The Internet of Things (IoT) threatens to further increase the already considerable skills gap in the international procurement field, a panel of experts have agreed.
Speaking at a recent Zycus webinar panel discussion on preparing procurement for the coming of IoT, journalist Jon Hansen pointed out that there was a perceived lack of the necessary skills and knowledge in the procurement field to fully analyse available data and therefore deliver effective procurement strategies.
“As we get into the IoT world and artificial intelligence, will the skills gap get even worse?” asked Hansen, editor and lead writer at the Procurement Insights website. “Now not only do we have the lack of skills within our own capabilities prior to digital transformation, but also the introduction of new technology might just exacerbate that gap further.”
IoT technology will initially be used to collect and categorise information, the panel heard, but procurement professionals will still need to analyse the data in order to make key decisions, for instance relating to supply relationship management and sourcing savings.
“IoT is the next phase in the development of decision making where we’ll get better information, better raw data, but the key to unlocking its potential benefits rests on being able to analyse that data,” said Robert Handfield, executive director of Supply Chain Resource Cooperative. “If you look at the smart grid today for instance, in energy, there are these homes that have sensors broadcasting data but utility companies still don’t really know how to use that information.”
Handfield added that the only way to develop the necessary skills is to adopt the new technology and learn as you go along. In his opinion, too many organisations were failing to make the required investment because they saw IoT as a threat.
He insisted, however, that procurement was essentially people-led at heart, and that IoT would not change this, but would only be beneficial in improving performance.