A bold, empowered, energised procurement team can change the world. We’re about to find out just how much: Procurement Leaders’ frequent conversations with global CPOs indicate many leaders remain optimistic despite downbeat economic predictions for the year ahead.

Effective teams are finding new ways to leverage data and technology, shareholders and customers are placing greater emphasis on trust and understanding where and how businesses source what they need, meanwhile, economic risk is creating a greater need for resilience and greater ability to capture new innovation. The CPO trends report 2020 provides further detail (listen to the webinar), but there should be no ambiguity that the network is anticipating huge opportunities amid this whirlwind.

Procurement Leaders’ CPO advisory board – representing some of the world’s largest, most influential organisations – is understandably bullish, with members drawing inspiration from 2019 before tackling the seismic changes ahead. They are ready to lead the change – here is what we learned from speaking to them.

Time to take responsibility

Procurement Leaders’ 2020 CPO trends report says: “Shareholders will demand more accountability for ethical, sustainable, compliant supply chains.” But that is not just representing the voice of environmentally conscious customers or activists, leading CPOs are increasingly vocal about their own objectives.

Herve Le Faou, CPO at Heineken, describes what inspires him this year as: “The digitalisation and sustainability strategies we have been working on, which bring a new era of business value and sense of purpose for the future.”

Developing the sustainability focus, Bayer CPO Thomas Udesen is clear about what motivates him: “I was inspired by the children and adults from all walks of life that made a clear statement with the global climate strike. We were reminded about our prime responsibility; to leave our home, our one planet, in the same condition as it was entrusted to us,” he says. “We have a lot of work to do and procurement professionals are mission-critical to accelerating a positive change. Sustainable supply chains start with us, so let’s ensure we leave the right legacy.”

Permission to accelerate

It is powerful to hear procurement chiefs taking their responsibility within the world seriously but also increasingly telling that they feel confident that they have to be the problem-solvers – the people to drive change.

“Digitalisation and sustainability will massively change supply chain management in the near future,” says Klaus Staubitzer, CPO and head of supply chain at Siemens. “It offers us so many opportunities and chances. We should be more curious and bolder in getting our things done. Taking no risk is the biggest risk!”

These are not the words of a backroom function.

The people to get us where we’re going

Bob Murphy, CPO at IBM, describes his excitement and pride at seeing the increased engagement throughout his global procurement teams. “As we all know, our people are our most valuable asset and so highly motivated and energised employees are critical to ensure ongoing superior stakeholder relationships and driving best in class results,” he says.

Looking ahead to the trends that will shape 2020, businesses will rely on their respective teams to adapt to these influences, develop at pace and lead: tomorrow’s function faces a true revolution that will succeed or fail based on the inspiration and perspiration of this generation of procurement professionals.

With that in mind, Udesen’s remark and his question around legacy provide a snapshot of what is really at stake. Procurement can either be a pilot for a new type of business, a new concept of the value chain or continue to be a passenger. Together our legacy can remodel the world – and who wouldn’t find that inspiring?

Enjoyed this article? World Procurement Congress, taking place in May, is a high-level strategic event underpinned by Procurement Leaders’ leading research insights and expert speakers. Download the agenda now to find out more about our focus on 2020 trends and business transformation.