Practitioners holding procurement and supply chain jobs in industrial sectors, such as oil and gas, are struggling to achieve vital efficiencies because of antiquated technology, an industry expert has claimed. Tim Neal, an expert in digital tech solutions for the industrial and energy maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) sector, told that achieving an advanced B2B equivalent of Amazon’s stellar tech-driven consumer online shopping experience is still some way off.

Complex components, stringent product performance requirements, and the need for engaging buyers and suppliers in contract and pricing negotiations are begging for an Amazon-style solution. Yet the reality for procurement pros in this space, from permanent staff to procurement and supply chain interims, is starkly different. Practitioners are forced to rely on efficiency-impeding methods, such as phone calls and PDF document exchanges, to buy and sell complicated equipment and components.

‘Big inefficiencies’ result, due to laborious, time-wasting procedures, such as manually searching and buying components and supplies, human error and poor transparency into business operations, spending and parts performance. The dearth of digitisation in the sector often leaves procurement pros in the dark about how much they’re spending and how effective that spending is. New solutions are emerging, including platforms that digitise what have, until now, been manual processes. For example, the ‘GoExpedi’ platform offers tools such as credit card payments processing, interactive product schematics, and product suggestions, bypassing the need for sharing PDF documents.

Neal believes that these solutions will shortly bridge a damaging ‘white collar-blue-collar’ gulf in the industry between top-level executives and the professionals charged with buying and using the products the industry needs. He said: “Through technology, we’re able to make sure the blue collar operational front gets the right parts they need and aren’t spending a burdensome amount of time procuring. At the same time, the white collar corporate office gets the transparency into asset-by-asset performance, and looking at metrics on how they can evaluate expenditures of assets.”

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