-old cliché, ‘you get out what you put in’. 

A happy workforce results in higher productivity, which saves money, and, ultimately, translates into a more satisfied customer. 

Promoting the best of your business 

PWC detailed, in the same report, that ‘36 per cent of HR departments across the globe are actually amending their recruitment strategies to focus on their business’ social and environmental stance.’

That said, what are they including when crafting their job descriptions? 

  1. As a business we focus a great importance on our social and environmental sustainability and, therefore, in your role you would be expected to replicate this each and every day.

  2. Here at XXX we set out to act in an exemplary fashion towards the community. Whether this be in regard to social conduct or waste management, as an employee it is your duty to uphold these policies.

  3. It is the cornerstone of our foundations to act in a responsible manner in terms of sustainability. You, as an employee, are expected to display this in all aspects of your work. 

Lynn Cahillane, Head of Marketing at Totaljobs said: “With a widely reported skills shortage, employers have the opportunity to showcase a clear commitment to reducing carbon emissions and help tackle the climate crisis. A step which could make the difference in attracting the UK’s most sought-after workers.”

Don’t lag behind the herd, seize the opportunity today to demonstrate your business’ true worth. 

Supply chains have been mapped since maps existed—however, supply network mapping technology is a relatively new phenomenon. Supply chains are…

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Supply chains have been mapped since maps existed—however, supply network mapping technology is a relatively new phenomenon. Supply chains are constantly evolving due to a variety of factors, be it political, economic, production, or even pandemics, for example, Covid-19 exposed the fragility of modern supply chains with so many businesses relying on imports from different countries and manufacturing activity falling significantly.

It’s become more important than ever for international trade to be as efficient and transparent as possible, with detailed understandings in real-time of what is happening as well as for compliance and regulations. Think back to the 2013 horse meat scandal and the importance of knowing where your resources come from.

What is supply network mapping?

Modern supply chain mapping is the process of liaising and communicating across companies and suppliers to record the source of each material, process, and shipment that imports goods to markets, helping discover the end-to-end supply chains and indirect suppliers. Before technology, supply chain mapping and management was a very labour-intensive process—for all the effort companies put into improving the efficiencies and performance of supply chains, very few have reached the full potential of digital applications, with research by McKinsey finding that the average supply chain is 43 per cent digitalised.

Supply network mapping and technology

Major disparities in advantages from supply chain digitisation are often through technology gaps, probably one of the most important factors in supply chains. Accurate supply network mapping was made possible through the rise of online maps and the internet, with the world’s first supply chain mapping platform developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2008.

Supply network mapping can be resource-intensive and difficult however companies will quickly realise the value of the map is far greater than the cost and time to took to develop it. So, what are the advantages?

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Source: Shutterstock, by TMLsPhotoG

Real time data

As mentioned, supply chain mapping is made possible by software which can collect real-time big data, creating an analytical landscape for you to gain reliable insights. For example, the tremendous boom that e-commerce has had on retail is one useful example of how data-driven actions can revolutionise your supply chain. 

Supply chain mapping also integrates application programming interface (API) for instant and secure access to real-time data and allowing different platforms and elements to the supply chain to communicate with each other—comparable to how a user interface helps humans directly interact with computers. A useful example of this is making online purchases and transactions. When you enter your credit card information, the site at hand will send information to an application which verifies the details as correct and allows the purchase to go through. These APIs can be used to transfer supply chain data and remove the time it would take to request it manually.

Collaboration and visibility

With so many complex supply chains existing from one side of the world to another, it can be time consuming to keep track of everything from a raw material to a manufactured good, like a piston ring or a car. Supply chain mapping facilitates collaboration from small to tremendous scales, with teams working together from every company involved in one supply chain to document every resource, process, and shipment. 

By being able to provide information on who and where to suppliers and buyers, supply chain mapping takes away concerns and visibility is delivered for the good of the chain.

Minimise risk

Of course, minimising risk should be one of the most important concerns, and lots of organisations—particularly in the current climate—have been rocked by unprecedented supply chain vulnerabilities and disruptions. At the core of these issues is the lack of rigorous processes to recognise risks and new threats, for example, cyber-attacks and supplier bankruptcy, amplified by globalisation. Even in 2010, 71 per cent of executives in McKinsey research said companies were more at risk of supply chain disruption than before. Now, supply chain disruptions are at their highest rate.

Risk identification can be mapped out and assessed in detail across the supply chain and regularly checked on an ongoing basis.

It’s important to stay ahead of the game and remain at the forefront of your industry with supply chain mapping. Take charge and keep your competitive edge over your rivals with this vital software.

Sources

https://cerasis.com/history-of-supply-chain-management/

From the textiles used in garment manufacturing to creating a sustainable supply chain, technological advancements are set to innovate fashion…

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From the textiles used in garment manufacturing to creating a sustainable supply chain, technological advancements are set to innovate fashion in countless ways. For a long time, the processes used in the fashion sector have remained remarkably unchanged. In the coming years, however, we can expect big things! 

As of 2020, fashion generates an estimated $664bn revenue, making it one of the biggest industries in the world. Because of this, technological innovations within this sector are set to be nothing less than world-changing and, if implemented correctly, technology in fashion could make an unfathomable change in creating a greener, cleaner world. 

From big data to Blockchain technology, let’s take a look at the innovations that we can expect to see in the world of fashion over the coming years and consider the monumental difference that they are going to make. 

Novel fabrics

Over recent years, we’ve made some big steps towards more ethical fabric practices. However, new fabrics such as vegan leather are actually damaging to the environment due to their high plastic content. In answer to this, scientists have been developing new novel fabrics, such as lab-grown leather and sustainably produced ‘super-strong’ spider silk. 

Tech giant, Google, is also getting involved in this new era of fabric creation. The Google ATAP (advanced technology and projects) lab is currently working on the creation of touch-responsive textiles that are made from conductive threads. These fabrics are being developed further, and there are even plans for colour-changing fabric development within the ATAP lab. These fabrics will be designed to change colour in relation to moods, settings, or temperatures.

Artificial Intelligence 

From customer service to inventory tracking, Artificial Intelligence is already becoming a powerful tool that brands can use to predict trends and get ahead of the game. Virtual wardrobes and automated wardrobe planning tools allow users to get creative with their shopping—improving the user experience while also giving brands access to unique, instant, customer data. 

AI is also set to personalise the world of fashion down to the finest detail. Some brands are already utilising online ’fit engines’ that help users find the perfect style and fit for them. Say goodbye to the ‘one size fits all’ approach—thanks to AI, the world of fashion is about to get more personal than ever before. 

Blockchain

Associated most with the record-keeping of bitcoin technology, blockchain tech is set to revolutionise the way the fashion is shipped, traced, and recorded. Each ‘Block’ within the blockchain is made up of specific pieces of data that store unique digital information about a transaction. This information includes the date and time of the transaction, as well as the monetary value of the purchase. 

In the world of fashion, blockchain technology is an up and coming way in which brands are improving their supply chains. Every movement of a product on a supply chain will be recorded on the blockchain, creating a physical-digital link between each product and their digital identities. This unique link means that fakes will be obvious and therefore counterfeiting can be easily detected. Any attempt to divert goods can also be easily tracked in a blockchain system. 

3D printing 

Speaking of colour-changing technology, those working in the exciting field of 3D printing are also currently working on the development of colour-changing fabric. Using ‘photochromic inks’ that changes colour when exposed to certain wavelengths of UV light, scientists are developing garments and jewellery pieces that have the ability to shift between hues. The first success in this field was the creation of a ring that can be programmed into numerous customisable colours.  

As well as colourful innovations like this one, 3D printing is working to innovate the textile industry in many other ways. From accessories to women’s sportswear, the possible 3D printing creations seem to be limitless! 

3D printing has been used in the realms of runway fashion for a while now. Think back to 2010, when Dutch designer Iris Van Herpen made a statement with her  “Crystallization” top, a geometric garment which was 3D printed from white polyamide. Over the next few years, 3D printing will no longer be confined to the catwalk but implemented on a much larger scale as part of the standard fashion supply chain. 

From sustainability to the empowerment of individuals, technology is destined to revolutionise the textiles industry on every scale. With increased productivity and ultimate user understanding, the world of fashion will be re-modelled over the coming years and, thanks to technology, the end result will be more efficient, greener, and uniquely suited to every shopper out there. 

We continue our look into the psychyology of the subscriber, with Bhavesh Vaghela, CEO of Singula Decisions.  In this episode…

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We continue our look into the psychyology of the subscriber, with Bhavesh Vaghela, CEO of Singula Decisions. 

In this episode we’re focusing on Part 2: Growth and how brands can RISE TO THE CHALLENGES OF A POST-PANDEMIC RECESSION AND SHIFTING CONSUMER PRIORITIES?

Download the report now at:
https://psychologyofasubscriber.com/

This episode is part two fo a three part discussion. For part one, which focuses on Acquisition, check out our previous episode below and stay tuned for part three.

Lenovo and Google Cloud Partner to Deliver the Ultimate Collaboration Experience for Google Meet

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Lenovo has announced, in partnership with Google Cloud, purpose-built meeting room solutions that include a comprehensive collection of innovative and attractive hardware components to enable workplace collaboration. The Google Meet room kits from Lenovo provide collaboration solutions for new and existing G Suite and Google Meet customers who need to outfit spaces to address the challenges of new hybrid working models. Ready out-of-the-box, the kits include compute, controllers, cameras, soundbars, microphone pods and cables1 and are available in three distinct offerings for small, medium and large meeting rooms.

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Outfitting spaces with collaboration technology often require lengthy and complex assessment and purchase processes, and sometimes result in a disjointed user experience caused by a multitude of different elements that don’t necessarily work well together. In uncertain times when the future roles of office spaces are in question, it has become critical to ensure video conferencing solutions are easy to purchase, deploy and manage, and guarantee the best meeting experience for all users, whether in the room or remotely connected.

Flexibility Meets Design

Designed by Google Cloud and Lenovo, the Google Meet room kits complement a modern workplace ethic with minimalist design and a user-friendly interface for easy interaction. Lenovo and Google believe the future of work is fluid and flexible, and the Google Meet room kit were created with the new hybrid workforce in mind. Available in two colors, Chalk and Charcoal, the kits provide flexible and scalable options to specifically meet the customer need. Furthermore, the kits are backed by a three-year Lenovo Premier Support warranty and optional Smart Collaboration Managed Services are available.

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Intelligent and Innovative

Controlled by a high-performance compute device, the solution includes an exclusive Google TPU (Tensor Processing Unit) that provides AI and machine learning capability to maximize audio and video quality. Power over Ethernet (PoE) allows the compute device to carry low voltage power and network traffic over ethernet to the kit’s components, such as the controller, cameras and speaker bars.

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Google Meet Room Kits from Lenovo also include AI cameras with future-proof 4K capability for exceptional participant framing, and built-in TrueVoiceTM noise cancelation technology. To find out more about these intelligent technologies, check out Google’s announcement here.

“We are delighted to partner with Google Cloud to deliver easy to deploy and scalable collaboration solutions,” said Joseph Mingori, general manager, Lenovo Smart Collaboration Business.” The Google Meet Room Kits deliver effortless meetings with intelligent features that make video collaboration natural and more human, leverages G Suite productivity and helps bring people together through challenging times.”

Part two of a discussion on the future of procurement.

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How important is it to celebrate successes even during times of challenge? 

Ian Thompson:

With the passage of some time, what will be some of the positive impacts from this? I think that’s a good mental exercise for all of us. It is a tough time, and I wonder if people will now understand the supply is an ecosystem. When we’re doing business, it’s not just oh they’re a small supplier so we can treat them in the transactional manner. We can try and squeeze their margin, but actually we might remember the time when we realized they were a key part of an ecosystem that actually delivers for our society. Seeing things in a more holistic way.

People will understand that sometimes innovation isn’t just an option. It’s something that is essential and there’s been times, Plato said it thousands of years ago, that necessity is the mother of invention, and we’ve really lived that. We’ve really seen it through. Looking at the importance of our profession and what we do, it’s now a family conversation about how we’re managing to use different processes or websites and when that’s going to be delivered. So both the activity of us buying what we need and the heroes that are working in the distribution centers, who are driving the vans. Procurement and supply chain has become a family conversation. 

Iain Campbell McKenna:

The crisis has really enabled us to highlight what we are doing, why are we doing it, and are we doing it well? Looking at improving our supplier relationships and I think moving away from email and spreadsheets, these are inherently flawed. I don’t think in this crisis we really need the new rule book. We just need to form a commitment to actually act on the ones that we’ve been doing and have more meaningful practice and focusing on what we can do right, and what can we improve. This has really enabled procurement leaders to take a step back and think;  how is my procurement function formed? What can we do to improve it? I think it’s given people the breathing space that they needed to have insightful conversations internally to improve things that might not necessarily work.

With the notion of a ‘new norm’, can procurement ever go back to what it was pre pandemic?

Jon Hansen:

Through time, there’s always progressions of change. Some have obviously not been as traumatic and dramatic as COVID-19. The world is progressively changing. If you look back, and stop moving forward and stop learning, I think that’s where it ends. So what COVID has done for us is not so much a return to the way things were, but an embracing of the way things could be. 

We’ve certainly shown that we can operate on a remote basis through many of the things we’ve talked about. The reality is, the technology is there to work remotely. The efficiency of working remotely is that productivity is on the rise. We’re creating new cost models and new efficiencies of doing business and that is just a normal part of the progress.

There are markers in time that move us forward and build on what we’ve learned and this is a more dramatic one. 

What will be the ‘new norm’ for the CPO? 

Iain Campbell McKenna:

When organizations are searching for a CPO or a procurement director, they do very much have an onus on strategy and implementing technology and facilitating technology at their disposal. I think what COVID-19 has taught us is having a high level of EQ for our leaders is imperative. Because being able to have empathy, to be able to self regulate, to build relationships, and build relationships not only on a face-to-face basis, but remotely is something that I hope that we’ll see a shift on and companies will really see the value in having a leader who’s got a high EQ. At the end of the day, you can learn how to implement a process, you can learn how to use technology, but it’s very difficult for a leader to learn how to be emotionally intelligent. Because for many, it comes very natural and others it doesn’t, and it’s not the norm.

What about the vendor perspective? How has the procurement vendor’s ideas and practices changed? 

Ian Thompson:

I think the emphasis and prioritization of technology will continue and perhaps be stronger. There might also be a clearer understanding of priorities of what matters. What is the enterprise trying to implement? What is it they’re trying to do? What outcome do they need? Technology is the facilitator of that, and I think those ideas may have been crystallized for a lot of businesses.

I also think we’ll see more steering away from transactional and looking at supplier innovation. There’ll be companies that are cash stressed who are going to be driving their procurement departments back to cost and transaction, transaction cost and margin squeezing. There’ll be other companies who will see this as a moment to really drive forward on that value and innovation piece, and looking at the supply chain and the supply base as an ecosystem. 

Will Covid19 define the future of procurement? 

Jon Hansen:

The extent of impact of the supply chains, and its impact on the economy is so critical. If you think about the overemphasis on low cost country sourcing and concentrating the supply power into one or two countries, that creates challenges in of itself. I remember reading a New York Times article not that long ago where they said, when SARS hit, China was really relied upon for that country for T-shirts and sneakers. Now of course, when COVID hit, we are so reliant on them for everything.

When you look at the permeation of procurement in our lives, we realize now that beyond the supply chain, we are now dealing with the economies of the world and the stability of these economies. This is a warning light for that, but it is also laying the groundwork for what I believe the true battles of the future will be. Supply is going to become even more important in such a world where trade is increased, where supply chains are extended, and when those supply chains are interrupted, lives are permanently affected and altered. It’s created a watermark awareness of the nature and depth of how supply chains influence beyond what we, even in our profession, understand and know to get into areas of economic growth and prosperity.

What advice would you give to procurement professionals to try and succeed in a constantly evolving landscape? 

Ian Thompson:

There are some principles that I work by all the time which were taught to me by my first boss; assistance, politeness, preparedness and positivity. Simple mantras which don’t solve your problem day to day, but if you try to live by them in business, you do suddenly realize that you’re having a degree of success. 

Living in challenging times, you are, at the end of the day, living a dramatically different lifestyle. That’s a challenge. It’s about making sure I’m talking to my team every day, showing them concern and compassion. It’s easy to be cliché, but I think those things are genuinely important and will lead to successful navigation of this period. 

You can look at it with a business brain and try to wargame the situation and what’s going to happen, but it’s so important to also remember that this is impacting real people in terrible ways and maintaining that awareness is super important.

Iain Campbell McKenna:

It really has given people a chance to reflect and I have seen a real shift in people’s willingness to have an open conversation and I’ve definitely seen a nice side of humanity that have open and enjoyable conversations with procurement leaders whose previous mindsets in procurement were very different. I do see quite a shift in people’s way of engaging with me and I’ve got a team that works for me and I’ve had to obviously show a different side of me that I do try to show on a day to day basis. I’ve really opened up more and we have more of a deeper relationship, and I’ve been able to shift my management style to become more empathetic.

Jon Hansen:

One of the things in a crisis that’s important is not to look for consensus, but to create a respectful dialogue that challenges the status quo thinking. That respectfully understands the other party’s point of view without making it something that is personal. What this crisis has shown us is our better angels and our worst angels. I think what we have to focus on is the fact that there are checks and balances. I think what we need to do is adopt that through all avenues of life, not just in this crisis, but in the way we work. That we shouldn’t strive for consensus or to win an argument or get people over to our side. I would rather focus on getting it right, than being right. I think this whole thing has created a sense of humility and humbleness and realizing that we don’t have all the answers, but we do have the tools if we are very much willing to collaborate and work together towards a mutually beneficial outcome. This has become very crucial in the procurement buyer and supplier relationships.

It begins internally and extends to external partners. If we take that approach, then we will find the answers. We will find the right path to go. We won’t always get it right and that’s why many senior executives, especially on the high tech side, say if you’re going to fail, fail fast, but don’t be afraid of failure. Move in that progressive direction. That’s what I’m taking away from this overall experience. Better communication, collaboration, meaningful discussion and debate, versus forced consensus.

How prepared is the retail sector to fully embrace a digital supply chain?

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How prepared is the retail sector to fully embrace a digital supply chain?  Answering that question on The Digital Insight, is  Wayne Snyder, Vice President, Retail Industry Strategy for EMEA, at Blue Yonder and Janet Godsell, Professor of Operations and Supply Chain Strategy at University of Warwick.

Together, we look at The Retail Supply Chain Digital Readiness report released earlier this year as part of a collaboration between Blue Yonder and the University of Warwick.

Featuring Mondelez International, WIK Group, and much more…

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Gracing our front cover this month is Alexandre Turolla, VP Procurement Global Raw Materials at Mondelēz International. In this feature, we take a deep dive into the company as it looks to leverage its procurement function and drive real change for the business and the world around us. 

Powered by a simple mission to make procurement “Fearless Business Leaders and Trusted Partners who bring The Outside in to Win”, Turolla speaks of a “constant and  positive dissatisfaction” as he and his team continue to seek out the next stage of procurement evolution.

Sulaiman Abdulla, Manager- Procurement & Contracts at UAE’s TRA speaks exclusively to CPOstrategy about the telco regulatory authority’s procurement transformation.

Also in this issue, we explore the background and mindset of Lizan Molmans, CPO of Eneco, to discover how openness and authenticity play a key role in achieving any form of success in procurement, and we look at sustainability as we detail five key learnings from the recent Ivalua report: Gaining The Green View: How Smart Procurement Can Kick- Start Sustainability Initiatives.

Wrapping up this issue we also have Part two of our Q&A examining the future of procurement in a post COVID19 world, and Iain Campbell McKenna returns to take a closer look at how we can win the war on talent by redefining the interview process.

Read the issue here.

Don’t miss out! 8th & 9th September

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CPOstrategy is proud to partner the 3rd Annual Chief Procurement Officer Summit Malaysia: Turning Uncertainty into Opportunities for Procurement Professionals – 8th & 9th September 2020 – 9am UTC ( MY, PH, SG, HK, TW ) 8am UTC ( TH, IND, VN )

CPO Summit is a unique platform guiding you through the procurement
transformation hype by separating the hype from the reality with engaging and interactive sessions built especially for current and future procurement leaders seeking to develop their leadership capability, define a career path, be aware of disruptive technologies and expand their networks in taking their procurement career to the next level.

This summit has carefully curated hands-on bootcamps in order to dive deep into the content that matters the most to you as a
procurement leader.

• Ensuring your organisation keeps your procurement function within ethical bounds

• Adoption of sustainable procurement practices in your processes

• Leveraging on emerging technologies to solve the challenges that arises from COVID-19

• Managing your procurement cost in crisis mode

• Strengthening your supply chain management post pandemic

Who Should Attend?

Chief Procurement officers – Supply Chain Officers

VPs, Heads, Directors and General Managers of Procurement, Supply chain, Sourcing, Purchasing, Contracts, E-procurement

Managers, Assistant Managers, Officers and Specialist – Procurement, Supply chain, Sourcing, Purchasing, Contracts, E-procurement.


Why attend?

World-class Virtual Conference Programme

Interactive Exhibition Hall

Virtual Networking Opportunities

No Additional Travel Costs

Generate Leads

Brand Awareness

Make sure you don’t miss out: https://3novex.com/cpo-malaysia-2020/

The importance of speaking the right business language when operating in a crowded digital marketing sector…

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The latest episode of the Digital Insight welcomes Mark Wright, Director of Climb Online, a successful entrepreneur with a passion for business and a love of digital marketing and the winner of the Apprentice UK back in 2014.

Mark  discusses the importance of speaking the right business language when operating in a crowded digital marketing sector and we also explore how, as long as you have the passion, the drive, the knowledge and a brutal honesty – then you have what it takes to succeed. 

And as an additional treat…

Employers have struggled to fill one-third of vacancies due to a lack of digital competency…

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In the UK, 62% of employers admit their workforce only has some of the skills required or face severe shortages. Whilst 15% of employers say they do not have the digital skills to meet organisational objectives, highlighting a significant discrepancy between the types of skills on offer versus those in demand right now.

The latest research by Hays Learning has found employers have struggled to fill one-third of vacancies due to a lack of digital competency.

Digital demand across industries

Today, more employers are emphasising the need for ‘specific digital skills’ over ‘baseline’ ones when it comes to hiring. Baseline skills include the ability to use Microsoft Word or Excel, for example. In contrast, specific skills are slightly more specialised but still advantageous across all sectors and can include things like Adobe Photoshop or customer relationship software.

A government report revealed that around 82% of all jobs in the UK list digital skills as a requirement. They also pay 29% more, on average, than those that do not require these skills (£37,000 vs £28,000 a year).

These are the five industries with the highest digital intensity, ranked according to the percentage of job advertisements in occupations requiring specific digital skills:

Industry% of Job Ads requiring Specific Digital Skills
Finance & Insurance95%
Information & Communication95%
Real Estate93%
Science & Tech93%
Admin & Support Services86%

How wide is the digital skills gap?

While 38% of UK employers say they have all the skills they need to meet their organisational objectives, at 62%, the majority admit their workforce only has some of the skills required or face severe shortages.

More private-sector employers are prepared for the digital era

According to a Hays survey of 14,500 employers and professionals, those in the private sector are better prepared for digital transformation than the public sector. Around two-thirds of private-sector (64%) employers say they have access to all or some of the skills they require, compared to only 56% of public-sector employers.

Critical barriers to digital transformation

It’s important to note that while the overall attitude towards digital literacy skills in the workplace is positive – 78% of employers and 69% of staff have an open mindset towards digital transformation in the workplace – they do not feel well-equipped or prepared to deal with this transformation.

The top challenges employers face in the journey to a more digital and automated workplace are:

Lack of skills from current staff: 58%
Lack of support from staff: 37%
Additional budget needed: 31%
New processes required: 26%
Difficulty integrating with existing processes: 25%
Bridging the UK digital skills gap

Currently, a lack of skills poses the biggest challenge to automation and digital transformation. This can be addressed by educating and upskilling employees through training. Hays Learning provides the following tips on how businesses can start bridging the digital skills gap:

Identify the gaps: Knowing where the gaps are is the first step to closing them. Keep up to date with emerging technologies, especially those being adopted by competitors in your sector.

Encourage self-directed learning: Provide your employees with access to the learning tools they need to explore not just digital skills, but abilities around organisation and prioritisation, as well as soft skills too. Empower them to drive their learning journey and focus on their areas of interest.

Retain top talent: It’s essential to engage with existing talent, and not only focus on bringing in new entry-level talent. Give your current employees more opportunities to hone their digital skills.

Foster a “continuous learning” culture: A successful, fulfilling career path is one that focuses on learning and development, not as a once-off short-term goal, but as a continuous process. Considering technology changes and grows at such a rapid rate, it’s important to encourage your employees to embrace an ongoing learning process, to future-proof your business.

How brands are eroding subscriber trust and enabling disloyalty…

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Bhavesh Vaghela, CEO of Singula Decisions, joins a special episode of The Digital Insight as we we explore how over-the-top (OTT) TV subscription brands consistently show ‘narcissistic’ tendencies, which can erode subscriber trust and ultimately make them disloyal.

This is part one of a three part series with Bhavesh, as we explore the Psychology of a Subscriber report. 

Stay tuned for parts two and three coming soon.

Download the report now at:

Psychology – Singula Decisions

What happens after your customers sign up? Learn about the psychological and emotional issues that consumers face over Billing, Upgrading and Downgrading when subscribed to OTT brands such as Amazon, Disney+, Netflix and NOW TV.

Subscription brands are ‘behaving like narcissists’ and ‘failing to build trust’ with consumers

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Over-the-top (OTT) TV subscription brands consistently show ‘narcissistic’ tendencies, which can erode subscriber trust and ultimately make them disloyal, according to a new in-depth report launched today by Singula Decisions, a specialist in subscriber intelligence. 

The study – ‘The Psychology of a Subscriber’ – found that a wide range of OTT streaming services, in both entertainment and sports, fail to connect with consumers on a deeper emotional and psychological level, by:

  • Not understanding the fundamental drivers motivating a subscriber’s behaviours and interactions
  • Invading their boundaries when asking for financial commitment too soon
  • Insufficiently tailoring the service to meet the moods and mindset of each customer
  • Creating ‘avoidant’ or ‘ambivalent’ attachments to subscribers that do not build loyal relationships
  • Ineffectively providing subscribers with the ability to share more about themselves and to listen to their feedback

Psychology of a Subscriber

The qualitative study, conducted and authored by Qualitative Researcher, Accredited Psychotherapist and Director of QualiProjects, Jennifer Whittaker, and Business Psychologist and Researcher, Katharina Wittgens, explores subscriber attitudes towards OTT TV brands in the UK and US, gaining a deep understanding of how consumers think, feel and behave throughout the customer journey. 

Qualitative Researcher, Jennifer Whittaker, said: “Many brands do not listen to subscribers, nor do they create a safe enough space for subscribers to come forward and give more. In fact, brands often have unconscious narcissistic tendencies and are blinded by the belief that customers are only there to serve, by giving ‘strokes’ to the ego – aka money to the account – and helping to build a good reputation. Unfortunately, brands cannot know subscribers until subscribers give more. But subscribers will only give more if they trust, and they’ll only trust if they don’t feel forgotten.” 

Part 1: Acquisition

This first report in a three-part series covers the acquisition phase of the customer journey. The research found that dissatisfaction and suspicion can begin from the moment a subscriber ‘joins’ a service, if asked to hand over financial information or commit to the brand too soon. While subscribers are at their most enthusiastic in the first months of engagement, brands rarely take advantage of their potential to become advocates. 

Commenting on the findings, Bhavesh Vaghela, CEO of Singula Decisions, said: “We recognise how tough it can be to build a strong brand and grow a TV subscription business as consumers continue to dip in and out of services every month. We have seen strong consumer brands being created in other sectors such as retail, ecommerce and banking; consumers are loyal to these brands and TV subscription businesses are behind this curve.  OTT brands must think differently about how they build a service and experience that best suits the needs of their customers – and do a better job to emotionally connect with their customers to build trust and loyalty.”

Death of the demographic?

Bucking the trend of demographic differences, the study found that at the acquisition stage there weren’t huge variations in needs and experiences between age groups. From Gen Z to Baby Boomers, subscribers of all ages said they felt a sense of being “pushed” by OTT TV brands to commit to the platform financially or share private information. Both UK and US consumers also emphasised the need for a variety of content; American respondents search for unique content that is frequently updated, while British viewers seek value for money based on choice and options for the whole family. After joining the platform, subscribers felt brands were nowhere to be seen, without guidance on how to use the service or how to connect accounts with friends. 

Best practice opportunities

The findings do indicate, however, that brands willing to listen and take time to truly understand their customers, can build trust and loyalty. The report sets out nearly 40 best practice recommendations that can help brands to offer a simultaneous sense of both freedom and connection that subscribers crave in order to feel comfortable to share more of themselves.

Building a relationship that goes beyond a transactional one will have a huge impact on consumers who are faced with more choice than ever. OTT brands that take a lead from other industries, such as retail, ecommerce, and banking, and seek to connect with their customers on a more emotional level, can emerge much stronger.

Download a copy

‘Psychology of a Subscriber: Part 1 – Acquisition’ is the first of three reports looking at the psychological and emotional drivers that consumers experience when subscribing to an OTT service. Part 2 – Growth, which will be released in late August, will explore the relational dynamics and childlike emotions at play when subscribers interact with brands during the billing, upgrade, and downgrade stages. Part 3 – Churn, will follow in October, discussing how a mismatch between brand and subscriber when leaving a service can lead to passive-aggressive behaviours. It will also explore the emotional impact of being made to feel like a number instead of a name throughout the relationship.

There will be an opportunity to hear the authors of the study discuss the research with Colin Dixon, Founder and Chief Analyst of nScreenMedia in a live webcast on August 10th at noon Pacific time (8pm BST, 9pm CET). This webcast, the first in a series of three, is part of the Let’s DEW Lunch webinar series from Digital Media Wire. People can find out more about the series and register here: https://www.dewexpo.com/


For more information and to download the full report, visit https://psychologyofasubscriber.com.

Trying to imagine what the future of procurement will look like…

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Looking at the strategic evolution of procurement, what are some of the key trends you have seen throughout your career? 

Ian Thompson, Regional Director, Ivalua

There’s almost a trend over 20 years where it was very much about costs and driving out costs, and then an aspiration to understand how you can get value and innovation from your supply base. Then more laterally, and very recently driven by COVID, seeing more of that innovation and viewing suppliers for their capabilities and what they might be able to do for you, and do for your go to market. It’s a more exciting space, year by year. I would say that for the first three quarters of my career, you go to a procurement conference and one of the key topics is, how do we get at the top table? How do we really have the attention that’s the true C-suite? More recently, businesses are starting to understand the criticality of procurement. 

Iain Campbell McKenna, Managing Director, Sourcing Solved:


I read a really interesting report in Harvard Business Review, and it reported that 30% of all organisations had a remote working strategy in place before COVID19. Now, if you think about those stats then, and look at now, virtually everyone at the moment is working from home. It’s interesting, in the initial weeks I had spoken to many CPOs and they reported that they’ve seen productivity increase, some of which had seen up to a 60% increase in productivity from their employees, which is amazing.

From the supplier side, they’ve had more regular face-to-face contact via web conferencing, so it made us talk about stronger relationships with the suppliers. From the standpoint of the skill set for procurement professionals, as well as everyone else, we’re really having to acquire a different mindset and people having higher levels of emotional intelligence and their ability to motivate and work efficiently. It’s easier said than done, because not everyone has the ability to work from home. I think as procurement leaders, they need to reassess how their teams are structured and how to modify that as well as the CEO or the CFO’s criteria when they’re hiring new procurement leaders and how they can adapt.

Jon Hansen, writer and speaker for Procurement Insights:

I’ve got a smile on my face.  Kelly Barner and I wrote a book called Procurement at a Crossroads, and one of the things Kelly extracted out from many years ago is that procurement was the place you sent people when you didn’t want to see them anymore. In my early days of procurement people didn’t choose it as a profession as they do today. They fell into it.

It was very much a transactional approach to procurement of achieving the lowest price and being able to deliver value was measured in how much you didn’t spend. These things evolved over time and so now as the profession has moved forward, and as technology has advanced, procurement has moved out of the back office. We’re not no longer an adjunct to finance.

The big change that’s happening, inspired by the COVID-19, is that a lot of the practices that we say we have to improve on we’ve gone beyond that now. Now we’re looking at it from the standpoint of saying supplier relationships aren’t just a nice idea, they’re becoming essential. We have to manage contracts more effectively. We may have to extend DSOs. All of these things, the financial risk and gain of the suppliers become the buyer’s financial risk and gain. What this has done is magnified the importance of some of those long standing things.

If we progress towards a new tomorrow for lack of a better word, procurement and supply chain management are being called to step into the light and take leadership, not only in the areas of procuring or acquiring goods and services, but managing and setting the tone for budgeted savings. Managing payables, managing risk, rather than talking about risk and dealing with it, actually getting ahead of risk.

Technology has evolved and with that comes a plethora of buzzwords and solutions so how do you cut through that noise and apply a procurement lens to it?

Ian Thompson:

I think there’s just so many buzzwords from Procurement transformation, Blockchain and AI, but what does all this mean? There’s a couple of things you can do. One is actually being brave enough to be honest and say, “Well, what is procurement transformation or digital transformation? What does that actually mean? What’s the benefit of that? Is it a journey or is it something that you can achieve?”

I was actually asked to lead a conversation with CPOs about Blockchain and I actually started off by saying that my 13 year old son had asked me the night before what Blockchain was and that was a challenge. I actually put the challenge out to those CPOs; imagine I’m 13 and explain why we as procurement professionals are even talking about Blockchain. Be brave enough to be the one that calls the emperor’s new clothes in some of these things. Because if there aren’t outcomes, and it’s not clear what you’re trying to achieve, then the technology is irrelevant. 

It is massively about people and relationships. That is the core of it.  A CPO, with their experience and their relationship skills is not going to be replaced by AI anytime soon. Yes, some relatively simple tasks might be taken out of the transaction side of procurement. Think honesty about these things, from our understanding of them and the vendor’s understanding, and think about the community and what can be achieved and what can’t be.

Jon Hansen:

I’m going to put on my high tech hat, because I go back to the days of punch cards and chads and CPM and pick commands, long before DOS and Windows and high tech was what it was. From a technological standpoint, the progression of technology has been nothing short of amazing. No one can dispute that the technology works. McKinsey did a survey which said that out of the 1650 executives of incumbent companies, globally, only 20% had a digital strategy. Only 2% of those had a strategy relating to their supply chain. Those 2% who do have a strategy relating to their supply chain, according to a Deloitte 2019 survey, are dissatisfied with the results from their digital transformation. Now why am I sharing this information? Because the failure of digital or e-procurement initiatives has little to do with technology. Talking with CPOs today, it has more to do with the fact that it is people that drive the transformation within an organisation. The cultures within the organisations have to shift before technology can be fully leveraged. I don’t care how advanced it is.

No one questions whether the technology will work. What they’re questioning is how do we make it work? That starts with things like how do you develop teams to progress procurement from a practical side, beyond the technology?

It isn’t a question of technology anymore, it’s a question of the ability of organisations, both on the practitioner, and the provider side, to focus on what needs to be done from a people standpoint, to facilitate change and full utilization of that technology. Until we address that  majority who aren’t satisfied with their digital transformation results, it will continue to be a problem.

Tell me about the reaction you have seen from CPOs with regards to the early days of the COVID19 pandemic?

Ian Thompson:

It’s been impressive. I sat on a roundtable get together with CPOs from across the UK and there was the delivery network of a big manufacturer of food, there was a construction company that’s keeping the roads and sanitation going and there were people involved in entertaining the nation. When I heard what they’d been through to make sure there was continuity of supply to make sure the country was getting the things that we need and the cooperation with each other was genuinely impressive and heart warming, I thanked them then and I thank them now.

Instead of seeing a supplier as somebody who has a set of products or services that are line items, people are actually seeing suppliers and asking; what can they do? Thinking what’s possible, what can be done. I think it’s really important that none of us say we’ve got the answers. It’s a very big, serious, and sad situation and no vendor module or Big Four advice is going to fix it overnight. What’s going to fix it is society working together on the problem.

Iain Campbell McKenna:

 I spoke to one CPO who, as soon as  COVID-19 happened and their government actioned that everybody’s got to be in self isolation, he set up groups for his teams that saw weekly training and dress up sessions and about 95% of the staff attended. He put a real effort into making sure that his whole team felt inclusive and they felt that they weren’t in isolation, they were still part of a team. I think procurement professionals really require new skills now and so do new procurement leaders. As a result, I think assessing where both current and prospective leaders are from a standpoint of being able to manage a remote team is really essential and provide some sort of characteristics as to what makes an excellent remote leader, and how that differs from the standards of managing teams in the office from nine to five. I have seen quite a dynamic shift in these leaders being able to manage those teams effectively and that was a surprise that they’ve stepped up to the plate and they took the bull by the horns and made that happen, and done it really well.

Jon Hansen:

I think the inherent skills we’ve needed to do the job, not only before now  but through this crisis and other crises, we’ve all been aware of them. But we haven’t acted on them. That’s the general consensus. A survey found that 63% of CPOs who responded to the survey indicated that they didn’t think their current procurement teams possessed the necessary skill sets to deliver on their strategic objectives. Think of that. That’s before COVID hit.

Now, what we’re dealing with is the transformation of procurement and that means that the skills have always been there to some degrees with a great deal of latency, but certainly compromised by the continuing insistence that we are a cost reduction vehicle rather than a strategic vehicle for an organisation. Within the ranks of the CPO in the procurement world, I think the realization is that we’ve known what we need to do. We even know in many instances the skills we need to have. But we haven’t developed them. We’ve been confined by the definitions of external factors, of how our role in the enterprise has been traditionally even though there’s been the general recognition of procurement strategic importance over the years has increased gradually.

What COVID has done, if anything, is it’s elevated the awareness of just how important procurement is. With this elevation comes a new recognition of how we have to further capitalise on those skill sets which we already have and build on the ones that we know we have, but haven’t utilised. 

It’s time to admit it: Procurement has a long way still to go…

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Where are we really when it comes to embracing innovative technology in procurement?

In the latest episode of The Digital Insight, we welcome Greg Watts, CEO of Findr – an AI platform that allows fintechs to identify, assess and connect with prospective partners. 

In this episode we explore the notion that, while digital transformation is touted as the solution to back-office procurement functions, there hasn’t yet been enough attention to how AI-driven tools can affect the strategic issues that underpin procurement and supply chain management, hampering the sector’s ability to truly reap the rewards of AI.

Solving one of the biggest problems businesses now face—helping their employees feel safe….

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ServiceNow has entered into a new integration with Uber for Business to help solve one of the largest problems businesses face—helping their employees feel safe when commuting to and from work, as soon as it’s safe to reopen.

Using the ServiceNow Workplace Safety Management app, offered in the ServiceNow Safe Workplace suite, the Uber for Business solution provides a “Book Uber” feature so employees can easily coordinate their Uber ride to and from the workplace via their mobile device. Employees can concurrently schedule arrival times, reserve workspaces and manage health screenings, all through the Now Mobile app. The new integration comes on the heels of Uber’s recent roll-out of new features and policies to help protect the health and safety of both riders and drivers.

In only two months since the initial release of the ServiceNow Safe Workplace suite, which includes apps for contact tracing, workplace safety management, employee readiness feedback and employee health screening, more than 600 organisations have downloaded the apps. These organisations include Uber, Coca Cola European Partners, State of North Carolina, BankUnited, and AmeriGas.

“Uber for Business is providing flexible and practical transportation options for companies and their employees,” said Blake McConnell, senior vice president of employee workflow products, ServiceNow. “Our new integration with Uber for Business is helping businesses adapt and manage workplace and workforce readiness. Through the power of the Now Platform, ServiceNow is helping our customers solve for once-in-a-generation challenges as they capitalise on the opportunities of digital transformation.”

Uber APAC – Brochure 2020

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“In a pandemic environment, businesses will have to reimagine what every day work looks like – including commutes,” says Ronnie Gurion, Global Head of Uber for Business. “Our partnership with ServiceNow allows employees who meet necessary health and safety checks to seamlessly unlock the ride booking function from within ServiceNow’s Workplace Safety Management app. It’s one way Uber can help companies and their employees transition into this new normal, whenever they are ready to do so.”

The new integration builds upon the latest updates to the ServiceNow Safe Workplace suite based on real-time feedback from global customers as they continue return to workplace planning and activation, including an integration with Juniper Mist to enhance contact tracing via AI-driven Wi-Fi and Bluetooth™ LE networks.

The roll out of full fibre and gigabit digital networks is a massively hot topic, not just in the world…

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The roll out of full fibre and gigabit digital networks is a massively hot topic, not just in the world of telecoms, but the business community overall. And with big numbers constantly hitting the headlines – from a £5bn Government investment to the creation of 1.2 million jobs – the cost vs gain of these next-generation network builds perhaps deserves greater attention. Sharon McDermott, an experienced telecoms lawyer from Trenches Law, offers her thoughts…

Without wishing to state the obvious, the UK’s need for connectivity is more pressing than ever. Entire workforces are trying to maintain ‘business as usual’ from home, the future of the traditional office is in severe doubt, socially distancing friends and family are eager to stay in touch, online shopping has spiked and there’s been record demand for streaming sites as people binge on box-sets during lockdown. 

These are just some of the reasons why bandwidth matters and network operators’ ongoing builds are extremely timely. Yet the upfront investment required to make these roll outs a reality, cannot be underestimated. 

Of course, there is the cost of the infrastructure itself, but there are so many wider ‘hidden’ costs too.

Usually 20-30% of properties in a build project require wayleave consents, which can be notoriously complex – not to mention costly – to navigate. Despite full fibre broadband increasing the value of a property, landlords commonly ask for consideration to ‘wire up’ their premises. Add to this, exorbitant legal fees – which in traditional law firms can be anything from £1,200-£1,500 per wayleave – along with surveyor rates which vary from £750 to £950, and the costs rise further still.  Furthermore, in many cases, these costs apply per unit in an MDU, when a managing agent doesn’t permit the wayleave for the whole building. And that’s before work can even begin!

Add to that, the costs and resource constraints associated with planning, surveying and the civils element of the works, and these are not projects for the fainthearted. There are daily fines associated with unreasonably prolonged highway works too, as well as penalties for not complying with noticing requirements, amongst other things.  

All of this for the operator to receive an approximate £20-£30 per month rental fee from the occupier, once the broadband is installed!

In short, telecoms is a big business and it’s reassuring that the roll out of gigabit-ready networks has multi-billion-pound Government backing. But operators don’t always have it easy, particularly when considering the value that such projects bring to both the national economy and communities on an ultra-local level.

For example, the Centre for Economics & Business Research (CEBR) has revealed that the full fibre roll-out – coupled with 25% of UK labour working from home by 2025 – could create 1.2 million jobs. The economic impact of this employment uplift would be astronomical. 

The speed and agility with which organisations – particularly in the digital sectors – could work, if empowered with faster connectivity, would also unlock vast growth potential for the nation. Innovations based on the Internet of Things (IoT) often require vast bandwidth, which would no longer be hampered by unreliable connectivity; the UK could push ahead with its plight to be the digital centre of Europe; and as already alluded to, the value of properties would surely rise. 

A 2019 study by Broadband Choices revealed that 62% of people would be willing to increase their offer on a house if it was guaranteed to deliver superfast broadband”, and separate research from Housesimple suggested “ultra-slow” connectivity could knock 24% (average) off the value of a property.

In truth this debate could go on and on, but if stakeholders throughout the industry as well as the general public can work together – collaboratively – to keep projects moving, and costs down, then surely the better off everyone will all be.

Procurious asked YOU to reveal the real impact of COVID19…

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How severely has COVID-19 affected supply chains, and what’s next for procurement and supply chain leaders? To find out, Procurious surveyed over 600 procurement, supply chain and business leaders earlier this year.

Disruption. Damage. 

An incredible 97% of organisations surveyed revealed that they had experienced a supply chain disruption directly related to COVID-19. The report also revealed that 50% of respondents said the impact was minimal or moderate and only 17% believe the supply chain disruption to be severe. Procurious dug a little deeper to reveal that the biggest impact of COVID can be broken down into four areas:

31% of respondents saw a decreased demand for their products and services

26% felt a real lack of available supply due to production downtime and shutdowns

21% suffered logistics and transportation delays

And 19% experiencing significant capacity and productivity issued as a result of travel, social and work restrictions being imposed

The worst is yet to come? 

While the world continues to work together to move on and overcome the pandemic, there is still a belief that while the damage done has been incredibly severe, the worst may still be yet to come. 34% of business leaders said that they had already seen the biggest impact, 15% believed June was going to see the worst of and 21% believed that the period of July and August will be the worst. Could it be September through to December? When the traditional flu season rears its head? 13% of people believe so as they fully expect us to experience the peak damage of COVID during this time. The challenge that we all face is that quite frankly, we just do not know. There is no right or wrong answer, we just don’t know for sure and 13% of respondents echo this sentiment saying that they simply do not know what the road ahead is going to look like.

One interesting note here, which we at CPOstrategy are particularly intrigued by, is that 1/5th of CEOs believe the biggest impact will be between September and December – meaning they actually do not align with the CPO’s thoughts. Is this a sign that a lot of work is still needed in order for the CEO to truly believe in and engage with the CPO and procurement function?

With age comes experience. Right?

In the age of information it is perhaps most frustrating that we can never truly have all the answers we need. Experience teaches us many great things about handling crisis and downturn, but does experience mean that some can handle this situation more successfully than others? Does it mean some have a better grasp as to when this is likely to fade away and ‘normality’ can resume?  Looking at the different age groups across the procurement board tells us an interesting story. Millennials were most likely to assume it already peaked (44%), followed by Baby Boomers (34%) and Gen X (31%). In actual fact, more Gen Xers (40%) and Baby Boomers (41%) claimed ‘it’s too early to say how their business will be impacted than millennials (25%).

What do we know about the so-called ‘new norm’?

The phrase “the new norm” has been used and overused almost every single day of this pandemic, and much like anything with regards to the future we simply do not know what that ‘new norm’ will even look like, especially in the supply chain ecosystem. The survey has tellingly revealed that 29% of respondents, at the onset of the crisis, did not understand the upstream supply chains of their suppliers. With 6% of organisations saying that they had a key supplier go out of business and 30% of CEOs admitting that they have had a supplier enacting force majeure, this new norm will be a very different landscape. In response to this, 65% of organisations were forced to find new suppliers. So what have organisations learned already? Over half  (58%) are still operating and paying their suppliers per their contract, 14% of organisations are speeding up payments to suppliers and 6% are providing direct financial support. Looking at it from a different perspective, more than 20% are providing less favourable payment terms for their suppliers – with 10% reporting that they are delaying payments to all suppliers, and another 11% reporting delayed payments to non-strategic suppliers. Whatever form it ends up taking, the new norm will be a very strange and uncertain beast for many.

The CPOs and the SCO’s: The future starts now

Garnering and sustaining interest in procurement and supply chain careers in a pre pandemic world was a constant challenge when looking at the younger and future generation. Naturally, given the key role that procurement has and will continue to play in this pandemic, this has changed dramatically with nearly 62% of all respondents and 71% of millennials saying that their interest in procurement and supply chain has increased. Would a pandemic decrease interest? Well, 2.5% of respondents said the stressful and chaotic nature of managing supply during a pandemic caused their interest in the function to decrease.

So let’s look at  Generation Next (Gen X). There is an expected increase in investments in talent development and new opportunities for practitioners to rise through the ranks and make their mark at the executive and board level. When asked to reflect on personal job performance, millennials were most apt to believe they stepped up and delivered (36%), followed by Gen X (27.62%) and Boomers (21%). The overall positivity and energy from the profession is very promising, as the impending structural changes needed to make the supply chain more resilient will require a massive commitment from all key stakeholders.

Why not read the full report below:

How Now?

To find out how severely COVID-19 has affected supply chains, and what’s next for our profession, Procurious surveyed over 600 procurement, supply chain and business leaders over a two-week period from April 28 through May 12. Downloading your copy of ‘How Now?’ is as easy as pie.

You can also read to our exclusive interview with Tania Seary, Founder of Procurious:

Podcast: Tania Seary, Founder of Procurious, discusses falling in love with procurement – B2e Media Ltd.

Tania Seary, one of the most globally influential members of the procurement & supply chain world joins the Digital Insight to discuss what made her fall in love’ with procurement and how Procurious, the world’s first and leading online business network dedicated to procurement and supply chain professionals, was truly ‘ahead of its time.

This month’s exclusive cover story features Nathan Fisher, Executive Vice President, Chief Procurement Officer, at Hexion, who reflects on a global procurement vision that empowers people to make sustainable change…

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As the year continues to fly by, we continue to bring you some of the biggest stories tackling the real heart of the procurement and supply chain landscape, and this month’s cover star is a true testament to that. 

Read the latest issue here!

Nathan Fisher, Executive Vice President, Chief Procurement Officer, at Hexion, has a story that might make you do a double take. In a world where we are constantly moving from job to job, delivering transformation projects, realigning procurement functions and moving on to the next challenge, Nathan has been at Hexion for 15 years. Why? A commitment to results, responsible procurement and most importantly – investing in people. 

“I love to develop people,” he says. “I like to coach them and I enjoy watching others develop, move up and move on, and achieve success (…) Hexion knows this and truly values their leaders and they want them to succeed and they want them to stay.”

Be sure to read this incredible interview as Nathan tells us that one day he would love to pick up a copy of CPOstrategy and find one of his own prodigious talents gracing the front cover! 

Elsewhere, Brish Bhan Vaidya, Head of Strategic Sourcing & Supply Chain at Uber APAC, why procurement is even more important to the ride sharing company than you think, and how it continues to drive the transformation of the business.

We examine the results of Procurious’ How Now survey on the impact of COVID-19 on supply chains, and what’s next for procurement and supply chain leaders, we have part one of a fantastic Q&A on the future of procurement, and Dave Brittain of Amazon Business tells us why procurement should be the hero in your business in digital transformation. 

Enjoy the issue!

Dale Benton | Editor | CPOstrategy

The automotive industry is laden with technological advancement — and always has been.

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Whether it be for safety, entertainment, comfort, or innovation, you can be confident that manufacturers are working tirelessly to develop the latest bit of tech every single day. 

In recent years, the focus for automotive giants around the world has been automation. Manufacturing innovation has given us so much in the past — what the future holds is almost unimaginable. 

In a way, it is almost as if we are starting afresh, because the cars of the future will be so advanced we will barely be able to recognise them.

With this in mind, we thought we’d take a look at some of the smart technologies we can expect to see making an appearance before the end of the decade.

What we can expect?

Vehicle to vehicle communication

In a perfect world, there would be no car crashes. Unfortunately, we cannot see into the future, and we cannot pre-empt what is around the next corner. But what if our cars could?

Vehicle-to-vehicle communication, or V2V systems as they are known, will “use dedicated short-range communications (DSRC), which are two-way wireless channels that enable V2V-equipped cars to communicate with each other at roughly 300 meters, and whose broadcast updates 10 times per second.” 

Effectively, your car will have already spoken to a number of cars on the road ahead and calculated a plan for you, the driver, to avoid any potential collisions. 

In most parts, it will revolutionise safety within cars thanks to the fact it will be able to detail when a car in front has run a red light, meaning it is unsafe for you to proceed. However, additional features will include the ability to warn drivers not to pass as there is a vehicle in front manoeuvring and there is abrupt deceleration ahead. 

Reduced weight, reduced costs 

For decades, it has been a desire of both motorists and manufacturers alike to reduce the weight of the vehicles we travel in. 

In this department of innovation, there has already been rapid developments, but they were simply working to combat where weight gain had occurred in other areas. The 1967 Ford Fairlane 500 weighed only 19 pounds more than its 2017 Focus SE counterpart, while the 1967 Plymouth Fury III Wagon steps on the scales and comes in 15 pounds lighter than the 2017 Dodge Challenger.

Ford and BMW are just two manufacturers working to drastically decrease the weight of their automobiles, introducing more aluminium and carbon-fibre compounds. The Ford F-150, for example, has an aluminium body with a reduced curb weight of 698 pounds!

Not only does a lighter car save money when it comes to refuelling, it is also less damaging to the environment — meaning everyone’s a winner.

AR dashboard

Whether it be Back to the Future, one of the many Bond films, or any other film franchise which invoked a serious feeling of disbelief, you could almost guarantee that an augmented reality dashboard would work its way in somewhere. Now, the technology is set to make the leap from the big screen to the real world at last.

In effect, an AR dashboard would collate information from outside the vehicle, such as other moving objects and road conditions, and display them ahead of the driver on the windscreen. This removes the need for a driver to disturb their line of sight ahead. 

The technology itself was used prominently when Pokémon GO was unleashed to the world back in 2016, but it is now used across many different platforms in many different industries. 

German automotive giant BMW has been working to create a highly accurate camera and sensor system that will allow for the introduction of a full AR dashboard — displaying every bit of information that the driver could possibly need to know about the road ahead right in front of their eyes. 

The smart technologies that we have already been gifted are nothing shy of amazing, but what the future holds for new cars is simply mind blowing. We are unsure when these advancements are going to come into play, but we are confident that when they do, they will transform the industry. 

What you need to know about vehicle-to-vehicle communication

Embraced as one of the most significant technological breakthroughs in recent years, V2V is expected to improve the safety of our roads by allowing cars to communicate details like speed and GPS position to one another to help drivers avoid accidents In December of 2016, the U.S.

Augmented reality dashboards: could they become a reality? | TMR

Augmented reality was introduced to the global mainstream in a massive way through the smash hit game Pokémon GO which was released for connected devices in 2016. The game was simple in design, you would use your device’s camera to view the real world with Pokémon characters digitally laid on top for players to collect.

Jeremy Bowley of Insider Pro asks what strategic procurement actually means…

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The latest episode of The Digital Insight welcomes Jeremy Bowley of Insider Pro, a company that orchestrates supply chains and operations to improve profitability, remove constraints to growth and eliminate risks.

In this episode, Dale asks Jeremy if there’s any truth to the notion that procurement has an image problem, we take a look at what strategic procurement actually means and how that’s changing thanks to the COVID pandemic, and Dale also puts him on the spot as he asks, in this time where we are all reflecting on how we can change and improve, what would be the one permanent change he’d make to procurement if he had the power to do so?

Dr. Paul J. Bailo returns to explore the role of “culture” in a digital transformation…

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In the third and final part of his digital transformation trilogy, Dr Paul J. Bailo, a digital thought leader par excellence, discusses the reasons why culture is the glue which binds every element of the transformation process.

A lack of digital maturity and a focus on supplier cost and quality are also limiting green practices…

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Research from Ivalua, a leading provider of spend management cloud solutions, has shown that six-in-ten (60%) UK businesses have decreased their investment in sustainability initiatives due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the study, almost all (95%) UK businesses have plans in place to address environmental concerns in the supply chain over the next 12 months; however, given the impact of COVID-19 on business operations and budgets, many of these could be impacted.

The research, conducted by Vanson Bourne on behalf of Ivalua, surveyed 200 UK-based procurement, supply chain and finance professionals about managing sustainability initiatives and environmental concerns in the supply chain. The results show businesses face several hurdles when implementing sustainability initiatives, with 93% claiming it is challenging to gain visibility into suppliers to track the environmental impact of their supply chain. When it comes to working with suppliers, quality (38%) and cost (31%) are the most important factors businesses consider, with sustainability far behind (15%). Despite few placing sustainability as a top priority when working with suppliers, 87% of UK businesses believe making their supply chain greener can be a key competitive advantage.

“COVID-19 has forced many companies to change their priorities to focus on ‘business as usual’ and ensuring their survival, creating further barriers when it comes to implementing sustainability initiatives,” explains Alex Saric, smart procurement expert at Ivalua. “However, in the coming months and years, businesses must return their focus to improving sustainability and contributing to global efforts to reduce our impact on the environment. Whilst it is a barrier today, COVID-19 is also pushing leaders to rethink their approach to supply chains. In this respect, COVID-19 could be a tipping point for a sustainability revolution, and businesses that don’t take action to tackle environmental concerns could risk losing market share to greener competitors.”

Lack of visibility slowing plans to tackle environmental concerns

The report found that a lack of digital maturity is an issue when gaining visibility into the supply chain, with three-in-ten (30%) UK businesses reporting a lack of visibility into supplier risk. A further 28% said they had a lack of visibility into tier 2/3 suppliers, while 20% struggle to gain visibility into tier 1 suppliers. Businesses also face challenges identifying and mitigating against environmental concerns in the supply chain, where the biggest barriers are poor data quality (39%), prioritisation of cost (38%) and difficulty collaborating with suppliers (38%).

As a result of this lack of visibility, most UK businesses are unprepared to address environmental concerns, with 81% claiming they do not have comprehensive and fully developed plans to overcome air pollution, and almost three-quarters (74%) claiming the same for carbon emissions. Less than a quarter of UK businesses (24%) had no plans at all to address water pollution.

“Businesses need to address supplier visibility issues and make sure they are putting the right tools in place to drive environmental change internally and beyond, empowering suppliers to do the same”, concluded Saric. “This means taking a smarter approach to procurement that gives UK businesses a 360-degree view of their suppliers, including information on sustainability practices. This will make sure businesses can see exactly who their suppliers work with, assess environmental impact and identify opportunities to collaborate on sustainability projects in real time, ensuring sustainability remains a top priority in a post-COVID-19 world.”

Why not listen to our EXCLUSIVE discussion with Alex Saric on The Digital Insight podcast:

COVID-19: A defining moment in history and key to the future of procurement…

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Lance Younger, managing director of INVERTO and Jonathan Sing, Senior Project Manager at INVERTO, discuss how the spotlight is well and truly shining on procurement, as COVID-19 will represent a defining moment in its history while also playing a key role in deciding its future…

When we talk about procurement transformation, how do we break it down and define it for people?

Lance Younger:

It’s a very topical thing because ultimately, you only have so much time and so much resources to be able to align behind your own personal transformation. We have completed a bit of research recently  on the link between procurement purpose and performance because what we saw and what we work with clients on, is this alignment of saying, “If my business focus is one of cost optimization, lean processes because I’m in a manufacturing environment,” then everything within the procurement organization needs to flow and be aligned behind that.

Then you need to build. You need to have roles that are defined as commercial engineer, cost engineer that target cost analyst. You have analytics that supports cost and deep cost appraisal. You then need individual capability and technology that supports that and metrics that are aligned in and around cost as opposed to an organization that’s leading towards product innovation and development like Nike. That’s what the ultimate customer wants. They want the next new product and design, and therefore the procurement function needs to have its capabilities aligned behind achieving that.

Organizations that are achieving that alignment are  outperforming their peers. Transformation is a broad word, but ultimately you need to define it within your organization and ultimately within procurement so that you know what you’re not doing as much as you know what you’re doing as well.

Is there a balancing act between saving costs and focusing on bottom line versus driving innovation? 

Lance Younger:

The core role of procurement is cost. It’s commercial. It’s being entrepreneurial. It’s looking at the price element of what organizations deliver. So first and foremost, procurement functions need to get that right. Depending on the organization, you are able to push beyond that to start focusing on other things. There’s some organizations that embrace that and it’ll be part of the CFO’s mandate to look at risk as well. It becomes an open door for procurement to push beyond cost and into risk.

In many organizations it relies upon procurement to push and to champion the innovation or risk agenda. There’s a big decision for individuals to take because you’ll join an organization and you’ll not only want to deliver on cost but also deliver on innovation. You’ve then got to commit to that and in some instances, the organization is either not going to be ready, not have the appetite, or they’re not going to have the ambition for you and your team to be doing more than just cost. Therein comes a big decision as to whether or not you decide to push it further, or you decide to do it somewhere else.

Tell me what you’ve seen in terms of procurement and COVID19?

Lance Younger:

There are a few things I’ve been really impressed with. One is the speed by which teams were able to mobilize their plans, actions and  core teams, to get up and running. There’s a good proportion of lessons learned from previous crises about the resilience that actually exists within procurement functions.

The other thing that impressed me is how we’ve been able to collaborate cross-company and cross-sector as well. You’ve seen quite a few of these collaborations being put into effect, dropping aside any competition that exists to solve problems that exist with individual companies or simply providing protection for individuals as well. 

We’ve also seen a very rapid look at risk and supply risk, and in the short term since January and February, we saw a lot of people addressing some of their initial supply risks very quickly. What we’re seeing now is almost a second wave. We’re in lockdown and some countries are coming out of lockdown, and organizations are starting to struggle a little bit with what next. We’re going into what we’re calling a bit of a dance where, as restrictions on COVID are relaxed, people are looking to understand what that means in terms of future demands, future course profiles and the like.

How important is it to look at successes and not just failures or challenges through COVID?

Lance Younger:

I think it’s an imperative. 14% of companies will effectively thrive. They’ll come out of this better than they went in. Their growth curves will be more significant. For many organizations you will need to be concentrating on how you become one of those companies that thrives and doesn’t just survive? The other thing we’ve statistically shown is that those organizations that at first tend to outperform their peers as well.

With those two things in mind, it means that procurement in particular needs to look and understand what it should be focusing on to come out of the COVID better, stronger. A relatively easy one for organizations to focus on is digitalization and what we look to do to improve our organizations across the board. Since COVID acted as such a catalyst for that at the very basic level, the number of different tools that people are using, from teams through to Skype through to Zoom, we’ve been able to scale and operate a new way of working which is synonymous with being digital and synonymous with being agile. It’s how we look to continue to look to embody that digital stuff into what we’re doing that will be one of the key enablers and a key positive for us as we come out of COVID.

Will the supplier relationship ever be the same again?

Jonathan Sing:

With every crisis, there is always something that changes and that remains, and maybe in this case, communication is one of them with the supplier. Now you have to make time to communicate every single day, and it is much more frequent and it’s both formalized and informal because everyone’s working remotely. 

You can always have that drumbeat with your suppliers, and maybe this is something that’s going to remain in terms of the relationship itself. I think the focus is going to be changing moving forward because I think a lot of the transactions depending on the categories obviously and the suppliers can be quite transactional. I think immediate term the focus will change from having those potentially hard discussions on price but focus more on the availability at first and then medium term it will be a case of using that experience to drive value out of it.


They might look at driving further efficiencies, driving different operating models and looking at alternative supply of the supplier just to make sure that risk does not happen again. So this is also an opportunity for procurement professionals to learn with their suppliers to work slightly differently moving forward post-crisis because the issues that COVID is teaching or showing everyone is really an eye opener now. The relationship with the supplier will have to change to make sure it future-proofs itself in many ways.

Will businesses look to focus more on surviving rather than thriving? 

Jonathan Sing:

We’ve conducted a recent survey and found that 70% of participants don’t necessarily plan to spoil the supply chain, which could be at first a negative outlook. But actually what it says at the same time is that businesses are trying to build a response to crises and will modify their supply chain. Just under half of the participants plan to change their supply chain or have crisis response procedures in place.

Lance Younger:

There’s an inflection point where people go from doing the base things; reacting to COVID, putting in a crisis team, putting a plan in place, scenario planning, and then executing on that plan. Probably the most important thing is then being very deliberate about how they can use that as a platform to rebound, to grow and to be strategic because procurement is well positioned to focus on the cost and risk. If they just focus on those two things, then they’ll come out of COVID in exactly the same position that they went into COVID and may take a step back especially when they’re looking to move forward. If they use that as a base to move forward and accelerate digital or deeper relationships with suppliers on innovation, then that is going to be where they’re going to drive the biggest amount of opportunity.

How has procurement’s conversation around sustainability and other areas that are not often spoken of?

Lance Younger:

If COVID hadn’t happened, then there are so many things happening with regards to the environment regarding social issues that mean that sustainability and procurement is going to be imperative. We saw it last year with budgets changing but also the procurement title changing as well. When risk was emerging as something for procurement, you didn’t see procurement’s title change to chief third-party risk manager. Whereas last year we saw four or five CPO’s changing their titles to being chief procurement and sustainability officer, and they’re in big organizations.

That change was coming. Once we get through COVID, it will become prevalent again, and the scope and scale of it will be trimmed depending upon which type of organization you’re in. If you’ve got a supply chain that’s heavily labor impacted, you’ve got a double-edged sword here. COVID has accentuated those industries that have got a huge amount of people in their supply chain. It accentuates the people element from a sustainable procurement perspective, whether it be working conditions through to payments and wage levels. So there are reasons to be spending more time and focusing more on sustainable procurement.

Will this redefine our preconceived notions of procurement? 

Lance Younger:

It’s something that magnifies the reason why procurement exists, whether that be the intensity of focus around cost and the commercial role of being able to drive and understand what makes up cost. How can you understand detail down to the relationships that you need to have in place to be able to deliver both internally while capturing and building on externally those ideas. Right now is a catalyst for procurement and for people in the procurement industry.

We’ve seen how procurement has gone from looking at commercial to risk to innovation, sustainability. In 10 years’ time, there’ll be something else we’ll be looking at, but procurement, we’ll still be looking at it. We’ll still be working with suppliers to ensure that whatever the topic is, we’re able to bring it to bear within our organizations.

What is one change that you hope remains permanent? 

Jonathan Sing:

The agility, resilience and the ability to respond fast to decisions. It’s important to have processes but have the right processes that allow you to really make the right decisions to be more competitive in a more and more dynamic environment.

Lance Younger:

Leadership. The success or failure of a team, a company and a procurement department is defined by leadership. Leaders can unlock gridlock. They’re able to communicate and be strategic and at the same time as being collaborative to basically move beyond inertia and engender imagination are all going to be critical things. So leadership at times of crisis and beyond is going to be an imperative for me.

Preserving resources for future generations.

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The latest episode of The Digital Insight welcomes David Ingram, CPO of Unilever, who discusses the company’s $1bn investment towards protecting the environment, and what that means for the future of this Earth.

Profile photo of Dave Ingram

“We have a common purpose about making sustainable living complex, which makes the job of sustainability and procurement around sustainability that bit easier because there’s a great interconnection through the company…”

David Ingram, CPO, Unilever

Featuring Schneider Electric, Zalando and many more!

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We’re more than halfway through what has been an incredibly challenging 2020 for us all, but the future looks bright as the world continues to recover and move forward together! 

Gracing the cover this month is Dan Bartel, CPO of Schneider Electric. We sat down with Dan to discuss how the company is undergoing a procurement journey that’s designed to drive new value and position procurement as the key enabler for sustainability, resilience and innovation.

“We weren’t focused simply on what we could do differently to get better results, but how we can better partner together to create value?” explains Bartel.

Elsewhere, Djordje Stevanoic (Director Indirect Procurement) and Alejandro Basterrechea (Head of Procurement Operations) at Zalando tell us how an agile and robust indirect procurement function is key to the future of Zalando, particularly when they are building it from the ground up!

We also hear from Lance Younger, managing director of INVERTO and Jonathan Sing, product manager at INVERTO as they discuss how the spotlight is well and truly shining on procurement, as COVID-19 represents a defining moment in its history while also playing a key role in deciding its future.

Mike Cadieux returns with the Foundry Findings, as he tells us all to keep the pitchforks at bay while he expresses his surprise that cost avoidance measurement is still a thing in 2020. Iain Campbell McKenna also continues his look at the future of procurement and how we can increase employee engagement and retention to drive profitability by hiring from within. 

Rounding out this issue is a look at five leading supply chains,  according to The Gartner Supply Chain Top 25.

Stay safe and enjoy the issue!

As the retail industry settles into the ‘new normal’, eCommerce platform Kooomo advises on why sustainability still needs to be top of the agenda

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Consumers are more conscious than ever about how their shopping habits affect the world at large. As Coronavirus readjusts most people’s moral compass, consumers are choosing to invest their spending into more sustainable products and focusing their attention on brands dedicated to social issues and environmental efforts in all aspects of their business. This is according to digital eCommerce solutions specialist, Kooomo, which outlines that sustainability efforts still need to be very much at the top of retailers’ agendas and which responsibilities should be focused on.

Ciaran Bollard, CEO of Kooomo says: “Despite the disruption brought to the retail sector by COVID-19, online retail spend continues to increase, with stats showing that by 2024, online retail spend is expected to reach £75bn in the UK and €3.8bn in Ireland. But despite this expected growth, it’s important that retailers don’t rest on their laurels and still focus on continuously improving their offering. Those that ensure they focus on the customer experience and adhere to social and environmental duties seek to reap the benefits.”

According to a recent study, Gen Z consumers are 1.5 times more likely to refer to a brand on social media based on its values, 68% of Gen Zers expect brands to contribute to society, and 87% of consumers will buy from a brand with a social or environmental cause [1].

With this in mind, Ciaran outlines that sustainability is not restricted solely to packaging and waste and that the environmental impact of increased cargo planes, trains, and lorries must not be forgotten. He states that retailers should consider reducing packaging waste, reducing their carbon footprint and updating their brand ethos: “You should make arrangements to switch to eco-friendly packaging options as soon as possible. Source recycled boxes and inflatable packaging, which reduces the amount of packaging needed within the box itself.

“Recycling cardboard takes only 75% of the energy required to make new cardboard, so try looking into packaging providers such as Camvec.com or progresspackaging.co.uk. You should also bundle goods into one box instead of shipping in multiple boxes or bags and email receipts instead of using paper slips. These simple steps seriously add up to less waste and a better sustainability process over time.”


Reducing one’s carbon footprint starts with having very clear product information on a website with good context (measurements etc.). This way, customers know exactly what they are getting, and the chances of a return being made are reduced. Ciaran adds, “You should ensure you have a varied offering in shipping options, emphasise the rewards for longer wait times (ie. that they are cheaper) and it’s also beneficial to have your reasoning behind this displayed on the checkout as customers respect environmental responsibility.”

Finally, Ciaran believes that keeping audiences informed of one’s ethical responsibilities will increase relatability and humanity and will justify added costs to consumers in a positive manner. He says, “consumers prefer to spend their money on brands that display pro-social messages, apply sustainable manufacturing practices and exercise ethical business standards. You should therefore be sure to work your caretaking into your brand ethos; Inform your consumers of what can be recycled from their delivery and what parts of the delivery are made from recycled products. You can also utilise your eCommerce Store to move unwanted in-store merchandise and offer them as part of your sales promotions. Work sustainability into your mission statement too, and pepper it throughout your content – If you over-do it with self-praise, consumers may begin to feel isolated if you present yourself as a paragon of virtue.”

Ciaran concludes, “the conversation around sustainability is set to increase as years move on and ethical values will continue to become more of a priority for consumers. Gestures on your businesses’ behalf don’t have to be large and by no means should you run yourself into the ground trying to become more sustainable. However, it might make a positive impact on your business to educate your teams, educate your consumers, and take small steps to make sustainability a part of your business.”

Ivalua has reinforced it’s tools for visibility into all levels of a company’s supply chain…

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This week saw Ivalua make its new platform release, 166, become widely available to customers. Designed to empower customers to better manage their spend and suppliers. Customer’s can leverage this solution to make smarter and faster decisions around supplier relationships and sourcing initiatives, improving the capture and recognition of savings, increasing accounts payable automation and ensuring accessibility for all.

What else can we expect from the new release?

Sourcing Decision Center (SDC)

Intuitive and powerful sourcing optimisation capabilities will empower any user to leverage optimisation and make smarter allocation and supplier selection decisions.

Sub-Tier Supplier Management

Simply put, the Covid-19 crisis has revealed the risk exposure of many organisation’s supply chains due to their suppliers’ suppliers. A newfound visibility into a supplier’s Sub-tier network will allow customers to better understand their true supply chain risk. Thanks to visual mapping of the sub-tier network, supplier dependencies, areas of high risk or opportunities to drive innovation and better orchestrate spend can easily be identified and acted upon.

Savings Tracking

Procurement and Finance will now be able easily define, manage and track savings according to their own internal guidelines, ensuring that significant savings that are generated can be recognised financially.

AP Automation

The cornerstone of what is described as Ivalua’s ‘next generation’ Accounts Payable automation solution. With streamlined AP workflow, touchless non-PO handling, and powerful new tax compliance capabilities, invoice processing is now significantly faster. These capabilities ensure customers can process any invoice from anywhere in an efficient and effective manner.

Web Accessibility

Public and Supplier Portals now meet the requirements of the international standard known as Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 Level AA criteria to provide access for all workers, an area of significant importance to Ivalua and many of its customers, especially in the public sector and EU.

SLAMcore raises $5 million to meet growing demand for robotics…

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SLAMcore, a UK company developing spatial AI algorithms for robots and drones, has secured $5million in a funding round led by Octopus Ventures and MMC Ventures, with participation from Amadeus Capital Partners and Toyota AI Ventures.

This new funding will allow SLAMcore to meet the increasing demand of the robotics market, which has seen demand skyrocket due to COVID-19. This has occurred particularly in drone, robots and AR/VR usage, as effective robotics solutions that can support the ‘new normal’ of a post-COVID-19 crisis world are accelerating. 

SLAMcore has seen a spike in demand from companies looking to apply robotics with enquiries for early access to SLAMcore’s Spatial AI SDK up 50%. The pandemic has increased interest in robots, drones, and artificial intelligence, as these technologies can help deal with staff shortages and social distancing rules in healthcare, manufacturing and supply chains. Ground robots are already being used throughout China to spray disinfectant in hospitals and trains, and to allow doctors to test patients for COVID without any physical contact. Large-scale roll-out of robots is still limited despite demand as companies struggle to overcome the number one cause of robotic failure; lack of spatial understanding. 

To reach their full potential, robots and drones require spatial intelligence, including the ability to accurately calculate their position, understand unfamiliar surroundings, and navigate with consistent reliability. SLAMcore offers Spatial AI solutions designed to easily integrate into existing platforms, allowing robotics companies to concentrate on delivering value to the end customer.

Owen Nicholson, CEO at SLAMcore, commented: “Even before the crisis, SLAMcore was engaged in many conversations with companies – big and small – who needed a better way to solve spatial intelligence issues in robotics. Especially across sectors such as drones, robots, and AR/VR, the coronavirus pandemic has lit the touch-paper and we are primed to meet exploding demand. In the past few weeks alone, we have seen a huge spike in enquiries as robotics companies want fast solutions to get their robots to market sooner.”

Mina Samaan, Principal at MMC Ventures, commented: “We are very excited by the advancements in next generation software platforms used to drive the future of robotics. The ability to locate and map in real-time is still unsolved in the vast majority of autonomous designs. Therefore, affordable SLAM delivered as-a-service at scale is fundamental to unlocking the adoption of self-driving robots across all indoor and outdoor applications including agriculture, warehousing and last-mile delivery.”

Zoe Chambers, Principal at Octopus Ventures, commented: “In a post pandemic world, where contactless and hygienic interactions are vital, demand for robotic solutions will only increase. Whether they’re moving around warehouses, delivering food, disinfecting hospitals or operating as security guards, robots will be interacting with multiple dynamic environments and even with humans. This means that their ability to move autonomously is absolutely fundamental. SLAMcore’s solution lies at the heart of this by giving robots spatial intelligence and we are excited to continue to back the business as the market accelerates.”

The funding will speed up the availability of SLAMcore’s solutions, including its recently announced SDK product, a toolkit that gives developers everything they need to build, test and deploy solutions using SLAMcore algorithms and low-cost, easily available off-the-shelf sensors. 

About SLAMcore

SLAMcore originally span out from Imperial College London with world-leading academics amongst our founders and a 25 strong team including computer vision and robotics PhDs. Our mission is to turbo-charge the robotics industry by providing the tools developers need to give their robots state-of-the-art spatial intelligence at a fraction of the cost.   Affordable robots should not be the preserve of the tech-giants so by democratising this technology we will accelerate the path to a world where robots have a profound and positive impact on the way we all live our lives.

Will COVID-19 be the tipping point for digital transformation in Procurement? That was the questions asked by Ivalua as part…

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Will COVID-19 be the tipping point for digital transformation in Procurement? That was the questions asked by Ivalua as part of a recent study, and the question that Alex Saric, CMO of Ivalua, sits down to explore in today’s episode.

We also look at whether COVID-19 has propelled the digital procurement conversation forward or held it back as organisations look at cutting costs during uncertain times? And we ask: what will become of the traditional supplier relationship model and what role will digital solutions continue to play in defining the supplier relationships of the future?

Show notes and time stamps available here

Procurement Leaders looks at the impact of COVID19 and where executives will focus their attention after the crisis..

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Companies are now placing great importance on spend management, supply continuity and supplier management – presenting a new opportunity for CPOs.

To seize it, procurement must position itself as the bridge between the buying organisation and the supply base. This requires CPOs to combine a
short-term, reactive mindset with a longer-term, strategic perspective.


This resource summarises the key findings from 20+ CPO roundtables, as well as a survey of more than 100 CPOs, to highlight how the pandemic has impacted procurement teams and where executives will focus their attention after the crisis.

The opportunity to add value

What’s changed?

Procurement teams are embracing the new spotlight placed on strategic spend management and sourcing critical supplies. The majority of CPOs are optimistic about achieving their goals and highlight the opportunity for procurement to emerge a stronger, more influential function.

CPO response:

Despite the sudden disruptions and challenges to manage cash flow, most CPOs are emphasising the value the function demonstrates during a downturn. Procurement teams see an opportunity to review their objectives and activities to deliver value beyond savings such as risk mitigation, continuity of operations, or innovation for growth. 57% have even accelerated certain procurement projects such as improving risk management, supplier-enabled innovation and sustainability initiatives. 

Accelerate stakeholder engagement

What’s changed?

Nothing unites people behind a shared objective as effectively as a crisis. Organisations have assembled cross-functional response teams to enable more agile decision-making and procurement teams are a key player.

CPO response

Even before Covid-19, CPOs recognised business partnering is a crucial enabler for the function to align with and help deliver on the organisation’s strategic objectives. Over the past few months, procurement teams have accelerated their collaborative efforts with internal stakeholders in three ways; improved communication, shared key performance indicators (KPIs) and agility enabled by greater trust.

Evolve supplier and partner relationships 

What’s changed?

Effective communication with suppliers has become more important than ever – both to help manage costs and ensure supply continuity. From moving resources to strengthening relationships and improving communications, supplier engagement and management processes have evolved rapidly.

CPO Response 

Five activities have shaped the evolution in procurement teams’ relationships with partners or critical suppliers: 

▪ Define or re-segment the supply base. 

▪ Improve communication and accelerate supplier support. 

▪ Offer support to more vulnerable suppliers. 

▪ Partner with suppliers to innovate for growth. 

▪ Spread the collaboration net wider than before

Fast track digitalisation efforts

What’s changed?

With the world shifting to a virtual landscape, procurement teams must accelerate digital transformation to keep up with the pace required by the business. 

CPO Response

Procurement teams should leverage data and technology in the following ways:

▪ Digitising processes to enable remote working

▪ Scaling up digital projects to support business continuity

▪ Automation of transactional activities to free staff for more strategic activities

▪ Purchasing third party data to enable faster decision making

Prioritise supplier risk management

What’s changed?

Carefully managing suppliers who are either critical to ongoing operations or have been heavily impacted by lockdown measures has been a key priority for most functions. However, Covid-19 has exposed the vulnerability of procurement teams that do not have full transparency of their supply chain beyond Tier -1.

CPO Response 

Procurement teams continue to employ a variety of methods to support and manage supplier risk:

Protect employees

What’s changed? 

Demand for facemasks, hand sanitiser and surgical gloves has reached historic highs, leaving suppliers struggling to keep pace with buyers’ requirements. As restrictions ease, organisations will continue to need PPE to ensure employees and suppliers can operate under safe conditions. Like with all spend management, procurement will need to balance the management of both supply and demand to keep PPE costs down.

CPO Response 

As organisations look to enter a new phase of operations and more premises return to work, procurement teams adopt new methods to continue the supply of PPE:

How the world’s first and leading online business network dedicated to procurement supply chain professionals was truly ahead of its time…

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As we’ve written on just about every page of this magazine, procurement has changed. Some of the leading procurement practitioners have sat down to tell me just how procurement now has a seat at the table, is becoming more strategic and a real, key driver of growth for a business. 

One of the more interesting comments shared is that once upon a time, procurement was a function that simply consisted of ‘the folks who cash the cheques’. One thing to note is that these are the comments of procurement practitioners. Put simply, procurement knows procurement, so how much of this makeover is understood and embraced by other business units? Take it one step further, how do other organisations perceive procurement? We know it’s happening everywhere, but how do we find out more and share best practices and knowledge? 

As this procurement transformation continues to this very day, it’s an ever evolving journey into new and untested waters for many and so connecting and sharing with our peers is something of a no-brainer. 

Enter Procurious, the world’s first and leading online business network dedicated to procurement and supply chain professionals. With upwards of 40,000 members from all over the globe in a whole host of industry sectors, Procurious is very much a leading platform in the procurement world. 

But don’t just take our word for it. 

“What I learnt when I worked in large corporates is the value in bringing together all of the business unit CPOs,” explains Tania Seary, founder of Procurious. “Every business unit is like a company in its own right. And so that’s what Procurious is about – bringing together all the CPOs from all over the world in an online environment.”

Just look at some of these major disruptive events, the floods in Thailand, the tsunamis, and now we’ve of course with COVID-19, often you’re the only person in your business who’s managing your category. The Procurious platform gives you the opportunity to connect with people around the world who are managing your category. And what I like to say is that the more we use our community muscle, the stronger it will get. It’s like any muscle. So, the more the people reach out and seek help and ask questions, the stronger the community will become.”

Seary, who’s career has seen her work in marketing with major global corporations such as Walt Disney Company, Alcoa and The Faculty Management Consultants, founded Procurious because she believes in marketing the procurement profession, a profession she is so passionate about. Fast forward to today and Tania is now recognised as one of the most global, influential members of the procurement & supply chain profession and tells me what it was around the early 2000s that made her fall in love with procurement. 

“I don’t think there are many professions or functions that allow you to operate across the full breadth of the business. So you need to understand the customer, you need to understand the manufacturing and operations process.”

“You need to understand the community and understand the supply base that you’re buying from. You also have the opportunity to do a lot of community good through social procurement. And then of course there’s the internal issues like dealing with finance and managing up to the CFO. So, I don’t think there’s that many roles in the corporate world that give you that scale and scope.”

As a marketing professional and procurement practitioner, Tania understands the commercial side of procurement and approaches it with a different perspective than a traditional career procurement professional. She believes that a major part of this transformation of procurement centres around this commercial component. In her own words, and another reason why she loves procurement so much, procurement professionals should aspire to be the best commercial leaders in their respective businesses. 

“What we are seeing at the moment is so much opportunity for us to be working with external stakeholders to deliver so much value,” she says. “There’s a lot of creativity in procurement, where you can really say: ‘Look, what’s the business problem we’re trying to solve here and  How can we creatively solve and create a commercial solution that will deliver exponential value?’

“The world is our oyster. Let’s not waste the crisis. All the cards are in the air. So, think outside the box and think about what solutions we can deliver to the C-Level that previously may not have been able to obtain oxygen. Now that people are looking for solutions, they may consider something quite creative.”

Procurious in a way is a true reflection of Tania’s belief and passion for procurement. Through the platform, she has created an environment where the 40,000+ global procurement and supply chain professionals can look to one another to truly inspire that thinking outside of the box mentality. Traditionally speaking, procurement is a very face to face engagement function. But that’s not always possible, particularly in a time of crisis. Procurious then adopts the role of social media, or as Tania eloquently puts it, it becomes a form of speed dating. She calls it speed dating because it truly speeds up the process of getting to know who you actually should meet face to face with and fully understanding who are the people in your network that can really help you advance your career. 

The mere mention of social media may raise a few eyebrows and leave you asking, do we need another social media platform? Tania recognises that for some, that will always be the reaction, but what’s important to her is the people that do engage with and through Procurious. “It doesn’t really matter because we’re serving the 40,000 people who are interested. The key thing is the sheer amount of people who are coming back every month to read the content and be active on the platform from all around the globe,” she says. “ That’s an important audience and you could argue that these people are the thought leaders or the more proactive members of the profession. They’re actually the ones who do want to learn and want to value connecting with others. That’s the key thing; the people click and really demonstrate their interest.”

Since the very beginning back in 2013, Tania has always believed that Procurious was a platform well and truly ahead of its time. Fast forward to 2020, with the world gripped by the COVID19 pandemic and the significant disruption it has caused to procurement and supply chain functions the world, a platform like Procurious is well and truly a must-have thing right now. Procurement has changed a lot in the last 6 years, how has Procurious changed with it? Not much, it would seem, because it doesn’t have to. “We have the same functionality as we had when we started and people aren’t using all of it yet anyway. So, I think we’re now going to see a lot of the professional associations really head in the direction that Procurious has,” says Seary. “We’ve always been ahead of the curve in our ability to look at procurement and supply chain with a very fresh set of eyes. That sounds funny for someone who’s been in the profession for 20 years, but the benefit is that when something interesting comes along, we know what it looks like, we can advise people on what’s the interesting story here? Where’s the learning? What’s something people haven’t heard before? And that’s really what we’re focused on. If you look at a lot of content out there, there’s a lot of repetition. So we really want to excite the profession.”

“I feel fortunate that we’ve got a very committed community and we’ll keep pushing ahead.”

A key challenge in creating a space for networking and community engagement is that it can soon, often very easily, evolve into something of an echo chamber.Yes, as human beings we share our successes and we seek out the success stories, but what do we learn from them? Many procurement professionals, Tania included, actually glean greater value in the failures and the hurdles people experience along the way. As such, Procurious actively seeks out and encourages people to share their failures through campaigns such as its recent Major Tech Fails campaign. Working together with RiseNow, the campaign looks to help people in the procurement technology space because Seary recognises that a lot of money is spent, and lost, in technology.

“We really want to help people, but that’s not a headline that you would see anywhere else. It takes a bit of courage to come out with that. That’s what our community wants to hear. They want to hear the mistakes people have made and how they can avoid them and learn from them,” she says. “As the saying goes; people don’t make the same mistake twice. They make them over and over again.” 

Seary believes that there is a sad truth in the procurement space, one that sees professionals avoiding going out into the business community and therefore not understanding how to be competitive. How can you compete if you don’t know what you’re up against? This is another way in which Procurious brings out a different mindset in people. 

“We’re trying to attract people to the Procurious platform who are keen to learn. They’re not territorial about their networks and what they know,” she says. “They’re humbled by how much they don’t know and I think that defines different types of leaders across our profession,”

“I think those that are prepared and want to be at the C-Level should acknowledge, have a good dose of humility and knowledge of the fact that they don’t have all the answers, but they’ve got a fabulous thing and a fabulous network that will help them find those answers.”

While the value of Procurious is clear for all to see, it’s important to recognise that Procurious isn’t the only platform out there for professionals to connect. Seary is a firm believer that competition is healthy, but in this instance, her approach to the concept of competition is very different. In fact, she welcomes it with open arms. 

“I think it’s fantastic because it benefits the profession,” she beams. “Competition is healthy. We’re trying to raise the level of professionalism in our profession. So, the more competition for providing services and educating people, the profession can only benefit. That’s always been my personal and objective and I’ve stuck to that,”

“Let’s face it. There’s probably around 15million procurement professionals in the world. So, there’s a lot of people to serve.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has and will continue to provide extreme learning opportunities for us all. A platform like Procurious will allow us all to connect the dots a lot faster and keep our minds open.  “A lot of the theories that we hold true and dear for the supply chain are going to be challenged,” says Tania. “It’s going to be a reset, but this will be an experience that nobody in procurement and supply chain, or in business will ever forget.”

COVID-19 has made the world understand what supply chain is and its importance. Seary feels it’s going to be easier for professionals moving forward to explain the need for transparency of supply base,  risk management procedures, and the need for analytics, inventory and visibility. “It’s going to be a lot easier to sell our needs and our strategies moving forward because I think there’ll be a lot more respect for what people do,” she says.  and people who’ve really helped save our community. There’s a new found and There’s something of a well-deserved appreciation for some of these procurement roles now.”

With a community stretching all over the world, sharing advice, success stories and failures, one would be forgiven for thinking Seary has all the answers in order to succeed. She’s quick to note that’s not true, but for her it’s simple; keep presenting ideas because that’s what the C-Level wants. “They do not want people sitting there nodding, she says. “Sure, it’s nice to have a compliant employee but they want people with ideas and energy and they want solutions.”

“In times like this, nobody has the right answer – but we need people with ideas to put forward and to have the courage to lean into conversations and deliver because there’s nobody in the business that has the breadth and the scope of the information that you do in your role.”

As the procurement professional, that breadth and scope of information will open many a great door both professionally, and for the business. “You’ve got invaluable information that can really help decision making”

“If you show you have a lot to add, a bit of energy and some ideas you’ll find that you’ve got more than a seat at the table – you might be running the place”

Dan Jelfs Senior Vice President of Global Sales at Mobica, discusses how we are on the cusp of a connected digital revolution, making technology more pervasive and a key driver of strategic change to businesses and models

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Tell us about your career journey and your experience

I’ve worked in the global technology industry for about 25 years now. I landed in it so by accident, more than design, straight out of university. I’m not an engineer by trade. I went through Business School at university and my first role was at AT&T.  I worked a lot in mobile communications and wireless networking in the 1990s. What I found very fascinating, and enjoyed was the way that technology changed people’s lives, usually in a positive way. I also liked the globallness of the industry and the opportunity to work with so many bright minds with different perspectives from around the world. I think fairly early on in my career, I realised I had a passion for innovation and that the large corporate culture that I was in wasn’t going to satisfy that.

I made quite a radical decision around the early noughties to leave a large corporate and move to a venture capital funded startup. It was really looking at the evolving mobile data services market, and what sort of content services could generate viable business models. I really spun through a number of other startup type businesses during the noughties and then joined a software services business in 2009.

I’ve really been doing software consultants and software services now for about 10 years. The reason I made that change is because the mobile devices world which I’ve been very focused on up until then, was to open source with the launch of operating systems like Google’s Android, most prominently in the battery. At a structural change within the mobile communications market that would drive demand for software services within that, I thought it’d be a very interesting journey to go on.

I’ve also got a huge passion for British technology companies. I think there’s not enough British technology success stories within the global technology market. So I joined Mobica about 18 months ago as a vehicle to try and do my bit to change that.

How does that make you the right person to bring about change?

What we move into now is a world of everything being connected and data science and artificial intelligence applications off the back of those things being connected. So I have that core experience around connected software, and then I’m able to help C-levels in companies in other industries that aren’t familiar with connectedness and digital, and bring all that experience to bear to help them on their transformation.

How has the technology conversation changed?

10-15 years ago, I thought the technology industry was far more discrete and defined. And in fact, some industries and many companies really didn’t need to dip any more than their toe into it. I think we’re on the cusp of a revolution now where everything’s connected, and through that the things that are connected we’ll be able to acquire artificial intelligence over time.

I just don’t think there’s any industry or there’s any company within an industry that has been  great at embracing that now.  I think that’s the fundamental difference for me. There were the technology industries that were more disruptive and defined.  Now it’s totally pervasive and it’s a driver of strategic change to businesses and business models and industries. You just, you can’t avoid it, wherever you’re working.

How has the traditional
customer changed?

There are more customers that are, as a legacy, not so technically proficient and need support to really understand the potential for strategic change the technology is bringing and how to implement that within their business.

Where does Mobica fit into this
technology conversation?

We support customers in two areas, either modernization or transformation in  relation to enabling technologies.

Modernization is probably not quite as strategic in context of the transformation piece. Now, a good example would be cloud applications which are quite a trend. In recent years, we’re really moving apps to the cloud. We help companies deal with the technical challenges that this new type of technology brings to the transformation. Part of the work we do is where there’s a combination of new technology that facilitates a fundamental redesign of the business model, and potentially of the structure of the company too. We help them think about the way to design that transformational change/

How do you define transformation?

In the transformation paradigm when you talk about strategic design, you look at what your brand might be in a digital environment or what the business model might be. Often the scenario is that companies are moving from tech non/digital to digital for revenue generation. That can fundamentally change the way they address the customers, the way the brand reaches out. So in many ways, the starting point for me is strategic design and non technical. The outcome of a strategic design process, though, becomes a very technical software engineering implementation.

What are the challenges?

Sometimes I can end up in a conversation and maybe the executives of the company aren’t quite sure, from a business case point of view, when to pull the trigger on a digital transformation… There’s an internal discussion that happens; maybe it’s in two quarters’. 12 months’ two years’ time. I think you could be kind of wrong. If you look at the end destination, you may as well just start into digital straightaway, don’t delay. But I think some internal wrestling around understanding the return on investment is sometimes apparent.

I also think about the cultural change within the technology environment, or the engineering environment of the company.  I’m seeing the needs change from very established businesses whose technology hasn’t changed much over a couple of decades to suddenly needing speed, digital and agile. Culturally, from a software engineering point of view, like a Silicon Valley startup, that’s not easy in that it’s quite a barrier to affect change.

How do you go about changing mindsets and enabling a cultural change within a business?

We bring a lot of our learnings from the way we work with companies around the world, anonymized into the discussion to help realise that even though they don’t think they’re on the same page, they’re on a cliff edge. The future is digital, we were able to see some success stories of some really positive digital transformations as well, that you could point to that are often powerful in terms of changing the minds of executives as well.

How important is it to look outside your own industry?

It’s fundamental and there are enough of those kinds of stories in different industries to use already. It’s very helpful within that discussion to point to some very successful digital innovation stories.

It’s important to also look at where things haven’t worked to look at the failures and look at the mishaps as well, as much as you look at these case studies in the success stories.

Is tech replacing people?

Effecting that cultural change with the state in relation to the status quo is just too difficult, will take too long and costs too much. What we need to do is sort of start over and I’ve seen some companies create what are essentially new legal entities and new ventures, and build from the ground up. I’ve seen other companies create digital innovation and disruption units alongside their existing organisational structure and start to see that digital DNA move into the company, but from within what’s exists today.

I’ve also seen others who strategically partner with software services firms to bring that digital agile culture into the mix of their overall software, software engineering and technology capability to drive and effect change in the established culture and established engineering.

How has the supplier relationship changed?

We’re in a process ourselves of moving from a tactical partner to a strategic partner increasingly, and our strategic partners. The different dimension is the buyer is two or three levels higher in the organisation and therefore, either in or close to the C-suite, that they’re looking for long term collaboration and the souls of strategic challenge to their business.

What makes Mobica a partner of choice?

Within our engineering team, we create the space in terms of time invested into internal innovation projects that are really aligned around strategic technology bets that we make in regards to what’s going to be important in the future. If we do that correctly, that keeps us ahead of the curve.

Technology buzzwords?

I talked about strategic design earlier. It’s really that design and planning thing it’s really looking at, where are you and where are you trying to get to and what’s important on that journey. There’s always careful thought and planning before you scale out engineering projects.

Marketplaces change so much that it’s not going to be a straight line, so how do you account for things that aren’t going to go according to plan?

We propose an agile development process and you’re constantly iterating and constantly changing. Whilst you know the general direction of where you want to get to but you don’t necessarily take a stroll along together. So it allows for bends in the road and iterations to design as we go through.

Talk to me about the dynamic between incumbents and start-up companies?

I think enough large established companies have suffered and gone by the wayside. They’ve been cannibalised by a startup coming from nowhere. For everyone to be aware of these larger organisations, they need to create an innovation strategy of their own.

Ideally, you know, if anyone’s going to cannibalise their existing business models, they’d prefer that it was them. So I think there’s a lot more effort and thought put into that and less destruction caused by startups. It doesn’t stop the startups being acquired by some of these companies to complement their digital transformations.

What advice would you give in order to succeed?

Don’t underestimate the value of strategic design before you head out on the engineering journey that follows good design.

Issue 13 of CPOstrategy is out now!

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We are delighted to share issue 13 of CPOstrategy – out now! In this month’s issue, we have some incredible procurement stories that showcase just how key procurement has and will continue to be in navigating the COVID19 pandemic.

First up is our cover star, Daniel Chua, Head of Global Sourcing at WIK Group, as he tells CPOstrategy how supplier relationships are proving to be the cornerstone to success during the COVID19 pandemic and beyond.

“The business, and indeed our customers, have the confidence in us to be able to deliver that information to them in the right way so that they can better understand what’s going on and how we are managing this situation in a way works for everyone,”

Daniel Chua, Head of Global Sourcing, WIK Group

Elsewhere, Francois-David Martino, CEO of Danieli China, tells us how breaking down competitiveness can be achieved through a redefined procurement approach and how procurement people are always in the change, making it easier for the CPOs to explain the change and to make people adapt to it.

As part of a new series, Iain Campbell McKenna looks to answer the question: What will the “new normal” be in the post-COVID-19 procurement world? Iain explores what procurement needs to do to effectively step into a new and in some cases, vastly different role – this month we explore Emotional Intelligence, or EQ, in a post-pandemic world.

Rounding out the magazine we have an exclusive interview with Tania Seary, one of the most globally influential members of the procurement and supply chain world, and founder of Procurious, James Meads looks at how removing unnecessary bureaucracy and non-value added processes can improve the agility of your organisation post COVID19, and David Swift  Global Head of Corporate Services Procurement at Novartis, explores how in the search for a seat at the table, procurement continues to face an uphill battle.

Stay safe and enjoy the issue!

Procurement – for all its best intentions – still fails in niche categories. Enter Fine Tune…

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Rich Ham, CEO of Fine Tune joins the Digital Insight to discuss why the world needs a company like Fine Tune, how it works with clients to deal with ‘nuisance’ expenses,  and how it specialises in categories where procurement – for all their best intentions in becoming more strategic and driving value – tends to fail. 

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Seven in ten UK organisations say the global pandemic has increased the need for procurement to digitally transform…

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The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the importance of digital transformation in procurement and supply chain management according to a new study from Ivalua, a leading provider of global spend management cloud solutions. The research has shown that seven in ten (70%) UK organisations say COVID-19 has increased the need for digital transformation in procurement. The study of 200 procurement, supply chain and finance professionals in the UK found organisations believe that greater digitalisation (84%) and better digital skills (83%) will enable them to more effectively mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the business.

“The global COVID-19 pandemic will be the catalyst for accelerated digital transformation in procurement,” explains Alex Saric, Smart Procurement Expert at Ivalua. “The supply chain disruption caused by COVID-19 is completely unprecedented. Procurement is on the front line mitigating its impact, but the dearth of digital technology and skills in hindering its effectiveness. Teams are still reliant on paper-based processes or outdated systems, making it impossible to gain visibility into the thousands of suppliers they work with. This has made digital transformation vital, as those organisations that are more digitally mature will be able to quickly adapt to this new normal.”

According to the study, the biggest challenges organisations face when it comes to mitigating the impact of COVID-19 include: an overdependence on a limited set of suppliers (35%), identifying alternate suppliers (30%), a lack of understanding of suppliers’ risk exposure (28%), and a lack of visibility into tier 2 or 3 suppliers (18%). In response, 78% of organisations say that COVID-19 has increased their focus on supplier visibility, while 88% say greater digitalisation will improve their ability to collaborate with suppliers and find alternative supply during the global pandemic.

“COVID-19 has exposed gaps in organisations’ ability to gain complete visibility into their suppliers,” advises Saric. “This is leaving them in the dark as to the true vulnerability of the business and the supply chain to COVID-19. Digitally transforming procurement will allow organisations to create a 360-degree view of what is happening in the supply chain in near real-time, enabling them to make informed decisions about how to mitigate the impact of the pandemic. COVID-19 has exposed the discrepancy between more and less digitally mature organisations. As a result, we’ll see organisations accelerate their plans to digitally transform procurement, allowing them to mitigate the impact of this crisis and the next.”

Methodology: A UK study of 200 procurement, supply chain and finance professionals in organisations with over 1,000 employees, conducted by Vanson Bourne in May 2020 and commissioned by Ivalua.

Britain’s retailers are beginning their preparations for a return to trading, as stores across the country may slowly be able…

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Britain’s retailers are beginning their preparations for a return to trading, as stores across the country may slowly be able to open their doors from June 1st. Now, one of the key challenges facing these retailers in the coming weeks will be the task of rebuilding consumer confidence in bricks and mortar retail.

There will be a number of obstacles for retailers to overcome, chief among which will be the psychological barriers created by the fear of contracting the Coronavirus and spending time in enclosed public spaces, following weeks of the restrictive lockdown. However, supermarkets and convenience stores have remained open throughout the lockdown, and whilst they have enjoyed increased business partially out of necessity, many of these stores have also refined their approach to serving customers to maximise their success.

Will Broome, Founder of retail shopping app Ubamarket, says that the most successful stores are those which are focusing on maximising the efficiency, safety, and convenience of the shopping experience for their customers. In an environment where hygiene and speed are of the utmost concern, Broome believes that the most successful retailers in the coming months will be those who can get customers in and out of their stores as quickly and smoothly as possible.

“The coronavirus pandemic has completely changed the retail landscape as we knew it, and Britain’s retailers are set to return to a market which is very different to the one they left some two months ago, when the lockdown and closure of all non-essential businesses was implemented.  

The biggest difficulty that retailers across the country will have to negotiate is the challenge of getting customers back in-store. However, there are some retailers, such as supermarkets, convenience stores and pharmacies, which have remained open throughout the lockdown and have been forced to negotiate the ever-changing conditions and adapt their offering to customers in accordance with the new environment. Observing the success of convenience stores and supermarkets will go great lengths to help retailers emerge from the lockdown, and the implementation of retail technology will help retailers to go a step further.

Focusing on setting out clear and well maintained queuing processes, keeping simple and clear store layouts, communicating in-store using signage, and ensuring that checkout and payment is contactless and as fast as possible are some of the steps that retailers can take to improve the consumer experience. The implementation of retail technology will allow retailers to go further by solving a number of the problems posed by Coronavirus. Providing tech solutions, such as a consumer app, can put shoppers in control and will unlock a range of features such as remote stock checking, till-less checkout and aisle sat-nav, all of which will greatly enhance the shopping experience and rebuild consumer confidence.”

Aldar Properties has reported revenue of AED 1.76 billion in the first quarter of 2020, which is unchanged from the…

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Aldar Properties has reported revenue of AED 1.76 billion in the first quarter of 2020, which is unchanged from the same period a year ago, demonstrating the fundamental strength of its diversified Development Management and Asset Management businesses.

From the onset of the global Covid-19 health crisis, Aldar’s has prioritised safeguarding the health and wellbeing of its employees, customers, contractors and communities. Adhering to UAE health authorities’ regulations and guidance, the Company swiftly implemented strict hygiene and sanitation measures across all its assets.

Furthermore, in line with Abu Dhabi’s wide-ranging initiatives to alleviate the economic impact of Covid-19, Aldar rolled out in March support programmes worth up to AED 190 million to assist tenants, homebuyers, students and business partners. These include introducing rental and school fee payment plans and support for SMEs.

Aldar reports revenue of AED 1.76 billion in Q1 2020

During the first quarter, Aldar’s Development Management business made significant progress across its projects and reported development revenue of AED 808 million, a 13% year-on-year increase, driven by progress on recently awarded development management government projects valued at AED 5 billion, including the new twofour54 campus on Yas Island.

Development sales totalled AED 333 million, led by inventory sales. This meant that, as of end of Q1 2020, 83% had been sold across its development pipeline. Aldar has leveraged its digital transformation programme to facilitate sales amid government-mandated or recommended guidelines including social-distancing and curfew and has introduced virtual tours for all available units. Moreover, the Company has deployed its market leadership position to partner with Abu Dhabi banks to provide attractive financing packages for homebuyers, complementing government and UAE Central Bank incentives to support the real estate sector.

The Asset Management business has displayed resilience, with a particularly solid performance in the first two months of the quarter. In Q1 2020, occupancy remained steady at 89% across the Investment Properties portfolio, which includes retail, residential and commercial assets, due to long-term, committed lease contracts and a high-quality, diversified portfolio. 

Be sure to read our exclusive interview with Musbah Abu Jarad, Senior Vice President of Corporate and Assets Management Procurement at Aldar!

The adjacent businesses segment, which includes Aldar Education, property management firm Provis, facilities management company Khidmah and Aldar’s district cooling assets on Saadiyat Island, continued to contribute positively to Aldar’s financial performance during the period. Their combined gross profit increased 40% to AED 52 million.

As travel restrictions and temporary mall closures took effect in the end of February, the Covid-19 situation mainly affected Aldar’s hospitality and retail assets. However, the diversified asset management portfolio delivered a net operating income (NOI) of AED 404 million in Q1 2020. Select retail assets, including Yas Mall and Al Jimi Mall, reopened in May and are implementing strict social distancing measures.

While Covid-19 will impact the operating environment in 2020, Aldar benefits from a robust balance sheet, with debt maintained well within its established debt policies across the development and asset management businesses.

How Aldar Properties utilises procurement excellence

Volvo Buses continues to support the electromobility journey in Brussels with another 128 hybrid buses…

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Volvo Buses has received yet another major order for hybrid buses to operate in Brussels. The order for the 128 new buses was placed by STIB-MIVB, which provides public transport in the Belgian capital. In addition to the buses, the order encompasses options for servicing and maintenance for the traction chain and batteries.

The purchase of the 128 Volvo 7900 Hybrid buses takes place within the framework of an agreement that was awarded to Volvo Buses by STIB-MIVB in 2018. Since then, Volvo has delivered 110 hybrid buses for the Brussels public transport network. The first batch of vehicles is equipped with access to Volvo Buses’ fleet management system. The new batch of 128 buses will be delivered in 2021. The aim is to gradually convert the city’s entire vehicle fleet to electric propulsion.

“It’s very inspiring that Brussels and STIB-MIVB are continuing the development of a sustainable public transport system, even in these difficult times. Sustainability will continue to be high on the agenda for cities also going forward. We are of course immensely proud to be part of this development. Our hybrid buses is an important and versatile tool in the toolbox that is needed to create a sustainable and attractive urban transport system of the future. Thanks to our highly engaged and competent local service network, we ensure premium uptime and reliability and a strong customer support,” says Håkan Agnevall, President of Volvo Buses.

“The bus network in Brussels is developing rapidly along 2 complementary axes: energy transition at one hand and a major redesign of our routes as to further increase the public transport offer by almost 30% in a few months of time.  The Volvo hybrid fleet is a major building block that enables STIB to leverage in this double challenge. Volvo developed in the 80’s and 90’s an excellent track record in Brussels with their B59 series, which enabled a major evolution in the service we offer to our passengers.  We are happy to further develop our quality of service and reduce significantly our environmental footprint through the new Volvo 7900 Hybrid series,” says Renaud de Saint Moulin, Senior Vice President, Transport Systems at STIB-MIVB.

The Volvo 7900 Hybrid is propelled entirely by electricity, quietly and emission-free from standstill up to 20 km/h. At higher speeds a small diesel engine is automatically activated. The bus’s batteries are charged via the energy recovered during braking, so no charging infrastructure is required. Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are 25–40 per cent lower than for a corresponding diesel bus. Particle and nitrogen oxide emissions are 50 per cent lower.

Research finds that just one in four UK workers want to go back to the office full-time…

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Okta, Inc. the leading independent provider of identity for the enterprise, today launched The New Workplace: Re-imagining Work After 2020 report, which highlights the technological and cultural challenges office workers are facing. The report also includes learnings for businesses to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic stronger than before.

The research, which was conducted by YouGov, surveyed more than 2,000 office workers across the UK, also found stark differences between the impact this new way of working has had on London-based workers and workers throughout the rest of the country.

Productivity at home

Okta’s research found that despite a radical shift in the way we work, only 31% of respondents said their productivity levels had taken a hit. Of those that are thriving in the new work environment:

62% of respondents said the increase in flexibility had helped them to focus more on work

55% said their productivity levels were boosted due to the additional free time in their day

44% said that they had fewer distractions at home

There have been technology challenges associated with this shift in the way we work. While 60% of respondents said they have been able to access the software that they need to carry out their day-to-day duties, 24% of newly-remote workers said they couldn’t and were therefore unable to be productive from home at the beginning of the pandemic. 28% said their businesses had not equipped them with the necessary hardware, such as a laptop or a place to put it, in order to be able to work productively at home.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us all to think and act differently”, said Jesper Frederiksen, VP and GM of EMEA, Okta. “Businesses have had to learn the hard way about the need to digitally transform to survive, and it is these learnings that will help us emerge from this crisis stronger.”

Security starts with trust

In the UK, only a third (32%) of respondents said they were completely confident that the working from home online security measures implemented by their employer would keep them safe from cyber-attacks.

This level of preparedness varies between sectors; while 57% respondents working in the IT industry trusted that their employer was “completely prepared” from a security point of view, just a quarter of those in the retail and education sectors had a similar level of confidence.

“Threat actors are actively using COVID-19 social engineering themes to try to take advantage of remote workers, health concerns, stimulus payments, trusted brands, and more. Initially Proofpoint’s threat intelligence team were seeing about one campaign a day worldwide, they’re now observing 3-4 each day,” said Richard Davis, International Cybersecurity Strategist, Proofpoint. “The idea of a shifted security perimeter is now everyone’s reality. Many organisations were forced to quickly spin up remote work environments and security tools to enable business continuity during this time. And while we’ve seen a lot of rapid success, for many this short-term firefighting approach isn’t sustainable” said Jesper. “As businesses look to securely enable a long-term remote workforce, they need a future-proof security framework, keeping their people, their data, and their infrastructure safe. That’s where zero trust comes in.”

The culture shock

To work productively at home, having the right technology is essential, but working conditions and company culture also impact employees’ remote experiences. UK workers miss many elements of the traditional office environment including:

More than half (57%) say they miss having in-person conversations with their co-workers

49% miss the relationships they have forged with those in the office

10% are missing the benefits provided by their company, such as free food and snacks and fitness classes

Interestingly, there were stark differences between London based workers and those in the rest of the UK. Some 54% said they missed having a separate work and living environment compared to just 34% of those living in the Midlands, along with 34% in Wales and 40% of those based in Scotland.

“We all work differently and the results of our study speak to that. Some people perform better if they avoid their twice daily commute and head to work in their distraction-free home office,” said Jesper Frederiksen, VP and GM of EMEA, Okta. “This is why businesses should look into introducing a dynamic hybrid of office and remote work, which means they can re-evaluate the traditional office space while providing employees with comparable benefits, flexibility, and experiential work environments in the location that best fits their needs.”

The survey reflects that this is what workers want, as just 24% of UK respondents said they want to return to the office full-time and 35% saying they’d prefer a flexible arrangement where they can work from home on a part-time basis. Other key stats:

Public vs Private Sector:

60% of employees in the public sector are typically required to work in an office five days a week, but only 29% of them would want to go back to this working routine. The good news is, it appears the public sector was well-prepared for a shift to remote working; 60% of employed staff had immediate access to the necessary hardware, with 67% having access to the required software.

By comparison, 54% of private sector employees surveyed said they were equipped with the right hardware, and 59% with the necessary software.

Regional Differences: 

 There were stark differences between London-based workers and those in the rest of the UK. In London, 54% said they missed having a separate work and living environment compared to just 34% of those living in the Midlands, along with 34% in Wales and 40% of those based in Scotland.

Working Hours: 

Almost 40% of respondents said that despite their new freedom they were working the same hours as normal, with a further 20% working longer hours than they would in the office.

Trust: 

64% of UK respondents said that they think that the perception of employees not doing enough work from home has improved.

Virtual Meetings:

 The majority of UK respondents, many of whom are also adopting this technology to stay in touch with friends and family, said they were completely comfortable with virtual meetings, with just 5% saying they were not comfortable at all.

About Okta

Okta is the leading independent provider of identity for the enterprise. The Okta Identity Cloud enables organizations to securely connect the right people to the right technologies at the right time. With over 6,500 pre-built integrations to applications and infrastructure providers, Okta customers can easily and securely use the best technologies for their business. Over 7,950 organizations, including 20th Century Fox, JetBlue, Nordstrom, Slack, Teach for America and Twilio, trust Okta to help protect the identities of their workforces and customers.

Best practices to help with the mental challenges associated with leading or owning a business during COVID-19…

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Mental Health Awareness Week 2020. The week, organised by the Mental Health Foundation, focuses on a different subject each year, with this year focusing on kindness. This MHAW is unlike any other, with millions of people at home on furlough, thousands out of employment and many unable to visit family members. For businesses, this a particularly stressful period, with a quarter of small companies expected to fold during the COVID-19 period.

Because of this, Reece Tomlinson, CEO and founder of RWT Growth, the corporate advisory firm for the global SME arena, has given his advice to business owners and leaders this MHAW2020.

Reece said, “As someone who has led a company during a period of major turmoil and advised on numerous turnarounds, I know how this feels.  I was the CEO and owner of a company that had its largest customer default on millions of dollars of payments, amounting to more than 50% of the company’s annual sales. Without question, it was the most stressful time in my life. During this time, I experienced the real lows of being an entrepreneur and the mental fatigue that comes with large scale uncertainty.  What I learned from that experience and have since learned after working with clients in similar situations are best practices to follow to ensure that one can remain mentally healthy and strong during times of extreme business hardship.

Here are some best practices to help with the mental challenges associated with leading or owning a business during COVID-19:

1. Separate Failure and Disappointment from oneself

Too many entrepreneurs have their self-worth tied to their companies. Their company and its success (or lack thereof) seem to define them, which is neither healthy nor admirable. And so, it is important to remember that the challenges entrepreneurs and leaders face in business do not define who they are as human beings. It may be something of great passion; however, it does not define one’s value and worth. Too many leaders and entrepreneurs forget this.

2.  Act with Integrity and Compassion

Act in a manner that you would be proud of, regardless of whether the business succeeds, gets by or fails during this time. Regardless of the outcome, you will be glad that you acted with integrity and compassion to those around you, those you lead and those you deal with. With this MHAWfocusing on kindness, this should be implemented more so than ever before. 

3. Show Restraint

During periods of crisis, it is quintessentially important that leaders stay calm and controlled. A calm and controlled leader will bring calm energy to the team. They will be able to remain collected when the situation proves stressful, unknown and even frightening. When a leader can remain calm and collected, it will equate to better decision making and ultimately an increased control of the situation.

Staying calm and collected as a leader is easier said than done. It requires one to change their mindset from being reactive to proactive and from being apprehensive to that of control. Here are a few things I suggest that can assist with this:

4. Develop a Clear Path Forward

When times are good, it is common for a leader to be working on several different strategic priorities simultaneously. In times of a crisis, the strategy must be narrower. One or two priorities at max. The path forward should be clear, concise and simple to follow. Now more than ever it is imperative that one knows where they are going and how they are going to get there.

5. Workout

Working out and staying active is quite possibly the best way to reduce stress and stay mentally sharp. This is particularly true when times are challenging and stressful. Exercise helps the body boost its levels of endorphins, which helps improve one’s mood and reduces stress. From experience, exercising is critical for managing the stress of leading a business in times of crisis.

6.  Meditate

Meditating can help reduce stress by slowing brainwaves, which assists in remaining calm, peaceful and present. Meditating can be done throughout the day and is highly effective.

7.  View this as an Opportunity

COVID-19 is impacting the majority of SMEs in the same devastating manner. Whilst this is a sobering thought it is also a tremendous opportunity to outperform the general market and others in similar leadership positions.

What this means is that entrepreneurs and leaders can use this time to make strategic changes, focus on implementing lasting strategic initiatives and be the leader that they know they can be. COVID-19 will prove to be devastating for some and a time of substantial growth for others. If we compare COVID-19 to the great depression, it is important to remember that more millionaires were made during this time than any other time in history.” 

Pat Lynes, Founder & CEO at S&S, explores how the concept of transformation has redefined the workforce economy

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Tell us about your background and your career journey prior to S&S…

It started off with telco recruitment, working with some of the big ISP brands in the UK when there was that Internet Service Provider explosion, so I worked with the EZ net board to help them build their capability to try and make a mark in the UK. Of course it did quite successfully, and then Sky bought them out and then that turned into a big integration point programme which I resourced. Fundamentally at the heart of it was always speaking to boards, finding opportunities and problems and then connecting groups of people to solve those problems but with a recruitment angle on it.

Where did S&S come into the equation? 

I was privileged to be headhunted to come over and work for a guy called Simon Fosse. There were four of us around the table. We wanted to do something fundamentally different in the market. We are a collection of senior knowledge workers and senior recruitment. So over a sort of six and a half year period, I grew that particular business, from scratch to an eight figure revenue business and we did really well. We work with boards and help people like Burberry become a digital first organisation, working alongside their CIO and putting in different project teams to deliver their digital programmes. And I love it. That’s exactly what I love doing and I think towards the back end of that

I started to fall out of love with traditional recruitment. I think that the actual model is getting disintermediated. What I was seeing in the market is what not a lot of people are talking about right now, which is this jobs revolution at the senior end of the market. 

So a lot of people talk about the gig economy, and the sort of low end of the gig economy. But there’s absolutely this explosion around this expert revolution, this interim revolution of executives and senior knowledge workers leaving the permanent world to trade via their IP and value and building a service around that and becoming independent experts. So I kind of saw a few things intersecting at once, which was this interim revolution of senior knowledge workers becoming independent experts coming into the market. That’s how I’ve always been successful in my career serving that market. 

The other thing was management consulting fatigue. So if you look at the traditional route to getting consulting advisory and then delivery of big programmes or big digital transformation probes, people traditionally went for the Big Four or the Big 10. And I think fundamentally now what we’re finding is a lot of people are starting to back off from using those channels for a number of reasons. So I kind of had this idea in my mind of what if I brought all of the experts I’ve used over the years into a community based approach to consulting and working with clients. Could it be a challenger service provider to some of the Big Four, the Big 10, larger consulting providers? So it really came from that spirit of uniting my network already into a services business to fundamentally help organisations transform. I’m pleased to say we’re just out of year three coming into year four. We’ve gone from strength to strength and we’ve really hit a tone in the market

What has changed over the course of your career? 

Earlier in my career, transformation was synonymous with a multi-year Big Bang approach. I think the thing that we see around the way that transformation is being perceived is that there’s a lot of fatigue about that kind of word these days. When I go into these big businesses, if you say the word transformation, you can just see the fatigue on their face, or they’ve been through so many different transformations. 

I think the word transformation is just overused. People might be putting the data centre into a cloud, they call it transformation. They might be doing a desktop refresh, they’re calling a transformation. I think the word transformation probably needs to be retired. But back in the decade of 2000 to 2010 transformations were big, multi-year things where benefits were not derived until  three or four years down the line. I saw a lot of businesses that would spend and invest so much money in those big initiatives for it not to work or to not deliver the intended benefits to the board. I think when you look at the decade that came after the first decade of this century, you only need to see the gradual shift in pace. One is the aggressive shift in customer preferences, the unforgiving landscape in business now. If you look at the shift from the first decade, if you said that Toys R Us or Blockbuster would be obsolete in the last decade, you’d have probably laughed. You’d have probably laughed if we said Thomas Cook would be obsolete at the end of the last decade. The other high profile casualty Carillion from a b2b perspective and more recently with Mothercare. I think the trend was absolutely more long term programmes and long term transformation. 

S&S was formed based on this shift, where businesses need to break that down into manageable chunks to keep the business invigorated and aligned and onpoint, where you can actually deliver the sum of a transformation every 90 days by incremental bits of value, that give business benefit to the board, the customers, the internal stakeholders, etc.

The other shift focuses on talent and the changing work in preferences. There was this big thing to build huge permanent workforces. I don’t get that anymore. I just don’t get why you want to own your talent. Is the word permanent? Should that be retired? What does permanent actually mean? I think the new generation coming through doesn’t want to be permanent. Millennials don’t want to be permanent. The generation after that are now starting to want to become executive gigs or you know, experts where they want to have a fractional relationship with their work, they want to do gigs and fluid gigs and go into organisations and not get caught up with the company political drag and just trade value and do the stuff that they love. So they’re starting to design work around what they love doing. Baby boomers are just realising that I don’t want to retire. I think this changing workforce, this changing opportunity, this changing landscape that’s going around from the industrial way of working to the future of work is really going to accelerate this decade. 

When I started, no one really designed anything around the customer. Now the companies that are winning are designing everything around the customer. You hear of great examples like giffgaff using the power of the crowd to get iterations and feedback on their products and services. So using the network effect to enhance and build their products and services right in the sweet spot of what the customer wants.

When I designed S&S I resigned from my former company and resigned as a board director. I spent three months interviewing my executive network, just asking about the current state of affairs and  looking to get a capability. What do you like? What don’t you like? What frustrates you? If you had a magic wand, what would be the ideal solution?  When I launched the business, the first products programme in a box that we were bringing to market was programme management in a box where we come and deliver the outcome – and we tested it first. My network said they didn’t really see themselves on that path – a commodity. I got the feedback,  tweaked it and then came back with ‘teams as a service’. Teams have interim experts designed around an outcome or a problem. So it’s a mission based team to be deployed into an organisation to help them have an innovation capability. Help them have an incumbent change capability, so they can constantly reinvent themselves, turn around a failing programme, align the board, etc.

How does anyone go about defining digital transformation?

Transformation again, is synonymous with trying to transform a legacy laden organisation. So it’s an organisation that probably on the whole was born in the last century. So they’re geared for the Industrial Revolution. They’ve got higher hierarchies. They’ve got an obscene amount of technical debt, they’ve got a vendor lock in with some of the big guys and the big software packages. They’ve got legacy people skills and people in roles that might have been there for a bit too long and legacy leadership and on the whole that causes a lot of ambiguity and confusion. They’re trying to transform soup to nuts in an organisation born in the last century and decentralise it to an organisation that’s fit for purpose or designed around products and services with business agility in the core. This is incredibly hard. Some of the traditional consultancies will go in and sell you a playbook that might work in one of your competitors. But when it’s actually shoved into organisation it will not work because you’ve got cultural nuances and other nuances that are just difficult to decipher unless you’re in there and you’re trying to really get to the bottom of what’s going on.

So invariably, what we see is the older ways of consulting have not solved this problem. Because if they had done, we wouldn’t be having all these companies that are starting to die, or starting to have consecutive years of declining revenues.

Problem number one in organisations is often that the boards are under so much pressure, they’ve got so much operational drag on their time. They might have city pressures. They’ve got issues going on in their business. They’ve got failures, they’ve got burning platforms and they’ve got people issues with miscommunications going on and people leaving people joining. I could go on and, and that’s actually really hard for that level of executive to actually get some time to think about where our business should go.

We start off with getting executive groups to stop and we bring them into our workshop environment.  What does the future look like for your business? Do you have the right strategy? What does the customer of your future look like? Where would you like your company to be in three or five years? What does it look like? What does it feel like? How are your customers? How are your people feeling? How do you constantly iterate in accordance to market conditions? What kind of talent have you got? What is the baggage in the old company that you never want to have again? 

It’s a concept of reverse engin eering the future rather than trying to fix the past? What I find with transformations these days is that a lot of them are trying to fix the past before they can even get to the future and by then they’ve lost two or three or four years and they’ve actually got no value into the business and they’ve wasted a lot of money. The organisation is completely fatigued with transformation and change. They don’t actually have a muscle in the business of how to change after they’ve done it, because they’ve been heavily reliant on the management consulting drug. We try to turn all of that stuff upside down and actually get them to think. So if there is a discovery process, we have our IP of how we do it. At the end, there is a point of view, a solution, a roadmap and a way.

It’s getting them to come together and go through that process. They’ve all got equity in that process and they all feel like it’s their idea, because eventually, invariably it is and we’re adding points of views. We’re adding expertise and we’re facilitating. We also find that’s what actually gets the board and the leadership teams aligned. If I think about some of the problems I see in transformation, digital transformation, business transformation, it might not be the right strategy, the board might not be aligned. We’ve seen it before we get sponsored to go in somewhere and then the sponsorship dies. So the business doesn’t follow through on it. But if you get the board aligned with the right strategy for the right transformation, get them ready for change, execute outcomes every 90 days – then everyone in the business starts to get confidence that it’s moving in the right direction and can visualise the work around the organisation. 

Long gone are the days where you’ve got racks and racks of people where no one’s talking to each other. As a recruiter, you could imagine that I’ve been into thousands and thousands of businesses and most people are dead behind the eyes in the middle of the company. They’re just coming in doing their nine to five, tapping their keyboard, doing a bit of work, finding a bit of politics and falling out with someone. It’s not all doom and gloom on the whole in my experience but there’s a lot of bloated organisations where it is like that. There’s too many people doing too many things. They’re not talking to each other, and then they’re not collaborating. We find if you visualise the work at board and leadership level, and bring the work to the people, and carbonise everything so you’ve got a flow of work going through and there’s collaboration and cross functional teaming that’s delivering value to a customer. Then you have a cross functional team delivering value to an internal customer, cross functional teaming, where the execs and the leaders are working with the staff, and you really get the whole organisation aligned to get into their intended state. 

I have business coaches, and I’ve had life coaches before, so I’m probably the product of coaching. I made a decision when I was 28 to just try and be someone of growth and be an individual who has a growth mindset and I don’t know all the answers and I need help. I need to be on the hook sometimes for improvement and to sustain some of the gains that I’ve made. So why don’t we have that in companies? We’re starting to see now where we’ll put a board coach alongside the board. We have enterprise coaches, we put across the leadership teams can bang coaches and agile coaches and flow coaches working with the organisation. So it’s that kind of coaching concept that we see in the individual market coming into the business world and I’m a massive advocate of it. 

It starts to bring in the concept of continuous improvement and continuous reinvention. And knowing that your last 90 days isn’t gonna be as good as your next 90 days, in terms of you as an individual or you as the business and in terms of how close you are to the customer in terms of the health of the organisation.

Alejandro Alvarez, Partner: Operations Performance at Ayming, believes risk management strategies should be the top priority now, and in the future…

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Tell us about your experience in supply chain and procurement? 

I’ve been in the procurement and supply chain space for the last 15 years, both in industry working fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) and over the last 10 years, more on the consultancy side of things. I’ve been working for different different types of clients across many industries and that allows me to have a view as to the importance of supply chain risk assessments in the context of what’s going on today, around the world.

Looking at the evolution of procurement, how would you say the conversation surrounding risk management has changed? 

I think it certainly hasn’t been prioritised for some types of businesses. However, I do believe that there’s quite a long way to go if you look at the procurement function becoming more strategic and having a seat around the senior management table. One of the challenges that we will have spoken about with professionals is the need  to prioritise the short term benefit or savings on top of more value adding activities. For example, making sure that there is a clear risk assessment carried out periodically to make sure that in the case of a world event the companies are prepared now.  To what extent the conversation has changed will also be slightly different when it comes to small or large businesses. A smaller medium sized business will typically be focused a lot on the day to day delivery and making sure that their clients are satisfied that the goods and services that they provide are indeed meeting the needs of their customers and not necessarily thinking actively around potential risk. Whereas for large businesses you will typically have a more mature risk management approach to procurement. 

I do believe that when it comes to priorities, with a few exceptions in very special industries a risk assessment is not necessarily the top of the list. So, from my point of view, one of the key lessons we can take from what’s going on now is that a thorough approach towards managing risk can be much more valuable than a short term priority to deliver quantitative effects.

What were some of the initial impacts that COVID-19 had on the global supply chain?

I think we’re already starting to see the real impact now. You might recall I think the whole outbreak started before or during the Chinese holiday season, right? So many manufacturing businesses would have already planned for reduced workers or reduced workforce and so on. At the same time, the lead times from China to the rest of the world are affected. I think it is very hard to say to what extent the different supply chains around the world will be disrupted. But what is clear is that the risk management topic is currently one or two in terms of priorities around boardrooms. I think they say that there’s nothing positive about what is going on. What’s interesting from my point of view is learning from what is going on so that businesses can try to propel on forward.

How important is it at a board level to stay in tune with what’s going on and not to fall victim to panic?

Panicking doesn’t help anybody. It also serves no purpose. I think what this will highlight is the need to have transparency across the supply chain. I think that is a key word because for many businesses, we have a clear view around who they are getting the main raw materials and services from and who are their key tier one, suppliers. The challenge that many businesses have is a disability from the tier one to the tier two vendors. But those vendors that may be procuring and or requiring goods and services from, in this case, China. That is where the main risk could be found. 

So what can procurement professionals do? Well, again, when it comes to risk, there’s one very old strategy that has been there for a while, which is called dual sourcing, right. I think what we’ve seen and carried over the last few weeks with all of our clients is that they ask; can you please do a quick brief assessment on our supply chain? That’s the first question. Second, do we have alternative sources of supply? I think that strategy will be something that will be prioritised going forward, if not, in the short term more in the medium and long term.

How important will supplier relationships be in this? 

I think it highlights the importance of having a good supplier relationship management activity. If you think about it, it is in the main interest of your suppliers. It doesn’t matter who you are, your suppliers want to make sure that you are delivering according to contract and if then you start to establish that is not the case, they risk losing their business. So I think it highlights the need to work closer in particular with key tier one suppliers to aim to make sure that transparency exists across the supply chain. Risk management strategies have been together for a number of reasons, but one that comes to mind is your tier one supplier, we know the market more often than not, they know the market potentially better than us as a buyer. They are the ones that can potentially suggest risk mitigation strategies that can result in a win win for both. 

COVID-19 has well and truly caught many global organisations by surprise, but just how much can an organisation possibly plan for this? How could one expect the unexpected as best as possible? 

No one has no one has a crystal ball, but I think organisations can plan for different types of risks or they can plan for potential situations that could arise. Having alternative sources of supply can be a strategy that you put in place due to economic reasons. However, in the event of an emergency, where a key supplier in specific markets may have some difficulties, then that same risk management strategy that was put in place for a known risk also helps you mitigate some of the unknowns that may arise as well.

I would say it’s about being as thorough as possible in the risk management strategy, but also realistic that you know there will be a time where the organisation will just have to be quick and react in order to meet potential risks that were not forecastable. 

What advice would you give to try and handle this situation and any supply chain risk as best as possible?

One is get transparency across your supply chain. Have a relatively good understanding of the supply chain of your key materials, you know raw materials, components, whatever that you’re buying. Understand the market and then get close to your suppliers and talk to your suppliers. In particular, the larger ones, they will be keen to work with you to develop strategies together. 

Is it possible to look for successes and stories of good in amongst all of this?

Organisations at this moment in time have prioritised risk mitigation activities and they have worked internally with their operations supply chain procurement departments to put in place certain studies that will help them overcome the current situation.

What is important going forward is not to put this in a drawer in six months and forget about it. It’s important to remember that unfortunate situations happen and therefore, periodically reviewing these strategies pays for itself many many times over as opposed to not having a thorough approach towards managing risk and then suddenly being in a position where you cannot fulfil the needs of your customers.

A supply chain finance programme targets business bounceback with $55bn working capital injection

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Tradeshift, a European fintech specialising in supply chain payments, is working with the Danish Export Credit Agency (EKF) to open up much-needed liquidity to businesses in Denmark through a technology-driven supply chain financing model.

Under the model developed by Tradeshift in collaboration with EKF, banks will be encouraged to offer favourable credit lines to large organisations with export turnover in order to pay their suppliers earlier. EKF will underwrite these lines of credit. 

The Danish initiative, which has been endorsed by leading academics including Professor of Economics at Aarhus University Philipp Schröder, is being touted as a cost-efficient alternative to government-backed loans and stimulus packages designed to help ease liquidity pressures placed on businesses as a result of COVID. 

The dramatic slowdown in trade over the past two months has seen many larger organisations extend payment terms to suppliers. According to one recent study, late payments to UK suppliers have shot up by 23% since 11th March.

This clogging up of cash flow is putting major pressure on otherwise healthy businesses, and risks slowing down dramatically any potential bounce-back after the current conditions lift. The problem has been made more serious as traditional trade finance insurers threaten to pull out of the market and government-issued ‘helicopter relief’ money struggles to flow to businesses that would most benefit. 

By effectively removing the risk and reducing cost elements around access to supply chain finance, it becomes a virtual ‘no-brainer’ for large organisations and their suppliers to use the system. By targeting the top 250 large buyers in Denmark, Tradeshift claims that up to $55bn in working capital can be made available to suppliers between in Denmark from June 2020, to June 2021. 

“We want to do our bit to motivate companies to pay immediately, so we’ve made our full arsenal of solutions available to export companies that choose to show their support for suppliers. Under our model companies can pay suppliers ahead of time without compromising their own liquidity, ”says EKF Director Kirstine Damkjæ

The Danish initiative relies on accessing invoicing data exchanged between buyers and sellers to build up an accurate picture of existing invoice liquidity that is eligible for finance. As the technology partner in Denmark, Tradeshift will help businesses deliver the necessary visibility into these transactions to enable the system to roll out rapidly and at massive scale. Businesses that rely on paper-based invoices will not be able to access the program. 

“The immediate payment scheme has the potential to become a vital support package for companies during the corona crisis. Not only is the economic potential inherent in itself, it also avoids the behavioral death spiral, where all companies in a value chain withdraw their payments simultaneously, ”says Tradeshift’s co-founder and SVP, APAC, Mikkel Hippe Brun.

Tradeshift has made the financing model entirely open source so that other fintech companies and organisations can provide solutions to help facilitate the digital requirements of the overall system. Whilst the financing model is currently available only in Denmark, there is no reason why it could not be rolled out in other countries. 

Tradeshift is currently in discussions with a number of governments across the world who are considering the model as a way to make working capital available to businesses. An estimated $9trillion dollars of working capital is currently trapped in supply chains globally, due to lack of suitable supply chain financing options.

For more information on the current initiative please visit (https://tradeshift.com/da/straksbetalingsgaranti/)

Is COVID19 redefining procurement?

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The Digital Insight is joined by three fantastic guests; Ian Thompson – Regional Director, Ivalua, Iain Campbell McKenna – Managing Director – Sourcing Solved and Jon Hansen, Writer and Speaker – Procurement Insights. 

Together, we look to explore the crucial role that procurement is playing as we navigate the COVID19 pandemic. We closely examine how the strategic evolution of procurement (through transformational change) is now well and truly under the spotlight and we also try to imagine what the future of procurement will look like in a post COVID19 world. 

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We are delighted to share Issue 12 of CPOstrategy with you!

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This month’s cover star is Piotr Teodorczyk, VP, Head of Global Procurement at Olam, as he outlines how breaking down silos and changing mindsets as part of a major company wide procurement transformation allows Olam to fearlessly expand. 

We sit down with Mahmood Shah, VP of Procurement and Supply Management, as he tells us that the key to succeeding in a transformation is creating an environment that promotes collaboration and enables innovative thinking.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we speak with one company that is seeing its procurement function play a major role in weathering the storm of today in order to survive, and thrive, in the future.

Mohamed Habib, VP of Supply Chain Management at Tabreed, tells us how at a time of crisis, procurement maturity is key to supply chain resilience. 

We also asked global procurement professionals about the steps they’ve taken to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 for The Big Debate, Iain Campbell Mckenna of Sourcing Solved explores recruitment strategies and Waleedi AlSaeedi of the Department of Tourism Abu Dhabi tells us why we need digital procurement now more than ever.

Stay safe, and enjoy the issue! 

How will procurement shine brightly through COVID19?

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In the latest episode of The Digital Insight, Lance Younger, Managing Director and Jonathan Sing, Project Manager of Inverto, discuss how, as the spotlight is well and truly shining on the function, COVID19 will represent a defining moment in the history of procurement while also playing a key role in defining its future.

What makes Procurious THE place to be as a professional?

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Tania Seary, one of the most globally influential members of the procurement & supply chain world joins the Digital Insight to discuss what made her fall in love’ with procurement and how Procurious, the world’s first and leading online business network dedicated to procurement and supply chain professionals, was truly ‘ahead of its time.

Tania also explores how COVID-19 will be a truly defining moment in the future of procurement.

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Five women in IT recognised as allies and champions for female professionals in STEM

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As diversity, inclusivity and opportunity continue to be key talking points across the board within the STEM workforce, we look at five women in IT who have been recognised as allies and champions for female professionals in STEM both today and in the future, by Information Age and DiversityQ.

Carly Britton

Carly Britton, Head of Client Services, Vualto
Advocate of the Year 

With over 13 years in the IT sector, Britton is no stranger to being recognised as an inspiring figure in STEM. Alongside being the winner of Women in IT Awards Advocate of the Year 2020, Briton was also a winner at the TechWomen100 Awards 2019 and a finalist at the Venus Awards 2019 – Inspirational Women in STEM. In her own words, Britton is “ a strong advocate for encouraging girls and women to consider careers in technology. I am an active STEM Ambassador and founder of #GIRLCODE – Free coding for girls aged 8-14 in Plymouth & Bath.”

Jackie Shears

Jackie Shears, Associate Director Mental Wellbeing Transformation at NHS Digital
Data Leader of the Year

Winner of the Data Leader of the Year award, NHS Digital notes that Shears has continuously displayed a “compassionate approach in reshaping the size and magnitude of the data and has enabled the NHS to make better informed decisions.”  Working as part of the Department of Health, NHS Digital is the national provider of information, data and IT systems for commissioners, analysts and clinicians in health and social care. Shears’ work allows the continued support of the health and care system, helping patients to make informed choices about their care while ensuring that their data is kept safe.

Amanda Hamilton

Amanda Hamilton, City & County Healthcare Group,
CIO of the Year

An internationally-experienced technology leader managing IT services and delivering strategic change in healthcare, restaurant, retail, professional services, commercial & global corporate sectors, Amanda Hamilton was recognised as the CIO of the Year for her work with City & County Healthcare Group. An unrivalled innovative drive and passion has seen her deliver efficiencies worth £1.7m per year and improved cash flow by £4m.  Alongside her success, her tireless work for diversity and inclusion has seen an increase in female representation from 0% to 37%.

Mel Unsworth

Mel Unsworth , Global Head of Technology, YOOX NET-A-PORTER
Future CIO of the Year

As Global Head of Technology for YOOX NET-A-PORTER GROUP is the world’s leading online luxury fashion retailer, the responsibility to deliver sustained IT success rests firmly on the shoulders of Mel Unsworth.  Successfully overseeing a major integration of two infrastructures between different businesses alongside the demands of a rapid team growth, Unsworth’s strong performance and values place her well and truly on the “ones to watch” list for future CIO’s. 

Karen Hopley FCIPD

Karen Hopley, HR TRansformation Director, G4S
Transformation Leader of the Year

Leading the development and deployment of G4S’ global HCM system to create a global integrated HR, finance and business system, Hopley’s work across the business allowed G4S to truly transform the way it operates, connects with its customers, enable it’s people to collaborate, and will underpin the future competitiveness of the company. Her successful launch of the pilot programme has enabled greater business efficiencies, more control and access for employees to their data and has led to 3100 people being hired in the past 12 months.

Five of the many influential speakers that will be in Amsterdam this September at Digital Procurement World 2020.

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