The Future of Procurement Technology

Research has shown that leading companies today employ extensive use of procurement technology for purposes of driving high performance. Procurement masters do this in the following ways:

  • Provide heavy support to their source-to-pay process via a complete suite of integrated technology modules.
  • Achieve “one version of the truth” through the harmonization of master data across systems and consistent maintenance procedures.
  • Have access to highly visible data so as to enable full reporting.
  • Boast a full portfolio of supplier integration technology.

Today’s procurement masters therefore enjoy significant payoffs, delivering 2.5 times more value for every dollar spent in procurement, in comparison to average performers. But what lies ahead with regards to procurement technology benefits of the future? Take a look.

Innovative Technology

With the economy still in recovery, business focus has shifted to technology that is easy to deploy and which delivers a quick and tangible ROI. Granted, technology today typically focuses on the manufacturing element of the enterprise, which is where the money is made. Nevertheless, procurement remains at the heart of every organization; therefore innovation in technology can help boost procurement engagement ultimately leading to a reduction in costs and increase in savings.

Increased Connectivity

Procurement managers of the future will increasingly need to adapt to the convergence of work and play. Consumer-style expectations will persist in their migration into the workplace with access via the traditional PC/ browser-based platforms being superseded by apps. Procurement technology applications will shift their focus to engagement and usability so as to drive efficient processes and fantastic compliance. Additionally, as with the internet, technology is set to become even more connected over time.

Intelligent, Multi-Dimensional Data

Business procurement is set to resemble consumer procurement platforms such as eBay and Amazon. This will be achieved through technology that is more intelligent and which utilizes multiple dimensions of data to steer spending behavior towards the most attractive deals. In this way, procurement managers will be able to make purchasing decisions that are quick and better informed.

An efficient and integrated technology foundation is critical for achieving such results for the business of the future. This will also require thought leadership in procurement and sourcing, specialized skills for SAP procurement and global client experience to assist an organization in the maintenance of a reliable, high quality supply base while reducing costs. It is such a foundation that will provide your business with a procurement technology framework that will power high performance for years to come.

Distributed Generation Technologies – Applications and Challenges

The practice of installing and operating electric generating equipment at or near the site of where the power is used is known as “distributed generation” (DG). Distributed generation provides electricity to customers on-site or supports a distribution network, connecting to the grid at distribution level voltages.

The traditional model of electricity generation in the United States, which may be referred to as “central” generation, consists of building and operating large power plants, transmitting the power over distances and then having it delivered through local utility distribution systems.

The practice of installing and operating electric generating equipment at or near the site of where the power is used is known as “distributed generation” (DG). Distributed generation provides electricity to customers on-site or supports a distribution network, connecting to the grid at distribution level voltages. DG technologies include engines, small (and micro) turbines, fuel cells, and photovoltaic systems.

Distributed generation may provide some or all of customers’ electricity needs. Customers can use DG to reduce demand charges imposed by their electric utility or to provide premium power or reduce environmental emissions. DG can also be used by electric utilities to enhance their distribution systems. Many other applications for DG solutions exist.

With existing technology, every industrial or commercial facility including factories, campuses, hospitals, hotels, department stores, malls, airports, and apartment buildings can generate enough electricity to meet its power needs under normal conditions, as well as have back-up power during a blackout.

Distributed generation systems can provide an organization with the following benefits:

* Peak Shaving;

* On-site backup poer during a voluntary interruption;

* Primary power with backup power provided by another supplier;

* Combined load heat and power for your own use;

* Load following for improved power quality or lower prices;

* To satisfy your preference for renewable energy

In conjunction with combined heat and power (CHP) applications, DG can improve overall thermal efficiency. On a stand-alone basis, DG is often used as back-up power to enhance reliability or as a means of deferring investment in transmission and distribution networks, avoiding network charges, reducing line losses, deferring construction of large generation facilities, displacing expensive grid-supplied power, providing alternative sources of supply in markets, and providing environmental benefits.

Power generation technologies have evolved significantly in the past decade, making DG much more efficient, clean, and economically viable.

Substantial efforts are being made to develop environmentally sound and cost-competitive small-scale electric generation that can be installed at or near points of use in ways that enhance the reliability of local distribution systems or avoid more expensive system additions. Examples of these distributed resources include fuel cells, efficient small gas turbines, and photovoltaic arrays.

This report on Distributed Generation Technologies takes an in-depth look at the industry and analyzes the various technologies that contribute to distributed generation in today’s age. The report focuses on these technologies through case studies, examples, and equations and formulas. The report also contains analysis of the leading countries actively promoting distributed generation.

A Very Brief Recent History of Business Technology Applications

In the late 1990’s technology soared. It was the era of the dot.com boom and subsequent bust. Many new software and hardware advances were adopted by large companies that began to integrate new technologies into their business processes.

Some of these technologies were on the ‘bleeding edge’ with buggy software, crashes, insufficient memory and so on. Online ‘cloud’ or web based applications were often not reliable and not user friendly.

For smaller companies without IT departments, being on the technology bleeding edge was the equivalent to living a nightmare.

Around 2003 the applications became more robust and bugs and crashes were less of a problem. Part of this progress was due to the dramatic drop in pricing for computer memory meaning that more robust programs could be run without crashing.

Also around this time many industries developed industry specific software to run businesses like car dealerships or bookstores. Called “management systems” this genre of software allowed smaller companies to combine all their processes under one program. This management software also did not require an onsite IT department to keep it running.

This vertical industry specific software was complemented by horizontal industry software such as bookkeeping and contact management software. This meant that a company could also run its books and keep track of prospects and customers in ways they were not able to do before.

Software and platform integrators stayed busy. The big drive during this period was to try to link and integrate software. For instance, management software would generate an invoice, note that it was paid and then route the data to the proper category in the general ledger through a linked accounting system.

It was clearly understood that the more integrated and “seamless” a software was, the more powerful and cost effective it could be. And since human error continued to be a major drawback to software applications, greater integration meant not only saving time and money but reducing errors.

As hardware and software improved it also became cheaper and more affordable to smaller companies. By 2005 and 2006 many of these applications became more mainstream and were used by smaller and smaller companies.

Perhaps the biggest advances during this time were web based applications. Companies could link all parts of their business online from sales and inventory to employee communications and human resources.

This shift also reduced costs from thousands of dollars for a software purchase to a monthly user’s fee making it much more affordable. These applications also eliminated a lot of paper.

By 2007 the second wave of technology upheaval had begun as smaller and smaller companies began using technology to manage and market.

Smaller companies began to sell more online and funnel new prospects to their sales department. These new technologies allowed companies to sell more by expanding their markets.

“In today’s marketplace if a retail or service business does not exploit all their potential markets then their competitors will,” says Eric Ressler of Zuniweb Creative Services, “it’s just not optional anymore.”

Across horizontal and vertical industries the key driver is strategy. Those companies with a solid strategy that is well executed are stronger competitors.

Technology is a critical component in almost all business strategies and in recent years technology has enabled businesses of all types to leverage their strengths in their respective markets.

As technology has become more user friendly it also has more users. Today one does not have to know html or coding to operate very sophisticated software and companies do not require a high level of technical expertise to run most software.

The big advantage is that the user can focus on business functions and not on user unfriendly software.

With these innovations has come a second wave revolution that is changing the way business operates today. As always, the issue is which companies take advantage of these opportunities and which do not.

As always the marketplace will ultimately decide which of these companies succeed.