2020's Disruptions to Accelerate Procurement Transformation in 2021

Kerrie Kennedy

April 6, 2022

In January 2016, we asked, “What will procurement look like in 2020?” Few could have predicted the year would bring a perfect storm of events that would necessitate companies across all industries to adopt intelligent automation into many of their daily processes, solutions, and resources just to survive. Automation has been a lifeline for many organizations during the Covid-19 pandemic, bolstering resilience as tactics and work operations were interrupted or limited, and forcing business leaders to find innovative ways to get jobs done.

Performing work by combining humans with machines implies some far-reaching change in many organizations, but new research has shown that great strides are being made in the area. At the start of December 2020, a Deloitte survey revealed that significantly more organizations have embarked on their intelligent automation journey than last year (73 percent versus 58 percent), while the number who said their organizations are deploying at scale has nearly doubled since 2019.  

For procurement specifically, the year 2020 made it clear that it was time for strategic sourcing to get serious about becoming more agile, and many procurement leaders did just that. But even before the pandemic made headlines, at Keelvar, we already had several customers using our sourcing optimization and automation solutions to respond quickly to the ever-changing market conditions across a range of spend categories. We heard from many about their increased volumes of smaller-scale spot and reactive bidding events, where automation benefits play a highly beneficial time-savings and quality role, and prior to the official launch of our AI-powered ocean freight sourcing automation solution, some initial customers reported time and productivity savings of up to 93 percent.

Yet even as the calendar turns to 2021, bringing with it optimism of a return to some semblance of normalcy, things in procurement may never be the same again. According to research from The Supply Chain Management Institute, 97 percent of organizations have been impacted by supply chain disruptions due to Covid-19. Unexpected changes felt in ocean freight transport include decreased capacity, rate and demand fluctuations, and carrier limitations, while dramatic drops in air cargo capacity continue to be a significant concern that could lead to some permanent changes in air-freight sourcing.

With such widespread uncertainty for the future, there is no question that automation will continue to transform procurement as more enterprises make the shift to survive the global health and supply chain crisis. So, to help make the case for companies to advance their sourcing strategies in 2021 with the adoption of user-friendly optimization and intelligent automation, we have published a round-up of select blog posts and website content in a handy Buyer’s Book that shows Sourcing Automation is here to stay, and Keelvar is at the forefront of this technology.

Download a complimentary copy of our Buyer's Book today and find out why we believe 2020’s procurement disruptions reveal 2021’s opportunities.

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