Why Procurement is a Front Runner to Digital Transformation [Podcast]


Dr. Marcell Vollmer, Chief Digital Officer at SAP Ariba, is the featured guest for this episode of The Social Business Engine podcast. On this episode, Marcell delivers fascinating insights into digital transformation strategies, particularly in the strategic role of procurement in a business. My conversation with Dr. Marcell Vollmer will open your eyes, as it did mine, in understanding why the procurement function in business is a front-runner in digital transformation to make any business future ready.

What is the Role of a Chief Digital Officer?

SAP Ariba is the world’s largest B2B network, connecting 3 million companies in 180 countries. The Chief Digital Officer is a new role in most industries, and their duties widely vary. As Chief Digital Officer at SAP Ariba, Marcell helps customers define and implement digital strategies.

He examines most aspects of the customer’s business model; this includes procurement, back-office functions, and the supply chain. Every business has different understandings of digital strategies, and Marcell’s job is to understand how the customer wants to drive digitalization into the core of their business.

Here are three aspects he looks at for the transformation of procurement:

  1. Does it drive innovations for collaboration with suppliers?
  2. Is proper risk management in place?
  3. Is the supply chain sustainable?

His efforts ensure a future-ready business model that drives hard savings and reduces transaction costs through automation. 

Common Business Challenges of a Chief Digital Officer

Dr. Vollmer points out that the biggest obstacle to ensuring a company is prepared for disruption is the notion that procurement isn’t a front-runner. He recommends that businesses have an end to end process with a roadmap that makes them future ready. Supplier innovations are difficult without an overall perspective.


SAP Ariba’s sales and marketing teams approach Marcell to drive digital transformation workshops that introduce design thinking. I’ve heard different definitions of design thinking. Marcell says it’s a Stanford University methodology that’s used to define creative strategies to identify a business problem. Design thinking methodology is a collaboration of many people, guided by a design thinking trained coach, to find a solution. 

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