1. An introduction to procurement technology and data

“Technology is a useful servant but a dangerous master” according to Christian Lous Lange, the Norwegian academic and Nobel Laureate.

This is the first in a series of five blogs taking an in-depth look at procurement technology and data. I start by considering the range of procurement technology that is available and show what happens when it all goes wrong. I go on to compare data from procurement systems with those from social media and customer systems. Finally, I consider what the future holds.

When considering the range of technology available, it is difficult to find an area of procurement that remains untouched. As the market matures, technology providers are pushing into areas resulting in considerable overlap. CIPS compiled the list below with the exception of blockchain. Although some of the terminology has changed since 2013 I think it still serves as a useful summary:

  • e-commerce; more specifically, e-sourcing, e-procurement, e-purchasing, e-auctions, e-tender, purchasing cards, purchase order systems
  • Marketplaces/business exchanges
  • Contract registers/databases
  • Knowledge portals/supplier databases
  • Business intelligence
  • e-invoicing/e-payables
  • ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems
  • MRP (Manufacturing Resource Planning)/Inventory systems
  • EPOS (Electronic Point of Sale)
  • Bar coding/RFID (Radio Frequency Identification)
  • Intranets
  • Extranets
  • Blockchain

All this technology generates data. Many procurement professionals ask themselves if technology makes them more efficient? Then they go on to ask whether the vast quantity of data generated provides any insights that can those be used to increase value to the buying organisation. I will try to answer these questions in the following series of blogs.

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