Last week the Argon & Co Asia team attended the 2nd ASEAN Procurement Innovation Summit 2024, which took place in Kuala Lumpur. The summit featured a stellar lineup of visionary speakers and explored critical topics, including navigating economic uncertainties, cultivating supplier relationships, and anticipating the procurement landscape of 2030.

Nelson Chow, Partner at Argon & Co, was invited to deliver a keynote speech on future-proofing and de-risking supply chains. Additionally, he shared his insights on an industry panel focused on diverse sourcing.

Key takeaways from the summit included:

1. The Geopolitical Shift and its Impact on Asian Supply Chains

The past two decades have been defined by globalization, but the current climate is about “deglobalization”. Escalating trade tensions, shifting manufacturing hubs, and supply chain disruptions have forced procurement and supply chain leaders in Asia to rethink their strategies. China remains the dominant player, with its unmatched scale, technological capabilities, and operational efficiency. However, other Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia are emerging as attractive alternatives as multinational companies seek to “de-risk” their supply chains and also open up opportunities for Chinese players to expand overseas. Supply Chain and Procurement teams must carefully analyze manufacturing and sourcing footprint options, identify alternative suppliers, and build agile, resilient supply networks to navigate this volatile environment.

2. The Rise of AI and the Evolving Role of Procurement

Discussions around AI displacing procurement roles highlight a broader trend of automation impacting jobs across industries. While AI can handle repetitive, low-value tasks, the critical question is whether to delegate decision-making to machines or retain human oversight.

Rather than viewing technology as a threat, supply chain and procurement professionals should leverage it as a strategic enabler. By focusing on developing soft skills like stakeholder management, relationship-building, and storytelling, they can complement the efficiency of AI and excel in areas requiring a human touch. As AI becomes more advanced, these human-centric capabilities will be essential for supply chain and procurement teams to provide value beyond pure transactional execution. In fact, Emotional Intelligence (EI) is getting more and more important. Human with strong EI with the help of AI will replace those who don’t, instead of AI will take over all the supply chain and procurement roles.

3. Driving Sustainability in Supply Chains

Implementing sustainable supply chain practices adds both cost and complexity, as organizations navigate a web of evolving regulations and standards. However, this is a “no-regret” investment that supply chain and procurement teams must prioritize as part of the collective effort to address global environmental challenges.

Leading corporations are taking the initiative and paving the way, rather than waiting for standardization. By involving multiple stakeholders, procurement can spearhead the development of sustainable sourcing strategies, material traceability, and carbon footprint reduction initiatives. While the path forward may not be straightforward, proactive, responsible companies have an opportunity to differentiate themselves and drive positive change.

To conclude, the summit provided valuable insights and actionable strategies for the future of procurement. The Argon & Co team is eager to drive innovation and enhance resilience in supply chains, fostering sustainable and strategic growth in the years to come. Discover how we can help transform your operations here.


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