Charlotte Spencer-Smith

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Related Topics: Cloud Computing, SaaS Journal, Supply Chain

Cloud Computing: Article

Yes, Four Ways Millennials Really Are Changing Modern Supply Chains

We can definitely observe the millennial zeitgeist in procurement and SCM software worldwide.

This has been cross-posted from

Last December, the Boston-based PR agency, Corporate Ink, published an article about the impact of the millennial generation on modern supply chain trends. If you haven't heard of it, "millennial" is a demographic term for the young and tech-savvy, most commonly born in the 90s, who can't remember a time without a home internet connection.

As an important consumer and professional group, the values of this generation have a massive impact on the business world. Older millennials are already moving into middle management in more established corporations or C-level in start-ups. The article identified four key impacts of millennial consumers on mostly B2C supply chain, but this also really strikes a chord when looking at overall supply chain and procurement trends, even away from the world of retail and B2C. And we can definitely observe the millennial zeitgeist in customer expectations of procurement and SCM software worldwide. So let's look at the four impacts from this viewpoint.

Great expectations: Getting what you want, when and where you want it

The expectation for software to be flexible is at an all-time high. The growth in cloud computing also means that customers increasingly expect a software solution that you can log in to from your web browser. More and more business processes are going into the cloud and procurement is no exception. You need an RFQ workflow approval from a colleague sitting in a bathrobe in a hotel room on the other side of the world? No problem.

Digital mavens

The growth of digital nativism means that expectations of software are higher, especially automization, optimization, and smooth workflows. In the millennial age of business, it's a given that as much manual workload from small tasks should be done away with as possible. It goes without saying that this applies to procurement software.

Fear of commitment: Why own when you can rent?

Obviously, we've got to talk about SaaS here. SaaS doesn't just introduce flexibility, it also reduces capital investment - renting rather than owning is how millennial consumers and businesses have been able to survive and prosper. Also, no one likes being locked into one system. There is a growing expectation for software to be integratable into external or pre-existing systems - to be able to mix and match. An offshoot of this is hybrid computing - systems that are part-cloud, part-on-premise. SaaS delivers this functionality. What's not to like for a millennial?

Clean labels: Social responsibility is no longer optional

2015 was the year of CSR obligations in supply chain. The UK Modern Slavery Act came into force, obliging large UK companies to release information showing their efforts to ensure that their supply chains are free from forced labour. EU Directive 2014/95/EU will see companies EU-wide reporting on their supply chain sustainability in 2017. And if you haven't seen it yet, the John Oliver video on clothing retail speaks volumes about how aware millennials are of CSR issues in SCM. It's really difficult to keep track of CSR data without the right technology. Our POOL4TOOL partners EcoVadis are a great example of how procurement organizations can integrate CSR data into their software.

Culture and zeitgeist influence the people, processes, and technology that shape the way we do business in a powerful way, so it's important to understand younger generations to see what might be coming our way next...

More Stories By Charlotte Spencer-Smith

Charlotte Spencer-Smith is responsible for content for English-speaking markets and joined POOL4TOOL in 2015. She previously worked at the UN for three years and runs a personal Twitter account tweeting on sustainability in supply chain management.