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The Need for Innovation in Procurement with Dr. Elouise Epstein, Ep #143

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Dr. Elouise Epstein is a digital futurist and dot-connector in the world of procurement. She believes if you’re going to bring a new procurement operating model into this new world—and operate in the 21st century—it’s all got to start with digital. You need to embrace the shift towards digitalization. Dr. Elouise focuses specifically on digital excellence in procurement and supply chain. She’s a proponent of understanding emerging innovation in digital technologies. She has over 20 years of experience designing digital procurement and supply chain strategies for fortune 500 companies. Listen for a fascinating conversation directed towards those ready for a continuous shift into the future.

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:27] Dr. Elouise Epstein specializes in digital procurement transformation
  • [5:00] It’s not about what’s happening, it’s about what you do next
  • [7:37] Where innovation in procurement is happening
  • [12:36] The opportunities being taken advantage of
  • [17:37] The positive disruption through the process of collaboration
  • [21:05] Have large companies lost the ability to innovate?
  • [25:48] Whoever can deliver innovation in procurement will win
  • [28:08] Why it’s time to embrace the shift towards digitalization
  • [31:23] How to connect with Dr. Elouise Epstein

Innovation in procurement: You decide what happens next

Dr. Elouise points out that it’s not about what’s happening, it’s about what you do next. She’s tired of consultants and “professionals” who are full of hot air—they just throw out buzzwords, jargon, and nonsense. They’re sprouting futuristic terminology but doing nothing to help propel companies into a digital future.

Dr. Elouise notes that “If you actually understand this at the most detailed level of PO to payment, to payment terms and relationship to sourcing, and the entire procurement value chain, then it’s very easy to connect the dots and make the translation from, ‘Hey, this great new technology will solve this problem that every client has.’ ” Are you embracing innovation in procurement and implementing it in your organization whenever possible?

Is innovation in procurement moving in the right direction? To hear some of the biggest problems occurring in the world of procurement and how they can be overcome, keep listening.

The emergence of a new market

Dr. Elouise points out that as we emerge from the coronavirus crisis that we’ve been thrust into, a new market will begin to emerge with an arguably different architecture. Innovation in procurement needs to begin with a much more flexible, open, and agile platform. And whoever can deliver that will win—or will be well on their way to winning.

It could be Amazon or Salesforce that steps up to the plate with new innovations in a race to the finish line. As you redefine the landscape, other entrants can come in and make plays. Dr. Elouise points out that this possibility is stronger than ever. They’re able to emerge into a landscape they couldn’t compete in before. Those organizations that remain stuck in the mud and attached to the old ways of doing things will be left behind.

Have large companies lost the ability to innovate?

Companies must change and pivot—or they WILL die out. Do big procurement tech companies actually realize what’s happening in front of their noses? Do they realize that they’re literally getting destroyed on a day-to-day basis? Do they not realize that it’s time to wake up? Many have seemingly lost the ability to innovate. They have the financial ability to do so, but it seems like they’ve lost the passion for it.

Elouise believes—if you look at the Big Six—that there are only two legitimate companies that will survive at the enterprise level. She points out that you have to look at their evolution—all of them have grown through acquisitions. Any enterprise that goes through an acquisition tends to struggle culturally. They’re dealing with what Elouise labels as “legacy baggage”.

Automation is also impacting the number of category managers and buyers, lowering the number of requisitions. Then you throw in the coronavirus and you have businesses that are lucky if they’re able to pay their bills. Elouise points out that “There’s no doubt they have to evolve dramatically or die because they were already dying before that.”

Embrace the shift towards digitalization

Elouise believes we are at the point where many companies need to rip apart their operating models and realign with the workforce. It’s time to redo systems and start afresh with something agile. Companies need to embrace the work-from-home ability that they do have—because they’ve been thrust into it and adapted—and embrace the shift towards digitalization. She emphasizes the need to put sustainability at the forefront:

“We’re not doing paper, we’re not accepting paper. We are driving risk and sustainability into every sourcing award we make, into every requisition we make, into every strategic decision we do and into every innovation with a supplier we do. And we balance that with an equal measure of cost reduction.”

Elouise points out the necessity for bold leadership, bold technology, and bold people—such as the younger generation rising up. We need bold processes, vibrancy and the cultivation of a community. Elouise believes we need a broader procurement community that can coalesce into a single entity, both within and without the organization.

What else does Dr. Elouise wish the procurement community would embrace? Listen to this fascinating conversation to find out more about the shift towards digitalization.

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Dr. Elouise Epstein

Connect With Mark

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