By: Projjal Roy --
11 January, 2016
Listening to several luminaries speaking at a conference, a clear mandate exists in redefining our understanding of evolution of category management as well as its key enablers. In most organisations today, the term “category management” is used as a buzzword. However, if one digs deeper, there are clear distinctions between organizations driving effective category management and those who “feel” they are driving category management. In this context they are a few pertinent questions that need to be asked:
• What are some of the lead indicators of category management? The answer is shared goals to achieve global optimization instead of local optimization, more cross-category/cross-functional projects, and linkage to business.
• Definition of Business linkage: Is it a FYI relationship or is it the capability to take center stage, partaking in major business/product related strategies?
• Skills sets of category manager 2.0: Sourcing specialist or a solution architect, who is able to integrate external business context and overlaying supply market dynamics to influence strategies; Or in other words, should the category manager be an influencer-network and relationship builder, or an internal consultant to the organization?
• Mind-set 2.0: Event based decision making or continuous decision making?
With these myriad roles that a category manager is likely to play in the near future, access to knowledge — and not data — becomes a critical enabler. It means one needs to not only know supply market movements but also be aware as to how a seamless integration of external business context can be transitioned into a more continuous category management. And conversely, how can supply market movement quickly and efficiently be leveraged into more pro-active COGS impact? Such linkage of skillsets is essential for future category managers.
Procurement has always been predominant users of data to drive decisions. While data will continue to remain relevant, the usage of market intelligence will become paramount in the days to come.
More importantly how this knowledge can be accessed will also become a key determiner. Market Intelligence or Market knowledge needs to become the “3 AM friend,” who validates hypothesis (Internal Wisdom) and drives a more seamless, integrated and continuous mindset.
How does one really implement knowledge-arbitrage and why knowledge-arbitrage is a critical business continuity lever is perhaps a topic for another interesting discussion.