Cognitive computing is changing the procurement industry

Cognitive computing is changing the way procurement works in the 21st century, as processors become more streamlined and professionals are expected to have strong computing and data analytic skills, according to a number of speakers at this year’s World Procurement Congress (WPC).

During discussions, it was said that the types of skills that traditionally put procurement professionals at the top of their game, such as negotiation and empathy, are gradually being replaced with machines using algorithms to work out the best deals available.

IMB adopts data collection process

Chief Procurement Officer at IBM, Bob Murphy, believes that it’s now up to procurement professionals to collect and standardise as much data as possible from suppliers. All IBM contracts now include the requirement for suppliers to complete a data collection template which is fed through an automated IBM analytical toolkit.

IBM believes the results it has gathered on data interpretation have lead to better quality purchased products.

Cognitive computing benefits

Cognitive technologies can provide many benefits for the procurement industry, including:

  • Cost reduction
  • A more efficient supply chain flow
  • Transparency
  • A more predictive industry making it easier to make better decisions and mitigate risks


The downside to cognitive procurement means that processors will be streamlined, so there will be a drop in the number of staff needed. The type of employee required will also change, and procurement managers must retrain or recruit procurement personnel who are acute, have strong data analytics skills and who can be forward thinkers.

The future

Research analyst Georgina Rowley believes that in 10 years time, all procurement functions will move to machine-to-machine sourcing. She claims that the move to cognitive technologies will make it easier to automate business and reduce labour costs. She said:

“These technologies are emerging right now therefore procurement need to be willing to change and adapt to succeed.”

Hire forward thinking procurement staff

The best way to keep up to date with changes in the procurement industry is to hire procurement professionals with the skills needed to thrive in an analytical and forward thinking environment.

You can register a vacancy with us or get in contact to see how our recruitment consultants can help you find the very best candidates out there.

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