Allan R.H. Wilkins

Senior Director, Gartner Research

Question 1: What’s the big challenge facing sourcing leaders right now? 

The biggest challenge is: How do sourcing leaders source and deliver products and service to their organizations in a world of increasing technology commoditization and consumerization, with users accustomed to buying and managing their own technology? Technology products and services are increasingly being bought by business users with disintermediation of both IT and sourcing.

Sourcing leaders are under pressure to balance the business need for platforms for innovation in a world of rapidly changing technology, with cost, risk and governance control. The sourcing processes of the past are often too cumbersome in a rapidly changing business and technology world.

It’s a question of balancing the “need for speed” with cost, risk and governance. And to do this, sourcing leaders need to be dynamic in their thinking. Taking a one-size-fits-all approach just isn’t enough for today’s digital business. To speedily enable the digital initiatives of tomorrow and yet continue to deliver the business value of today, sourcing leaders must quickly understand and apply the most appropriate approach, traditional, agile, self-service or any combination and have the governance in place to allow for these.

Question 2: In the face of digital transformation, what steps can sourcing leaders do to stay up to speed with emerging types of suppliers, technologies and sourcing models? 

Gartner’s digital business survey revealed that 65% of digital business initiatives are sourced from external technology and service providers. Given the intense focus on digital transformation, sourcing leaders must have a foot in both camps by understanding that “new” and “traditional” need to coexist. The danger is for an organization to buy the latest technology for technology’s sake rather than giving due consideration to the question, “What is the business outcome I’m aiming to achieve?”

You must understand that you cannot possibly know everything. You need to determine where your enterprise is — are you a leader or follower? Once you understand this, you can then build teams with the right level of insight and expertise needed to deliver the level of technologies and innovation most applicable to your specific business needs.

There’s every likelihood the challenges you and your organization face are similar to those faced by other organizations. Gartner’s offerings provide insight into the product and vendor landscapes to enable sourcing leaders remain current on technologies, providers and how to contract for products and services efficiently and cost-effectively.

Question 3: What is the one take-away an attendee should walk away with from your track? 

Sourcing leaders should realize that a one-size-fits-all approach to sourcing will not work for the future, and they need to know when to lead, guide or get out of the way in technology product and service sourcing decisions while protecting their organization and technology platform investments.