Please could you start by introducing yourself and your role?
My name is Mark Perera and I am the CEO and co-founder of Vizibl, the leading platform for Supplier Collaboration and Innovation. I have over 25 years’ experience in building start-ups and delivering high value enterprise solutions to help large corporates work smarter. In my current role at Vizibl, my team and I enable such businesses to unlock the value of their suppliers and partners through systematic and scalable Supplier Collaboration and Innovation.
Prior to Vizibl, I founded Procurement Leaders in 2004, the world’s largest procurement network and intelligence platform.
Who is Vizibl?
Vizibl is the leading SaaS platform for Supplier Collaboration and Innovation, helping enterprise organisations to deliver on their most ambitious objectives. Whether it’s taking joint action towards ambitious sustainability targets, discovering new revenue streams, or developing innovative products and solutions, Vizibl enables enterprise organisations to align their suppliers and partners around key business goals to deliver mutual value.
How did you find yourself to be in the procurement industry?
Prior to joining the procurement industry, I’d previously focused my career helping companies optimise their HR and talent management processes. As a result, I began working with many Chief Procurement Officers, assisting them with maximising the return on contingent labour and relationships with consulting partners.
This work piqued my interest, forged some valuable connections, and I became intrigued by the wider procurement function and by the strategic potential I saw it had for businesses in achieving their goals. Now, two decades on, I hope I have played a small part in helping to accelerate the profession towards this strategic potential.
What is your favourite part of the industry you work in?
I’ve been fortunate enough over the course of my career to work with some of the most cutting edge procurement teams in the world. One thing that always excites me about the profession is the opportunity that procurement has to effect enormous positive change in an organisation – and the drive and enthusiasm that many procurement professionals have around seizing that opportunity.
These forward-thinking procurement teams tend to think with an ‘extended ecosystem’ mindset – looking at suppliers and partners as not separate from the organisation, but as part of its larger team. It’s a really exciting way of thinking; when we regard suppliers as an extension of the workforce and talent pool of the buying organisation, we open up the opportunity to exponentially increase the potential of our own enterprises.
And when that external workforce is empowered through an ethos of mutual benefit to help the buying organisation deliver against their most strategic goals – be they around sustainability, resilience, transformation, growth, or a combination thereof – procurement’s strategic value proposition back to the business becomes incredibly powerful.
What are the current trends in the industry?
The biggest trend we’re witnessing amongst the companies we speak to is the increasing pressure on procurement to enable their businesses to deliver on ESG pledges and commitments. Sustainable Procurement, relatively unknown even a decade ago, is booming, with enormous growth in such job titles and member skills on LinkedIn. Scope 3 in particular is an area receiving a lot of attention – understandably, given most of a large company’s emissions will sit in the supply chain, and procurement owns the relationships with suppliers.
Another trend we’re seeing in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic is an increased focus on risk and resilience, with organisations especially looking at how procurement can capitalise on closer relationships with suppliers in order to either avert, or minimise the effect of, shocks to the business.
We’re also hearing repeated stories of the pressure on procurement to source innovation – supplier innovation is faster to market than home-grown ideas and the supply chain holds a wealth of valuable knowledge, but historically combative ways of working with suppliers undermine procurement’s ability to tap into this value. This innovation pressure is not unrelated to the boom in sustainable procurement; in a market low on ready-baked green products and services that will sufficiently address the ecological challenges we are facing, many companies will have to drum up their own solutions. Turning to subject matter experts in the supply chain will be crucial.
Finally – and I would say this as the CEO of Vizibl! – but we’re seeing forward-thinking large corporates take a much more pick-and-mix approach to selecting enabling technology. Rather than expecting a couple of big suite applications to solve all their problems, organisations are honing in on more specific use cases and selecting a range of smaller, best-of-breed solutions to work in concert with one another. It’s an incredibly exciting time to be a procurement technology company right now as a result.
What does the next 12-18 months look like for you?
In a few months, we will be releasing updates to our platform, adding new functionality to improve our Supplier Sustainability Management capabilities even further. With this new functionality, we are helping address many of the issues that procurement faces when trying to baseline and measure supplier sustainability performance, to align suppliers around their targets, to collaborate and act on improvement projects, and to leverage innovation in categories that require transformation.
A key way for procurement to encourage supplier sustainability is using common disclosure frameworks, but the datasets are frequently unwieldy, limiting visibility over baseline performance, and the function has no easy way to set incremental targets or map improvement over time. Our upcoming release is designed to help them do just that, with later phases already in development to make the alignment, collaboration, and innovation processes easier, too.
In the shorter term, I’ll be speaking at Procurement & Supply Chain LIVE at the end of April, so if you’d like to find out more about Supplier Collaboration & Innovation, please come and say hello.
To find out more about Procurement & Supply Chain LIVE, click here!