Forrester: “Autonomous Procurement is a really dumb idea"

The DPW community responds to Forrester's controversial statement.

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In this blog post Forrester Principal Analyst Andrew Bartels argues that autonomous procurement is not just a bad idea — it is a really dumb idea.

Bartels says that a future world in which the software handles most of the tasks of purchasing without human involvement is a really dumb idea, for the following reasons:

  1. Where “autonomous procurement” makes sense, it is already old news
  2. It over promises and will underdeliver
  3. It scares sourcing and procurement professionals
  4. It is hostile to employees

What are your thoughts? Do you agree or disagree with Forrester?

Fully agree, very dumb and unrealistic. And, above all, there is not one-size-fits all approach. I think the real value and promise is in a new type of collaboration between people and machines.

Bertrand Maltaverne
Procurement Digitalist

You will need both in the future, AI for redundant tasks but people to make strategic decisions. Read full comment

Nina Vellayan

Autonomous procurement needs to be viewed as a way to augment and enhance the procurement organizations rather than as a threat. This has been true with business use of AI in many different functions. Procurement will be no exception. Read full comment

Adeel Najmi
Chief Product Officer

I think that AI and other tech are automating tasks, not necessarily entire jobs, thus not rendering entire jobs autonomous but giving some tasks a level of autonomy. Read full comment

Shazia Husenbux
Global Sustainable Sourcing Lead

I disagree. Autonomous procurement has potential to be a differentiator in the future when capabilities catch up with vision. Read full comment

Koray Köse
Senior Director Supply Chain Research

I like the provocative statement and happily disagree with it. You can‘t stop technological progress by arguing it is hostile to employees. The challenge is to make digitalization a friend to employees rather than a bugaboo. I experience daily that procurement professionals enjoy the benefits of digitalization when actively involved.

Bodo Bokämper
VP Digitalization & Processes, Global Procurement
BMW Group

Autonomous procurement is an inevitability because there is nothing inherent in it that requires emotion or feeling or anything decisively human to derive the best outcome. It is all about the levers and constraints that the model needs to optimize the outcome. Read full comment

Mark Scott

I would be careful with the wording - autonomous procurement and automated procurement is getting frequently mixed up and is by far not the same! Read full comment

Wolf Goehler
Senior Manager

The future is collaborative. There is a role for autonomous agents but it’s to automate the mundane and time consuming tasks so we free up people’s time for strategically important activities.

Alan Holland

Autonomous Procurement is possible/ appropriate in pockets - say certain category and types of spend. It’s not just about auto-creating PO, but also doing end to end process and not in a dumb way, but in a smart way. Read full comment

Sreeram Venkitakrishnan
Head of Products

I would never urge someone to become fully autonomous, but I would challenge them on what technologies they are currently using and where they can better resource their teams. Read full comment

Hannah Fagut
Senior Account Executive

Totally agree with Forrester. Digital is a frame of mind, technology is an enabler (and always will remain). Procurement, like any other function, needs people who think digitally. Those people can attract the right enabling tech to achieve the results they are seeking.

Slav Vasilevski
Former Procurement Transformation Strategy Lead


DPW is the global innovation and mission-based ecosystem for digital procurement. We are driven by our purpose: To unlock the true power of procurement through excellence in digital.
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