Procurement & supply chain have huge sustainability potential: SAP Ariba Live – Day 1

Procurement and supply chains can impact the world, whether it is climate change or human right, keynote speakers said at SAP Ariba Live.

Barry Padgett, SAP Ariba Live president, kicked off the three-day conference in Amsterdam, by cycling on stage on a bike.

“Who would have thought, a couple of years ago, that today we would be talking about having conversations with our televisions and phones in our consumer life? Pretty radical.

It’s not just the consumer world that’s on fire argued Padgett – the world is moving towards ‘just in time’ production with the likes of machine learning (ML) and 3D printing.

“We used to spend a lot of time talking about process efficiencies, which is still really important because it’s how we get measured, but we are now also being measured by how we collaborate too,” said Padgett.

“You now have the opportunity to become the chief collaboration officer at your company, whether you’re working in procurement, finance or IT.

“We can now use things like artificial intelligence (AI) and ML to help us not just make smarter purchasing decisions, we can now make sustainable ethical supply chains,” he explained.


“We have the power to eliminate slave labour in supply chains – that is pretty cool. That is a what we are here to talk about today – to dream,” Padgett added.

Every 60 seconds a new supplier joins the supply chain and procurement network, according to Padgett, making it one of the biggest networks in the world.

“It is not idealistic to think we can change the world – just look at the amount of spend we have as a network around the world,” said Padgett.

This message was echoed by Ashley Bates, the vice president for contract and procurement at Shell, wo argued that digitalization was the next tipping point for supply chain and procurement.

“Working alone, Shell or any company cannot be successful. We have to work with our partners for sustained success. That means governments, NGOs, technologies, industries and suppliers.

“We have to move away from a transactional and customer-supplier focus. We must move from behaviours of today to behaviours of tomorrow,” said Bates.


Next up on the keynote stage was Jim Ridgwick, head of procurement at Save the Children International, who continued the message by saying, “don’t get paralyzed because you don’t think your impact will be big enough”.

From 40 to 60% of an organisations financial resources go out to suppliers, argued Ridgwick.

“We can impact what our organizations buy and who from. We can influence how our suppliers run their business, we can impact how they treat their employees, where they get their resources from and even how they treat their suppliers as we’re their customers,” he said.

“Procurement has an enormous impact and can fundamentally shift how a company conducts its businesses. It’s not just do-gooding for do-goodings sake.

“The key is how do we turn that into the organisations DNA? Procurement can ensure sustainability objectives go into the companies supply chain selection process,” he added.


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