The RFQ Exclusive: The future of sourcing with Dawn Tiura

Ben Winter: Thank you so much for joining us, in the next five years what are the biggest changes that will happen to disrupt the sourcing and procurement landscape?

Dawn Tiura: Well, I think it already has happened and that it was the COVID crisis. So over the next five years I mean, this is an amazing odd time that we're in, but if nothing else everybody knows the word supply chain now in the world and they realize that we have a lot of broken supply chains and they might have been fragile before and I don't think people understood the amount of risk that they had embedded in their supply chain. So I think contingency planning has to all be reworked, our category plans all have to be reworked. Our supplier networks all have to be rebuilt. I think we're going to see, and I hate the number, but I think we'll see a hundred at least a hundred thousand bankruptcies in our supply chains.

Ben Winter: Yeah.

Dawn Tiura: And so we're gonna have to find new sources of supply. I think we're going to have to create an ecosystem of supply where, so for example, I used to consult to a lot of Electric and Gas Utilities. And so if there was a hurricane approaching and you're in Texas, even if we had different specifications I could ask neighboring states to move some of their inventory that would have been safe and stage it for me to be able to use in Texas.

Ben Winter: Right.

Dawn Tiura: And we could get power back up and running really quickly. That type of supply chain ecosystem is going to have to exist for most major corporations now.

Ben Winter: Yeah. 

Dawn Tiura: We’re going to have to find alternate sources of supply that can be brought online. You know we've often said sole sourcing wasn't a good idea or having two factories in one country or one small like Japan or something wasn't a good idea because it could both be taken offline in a tsunami. So we used to think we were safe, you know, put one in Japan and put one in Vietnam or one Japan and one in China you're okay. And now we realize that that doesn't even make it okay.

Ben Winter: Yeah.

Dawn Tiura: So how do we rethink and reimagine every single aspect of our supply chain? I think that is going to cause more people to co-locate more of their manufacturing closer to where it's needed in their own countries and believe it or not, which is something I never thought would happen, I think we might see a manufacturing resurgence in the United States as a result of it.

Ben Winter: Yeah.

Dawn Tiura: Because nothing else, you can at least get to it and you can understand and you can see and touch it and you know how it's going to be impacted. So I think the biggest thing in five years is that the supply chain of today is gone, and you know a lot of people look to the past to plan the future. And there is no past, there is no past.

Ben Winter: Right. That's really interesting. Yeah. Yeah, that's a really interesting point. We're seeing that to, we’re seeing CPOs, leaders trying to figure out all right I have to rethink everything, but also what do I do going forward, right? Because you can't even look at what you've done in the past thats help mitigate risk, and we're hearing people bring up things like Fukushima and Hurricane Sandy as examples, but this is a completely, the scale of this is just so much different that it hard even pull insights from those experiences to get to a new stage of comfort on their supply chain.

Dawn Tiura: Yeah, so I think it's, so the next five years, if any good comes out of it is that we will have rethought, you know, our supply chain. I think you know to quote Kate by tessick. Who you obviously probably have read her books and everything, you know, she said dinosaurs needed to die and she said Dennis and you know it has come back to me so many times, dinosaurs are going to die. The people that are going to be, the people that can't handle this change are going to die. And but every time there is stress, new things emerge.

Ben Winter: Right. 

Dawn Tiura: So yeah people, you know, 30 million people out of work. Well, whoever knew that we might have to hire thousands and thousands of contact tracers.

Ben Winter: Right.

Dawn Tiura: You know?

Ben Winter: It’s very true, yeah.

Dawn Tiura: They'll be new job titles, you know, and you know, and people always say but you know with all the automation you're getting rid of people, until technology can do contact tracing, until dogs can sniff the virus, until you know, they still need humans. And so there will be new job titles that will come out of this that have never existed before. We're going to you know, I think they'll be a whole fashion industry around face masks that come out. They're going to be winners and losers, you know, if nothing else the alcohol business supposedly is way up.

Ben Winter: Yeah, it is way up.

Dawn Tiura: They are doing fine and yet, you know, so you've got J.Crew who might be beveled by bankruptcy and yet the other time you've got something else from your factory online to make PPE. So there'll be a lot of re-imagination and re-shifting of things like that. It's going to be a long recovery, but it's also going to be very exciting to see what comes out of it. It's going to take a lot of resiliency. I think the thing that I'm looking for in leaders are the ones who can act quickly. We don't have time to research everything to death. You've got to start making action. So I do like the word pivot because what I'm seeing a lot of people do is spin, and spinning gets you nowhere. And so I told my team the very first day when we had a big talk about it. I want you to take a step forward to the right to the left back, but just move.

Ben Winter: Right.

Dawn Tiura: Make some movement just don't spin in one place because that's no good. So go to the left if the left doesn't work try straight if straight doesn’t work go to the right, but at least make incremental steps until you can get your momentum going and see if your new ideas are working. And so I think that's going to be really important in the future. 

Ben Winter: I'd say you work with a variety of companies and obviously a lot of CPOs in procurement leaders. What skills do you think that Future Leaders of procurement need to be successful?

Dawn Tiura: Well, like I said dinosaurs need to die. There are some CPOs that should take early retirement right now.

Ben Winter: Yeah.

Dawn Tiura: And so the skill sets I’m going to be looking for are people that can act without a hundred percent of their knowledge, who can fail quickly, and realize that this path isn't working and it's okay, but they also have to lead with, they have to lead with confidence. And you know, if I as CEO were to doubt, you know us taking our Summit to a completely digital experience, if I had faltered once along that path my team would have faltered. So I think you need, the good cpo is going to flex in the future. So there are times that you need to be on a white horse charging up the hill carrying the flag and leading the charge, but then people are going to get fatigued running up that hill and some other times you're going to have to drop back behind them and push them and provide support and help them get up that hill. So I think for especially until there's a cure or a vaccine, I think people are going to be front and center for most CPOs. How do you Empower, how do you engage, how do you motivate, and how do you lead so that people feel safe, that they feel there's a safety net underneath them, that you know that you have the resources for them. You know asking people to come back to work when childcare isn’t open or schools aren't open, you know, does that suddenly mean that if you have children you're going to be discriminated against or, 

Ben Winter: Right.

Dawn Tiura: If older people aren't comfortable coming back to work, how are you going to accommodate because people can't, people will spin if they're fearful. So how do you empower people to be able to work from home safely, how to do their work, how to reopen the offices safely, and so you've got to lead by example. 

Ben Winter: Right.

Dawn Tiura: And I think people are going to be front and center. For a successful company to come back and prove it has resiliency, it's going to be an empathetic boss, it's going to be put the people first and foremost and if you can get them comfortable they will produce for you, and I think you know nothing else you know the earth was trying to tell us something, it needed a timeout,

Ben Winter: Right. 

Dawn Tiura: And so we gave it a timeout and so maybe we shouldn't, maybe I shouldn't be a million miler on multiple airlines.

Ben Winter: Right. 

Dawn Tiura: You know, maybe we need to rethink some of what we're doing. 

Ben Winter: I want to peel back one of the topics you brought with the beginning about sort of technology and agility because I think that's an interesting part that we see is some of these companies have used same technology in the procurement side for the last 10, 15, sometimes even 20 years, and the idea of having agile software that changes with their processes is sort of a foreign concept to them. So agility on the one hand in terms of how you inwrap your employees and how you take care of them is very important, but I also think agility in terms of how you consume and integrate technology into your processes is another big part. I'm just curious to get your perspective on that and how you think procurement can sort of break out of that mindset of here's a technology I buy for the next 15 years, this fits a process, I'm not going to change anything because I'm investing in this and move towards more of, we're seeing a huge boom of sort of procurement software come out. Right? Technologies, new startups, every day I find a new startup that I never knew existed before. I'm curious as to what you think is going to trigger that's for the appetite change around, okay my TxTag may change I'm going to try this thing for a little bit if this is working great, I'm going to go down path more. Okay, this test didn't work. I'm going to pull that back and try something different. Versus here's my ERP or P2P, I'm going to sit with this thing for the next 15 years and force function everything through it.

Dawn Tiura: Anyone who's going to sit and not question their text suite is a fool right now.

Ben Winter: Yeah. 

Dawn Tiura: You know, I understand that companies don't have a lot of money to spend right now because they don't know what's going to happen to their company, but if you're not out looking at technology, and that's one of the things that we do push at SIG, is that I think think it's one of my jobs and our jobs is to make you uncomfortable and make sure that you know, to say you have everything you need is so foolish. 

Ben Winter: Right.

Dawn Tiura: Because you don't know what you don't know. So if you're not out there looking and testing and kicking the tires and doing proof of concept, you have no idea how far behind you are. So I am a huge advocate for technology, which is why we're having the digital government technology Summit. Because especially now, you know, if we have to have new supply chains, why aren't we look at new software systems? And why are we not looking at new technology? And you know, and this is the time to you know, smart people don't like to do dumb work. So get rid of all the crap you've been doing and I hope that this helps people see POC how much just junk work people were doing and automate the bejesus out of that. Just automate it, get rid of it, and put the smart people doing smart work that's challenging and exciting and the stuff that will remake your future.

Ben Winter: Yeah, that that resonates well with us, that's what we preach every day is have your smart people doing smart things not pushing paper and spending half their day doing remedial tasks that they don't really need to be doing. Are there things that you thought would have changed in procurement and sourcing that have not yet? It sounds like we talked about a couple of those, but I'm curious what outside of this event is forcing new functions in new changes. What would you have thought would have been let's say a part of procurement in the last six months that hasn't come to fruition yet? 

Dawn Tiura: I would have thought we would have had so many more bots deployed.

Ben Winter: Yeah. 

Dawn Tiura: I think it's horrific at the speed that people are approaching automation. I think it's absolutely ridiculous and slow and if nothing else this will accelerate. You know people, in the end, I used to work with a bunch of phds and organizational development and back when I first started sourcing so they could do the whole mindset about change management and they taught me that people back then, this is probably twenty years ago almost, it took people on average back then three years to change to a new course of action and that if any time during those three years you weren't being consistently in that new way of working and had a chance to slide back, that you would slide back even two years out you would rather re go back to the way you used to work before. Well that was 20 years ago. Now with all the technology changing so fast, people have to change. 

Ben Winter: Right. 

Dawn Tiura: They have to accept it and embrace it. And at the speed that technology is changing, people have got to realize that they have to move to automation. They have to adopt new practices. They have to change the way they're doing work. And so I've been very disappointed at the lack of automation. We have a certification in automation and the people that take it say, oh my god, it's so much easier than I thought it was why aren't we all doing it? So I think that's my biggest disappointment, is the lack of automation and the companies that have the higher turnover are the ones that aren't automating and they're making their people do dumb work and they don't want to be doing that and they want good technology. I also think that people I don't know why they're not paying more attention to tail spend and I think this obviously they're going to now, but we have so much risk in our tail. It's insane. 

Ben Winter: Yeah. 

Dawn Tiura: You don't know who's there, you don’t know anything about these companies, you've never done due diligence, you've never done a cyber security check, and yet you introduced them into your supply chain. And I think that is so foolish. And I know it's not sexy and it's not fun, and I'd much rather work on a multi-hundred million dollar contract than a 10 mil or a 10,000. But if I introduce him into my supply chain, I'm going to introduce some bad actors and that shocks me that people still don't pay attention to that. 

Ben Winter: I still haven’t put my finger on what is causing that fear of automation or that fear of using technology because it feels like it's a...

Dawn Tiura: They’re the dinosaurs.

Ben Winter: Yeah. 

Dawn Tiura: Either mentally or you know, I'm not being aged discriminatory, can be a mental state. 

Ben Winter: Right mental dinosaur. Yeah, and I agree. I think what I think is going to happen with this event is that on top of all the things that you discussed, there's going to be an influx of younger talent come into the space because it's gonna be so important for companies. People who come into procurement and finance they're going to come with a new way of thinking, a new era of pushing forward, and those companies are going to succeed and the other ones are going to fail and it's going to force all these companies to rethink everything.

Dawn Tiura: Now Ben you're absolutely right, you're absolutely right. I mean, I've always known that we were the cool kids anyways, but yeah, you know, but I do think, I think it's going to become more prestigious as people, you know, and I just love the fact that everybody is suddenly like what's the supply chain? What's this broken thing? 

Ben Winter: It's actually really, it's nice to see these people who have worked really hard to have a really tough job. They're always if you just being the bad person the one who won't buy the new toy for the marketing team or the the IT team or who holds a process up because it's not it's not risk compliant really getting a spotlight, which I think is empowering and really I think a good story as an analysis. 

Dawn Tiura: As much as we are in a pandemic. It's a horrible situation. It's going to be so amazing to see what comes out at the other end.

Ben Winter: Yeah, I agree. 

Dawn Tiura: Companies like yours, I mean people are going to be clamoring when they wake up and realize what they have to do.

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