Major studies, such as the Deloitte Global Chief Procurement Officer Survey, have recently shown that 88% of business leaders believe that automation will transform procurement in as little as five years. With this in mind, what should professionals in today’s procurement jobs and supply chains jobs do to prepare for the change? A seasoned procurement consultant, Sami Peltonen, has offered three key suggestions.

Many procurement recruitment agencies have already picked up on a degree of unease among candidates for procurement jobs whenever the issue of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is on the table. A common concern is that this technology will replace their jobs, making them surplus to requirements. However, there are good reasons why this is a mistaken presumption.

Peltonen suggests that people looking at the procurement jobs of the future need to be assured that, while their tasks may change, their roles will still be essential. AI will automate many tasks that are currently in the remit of existing procurement jobs, but this will enable the professionals in those positions, whether full-time employees or procurement interims, to focus on higher priority responsibilities. Peltonen suggests that one way of upskilling for tomorrow’s procurement jobs is for organisations to invest in training today’s job holders in data analytics and collaboration skills. Securing these skills now will enable them to work with AI and automation tech, and to be prepared for the coming shift.

Secondly, Peltonen emphasises that human critical thinking will remain crucial. AI will augment this, not replace it. It can recommend business and procurement decisions, but humans will still be needed to decide on their wisdom based on their real-world experience.

Finally, alongside steps one and two, today’s procurement pros should be encouraged to buy-in to the new technology so that they can successfully use it, reap its benefits and see it as something to get excited by rather than fear.

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