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Globality’s Keith Hausmann on the Future of Procurement

6 May, 2020 | By Matthias Gutzmann

Keith Hausmann is the chief revenue officer at Globality, the AI-powered sourcing Platform company, where he is responsible for leading the company’s business development, sales, and growth initiatives. Digital Procurement World sat down with Hausmann to obtain his perspective on the future of procurement. Hausmann previously cofounded Procurian, a company that pioneered the concept of outsourcing procurement, and he led global procurement and supply chain operations at Accenture.

Procurement has been talking about going digital for a long time, yet little progress has been made over the years. How important is digitization now? What’s changed?

The world is being digitally reconfigured before our eyes. People are ready for new ways of working, and procurement has to rise to the occasion and seize this window of opportunity. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, stakeholder expectations were evolving and becoming more demanding. With the current situation, digitization has come to the forefront, and digitizing procurement is now a requirement, not an option.

Business leaders are moving at an unprecedented pace to maintain business continuity and position their companies’ long-term competitive advantage. This is a significant priority for every function, including IT, marketing, finance, legal, and HR. Procurement’s business partners need to be able to scope and source different ways of working with current and new suppliers in a matter of hours or days, not weeks or months. When procurement is unable to deliver right away, business partners find other solutions, limiting procurement’s role to overseeing and processing transactions. 

Business stakeholders are accustomed to an immediate and intuitive consumer experience in their daily lives—it’s how they look for new apartments and homes, personal and professional connections, food delivery, car service, and vacation experiences. They expect the same easy and agile process in the workplace. Stakeholders need to be able to work seamlessly with colleagues from any location at any time. COVID-19 has accelerated a shift that was already underway, bringing the need for asynchronous, virtual collaboration to the forefront.

Self-service procurement is a must for business stakeholders. Disruptions from the pandemic have proven that procurement must adapt to the value chain’s rapidly evolving needs, whether the company is in the financial, pharmaceutical, or consumer packaged goods industry. Today, most digital procurement solutions do not provide a comprehensive self-service experience that is seamless, integrated, and end to end. They might support requisitioning and buying but not sourcing or contracting. The procurement and sourcing experience must be seamless, without users needing to know what is on the back end as long as their requirements are met. 

With increased financial pressure on nearly every business, procurement is being forced to do more with less. When there are restrictions on hiring, as companies are experiencing now, fewer people are addressing the workload, yet expectations for transparency, competition, cost improvement, and spend management remain the same.

The bottom line is that procurement’s stakeholders have always demanded greater autonomy, self-service, agility, and speed, yet most procurement teams have not accounted for this in their approach. It is time to move away from lengthy, complex processes and systems of record that automate current ways of working without solving the real business requirements.

What will determine procurement’s success in the future?

The key drivers of procurement’s future success are unquestionably human ingenuity, technological innovation, and well-informed speed. Because the combination of human and machine is critical, procurement has to harness—and harmonize—the capabilities of both.

Elevated talent models must identify and develop uniquely human skill sets such as relationship management, consulting, problem-solving, supplier innovation, and category strategy development. Procurement talent should be less focused on transactions—even complex transactions such as sourcing and negotiation. In this new model, future procurement talent may come from sales, R&D, or strategy teams, as much as the more traditional finance and supply chain backgrounds. 

Delivering against the promise of digital transformation requires procurement to fully embrace innovative technologies like AI, machine learning, and cognitive platforms, which are different from the traditional software systems of record.

Design thinking mind-sets will be highly sought after because they will allow companies to digitally solve business problems that affect internal and external stakeholders. Most importantly, future leaders must be equipped to drive change. Procurement leaders have been mired in a reactionary role for far too long and must be able to drive and lead business transformation across their companies.

The traditional procurement role must change and evolve with this unprecedented opportunity to deliver value to the business in ways that were never before possible. The most innovative procurement teams are moving at a rapid and entrepreneurial pace, utilizing cutting-edge technology to disrupt and transform their companies. They know this is the only way they can successfully navigate their business through any potential situation, including economic downturns and upturns.

Where does your passion for procurement and sourcing come from? What are you personally most excited about now?

My interest in procurement goes back to an early role I played after completing my undergraduate degree at the University of Pennsylvania. As a management trainee in a well-known Fortune 500 company, I found myself in a rotation working for a vaunted sales leader who remarked to me how unbalanced the career, compensation, and development paths were for “buyers” versus “sellers.” At the time, there was no procurement equivalent to a “rainmaker” bringing new business and revenue opportunities.  After thinking about this and pondering the business possibilities, a few of us left the big company to go start our own firm to help the “buyers” become as sharp, well trained, equipped, and compensated as the “sellers.” Nearly thirty years later, I think we’ve made a great deal of progress, but there is much more to be done. Even after creating the “procurement as a service” market based on a semi-successful dot-com procurement endeavor and building two market-leading businesses in this space, I can see an entirely new era of opportunity to bring procurement into the fourth Industrial Revolution era. This is what I aim to do at Globality.

I was immediately drawn to and ultimately joined Globality in September 2019 based on the unique and innovative Platform the company has created. I’m personally excited about what we have done with AI to reimagine and automate the end-to-end sourcing process and give global enterprises the unprecedented opportunity to achieve an elevated stakeholder experience, superior provider quality, lower total costs, and increased collaboration. It’s rare to have the opportunity to contribute to the future of the global economy, and that’s exactly what we have the potential to do with our customers as we change how companies buy and sell services around the world.

For more information, visit Globality’s website.

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