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Ecosystems, collaborative innovation & Pepper the robot

2018’s second Accelerator explored the issues procurement faces when adapting to the digital world. Here, Head of the SEIC David Rae takes a look at the day’s takeaways

Novartis robot

 

At the end of an inspiring day of collaborative workshops, in-depth discussion and forward-thinking content, one of the last things I expected to encounter was a dancing, waving robot.

 

Its name was Pepper, and it lives at the Novartis North America Campus in New Jersey, where a cross-functional group of execs had travelled for our latest Procurement Leaders SEIC Accelerator.

 

We were there to get deep into the Novartis Supplier Performance & Innovation initiative, to hear about their digital strategy, and to explore together some of the issues procurement faces when adapting to this new, fast-moving, digital world we live in.

 

It was thought provoking, stimulating and made all the richer by the diverse nature of those taking part – CPOs, global heads of R&D, suppliers, heads of supplier innovation, and even MBA students and interns were present.

 

So where to start? A good place would be the host itself: Novartis. It had opened its doors to the SEIC community willingly, and shared insights into the work being done in innovation and digital. First up was an examination of a deeply collaborative relationship with one of its key suppliers – how the relationship had been reset, remodelled using the Vested approach, so that both parties treat each other as equals.

 

The presentation explored how the two companies had entered into a “shared vision and statement of intent”, with the following core pillars supporting the relationship: Trust & Confidence, Flexibility, Focus, Feedback and Communication.

 

By committing to these ideals, a relationship can move well beyond the transactional, with success being rewarded and failure acknowledged, accepted and penalised. Upside and downside, but with trust and integrity underpinning both.

 

In Novartis we have a company vulnerable to the effects of disruption. It’s recently appointed CEO, 42-year old Vas Narasimhan, knows this only too well and is working hard to engage with innovation wherever it may be.

 

Narasimhan recognises that we live in a new world, where innovation can come from anywhere and where data is a powerful currency as well as a rich vein of opportunity.

 

And it was this type of thinking that fuelled a session kicked off by Goran Cangl, Head of Ecosystem Advocacy and the co-founder of Nokia’s Open Ecosystem Network. You may well know about Goran’s initiative – the creation of an online ecosystem, open to anyone to drive collaboration and co-creation between third parties; corporates, suppliers, start-ups, universities, entrepreneurs, students.He provided an update on the program, explained some of the thinking behind what he and Nokia are doing, laid out the vision, the goals, the results, the challenges (members can listen to an earlier Insight Call we ran with Goran here.)

 

And from there we delved into a rich discussion on the future of supply and how procurement and corporates must open their eyes to the work being done and the innovation being created outside of the traditional corporate value chain.

 

Nokia’s bet is that its willingness to open up data and IP to third parties, and by providing a platform on which third parties can collaborate and co-develop with one another (sometimes independently of Nokia) will eventually pay dividends and return multiples of value. This may be so, but there’s no doubt that the vision is a journey of faith that most would balk at.

 

But what was interesting, and, for me, inspiring to see, was how those participating at the event embraced the thinking. Everyone at the table accepted that the world has changed, that we need to embrace a different approach to value creation, that innovation can come from anywhere and that procurement has an important role in making this all happen.

 

This may not mean that every company adopts an approach like Nokia’s, but new ways of working are beginning to take hold at even the most conservative of companies.

 

And for Novartis, a company which can live or die on its ability to create and protect IP, it’s a strange world to have to navigate. But with a commitment to increased openness and collaboration, by working with new stakeholders and by its belief that innovation will come from anywhere, it’s setting itself up to cope with the future business world.

 

As for Pepper’s role in all of this? Apart from the odd dance move, that’s another question entirely.

 

David Rae

 

This content is produced by the Procurement Leaders’ Supplier-Enabled Innovation Center (SEIC). To learn more about membership to the SEIC, please email us.

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