Beyond “Amazon”

December 11, 2017

As procurement professionals, I think we have all had enough of the valid complaint from our business colleagues that the office “shopping experience” doesn’t quite match up to what they experience as consumers. This goes beyond “I can buy that laptop cheaper on my own” to what we now call the “Amazon effect” – that it is so much simpler to find and purchase goods on the ubiquitous website.


But we all know that is an oversimplification of what happens at corporate. Amazon is a simple transaction – no standards committees, no approvals, no budgets, and Amazon links to a credit card – not a corporate AP function, and with none of the messy G/L coding that goes with that.


However, we are approaching a new day. And this day brings us “way beyond Amazon.” Not only do we need to provide a “consumerized” user experience in this new day, we need to ensure all the information “automagically” flows to the various systems of record so that we can reach the key five attributes of world class procurement. Shelby has outlined these attributes in the eBook “5 Reasons To Make Procurement Matter Now.”


So, how can we be those magicians that bring our users into a “better than Amazon” experience (i.e. relevant, corporate approved items) and lead in a key business function (ours!) for our enterprises?


We must digitize the function of Procurement. All of it.


Like most elephants, this effort will need to happen one bite at a time. But getting your BHAG* in place gives context and direction for all of your other initiatives.


All things Digital

This isn’t just a procurement issue. Across global enterprises, digitization is the imperative when it comes to operational excellence and a “frictionless” experience with our trading partners. And it includes everything from engineering drawings to contract negotiations.


However, procurement is perhaps the most logical place to create a “fully digital” experience in the enterprise, for reasons including:


  • “Purpose-built” cloud-based systems. Major vendors offer “Procurement specific” infrastructure that can accelerate your firm’s move to all digital.
  • “Consumerization” of procurement. Our business constituents have an expectation of “click and buy” that we will have to fulfill.
  • Cost pressures on supply chain. Every actor in the business of supply chain has pressure to reduce cost and improve efficiency. This gives supply chain influencers (read, customers) the economic environment bias to push digitization to their trading partners.
  • Background for better negotiations. As we gather more detailed, accurate and relevant information at the transaction level, we will turn the table on our suppliers where we will actually know more about them than they know about us – our historical disadvantage. This alone could pay for our investments many times over.


Now is the time to really make the case for the digitization of procurement. The case is compelling – our industry is headed there, our companies are digitizing in other functions, and it will help us contribute much more business value to our employers.

Missing out on this business revolution is really not an option. Shelby creates and curates a wealth of knowledge on the various aspects of procurement digitization benefits here. And as always, I am happy to discuss with anyone how they may want to begin or accelerate this part of their journey.


All the best in 2018!


John Dreyer

President & CEO

*BHAG – Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal.  Credit to Jim Collins, “Built to Last”