We interviewed a series of business leaders from the procurement technology sector earlier this year about the key trends impacting the procurement and supply chain professions. Everyone we spoke to for our Insider report emphasized that supply chain risk and resilience have been the key areas of focus in 2020/1.
Franck Lheureux of Ivalua told us: “The increased focus on supply chain risk and resilience had moved direct spend to the top of the agenda for many companies across the various manufacturing verticals.”
“With planning made much more difficult by increased volatility, it’s very difficult for organisations to make predictions with any confidence. So with CFOs and CPOs facing the challenge of balancing costs versus supply chain resilience when making decisions about offshoring and nearshoring, the 20/80 model that often relies on a small number of large suppliers etcetera, there are significant risks impacting on production capability, cash flow and investment.”
Ivalua’s capability across these areas of spend and their ability to provide their customers with a single source of truth in their data has been vital in aiding the decision making as clients balance the variables in these complex equations. This is a key reason why Ivalua enjoyed a very successful year in 2020.
When people talk about events like Covid accelerating digital transformation, it’s examples like this where Ivalua has made a real difference across its customer base that should be celebrated across the market.
As one widely respected source from Coupa told us: “The industry needs strong competition as it pushes us all to get better and we respect the likes of Ivalua and Ariba for the part they play in that.” The focus on this area was echoed by many that we spoke to.
One consulting leader told us: “What we’ve seen in response to the Covid Pandemic is a much greater focus on managing supplier risk, particularly for those that were exposed by a reliance on business critical suppliers overseas.
Clearly the obvious example of that is those using international suppliers who had major problems earlier in 2020, but focusing on more local supply chains is also a factor for UK based organisations with concerns about the impact of Brexit.”
For solution providers able to offer greater visibility across the supply chain 2020 has seen the market move in their direction with increased demand for their services. Tealbook, a US based specialist providing a ‘Trusted Source of Supplier Data’ has experienced spectacular growth in 2020.
HICX founder Costas Xyloyiannis told his LinkedIn followers that the business had grown fivefold over the year. One of their hires was Steve Cobley, a hugely experienced sales specialist who has spent time at both Ivalua and Coupa.
Steve told us: “We saw companies realise just how vulnerable they are in their supply chains in 2020, particularly those in manufacturing sectors with international supplier bases. For example, if you are sourcing 60% of your materials from China and it effectively shuts down as it did in early 2020 that leaves you in a very difficult situation. That was an alarm call for a lot of organisations and the result of it is driving major transformation.”
In fact, Dun & Bradstreet found that five million companies, including 938 of the Fortune 1000, had tier two suppliers in the Wuhan region in China, where Covid first appeared. Steve Cobley continues: “As a result companies are looking at the diversification of their supplier communities as part of addressing how they mitigate against future global problems like the pandemic. They are also looking at how they get better information to help manage that situation.
For some companies, they may have already invested in cloud based procurement solutions which have helped them enormously but what if their production and planning systems are still on premise and key staff are home based? How do you get full visibility across your operations in that situation? So problems like this are driving the move to cloud, better interoperability between solutions and moving high onto the supply chain agenda alongside sustainability, visibility and risk management.”
There are many more who have told us similar stories. At the heart of all this is a reliance on accurate information to inform decision making. In very simple terms, those manufacturing businesses who have accurate supplier data have benefitted hugely from that in their response to what for many has been a crisis in their supply chains.
It’s clear that firms providing best of breed tools around supplier data saw a significant, in some cases drastic, increase in demand for their solutions in the second half of 2020 and this is driving more hiring in this particular niche of the procurement technology sector.
This article is an excerpt from our Spring 2021 Procurement & Spend Management Insider report.
In our bi-annual Procurement and Spend Management Insider report we have consistently talked about the skills needed for the future of procurement, particularly digital procurement. 2020 saw the rapid rise of the ESG agenda in supply chain and further acceleration of the adoption of digital procurement tools.
Both trends had been around for a while, and are now more interconnected than ever with the rise of businesses like Circulor and Ecovadis, but the pace of change has materially changed in the past year as we’ve seen in this research.
So we are no longer talking about the future of procurement when we discuss digital or ESG because the future is here, and it’s called the present. This is procurement in 2021. You, your teams and your colleagues can either get on board or you and your employer can get left behind as the more agile, digitally enhanced businesses with a clear environmental and social purpose thrive.
In terms of further evidence to support this theory, management consultancy Hackett Group asked Procurement leaders if they recognise a need for more tech-centric roles in their teams. Here are the results:
It is clear from this that roles such as that of Digital transformation program manager are recognised by the leadership community as being important. For many, this function is effectively run by their advisory partners, but on the evidence of those that have specialist in house roles in this area, their management of the advisory businesses, specialist contractors or internal resources are vital to the successful adoption of procurement tools, whether they be full suite solutions or a range of best of breed, specialist tools.
There is now a significant talent pool of people who have undertaken this role on behalf of end users. There are also consultants who would like to go into this sort of position so they could see projects through to completion and ideally push for ongoing pursuit of best practice.
The frustration for the people we know in this space is that there are so few organisations who currently have dedicated in house roles. There is growth in this space but it has been slow so far. We hope and expect that will really start to change now.
The other roles that score heavily in this research like RPA or AI/ cognitive specialists, and data architects are also on the rise but again at a disappointing pace. There is a much smaller talent pool of people who can point to experience in this area dedicated to procurement and supply chain but they do exist.
In each of these areas we hope to see accelerated growth in demand for the skills but it will be constrained by the availability of skills. The answer to that question lies in the ability of CPOs to attract sought after external talent and/or train and develop these skills in house.
The best examples we see involve hiring an expert who has been down this path already in their career who can then influence those around them in a new organisation to become a catalyst for upskilling colleagues and ultimately the function as a whole.
The key is to know who the early adopters are, the companies who have got it right and then understand who their trailblazers are. If you can find a way to attract them into your organisation you can do great things.
It’s a similar story when it comes to identifying people who have been at the heart of innovative projects that have materially changed the impact procurement and supply chain teams can have on environmental and sustainability initiatives. Many of them have joined the wonderful Sustainable Procurement Pledge initiative created by a group of visionary leaders, the growth of which tells its own story.
Looking at the achievements of some of the members of this initiative supports our belief that great hires in these areas can be a catalyst for raising the contribution of procurement and supply chain teams, raising the bar across the function and helping leaders to position their functions at the heart of the sustainability agenda.
If you know which companies are already at the forefront of these initiatives, you can identify the people who can make a real difference to your organisation. It’s all about prioritising your objectives and attracting the talent that will enable you to deliver on those aims.
Procurement Leaders – if this resonates with you then Edbury Daley can help you make real progress when it comes to identifying, attracting and ultimately hiring high performing specialists in these areas. Please contact Andrew Daley via email@example.com or Peter Brophy – firstname.lastname@example.org
If you enjoyed this article and found it useful, perhaps you might be interested in Fairmarkit’s piece that raises some relevant points on this topic – The hidden threats COVID-19 poses to procurement sustainability
When the Covid crisis first hit Europe everyone was faced with an unprecedented set of circumstances. Understandably there was an initial move away from major transformation projects as more short terms measures were prioritized.
Franck Lheureux, General Manager EMEA at Ivalua told us that: “2020 saw CPOs have two dominant areas to manage as the focus shifted towards a short term emphasis on savings and analysis of where and why you spend.”
That latter point was echoed by Nadia Law, Client Director at Rosslyn. She said: “The major issues for our clients last year centred around cash flow. There was a shift from ‘what are we spending and from whom? ’ to ‘what and when are we paying?’
Fundamentally, the objective is to understand the future commitments of the business and to prioritise supplier payments to maintain the integrity of the supply chain. For example, some SME suppliers may need more urgent support than others and our solution is able to provide vital insights to support business critical decisions in this area.”
So, it’s clear that companies who had already adopted some of these tools successfully had an advantage through the efficiency in their systems and/or the value of having accurate data to support their decision making. This is supported by Deloitte’s recent CPO flash survey where they reported that “organisations that are thriving (in the pandemic) had higher visibility into both tier 1 and tier 2 suppliers and were twice as likely to prioritize digitization in their day-to-day operations.”
For those that didn’t have the data that gave them the supplier visibility, the events were acting as a potential catalyst for change within their organisations and this resulted in the market becoming much more active in the third quarter of the year as conversations about how to solve these problems with better use of technology really started to increase with customers.
We asked Mo Ahmad, Vice President, Alliances and Channel, EMEA/MEE, at SAP Ariba & Fieldglass what he’d seen change in 2020 from a customer perspective. He told us: “We have seen two particular trends in our market develop over the course of 2020. Firstly some CIOs have taken the view that they need to embrace the transformation agenda more than ever and this has accelerated the process.
“At the other end of the spectrum, you have companies that are fearful of such a big commitment whilst they are fighting for survival. In this community the tendency has been to start small with a solution that can deliver real value, effectively pay for itself and help build the business case to go to the next level.”
SAP has had success offering solutions like Ariba Discovery and Start Sourcing for free or significantly reduced cost to help organisations out and show what they can achieve when they adopt these solutions.
Other solution providers who offer a full suite solution like Ivalua have also had success with the “land and expand” philosophy encouraging customers to start small and build the business case to take the next step by delivering meaningful return on the investment. Mo told us: “In 2021 we expect the market to talk more about this philosophy and SAP will be driving this model as a core part of our business strategy going forward. This will mean agile solutions, delivered faster with a quicker ROI but at the same time connected into the Intelligent Enterprise which gives you the room to expand your operations in the areas where you need business transformation the most.”
Much of Mo Ahmad’s role focuses on working closely with SAP’s key partners who support the implementation and adoption of tools like Ariba. When we asked him what the partner organisations were experiencing, he said: “In terms of Partners, companies need more help. They are leaning on the advisory businesses more than ever to get the results they need. So it’s not just about the solution, they need the advice and experience to reap the benefits and deliver the value that justifies the investment.”
This is a view shared by consultancies themselves. Speaking to a senior leader from one of Coupa’s key transformation partners, we were told that companies generally fall into two brackets when it comes to adoption: “There are those willing to embrace the full transformation agenda and adopt a full suite solution like Coupa and others that are more risk averse, or possibly have smaller budgets, who are adopting the solutions module by module, ideally justifying the investment by demonstrating value before moving to the next step. Either way, there is certainly some stimulation to digital procurement and supply chain from the events of 2020.”
Fred Akuffo of specialist Supply Chain planning consultancy Olivehorse offered a similar view. “What we’ve seen in 2020 is an acceleration in organisations moving to the cloud, particularly for solutions that support integrated business planning (IBP). One reason is the simple practical problem of employees accessing old, clunky on premise systems from home but the others are more around speed, agility, efficiency and opportunity to drive profitability from superior systems.”
Covid hit at a time when there’s been a revolution in the capability of systems to address issues around supply chain maturity and resilience in a more proactive fashion enabling people to ask, ‘how can we do this better?’
That thinking has pushed more companies to explore alternatives to their current systems and whilst they probably would have gone this way eventually, the unique problems caused by Covid have accelerated the process for many organisations.”
Besides the practical benefits of cloud over on premise, what has driven this? In some cases it’s fear of getting caught out by this sort of crisis again in the future. For others it’s the need to stay competitive in the face of changing market conditions and possibly more agile competitors gaining competitive advantage over them. As Fred Akuffo said: “Procurement and supply chain leaders can’t wait days to make decisions whilst planners evaluate hundreds of lines of Excel information and different potential scenarios. They need accurate information that can be interpreted quickly to support better decision making and this is what IBP solutions can offer.”
At the other end of the market, Paul Heron of specialist vendor Claritum offered the view that the trend was away from ‘static’ ERP packages or those difficult to customise to those with high levels of functionality.
His clients want to see value and real benefit so off the shelf solutions are not enough and many customers want a tailored solution that is flexible and adaptable. They also need a partner whose strengths are a willingness to listen with the capability to adapt their solution to their needs.
Recently he has found clients are approaching them, often from old projects that never progressed beyond the RFP stage.
They also have created a new BRIGHT by Claritum solution which is aimed specifically at SMEs and provides capabilities that to date have only been available to larger enterprises, usually at a higher cost.
Regardless of scale, their clients want to know if their software solution can help them do more with either fewer people or with constrained headcount and enable them to work smarter with transactional work done automatically and easily.
It is our view that these events have driven an increase in demand for both solution providers and transformation consultants’ services. That has resulted in greater demand for people in client facing roles for both sectors late in 2020 and already in 2021. This is driving relatively buoyant job market conditions compared to many other sectors and particularly compared to the second and third quarters of 2020.
This article is an excerpt from our Procurement & Spend Management Insider Report for Spring 2021.
Our recent research into “The importance of job security and the criteria for your next job move – How have your opinions changed since Covid?” has produced some very interesting results. Here are our findings:
Question 1: Given the events of 2020, how would you describe how your confidence about job security has changed?
The results given demonstrate that almost half of all respondents feel that their job security has been affected in some way by the Covid 19 pandemic. Within that group around 4 out of 5 feel less secure, perhaps unsurprisingly given the rising unemployment figures and the adverse effect of most companies’ revenue streams. Perhaps more intriguing is the remaining fifth who feel more secure as a result of the pandemic. Specific industries such as food retail, healthcare and certain technology businesses have thrived in response to global behavioural changes. However, the headline remains that Covid has unsettled the labour market and a much greater number of people are at least keeping an eye on other job opportunities.
Question 2: How have the events of 2020 affected your attitude towards a job move?
The results here tie into the first question in respect of those more likely to seek a new job being an almost identical proportion of those feeling less secure in their current position. This makes perfect sense, as to some degree, these individuals are being pushed towards the job market by their present less certain circumstances. However, for the remainder, around 60%, over half are less likely to move jobs than a year ago. Economic uncertainty and a volatile employment market are undoubtedly triggering a cautious approach amongst professionals who might otherwise have been open to a switch of employer. The takeaway here appears to be a polarisation of people’s attitudes towards changing jobs: if they feel insecure then consider a move but otherwise be extra conservative about moving.
Question 3: How receptive would you be if you received an unsolicited approach about a job move from the following sources?
Times of uncertainty tend to throw a spotlight on trust and this is borne out by the results to this question. From the five possible options “A former colleague” ranks top as a source of a job opportunity that a prospective candidate would pursue. Second highest was a “recruiter you already knew” which contrasted sharply with “recruiter you didn’t know” which was bottom of the five options offered. In summary, there is a clear divide between willingness to pursue a job through a known and trusted source versus a previously unknown or untested channel.
Question 4: Reflecting on the events of 2020, how have your attitudes changed? Are you more or less receptive to unsolicited approaches about a job from the following routes than you were previously?
The responses here reinforce the findings in question 3. In short, the better known the source of the job vacancy the more likely the individual is to follow up and express some interest in pursuing.
Question 5: Which of the following factors are important to you when considering a job move?
Work/Life Balance and Company Reputation have topped the priorities for job seekers in the current climate. Covid 19 has pulled the genie from the bottle in terms of home working and for many the prospect of going back to being 100% office-bound is undesirable. Apart from saving time associated with travel to an office, workers are able to have more flexibility when they work during the day facilitating school dropoffs for example. The increased importance of company reputation potentially has a couple of dimensions to it. Firstly, in a volatile economy, it makes sense for professionals to be more circumspect in choosing a new employer with a strong reputation as this associates closely with better job security and fair treatment during difficult trading conditions. Secondly, people are showing greater awareness of a potential employer’s corporate social responsibility and want to work for a firm that positively engages with customers, suppliers and the wider community.
Question 6: Bearing in mind the events of 2020, have the following factors become more or less important to you?
The responses to this question do much to support the conclusions from the previous question. The slight deviation is the higher ranking of a company’s financial performance suggesting that prospective candidates are more sensitive to the wider fortunes of the business than a year ago and are more reluctant to join a company that they perceive as suffering during the crisis. Again, there is a strong association between a company’s profit and future employment and career progression opportunities.
If you would like to discuss the implications of our findings for your hiring plans, and how we are helping our clients overcome some of these issues, please contact Simon Edbury via email@example.com
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Bill Harmer, an SVP in the Business Intelligence software market with experience working at Information Builders, SAP and Microsoft. Our discussion provided some great insight on the current state of the Business Intelligence market, what customers are looking for and where we might be heading over the next few years.
I hope you find the conversation interesting and if you think Bill could be an asset to your organisation feel free to contact me on 07946 577145 or firstname.lastname@example.org and I will put you in touch.
SE: What impact did the pandemic have on customer appetite for BI software solutions in 2020?
BH: The demand for better analysis behind decision making has been an increasing priority over the last 10 years. McKinsey have spoken of “breakaway companies” both surviving and thriving when exploiting data to guide future direction. The alignment of teams on strategy (via “data derived” logic), creating a foundation for people to exploit data with technology and importantly enabling operational staff with decision support dashboards – underpin the ability of companies to succeed and become category leaders.
Overlay the pandemic impact on companies, I have seen a ying-yang response, on one hand a need for preserving cash, then an opposite pressure to identifying the growth and shrinking markets and deciding where to invest. This has increased the appetite to exploit BI tools, but balanced with leadership agendas for short term survival and/or change. Assessing where the meaningful data resides, its consistency, quality and age, along with the best presentation of the information then become key factors to consider. This in combination with clarity of the client’s preferred business application platforms (eg. SAP, Oracle, SFDC, AWS, open source or…) and integration technologies, result in time to a decision on the appropriate BI tools and careful implementation planning. For these reasons I have seen customers be diligent and although keen to adopt the solution, many 2020 decisions were delayed from initial time frames.
SE: How do you think potential customers’ behaviour changed with regard to buying SaaS solutions? How did this affect your sales cycle?
BH: Most organisations today, across multiple sectors are a hybrid mix of on-premise, managed service components and cloud based subscription services. The pandemic has not really changed the fundamentals of how a solution is deployed, to support a business. One of the important variations is that speed to value may be accelerated when adopting a solution that is already operational as a cloud service.
The factors that impact how a solution is consumed by a business are many and varied but include: Data security – can you place customer data in another entity’s datacentre? Country boundaries for data privacy? What user availability demands and code update controls are required? What level of IT services and resources does the organisation elect to self manage and invest for differentiation? Or are certain areas ready for outsource?
My experience of the market in the last year, showed a delay in some contracts as diligence and budget approvals had increased scrutiny, but companies were still keen to underpin better data exploitation, possibly as part of a transformation.
SE: It’s been said that Covid 19 accelerated digital transformation for some businesses with 3 years progress happening in 3 months. Do you agree?
BH: Hmm good question! Let’s re-frame this point. Covid-19 certainly forced an increase in remote working and the need to rapidly deploy infrastructure to support a large percentage of the national workforce to WFH – this had to happen in a matter of weeks / months.
Digital transformation is more of a business model evolution, to focus on existing and potential new customer areas, exploiting assets in an organisation and to potentially create new value streams from existing processes and data. As a result of a transformation programme the business aims to be more agile and able to drive growth from new or differentiated markets.
Talking to my customers and prospect forums in 2020, I sensed drivers that did accelerate projects, but the times scales to impact vary. A drinks provider was moving rapidly to on-line order management as the bar / restaurant route to market diminished. A German manufacturer of cleaning products struggled to fulfil customers with a 400%+ increase in demand for certain cleaning agents, while their vehicle parts division saw demand decrease dramatically. Utility companies are re-framing the attention of customer service to support the less able and vulnerable, talking of “food delivery with a meter reading”. Insurance companies are looking to accelerate claim turnaround, minimise fraud and capture new risk data, while dealing with claim volume increases. Not least of all in health, organisations were looking to ensure both tracking of available resources (eg. bed availability) along with systems to ensure “duty of care” over staff.
In summary, I would say that the pandemic had varying triggers on organisations ranging from survival to operate in a different way to market, through to accelerating some specific processes / capabilities that could be defined as part of a transformation programme.
SE: Did the pandemic shift the kind of problems customers wanted to solve with data? And if so, can you give any examples? Were there any common themes?
BH: As discussed in the prior point customer’s problems ranged from survival due to for example loss of distribution channel (eg. drinks supplier), to companies that had massive growth to manage as the Covid impact drove demand for cleaning products, PPE products (masks to synthetic gloves) and numerous on-line services.
A common theme that I saw was the need for data cleansing and normalisation. BI tools had evolved through a period in the market where the User Interface and display modes became the focus – but poor data consistency supplying these dashboards resulted in a lack of confidence in the accuracy of the information presented – very “pretty & logical” displays, but not reinforcing trends anticipated by the users.
A second common theme I saw was the massive growth in on-line payments as physical retail distribution moved to “digital windows” and fulfillment. This is a theme we have all witnessed with some of the significant High Street retail brands failing due to their poor on-line capabilities to manage customer engagement in a pandemic – Top Shop, Debenhams… Equally, I read in the Sunday Times this weekend of JD Sports & Sports Direct achieving 25% of their 2020 turnover online, with ambitions to over 30% soonest in this athleisure annual £50Bn market.
Continuity of supply chains and the data giving clear status of shortfalls or supplier diversity have become another key topic for retail and manufacturing markets. Understanding the supply chain and risks from lockdown scenarios impacting staffing and distribution were key to some clients. I spoke with a large retail brand for which food was a major element and they were running risk assessments on prior experience of fulfilment.
SE: With so many people working remotely what impact did that have on the implementation of BI solutions for customers?
BH: Many factors impact the ability to deploy a solution, customer staff availability, leadership investment, a framework and clear method to implement a solution, experience with skills transfer, maturity of professional services team, possible partner knowledge, to name a few. However, if there is good clarity of project scope and the processes to be addressed, a culture of co-working / collaboration to a clear set of staged goals – then implementing a solution working remotely is achievable. IBI has a Spanish banking client that deployed a whole new branch reporting system with the professional services team never stepping on site! The project was a “poster child” in our EMEA South team for top quality customer engagement and working also with a key partner – Accenture.
SE: Amongst customers you have worked with what has been the biggest internal hurdle to them making the leap to being a data driven business? How have they overcome that barrier?
BH: One of the most comprehensive digital transformation projects – exploiting data, that I have witnessed in the last year was the fundamental change that Clive White is driving at the broadcast services company Arqiva (Parent Macquarie Group). Although their core business focuses on the management of infrastructure – masts, dishes, transmission centres, providing TV, Radio, Satellite and data communications. The transformation project has touched all aspects of their business, systems, processes, data pools – customer and supplier – internal stakeholders to provide a more agile and targeted business in the future to service the broadcast media and utility markets. In summary, I believe that leadership supporting cultural change in a company, for employees to exploit data based decisions and to seek new outcomes at multiple levels in an organisation is one of the key hurdles to cross.
SE: What is your expectation for the global economy in 2021?
BH: Unfortunately, I think the first half of 2021 will be largely impacted by the Corona pandemic as the vaccination programmes are rolled out internationally.
Following 2020, some sectors – travel, hospitality, live entertainment, luxury brands will continue to be negatively impacted and hopefully recover – all be it slowly. While the food, health, medical supplies, consumer goods, financial services, public sector markets continue with significant workloads based on the populations limited activities and demand for services in this time frame.
On a local level I believe the UK has still yet to understand the detailed implications of Brexit and the now completed separation agreement with the EU. A European at heart, I believe that we need to continue to work closely with our European colleagues and in some way act as a unified market – when compared to the economies of the USA or China, it will be important to find ways to collaborate. But the detailed implications of our agreement will only become clear over the next 6-9 months. Intelligent data solutions will inevitably be part of the fix, helping resolve some of the issues, including supply chain continuity, trade compliance documentation, and quota management guides. Requirements in this area will I believe emerge through 2021.
SE: How closely tied are a wider economic recovery and increasing deployment of BI software solutions?
BH: I predict a continued level of consolidation and M&A activity in the marketplace (eg. ibi acquisition by Tibco). This is partly driven by companies with aligned customer propositions and gaining economies of scale over a larger customer community. But increasingly I believe the aggregation of data integration, data “cleansing” and intelligent processing and display, into a combined platform to address the business need for widespread input, of trusted clean data into an intelligent application making interpretation or auto response to data feeds possible and effective.
To answer the question, broad cross sector economic recovery will only come as the vaccines have an impact on Covid-19 and the “sleeping” sectors are able to re-emerge. As companies look to rebuild and target carefully to survive, or companies look to diversify from the “boom products” (eg. medical supplies) of the pandemic era – data BI tools will be one part of that equation, so partially linked.
SE: What is the toughest challenge in terms of skills and talent for a senior executive in a BI software vendor?
BH: The depth of experienced skills and talent that understand integration data management, data quality, data science, process definitions, UI and information presentation, machine learning (ML), predictive and Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms, is variable. There is often quoted a shortfall of these technology skills in the market, however at a local level I believe there are a few key factors in play.
There are many specialists in one or two of these disciplines but limited few able to cross all elements in the breadth of an integrated business solution, plus able to knit partner assets to extend solution value. Securing good programme and technical talent will be key for success.
Increasingly the market will demand true predictive capabilities, applying more data a feeds, than past performance ML to derive future outcomes and the talent in the form of data scientists and AI tool builders are nascent skills.
I predict the definition of the BI market offerings will evolve to be broader – including the AI elements of incremental value and sector specific templates will evolve around, for example, supply chain intelligence, consumer tracking intelligence and IOT/Manufacturing intelligence. Specialism will be needed due to the complexity of each specific market dynamics.
SE: How do you think the landscape for BI solutions will change over the next five years? Do you see big players acquiring best of breed niche players to augment their customer offering, for example?
BH: Five years is a lifetime in technology so let’s focus on the next 3 years. The pandemic will influence the 2021 window as mentioned earlier. So moving forward there are some interesting changes impacting the market.
I have listened to the annual forum’s from some of the major technology players in the market (that have had to all move to online updates in 2020). AWS Re-invent – Andy Jassy eloquently spoke of the incremental cloud based releases of data storage /databases, processing, analytics, AI tools “Sagemaker”, call centre capabilities and sector specific stacks. This moves AWS up the value chain from infrastructure provider and supports the developer and “build cloud service” technology teams. Salesforce – Steve Benioff spoke at Dreamforce of the Digital Imperative and growing SFDC capability stack – Tableau, Mulesoft, Customer 360, now tying into a consistent user experience with Slack ($27.7Bn) purchase in December 2020. Microsoft spoke of the evolving commitment into Microsoft BI with increased intelligence in the cloud via “Synapse” data tools.
Google remains a significant cloud service option with their global processing power and self managed tools, currently increasing focus on delivering SAP services to the Enterprise, including the cloud platform analytics (updated from Business Objects capability). Other enterprise companies such as Oracle, IBM, ServiceNow having considerable customer bases, continue to assess should they carry on alone with their own cloud service capabilities or exploit the scale and partner with these players – AWS, Azure, Google?
Then there are the more niche players and innovative new entrants, including Alteryx, Tibco, SAS, Domo, Microstrategy, Cloudera (Hadoop), Databricks, Elastic Search, Data Robot, Dataiku, Domino. (I recognize I am blurring analytics with data management vendors in some of these cases, but this is supported by my earlier point on the importance of data management and data quality).
I do see some level of acquisition and consolidation in these two market tiers in the next 36 months, the larger companies will buy-in the appropriate niche player to fill a capability gap or gain deeper presence in a specific market area. My perception is AWS tends to build itself and work with client sponsors to add incremental value. Therefore I would suggest that Google and Microsoft may buy in some of these niche companies – provided the technology combination is not too high a hurdle to overcome.
SE: I know you are actively seeking your next challenge in the world of BI software. Where do you see yourself and what do you want to achieve?
BH: Great question 😊 my career has spanned exploiting many technology evolutions from mainframe to distributed, web commerce to security, open source to ERP, digital transformation, to recently over 5 years in the data analytics, data management and AI marketplace. I aim to exploit this experience and importantly the application of these technologies to deliver positive, business outcomes and thereby value for clients. I enjoy leading cross functional teams, identifying partners where value add, to find innovative business propositions that have an impact on the markets served. I also enjoy working across EMEA, identifying and nurturing technology professionals, forming teams, in each culture, to be successful, finding ways to increase their impact – I welcome continuing this international dimension.
I am currently seeking my next project that will exploit my leadership skills and ambition to “make a difference”, key components in that move will include some of the following elements:
■ Sustain and grow an evangelical customer base
■ Lead new business growth and identify new market segments
■ Lead a clear and differentiated, high impact value proposition
■ Foster a culture to retain & lure top talent to join the “brand of choice” for A-list professionals
■ Build a sustainable & profitable ARR for services delivered.
■ Gain the respect of my team & peer group for the results achieved and the culture that underpins such success.
■ Embrace the evolution of AI capabilities to drive competitive advantage.
I trust you have found some value in these observations and welcome the chance to discuss, as appropriate.
At times like this, particularly for specialist roles, taking a ‘one size fits all’ approach to recruitment is almost guaranteed to cause problems. Typically you need to step back and adopt a tailored approach for the role you are focusing on (whether hiring or looking for a new position). Working with people who really know the market and what is happening at any given time can help you design a strategy that will help overcome these problems.
Here at Edbury Daley we are happy to discuss some of the options available to you that will help improve your chances of success. These are based on what we’ve been doing with our customers and candidates dating back to the start of the pandemic. Here are some of the subjects we’ve seen the in market in the past six months:
One of the key challenges is that it is harder to actually assess and interview candidates remotely. Many organisations are now recruiting online but many have made the mistake of simply duplicating their old process, not appreciating that video interviewing is actually a whole different ball game.
Is your company using a video interviewing tool that is fit for purpose and aids the process? You need to be careful that your candidate may not be familiar with your video conferencing platform which may cause problems, both technical and how they perform in an unfamiliar environment.
How do you fully assess someone when you aren’t actually meeting them – are you missing those subtle non-verbal cues? Many of the usual normal non-verbal clues can be completely missed on video. Furthermore, how can you fully assess candidates and ensure they are not just desperate for a job or one of the poor performers your competitors happily cast off?
Like most things in life, experience counts but in this area people need to learn quickly to avoid expensive mistakes. We’ve learnt a lot from observing clients get it right and occasionally wrong in recent months and are now using this knowledge to improve success rates.
In this market you must ensure whoever is doing your recruiting (internally or third party) is a fantastic ambassador for your company and can effectively convey your job proposition to a prospective candidate, thus maximising the chances of them getting interested and wanting to take it further at a time when they may feel staying in their current role is a safer option.
Ensure the list of candidate targets is long enough to give you a strong chance of finding those who are willing to take the risk of a job move. Yes, for some roles it’s partially a numbers game and a real test of thoroughness, but if you know the best candidates in the market for any skill set you gain a major advantage which is why specialist knowledge is critical. It’s worth noting that talent pooling or mapping can be very effective if done correctly to support a long term hiring plan.
Finally, start pipelining candidates before you are ready to hire. In other words, reach out to candidates who look like they could be a fit for your organisation and start a dialogue. Be transparent about when you are hoping to hire and view this as investing in a relationship via regular, meaningful contact.
Managing your candidate experience might not seem like a top priority at a time when many companies are cutting heads or freezing hiring. But in a market when this aspect of recruitment typically deteriorates, then how you treat candidates really impacts your talent brand now and in the long run and may make it harder to attract candidates when you’re ready to start hiring again.
Nearly 46% of hiring professionals said the outbreak has negatively affected the candidate experience at their company, according to our recent survey.
Whether you’re putting things on ice, crafting a totally remote candidate experience, or continuing business as usual, it’s critical to keep candidates updated in such a rapidly changing situation.
You need to proactively reach out and let them know what to expect or risk bad PR.
Again if you are stretched internally right now how can you do this?
What opportunities exist that smart companies can embrace?
One option to give some thought to is where do your people need to be located now?
The shift to more homeworking is likely to become permanent for at least a few days a week for many then roles that were recruited locally now can be recruited regionally, nationally or even internationally? Many people unhappy to commute 3-4 days a week into London for example may be perfectly happy with travelling in for a couple?
Organisations who can take advantage of this and are open to longer distance remote working may find it could help them build the team they have always wanted; with the right talent for the right job.
However this is difficult to do if your HR and talent people are too busy or have limited market knowledge or don’t know who the good people are regionally or interims who would consider a perm role but are not prepared to relocate.
Many organisations have talked about this over the last few years but very few in our experience have really made it work. Many organisations really only have list of targets or the availability of skill sets in certain locations, not real talent pools of identified potential hires who are engaged for future opportunities and know what you could offer them.
HR typically don’t have the time to do this right now (some would argue this was the norm previously) but now is the time to really focus on this so you can get in the best people to either protect or grow your business.
What are your key roles and what are the risks of key people leaving right now. How would you replace them and what do you need?
If you don’t have this in house you need to consider how you can act and quickly and we can advise on the best way to do this particularly if you are likely to hire in a few months time not immediately.
Get a head start on these challenges and use a specialist to help
A true specialist recruiter will know the market both in the UK and internationally and will have a pre-existing reputation and brand that will give them credibility with people who might not typically respond to adverts or head hunting approaches from people they don’t know.
Many of the top performers and good candidates in that market will be connections and often will have spoken to them before. They will be well networked and know who to talk to and critically who the good performers are. Key candidates will take the call and will listen and typically trust their advice more.
A true specialist knows the market and who the best people in it are, and they will be known to them either personally or by reputation. It may seem obvious but this awareness makes a big difference to people as against a ‘cold approach’ and the percentage who will respond positively to the approach significantly increases.
Ultimately a tailored and well thought through approach by a recruiter who knows the market and has a positive market reputation is more important than ever right now if your business really needs the best top performing people.
If your role is business critical, can you really afford not to get a headstart in terms of candidate attraction talent pooling and assessment? When you look at the situation that way, it becomes clearer that not paying for the right professional advice is a false economy.
Of course this article has covered a wide range of issues affecting the market today. If any of these resonate with you we may be able to help so if you are hiring in our specialist areas of procurement technology, spend management, finance and payments tech’, analytics, procurement or supply chain then please do get in touch.
We are also happy to help if you need general guidance on how to recruit outside our specialist areas.
Peter Brophy is a CIPD qualified HR professional with significant experience of leading in-house Talent Attraction teams particularly in the Consulting sector before he joined Edbury Daley.
In this article, Peter Brophy examines a number of critical factors affecting hiring in the current climate including:
- Professional recruitment activity has been severely disrupted by C19.
- Capacity in the recruitment sector is drastically reduced.
- Top performers can perceive job moves as risky.
- People think recruiting has become easier but making great hires can be harder than ever.
- What are your options when hiring for a key role?
- Recruitment models will take time to adapt.
One of Edbury Daley’s most popular and most read articles over the past couple of years was on the subject of the various different Recruitment Models that are used by large organisations. It discussed how recruitment actually worked in reality, and was written to help our clients and candidates get some insight into the sector, so they could improve their own hiring or job search strategies.
Similar to many other professions, these recruitment models were evolving as recruiters embraced new trends in social media and increasingly adopted the use of AI and Digital solutions. However the recruitment market has been severely disrupted by C19 in ways that were never anticipated. At the height of the pandemic the recruitment industry reported drops of up to 80% in permanent recruitment and 50% in temporary markets.
All bets were off and Internal Recruitment and Talent teams were suddenly faced with headcount freezes and hiring blocks on all but critical roles.
This has several affected capacity in both internal recruitment teams and external suppliers.
The market has bounced back to a degree since then but is still some way short of pre-pandemic levels. In many sectors it’s recovering slowly as this report from KPMG and the REC shows.
We don’t actually know yet what the ‘new normal’ will be but we do know that many of the potential changes and pre-existing trends to adopting new technology or ways of working have been amplified, so some of these changes have accelerated.
In tandem with the crash in recruitment volumes many organisations and external recruiters had to furlough a significant proportion of their people. Many face the real prospect of redundancy before the year is over. As the UK furlough scheme comes to an end, anecdotal evidence indicates that many will take advantage of the Chancellors new Job Support Scheme meaning many recruiters will be working reduced hours or not at all. This has big implications for recruitment and the way it works.
Another major impact is that with increasing redundancies there are unfortunately more people looking for jobs, just at a time when there are fewer recruiters to deal with the impact of this e.g. huge advert responses often made up of largely unsuitable candidates.
So It should get easier to find good, available people right?
As we all know many organisations furloughed staff and as we reach the end of the scheme we are seeing a wave of redundancies particularly in the hospitality and entertainment sectors.
That should mean if you are hiring you will get plenty of good candidates right?
Well, actually not necessarily, no!
There are some big issues to challenge this assumption.
Recruitment actually gets a lot harder in a recession, not easier as recruitment models and behaviours change, particularly if you really need to find the best candidates, not just anyone to fill a seat, and that is the case in professional recruitment where head count is limited and leaders need the right person to fit the team, achieve targets engage customers, suppliers or stakeholders.
If your business is up against it in terms of pressure to deliver, then it may seem counterintuitive but recruiting directly for the ‘first’ people who apply could be the most expensive mistake you make.
The big challenges to overcome when recruiting right now
This ultimately is related to quality versus quantity and the impact on internal recruiters / HR.
Yes the volume of available candidates has increased and many people have lost jobs through no fault of their own, particularly in the badly affected sectors.
However most organisations are looking closely at their headcount costs as they try to remain profitable against often unpredictable demand. We know that many are using this as an opportunity to lose the poorer performers, often the ‘bottom’ 5 or 10% of their workforce or those in ‘non-core’ departments.
It is rarely admitted but few organisations will allow their better performers to go or lose their best people unless absolutely necessary for business survival. Think of your own business and how much you need your best people right now.
Equally important is the psychology of those remaining who feel relatively ‘safe’. Would you risk a move right now if your job appears ‘safe and you are performing well? There is also the old ‘last in first out’ adage and many feel moving to a new employer is a risk unless it is in a strongly performing business or sector.
The reality is that most top performers in any profession or sector are sitting tight and making sure they are safe right now and do not want to take the risk of joining a new ‘unknown’ company unless they face redundancy themselves
Therefore the reality right now is that typically the volume of applicants to any given job is often higher, but critically the quality or relevance of those candidates may actually go down.
Another critical factor to consider is that due to the economy many people are desperate for a job so they will apply for anything, so are they really after your job or just any? Will they take the first job they are offered and then resign as soon as a good job in their sector or preferred environment comes back? That risk is actually very high so when you think of the total cost per hire, the time wasted in the process, the problem of finding replacements etc it makes sense to tread cautiously.
So think carefully – yes you’ll get lots of applicants and potentially fill a role quickly but are the vast majority of the newly available and relatively inexpensive candidates really the people you want to hire?
Don’t you owe it to yourself and your business to think a bit more strategically and carefully about how you recruit right now?
The impact on internal recruitment / HR
Often internal recruitment teams are one of the first hit by cost-cutting and are typically very vulnerable in a recession. In the financial crisis of 2008 many were severely cut and it took a year or two before they bounced back. We have seen many being badly affected already in this Covid crisis. In fact, RPO and Outsourced Recruitment arrangements seem particularly badly affected as they are often linked to a flexible demand based resourcing model.
HR often have to deal with recruitment as well, but the function has been swamped by a number of conflicting priorities at the same time such as working from home, health and safety, mental health, furloughing staff and redundancies along with restructuring etc. These issues are ongoing for them and unlikely to disappear any time soon, so this impacts on their capacity across the board.
So are you surprised that resourcing or recruitment may not top of mind for your HR colleagues right now? Or that it is one of many priorities they are struggling to juggle?
What are my options if I’m hiring for a key role?
So if your Recruitment and HR functions are constrained by limited capacity and you have a business critical hire what are your options?
Sorting through your own advert response will be time consuming, particularly in the current market with job seekers adopting a “nothing ventured nothing gained” mentality which is only exacerbated by the ability to apply to an advert in a handful of clicks.
Spending money on recruitment fees is a sensitive subject for many organisations who are scrutinising costs more than ever, but it can be money well spent if a credible, specialist recruiter is able to bring strong candidates into the process swiftly. Particularly if their knowledge and network enables them to identify risk averse candidates who wouldn’t apply to job adverts, but could be interested in quality opportunities if engaged in the correct way.
Also bear in mind that with the recruitment sector facing its own commercial challenges, there has never been a better time to negotiate reductions in fees and maximise your value from the process.
The value of a good, specialist recruiter is emphasised when the job market displays extreme criteria, whether that be acute skills shortages, too many candidates or overcoming issues like job security fears, yet many people don’t realise that side of what they offer.
What does this mean if you are looking for a role?
Organisation’s HR people or in house recruiters are typically either feeling overworked or dealing with many priorities and are swamped. In some organisations the recruitment team will be much reduced or gone altogether.
Specialist in house team recruiters often suffer the worst headcount reductions as the business focuses on its core roles, so specialist knowledge in the team is often lost (such as procurement, sales and other commercially focused roles) and the generalist recruiters are retained to focus on core operational roles.
Many recruitment agencies (particularly broad generalist ones) face similar challenges as they focus on core areas and with reduced fees often focus only on those (clients and candidates) likely to make them a fee.
What does that mean for the candidate experience? Well typically the impact is a negative one with much slower response times, often a lack of feedback, or just poor communication generally leading to a feeling of wasted time and effort.
In some sectors there has been a deluge of applicants and when compounded by there being fewer recruiters it has inevitably meant that candidate experience has significantly declined.
We know that many people are not hearing back from adverts or applications and are rarely getting feedback. Many candidates tell us they fear their CV has gone into a big black hole and of being lost amongst many applicants, particularly when they have applied online or via social media sites or even company websites.
The companies are subject to increased volume of applicants often sometimes, irrelevant or of low quality or from those just desperate for any job at any salary…..
Internal managers may need to recruit a replacement but may struggle to get budget or headcount sign off or find that HR are too busy with other things or the internal recruitment team or RPO is focusing on core roles or simply can’t give each role the specific attention it needs.
What this means for candidates is that it can be a bit of a lottery unless you have a direct contact in the business or you have someone specifically interested in what happens to your CV and is talking to people at the right level so your application does get considered.
Consider your chances of being noticed – is it best applying via a portal or job site or sending a speculative CV? Or is it better being represented by a specialist agency where the outcome really matters to them? They are often more likely to be talking to someone in a senior position who needs to hire.
Of course this article has covered a wide range of issues affecting the market today. If any of these resonate with you we maybe able to help so if you are hiring in our specialist areas of procurement technology, spend management, finance and payments tech’, analytics, procurement or supply chain then please do get in touch.
We are also happy to help if you need general guidance on how to recruit outside our specialist areas. You can contact me via email@example.com
Want more information? Why not read our follow up article – What are the challenges of recruiting in the current environment and how are companies overcoming them?
Peter Brophy is a CIPD qualified HR professional with significant experience of leading in-house Talent Attraction teams particularly in the Consulting sector before he joined Edbury Daley.
Image credits – https://www.proxyclick.com
Hiring might not be top of your agenda at the moment but the procurement profession is lucky to have one of the more robust professional job markets. Furthermore, the profession is facing unprecedented challenges to make some major cost savings in difficult circumstances, so it’s interesting to consider how that will impact on the demand for interim and permanent resources in the procurement job market?
We thought it would be useful to help you understand what we are seeing in the market whether you are planning to hire, trying to keep your best people or considering your own options.
Firstly let’s consider some interesting data seen by Edbury Daley from a report produced by Vacancysoft in conjunction with APSCo. The research looked at trends across all professional job markets (with salaries of £40k upwards) in London and offered sector by sector trends. It told us the following:
“Prior to the COVID-19 crisis we would expect on average that there would be between 500 and 600 professional vacancies per day in the capital, across all sectors. With that in mind we can see that at the beginning of Q2, the five day rolling average was 167, understandable given that we were in the early stages of lockdown. In contrast, on July 31st, this had increased to 358, and, in fact, there were multiple days in July where daily totals exceeded 400. While there’s certainly still some room for improvement, the capital’s hiring is clearly heading in the right direction.
When analysing activity by sector, Technology continues to dominate in terms of vacancy numbers, with activity up 33% compared to June. However, while it accounts for a significant proportion of the capital’s hiring, Technology was far from the best performing sector when measuring month on month change, with other specialisms outperforming it including Consumer Goods & Services (up 58%) and Real Estate & Construction (up 46%.)
The fact that so many other sectors outperformed Technology in this regard has resulted in the share of professional vacancies in the sector dropping to under 30% of all roles posted in London, for the first time since before the outbreak.”
The top six sectors for hiring activity in London are Technology, Banking, Retail, Consumer goods, Professional services (accounting & consulting), Real estate and Construction and Insurance.
So what is happening specifically in the procurement job market? Here is what we are seeing and hearing from across our network:
Hiring restrictions for permanent staff are still commonplace for major organisations in the UK across many verticals in the private sector.
Anecdotal evidence that we have gathered through speaking to people across the profession tells us that the picture is most positive in technology markets, pharmaceuticals, professional services, healthcare and banking.
New or additional headcount for procurement departments, a key factor that drives demand in strong markets (and salary inflation over recent years) is understandably rare and that in turn impacts on the demand for replacement hiring as there are less moves in the market generally to warrant said replacements.
There is little evidence of redundancies being made in procurement teams so far. The wider UK job market is braced for this in September and October but we expect procurement to be in a stronger position to maintain headcount than other functions. Procurement leaders certainly hope this will be the case given the pressure they are under to deliver in key areas, particularly driving cost down projects where possible and maintaining business-critical supply lines.
The Interim Market
During lockdown there was a spike in interim contractors coming to the market having had their projects canceled or delayed with organisations moving swiftly to limit non-essential spend. This has since slowed and there is now evidence of contractors having their assignments extended as cost-saving initiatives become more important, and in many cases gathering pace as organisations adapt to the current climate.
However, there is still significant spare capacity in the interim market as is demonstrated every time we advertise a role, and from the amount of incoming CV’s we have from people seeking new assignments.
With experienced procurement leaders talking about “pressure for cost savings like never before,” (something we’ve also heard that consultancies and software vendors in areas like spend analytics) the interim market may offer quick, effective solutions to many organisations, particularly with the option to hire for six months or so before IR35 kicks in for the new tax year in 2021.
New Hiring Challenges
For those companies that are recruiting or thinking about their plans for later this year, it’s worth thinking about the questions that are facing hiring managers in this unique set of market conditions:
How do you make effective hires without meeting candidates face to face?
How do you onboard people if your offices aren’t open or have limited capacity?
Are people reluctant to move jobs for security reasons?
What are employers’ work from home policies and how are they going to change?
We’ve been working with clients to address all these questions so if you want to hear how other companies are managing these challenges we’d be happy to help.
Please contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org
Director – Procurement & Spend Management
This article was originally published in the Spring 2020 edition of The Procurement and Spend Management Insider report.
The procurement, supply chain and spend management communities are taking this unique opportunity to prove their value in the midst of a truly global crisis. Procurement and supply chain is in a lead role for many companies, acting as the guiding light for organisations with supply chains under immense stress or sourcing new components for essential medical equipment required by health services all over the world.
We should be proud of the contribution and celebrate it when the opportunity comes along, whenever that may be. Hopefully it won’t be too long before we see our colleagues in a work or social setting!
We should also appreciate the fact that these unprecedented circumstances are offering some amazing opportunities for personal growth for the people involved.
There are opportunities to do different things that might not happen under normal circumstances in supplier collaboration and innovation. There are new challenges managing supply chain risks and visibility across multiple tiers of the supplier base, particularly for companies that rarely look beyond tier one suppliers.
For leaders, the need to bring your teams together to achieve great feats of teamwork whilst remote working presents real challenges. Employers and stakeholders are relying on you to adapt to these changes with the future of your business on the line.
For many senior management teams, seeing how your suppliers are adapting in these circumstances and understanding what they are capable of when managing their own crisis, fighting for survival, fighting for supply is a real eye opener.
Maybe you urgently need to find a new supplier or get to the front of the queue with existing ones? How are you doing that?
Whether it’s working with your stakeholders, customers or colleagues in new ways, making progress in circumstances where tools that you have traditionally relied on aren’t necessarily available to you, or overcoming problems when everything you have traditionally relied upon goes out of the window, this is all great professional experience.
And what should you do with it? Well one thing you can do is keep a diary of this period. You should document what you are doing, maybe share experiences with current and past colleagues, see what they are doing, what they are learning and what you might have done differently with the benefit of hindsight.
Because at the end of all this, it will be a great time to strengthen your CV because these are all great learning opportunities that are providing experience that will prove invaluable in the future. Experience that could be the key to your next promotion, internal or external job move because you now have knowledge that could prove invaluable when we work out what the new business environment looks like after all this.
And what if you aren’t on the front line, what if your company has furloughed you or doesn’t see the value of what procurement can contribute? Well don’t despair because that means you’ve got more spare time during all this which, if used wisely, could be very beneficial. There are so many valuable resources available to consume that will help you get some professional development.
Andrew Daley made a video about how to prepare yourself for the future of procurement. In it, he gives some guidance on how you can take responsibility for your own personal development, and for those that have more spare time than normal now is the time to embrace his suggestions and his six point plan to protect the future of your career.