Globalisation and digitalisation challenge purchasing departments

by David Fleschen

"The numerous risks and uncertainties in the international environment are slowing down corporate activities to a considerable extent. Increasing protectionism and resulting trade disputes, as well as the unresolved Brexit issue, are negatively influencing global supply chains," said Silvius Grobosch, Managing Director of the Federal Association of Materials Management, Purchasing and Logistics e.V. (BME), on Wednesday at the traditional press conference on the occasion of the 53rd BME Symposium Purchasing and Logistics in Berlin.

In addition to the side effects of globalization, the steadily accelerating digitization of entire supply and value chains is putting pressure on purchasing departments. Grobosch explains: "In the future, purchasing should be the pacemaker of this process and an active pioneer of digital networking between several companies. The experience of purchasing departments shall thereby helpt to strive toward a new quality in the cooperation between different companies. "For purchasing, as in many other fields of global business, only those who make use of the digital possibilities can optimally exploit the potential in risk and supplier management, controlling, cost optimization and performance management exploit. That's why the BME put this year's congress under the motto "TRANSFORMATION NOW!". In numerous plenums, podium discussions and specialist conferences, around 100 well-known speakers from politics and business will discuss the purchasing and supply management organization of the future with the 2,000 conference participants on all three days of the event.

In the face of ongoing international tensions, commodity prices are increasingly under pressure. Currency turbulence and gloomy growth prospects in key emerging economies pose risks of contagion, so that the mood on the commodity markets remains rather bad for the time being.

The individual commodity markets continue to move in different worlds: While base metals have recently been weaker, crude oil prices are clearly picking up against the general trend: the cause is a tight market and a temporary decline in US crude oil inventories below 400 million barrels. As a real price driver, however, the US sanctions of the Trump government prove to Iran. The market participants have long been worried about a supply shortage. Because the threats from the White House towards Tehran will certainly lead to a significant decline in Iran's oil exports. As a reminder, Iran is the third largest OPEC producer.

In contrast to energy commodities, the base metals - incidentally, much to the delight of industrial buyers - are already at lower prices for some time. The summer months, in particular, have brought significant financial benefits to German processors of metals such as copper and aluminum. As with energy commodities, metal prices are also suffering from growing protectionism.

Source: BME, photo: fotoalia

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