The Future of Procurement: 8 Trends to Watch Out For - Veridion

The Future of Procurement: 8 Trends to Watch Out For

By: Stefan Gergely - 13 June 2024
future of procurement featured image

The future of procurement holds immense potential for transforming business operations and driving competitive advantage. 

But with technology rapidly evolving, market conditions shifting, and consumer demands constantly changing, keeping up can feel like a never-ending race. 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the sheer pace of change, or you’re simply curious about what the future holds for procurement, this article is for you.

We’re here to demystify the landscape and highlight eight key trends that are shaping the future of procurement. 

By understanding these emerging trends, you can proactively adapt your strategies, gain a competitive edge, and ensure your organization’s long-term success. 

So, buckle up and get ready to explore the exciting possibilities that await.

Adoption of Procurement Automation

Efficiency is the name of the game in modern procurement.

Organizations across industries are striving to optimize processes and reduce manual work, and this trend is slowly revolutionizing procurement as well. 

By adopting procurement automation tools and processes like electronic procurement systems, robotic process automation (RPA), and automated spend analysis, businesses can significantly streamline their procurement activities.

Let’s look at RPA, which is quickly gaining wide adoption, according to a report by Avasant.

statistic showing that 31% of companies have adopted robotic process automation in 2023

Illustration: Veridion / Data: Avasant

RPA uses software robots to automate repetitive tasks that were previously performed manually. 

In procurement, RPA can automate activities such as purchase order creation, invoice processing, and vendor communication, freeing up valuable time for procurement professionals.

Using this and other automation technologies, a lot of different areas of procurement can soon be or are already changing.

procurement automation technologies

Source: Veridion

Manual and number-crunching admin work, such as payment processing, spend analytics, and even contract management, are being replaced by automation. 

This shift not only improves accuracy but also allows procurement teams to focus on more strategic decisions and supplier relationships, rather than getting bogged down by routine administrative tasks.

In short, automation is rapidly transforming procurement, empowering teams to work smarter, faster, and more strategically.

AI Integration 

You’ve almost certainly been aware of the AI revolution taking everyone by storm. 

Alongside automation, AI is widely invested in across industries, transforming how businesses operate. 

This trend is driven by the potential of AI to enhance efficiency, accuracy, and strategic decision-making in various sectors.

As McKinsey research shows, a significant focus is on Applied AI, which has seen a rapid rise in interest between 2018 and 2022.

screenshot of mckinsey research about applied ai

Source: McKinsey

More than simple task automation, applied AI aids procurement specialists in better prediction and decision-making. 

For example, AI-powered predictive analytics can forecast demand more accurately, allowing procurement teams to optimize inventory levels and reduce costs.

It’s also worth keeping an eye on generative AI, which has seen a 44% increase in job postings from 2021 to 2022.

Generative AI, which involves models capable of creating content like text, images, or code, can streamline tasks such as drafting contract templates, generating reports, or even simulating procurement negotiation scenarios.

But we most likely don’t have to convince you about AI.

According to Amazon’s State of Business 2024 Procurement Report, the overwhelming majority of organizations are already planning investments in AI.

statistic showing that 98% of companies organizations are already planning investments in AI

Illustration: Veridion / Data: Amazon Business

And if you’re not, the time is now to hop on this trend and avoid being left behind.

Ultimately, AI integration is not just a fad, but rather a transformative force in procurement. 

Embracing AI technologies can significantly enhance predictive capabilities, decision-making, and innovation, ensuring your procurement strategy is future-ready.

Investment in Cybersecurity

As procurement processes become increasingly digital, the risk of cyberattacks looms larger.

Think phishing scams, malware infecting essential software, or even targeted attacks on your supply chain partners. 

The consequences of a successful cyberattack can be devastating, leading to financial losses, reputational damage, and even legal repercussions.

For a real-life example, two years ago, the Nichirin automotive group was hit by a ransomware attack that forced them to temporarily halt production.

screenshot of an article about how Nichirin automotive group was hit by a ransomware attack

Source: Cybertalk

While the specifics of the attack remain undisclosed, this ransomware attack could have meant attackers blocked access to files containing crucial supplier data, or even disabled payment systems, causing severe disruptions to Nichirin’s entire supply chain.

But cyberattacks that are even more concerning for procurement professionals are financial supply chain compromise attacks. 

These attacks involve manipulating financial transactions and compromising the integrity of the supply chain.

As Crane Hassold, former director of threat intelligence at Abnormal Security, explains, these attacks can be particularly difficult to defend against.

a quote about the dangers of financial supply chain compromise attacks

Illustration: Veridion / Quote: Abnormal Security

This difficulty arises because financial supply chain compromise attacks are essentially a subset of business email compromise (BEC) attacks. 

They often do not use malicious software, making them hard to detect. 

Attackers might impersonate a trusted vendor or executive to trick employees into transferring funds or sharing sensitive information.

Protecting against cyberattacks in procurement, therefore, requires a multi-layered approach. 

This includes investing in robust security software, implementing strong password policies, educating employees about threats, and regularly backing up critical data. 

This is not an optional trend to follow, as adopting cybersecurity policies is necessary to safeguard procurement operations.

Reliance on Data for Strategic Decision-Making

Now, let’s turn to procurement decision-making and how data accuracy and validity are becoming increasingly critical. 

Data analytics tools, along with the advanced AI and automation technologies we mentioned earlier, are enabling organizations to gain deeper insights into procurement operations. 

These technologies help in analyzing vast amounts of data to uncover trends, predict outcomes, and make more informed decisions.

As UST’s managing director Jonathan Colehower explains, this data-driven decision-making is especially important for organizations with complex supplier networks.

a quote about the importance of data-driven decision-making for organizations with complex supplier networks.

Illustration: Veridion / Data: UST

Data-driven decision-making helps mitigate risks and uncover opportunities for innovation. 

For instance, predictive analytics can forecast potential supply chain disruptions, allowing procurement teams to develop contingency plans in advance.

For more specific examples, the next image shows how some data-driven practices help in procurement decision-making, supplier risk management, and efficiency.

data for strategic decision-making

Source: Veridion

Focusing on supplier data is especially important.

To help with this, you might want to use supplier sourcing and risk management tools like Veridion.

Veridion offers a global, weekly updated supplier database that can be easily searched with our complex search API

Say you’re looking for local sustainable pallet manufacturers. 

Then you might conduct a search like the one shown below.

veridion complex search api screenshot

Source: Veridion

Using platforms like Veridion ensures you get accurate, up-to-date information, helping you make better-informed decisions and maintain a competitive edge.

Whichever way you do it, ensuring you are leveraging quality data for strategic decision-making is crucial in modern procurement. 

More Emphasis on Sustainability

For our fifth trend on this list, let’s see how sustainability is becoming a central focus in procurement practices. 

Organizations are increasingly orienting their procurement strategies towards sustainability, integrating environmentally friendly practices and ethical sourcing into their operations. 

This shift is driven by a growing recognition of the importance of sustainability for long-term business success and social responsibility.

Research supports this trend, with Ivalua uncovering that the vast majority of UK businesses are focused on sustainability-led innovation.

statistics showing that over 90% of UK businesses are focused on sustainability-led innovation

Illustration: Veridion / Data: Ivalua

Collaboration with suppliers is key to achieving these ambitious sustainability goals. 

By working closely with suppliers who share your commitment to environmental and social responsibility, you can collectively drive positive change throughout the supply chain.

To better understand the main principles of this trend, take a look at the image below.

an illustration with benefits of procurement sustainability

Source: Veridion

As you can see, sustainability concerns both environmental safety and fair labor practices. 

This means reducing carbon footprints and waste, but also ensuring that workers are treated fairly and ethically. 

Achieving this requires a focus on transparency to keep all parties accountable. 

Finally, while focusing on sustainability, businesses must also remain profitable. 

Balancing environmental and social responsibilities with financial performance is crucial for sustainable growth.

In the end, a strategic approach to sustainable procurement should be a win for all: benefitting the planet, the people in your supply chain, and your organization’s bottom line.

Development of Robust Risk Management Strategies

Procurement needs to be a stable practice, and this is where risk management comes in.

In the coming years, a focus on robust risk management strategies will be key to ensuring the stability and resilience of procurement operations. 

The current landscape is rife with risks, including supplier and supply chain issues, geopolitical risks, price volatility, and more.

In fact, according to a paper by the European Confederation of Institutes of Internal Auditing (ECIIA), we are experiencing a poly-crisis of risk.

an illustration of poly-crisis of risk

Illustration: Veridion / Data: ECIIA

With environmental and energy crises, such as climate change and resource depletion, rising inflation and interest rates, and geopolitical tensions and conflicts, proper tools and practices need to be used to mitigate these issues. 

For a proper risk mitigation strategy, the right steps need to be taken in your organization.

You can see these steps outlined in the illustration below.

steps of procurement risk management

Source: Veridion

Each organization and its procurement function is differently vulnerable to risks depending on their specific circumstances and industry. 

Therefore, there are no universal trends when it comes to risk management methods and strategies.

However, they can include the following:

  • Enhancing supplier relationships
  • Increasing or consolidating suppliers
  • Implementing data-driven planning
  • Improving internal processes
  • Developing cost mitigation strategies
  • Using technology to enhance visibility and control

Some of these strategies are discussed throughout this article, highlighting the interconnected nature of effective procurement practices and risk management.

Ultimately, developing robust risk management strategies is crucial for the stability and resilience of procurement functions in the coming period.

Focus on Agile Procurement Practices

The ever-changing landscape of risks and the dynamic nature of today’s markets demand a more flexible and adaptable approach to procurement. 

This is why we’re seeing a growing focus on agile procurement practices

In essence, agile procurement is a methodology that prioritizes flexibility, empowering teams to respond quickly to changes and continuously refine their strategies.

To better understand the contrast between agile and traditional procurement, consider the table below.

FlexibilityHighly flexible, adaptable to changes in requirementsRigid, follows a fixed plan with less room for changes
SpeedFast iterations, enabling quicker adjustments and deliveriesLonger lead times due to detailed upfront planning
CollaborationHigh collaboration with suppliers and stakeholdersLimited collaboration, more transactional
Risk ManagementContinuous risk assessment and mitigationRisk management mostly done at the beginning of the project
Decision-MakingDecentralized, empowering teams to make decisions quicklyCentralized, with decisions made by a few key individuals

Simply put, agile is a nimble approach. 

It’s characterized by flexibility, rapid decision-making, continuous risk management, and the inclusion of diverse stakeholders in decision-making. 

However, it can be less predictable and requires a high degree of trust and collaboration.

On the other hand, traditional procurement is more structured and plan-driven. 

It offers greater control and predictability, but can be less adaptable to unexpected events.

The question is: is agile procurement the right fit for your team

Can it enhance your efficiency and optimize your practices? 

As data from a recent survey illustrates, many organizations are adopting agile for benefits like faster time-to-market, improved delivery predictability, and reduced risk exposure.

statistics showing why organizations are adopting an agile approach to procurement

Illustration: Veridion / Data: State of Agile

If, like many other organizations, you value these benefits and are willing to embrace the collaborative and adaptable nature of agile procurement, it might be the perfect approach to elevate your procurement function.

Development of Stronger Supplier Relationships

Finally, let’s discuss the growing trend of focusing on supplier relationships. 

Organizations are increasingly moving toward enhancing their supplier relationship management practices to foster collaboration, drive innovation, and mitigate risks. 

This shift is driven by the recognition that strong supplier relationships can significantly impact business success and sustainability.

Take the 2024 case study of North West London Procurement Services (NWLPS), showcased below, and its heavy focus on supplier relationship management.

North West London Procurement Services case study screenshot

Source: World Commerce and Contracting

NWLPS’s focus was on four key aspects:

  • Supplier Segmentation: Categorizing suppliers based on their strategic importance and the value they bring to the organization.
  • Supplier Performance Management: Regularly monitoring and evaluating supplier performance to ensure alignment with organizational goals.
  • Relationship Management: Building and maintaining strong, collaborative relationships with suppliers through effective communication and engagement.
  • Risk Management: Identifying and mitigating potential risks associated with supplier interactions to ensure continuity and stability.

Supplier-oriented initiatives like NWLPS’s “Stronger Together” strategy will continue to increase, especially when considering the benefits of enhanced collaboration, reduced risks, and improved innovation.

Data supports this trend, as a McKinsey study found that supplier-focused organizations outperform their peers.

screenshot of a mckinsey study showing that supplier-focused organizations outperform their peers

Source: McKinsey

With strong numbers like 2x growth due to supplier development and innovation, it’s clear that investing in supplier relationships pays off. 

The development of stronger supplier relationships is a key trend that will continue to shape the future of procurement. 

So, by prioritizing supplier collaboration and performance, organizations can achieve greater success and sustainability.


We’ve taken a deep dive into the eight most impactful trends transforming the procurement landscape. 

From artificial intelligence and automation to the growing emphasis on sustainability and supplier relationships, these trends offer both challenges and opportunities for procurement professionals.

We hope this article has given you a clearer vision of the future, but also the tools you need to navigate it successfully. 

By embracing these trends, you can position your procurement team at the forefront of innovation, drive greater value for your organization, and build a more resilient and sustainable supply chain.

The future of procurement is here—seize the opportunity to shape it!