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It these times of constant changes, it is very important to be able to adapt to any given situation. This is more than relevant for sourcing and procurement processes.

How will AI and new technology shape the future of strategic sourcing and procurement?

World is changing very fast and AI and other emerging technologies are behind this rapid evolution. This is also the case for Procurement; cognitive computing can be leveraged for the next generation tools that will support the contract lifecycle. Machine learning, neural networks and enhanced analytics have many applications in procurement such as anticipating risks before they materialise or pointing out weak positions in our contracts, hence supporting negotiations and deal closure. We no longer need to go and search for the info, but instead, AI and ML will anticipate our needs and provide the insights we need, when we need them.

What can be done in order to develop effective SRM?

I look at Supplier Relationship Management from a very strategic point of view, meaning that we are partnering with our suppliers to deliver value beyond contractual obligations.
This cannot be achieved without trust, so building trust is the key. SRM should be seen as an investment of time an effort which, overtime, will bring a good return to the parties. Obviously, we also do not want to partner with all our suppliers, so to make SRM effective, a robust supplier segmentation is paramount.

Futuristic vision of workforce required in procurement. What skills will be needed?

I would say the key emerging skill for workforce today is adaptability. Where change is the only constant, we look for people that can embrace continuous change and evolve with it. This is not excusive for procurement. Analytical skills are required too, there is no longer any excuse for not making decision based on data insights. And last but not least, soft skills such as business partnering and stakeholder management will always be required.

Barbara ALCALDE, Contracting and Procurement Advisor at Shell has dedicated most of her 17 years of professional experience to the contracting and procurement function. Since she joined Shell in 2010, she has specialised in contract management and strategic supplier relationships. Her current role is focused on digitalization of strategic sourcing processes. She is passionate about emerging technologies and about building high performing teams.

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