For me, it's always a good day when IBM announces one of its new studies.
Like any other modern marketer, I'm a big believer in data and market research, and of course, as a blogger, it's always good to be able to deal in facts obtained via reliable market research.
Today, at the IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit here in Nashville, IBM announced what may well be the industry's first ever market research study of Chief Procurement Officers.
Over the past two days, a key theme that has emerged here at Smarter Commerce is the idea that for organizations to deliver a truly customized, personalized experience -- with marketing and social media often at the tip of that marketing spear -- then you'd also better have your so-called "back office" synchronized through your entire value chain.
Which means, all the way through your purchasing and procurement functions.
And according to the study, good procurement practices pay. Companies with high-performing procurement organizations are driving better bottom line results, reporting profit margins of 7.12 percent compared to just 5.83 percent for companies with low-performing procurement organizations.
Moreover, companies with top performing procurement organizations report profit margins 15 percent higher than the average company -- and 22 percent higher margins than companies with low-performing procurement organizations.
IBM's Chief Procurement Officer study
The 2013 Chief Procurement Officer Study was conducted by the IBM Institute of Business Value (IBV) and highlights the business impact that Chief Procurement Officers (CPOs) can have on a company's competitive advantage and profitability.
It explores how top-performing CPOs can increase their influence over strategic business imperatives by driving efficiency and performance, introducing innovative new processes, and uncovering new insight into supplier networks that have a measurable effect on the bottom line.
The largest of its kind, the study surveyed 1,128 procurement executives in 22 countries across North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific. Of the respondents, 15 percent were found to be top performers, defined by their ability to exert influence and drive innovation across their companies, while also excelling at procurement fundamentals.
The study identified several common actions that enable top performing procurement organizations to achieve such impressive results. They:
Gain Insight Through Big Data Analytics -- By using analytics to tackle big data challenges, CPOs can gain new insights into internal business operations and their supplier networks to identify vulnerabilities. Eighty-three percent of high-performing CPOs excel at leveraging analytics compared to just 63 percent of the low performers.
Collaborate Well Within and Beyond the Enterprise -- Social Business technology helps global procurement organizations to connect with internal and external partners. According to the study, 80 percent of high-performing companies report that collaboration across departments, such as IT, marketing, and sales, is both a key strength and an investment priority, compared to only approximately 45 percent of low performers. High performing procurement organizations see the benefit of close partner collaboration, and therefore are more likely to create strategic alliances. For example, top performers direct 38 percent more of their annual spend through strategic alliances than low-performing organizations.
Adapt to Changing Market Conditions -- By using big data insights and collaboration, high performing CPOs are in a better position to quickly respond to changing internal and external conditions, from demand changes to supply disruptions and product redesigns. The study showed that 73 percent of top performing procurement organizations are effective at gathering insights from the supplier community, compared to only 16 percent of lower performing counterparts.
By way of back-office background
As companies re-align their organizations to take a more customer-centric approach, the role of procurement professionals is changing from a traditional back-office, transaction oriented role, to one with more visibility and influence among C-suite executives, who are keen to manage risk that can undermine profitability.
CPOs are well positioned to help identify and mitigate supply-related vulnerabilities because they serve as the bridge between suppliers and internal consumers. Similarly, procurement teams can utilize data analytics to help improve demand forecasts and identify additional savings opportunities within spend categories.
To be influential and secure a seat among C-suite executives, procurement professionals must exploit their unique position as a conduit between the enterprise and the outside world to improve their company's responsiveness to dynamic market conditions, while minimizing risk, volatility, and price fluctuations that can compromise profit margins.
In reviewing the survey findings, key capabilities to achieve these objectives include employing best-practices with procurement technologies and talent development. There is a strong correlation between being a top performing procurement organization and effectively using procurement technologies.
For example, in regards to Supplier Relationship Management, the study found that 94 percent of top performing companies are highly effective in their use of procurement technologies, compared to 44 percent of all surveyed companies that are average or below average in their technology effectiveness.
The study also found that CPOs think that supplier intelligence solutions, including 360-degree global view of supplier relationships and procurement performance dashboards, will be the most important area of investment over the next three years.
Top performing organizations also are turning to social business for innovative ways to manage their global teams and collaborate with their suppliers. The study found that high performers are more likely to use social tactics such as crowd sourcing (81 percent) and collaborating on product development with suppliers (88 percent), versus their low-performing counterparts (38 and 47 percent, respectively).
CPOs of top performing procurement organizations know that success depends on getting skills and expertise needed to execute the mission they have been given. By percent, twice as many top performers as low performers view recruiting and talent development retention as a key strength.
Top performers also extend these human capital advantages because they are equally aggressive in their investment plans for retention, recruiting, and talent development.
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