A new study from Barclaycard Payments reveals that most senior procurement decision-makers believe that practitioners in supply chain and procurement jobs must now mesh their negotiating skills with insights from data analytics if they are to secure the best deals.
70% of the procurement decision-makers polled consider skilled negotiation as important as ever, describing it as an ‘art’ – but almost the same proportion expect it to be conducted digitally within the coming five years.
An age difference emerged in the research findings: decision-makers aged 55 and over showed a strong preference for face-to-face negotiations, while younger practitioners in procurement jobs (aged between 18 and 34) were twice as likely to opt for a digitally enabled supplier management portal to assist negotiations.
The younger age group were also a third more likely to consider technological innovations such as supplier management portals and video conferencing solutions as positive tools to improve their negotiating abilities.
There was a broad consensus among both age groups, however, that today, being able to access data and insights while negotiations are underway could appreciably improve the outcome.
80% believed that insights from data analytics were now important in supplier discussions.
A potentially worrying finding for the future of human-occupied procurement jobs was that 66% of those polled expect data analytics to overtake people skills in next-generation supplier negotiations.
46% on average admitted to a lack of confidence in face-to-face negotiations, an issue that was greater for women (53%) than men (43%).
The main cause reported by respondents who believed that they had been unable to negotiate optimally was a lack of access to sufficient data.
This may be about to change very shortly, however, as businesses are planning to spend a fifth more on upskilling their procurement teams in negotiation training than was spent last year.
Business negotiation expert Paul Fisher of Oxford University’s Saïd Business School said that having timely, accurate and historical data – internally and also from your negotiation counterpart – is vital to a mutually successful result.