Procurement predictions for 2018

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Brexit's questions will start to be answered
While 2017 was the year of Brexit uncertainty, 2018 will be the year when things start to change. "Procurement teams will need to start proactively helping their businesses deal with that change and minimise exposure to contract and legal risk", says Sam De Silva, Partner at law firm CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang.

Procurement will need to integrate its functions
"Procurement can no longer be a discrete and siloed function", says Shivani Govil, VP: Solutions Management at SAP Ariba. "In the year ahead, companies will move away from niche offerings that address pieces of the procurement puzzle towards integrated platforms."

Technology will continue to drive the profession
Automation, machine learning and artificial intelligence will continue to be buzzwords for the year ahead. "In embracing them, procurement organisations can perform transactional activities at much greater speed", says Marcell Vollmer, Chief Digital Officer at SAP Ariba. "More importantly, technology will allow buyers to make smarter, more informed decisions, that drive value and go beyond cost savings."

But technology won't be everything
CEOs will want speed and agility from procurement, and while technology will help to achieve that, the real change has to come from CPOs. "Things such as RFIs will become a thing of a past", says Guy Strafford, Executive Vice President: Market Engagement at Proxima, as procurement will be "expected to stay attuned to market trends and opportunities" by leaning on market data and supplier intelligence. Strafford also expects that firms will start replacing bigger suppliers with smaller, more agile ones.

The digital landscape will change
"GDPR takes effect in May and procurement teams will have to work with their IT departments to make sure suppliers are compliant", says De Silva. The year will also bring big changes to EU digital single market legislation, which companies will have to adapt to irrespective of their nationality or location. De Silva also recommends that buyers get to know blockchain and its value to procurement.

Food and drink inflation will continue to fall
After hitting a high of 9.3% in August last year, the Foodservice Price Index - a measure put together by Prestige Purchasing - is expected to drop to 3.4% by the end of 2018. "Looking to 2018, levels of volatility are falling", said Shaun Allen, Chief Executive at Prestige. However, challenges are still expected with seafood, dairy, egg and vegetable oil items.

Packaging will become a frontline issue in sustainability
Mintel, a market-data firm, predicts that humble packaging will play a pivotal role in reducing food and product waste. Consumers are realising the role that packaging can play in extending or preserving food, while online shoppers are expecting more from the packaging in which their products are shipped. Last year's campaigns on sea plastics have made shoppers more aware of how different types of packaging can be recycled.

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