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Guest blog: Sourcing for change

Guest blog from Jonathan Stern, Public Sector Director, Computacenter.

The geopolitical turbulence our world is facing today affects every single person. Our global interconnectedness is a double-edged sword. It provides strength through open trade, but weakness when this becomes restricted, as has been evidenced through ongoing supply chain constraints – thinking now of port closures and COVID restrictions in China – not to mention the ongoing war in Ukraine. Access to raw materials, energy, and talent are amongst the most affected areas, dampening market confidence in technology and beyond.

The state that we’re currently experiencing, while unique by merit of its individual causes, is no different to the wider symptoms of cyclical disruption caused by macro-events that have shaped history – oil crisis, credit crisis, conflict, trade embargos, etc. What differs today is the challenges we each face in our role; whether that is in technology sourcing, hiring, or securing revenue for our businesses. Humans and businesses alike - under the right direction - are incredibly resilient, and it is our ability to quickly adapt to current conditions that will define our shared success.

Resilience isn’t a passive attribute. It requires us to understand our environment and the challenges currently posed and demands intelligent stewardship to survive reactive change. For some, this will be addressing mounting inflation in supply chains, for others, retaining customer expenditure to secure the future of a business. Our ability to adapt to change is intrinsically linked to our future success.

The technology sector has always heralded itself as the ultimate enabler, quick to evolve, and the key to mitigating some of the biggest threats we face. This stands true today, but how do we continue to inspire confidence in this sector when our customers fear that they may not be able to afford the cost of innovation, or obtain the right technology to grow?

Naturally, Computacenter is working closely with our technology partners to secure continuous supply, but we’re also listening closely to our customers’ needs, defining solutions that build resilience into their technology roadmaps. Whilst the immediate reaction from customers is to source at the lowest possible price in a more reactive manner, is this the best possible outcome? Are constraints changing our sourcing strategies and behaviours for the better, or do we have to work smarter; addressing citizen demands and business needs above aspirations of volumes and cost?

To address these questions, we’re seeing more customers opting for a diversity of vendors, reducing the risk associated with a singular supply route. We’re helping customers move from a ‘just in time’ procurement method to bulk buying options with syndicated purchases across customers becoming increasingly popular. We have started to see the creation of ‘virtual buying groups’, where non-competitive organisations aggregate their demand on common products or platforms to negotiate and improve supply by working together. Already this year, a group of prominent Danish companies from different sectors have negotiated their entire install base for end user compute. Scale is clearly important, particularly from a vendor priority perspective, but intelligence across sourcing methodologies can provide the competitive edge, for example providers like Computacenter can secure stock within our own facilities, providing continuous, reliable supply on large volumes, streamlining the estates of customers from design to delivery and recovery. In addition to our capabilities, we are also creating fixed-price contracts on hardware to enable predictable sourcing for near-term orders.

Whilst these business actions can reduce risk for both ourselves and our customers, our greatest asset is our intelligence, and leveraging this for present and future agility. Where customers may have historically invested in physical technologies across networking and data centres, they now have the option to look at software-defined alternatives. With lower capital outlay and immediate scalability, the way we architect our solutions can be the intelligent driver we need to adapt to wide-scale change.

The ‘as a Service’ (aaS) model provides incredible opportunities for organisations to balance their exposure and continue to grow. Computacenter offers a wide range of solutions in this area which support customers seeking to reduce large one-time orders and address obsolescence within diverse estates.

As we adapt to change, our intelligence is governed by all that we have come to know before, and the issue that underpins not only supply constraints and road mapping, is the ability for us to be agile and sustainable when growing future solutions and operations. We’re very proud of the work we’ve done to address sustainability at a company level, but also how we’re helping customers achieve their own sustainability goals through intelligent solutions and responsible business practices. Both up and down the supply chain, with pressure coming from all directions, it’s clear that sustainability must be incorporated into every decision; not as a tick-box exercise, but to reduce lateral risk in the future.

Our customers, including the public sector, are increasingly diligent when it comes to addressing these kinds of risks; and we’re proud to be able to satisfy the questions being asked across these areas, however we can’t lose sight of our primary goal as an enabler, and that ability to leverage more with less.

Whilst companies like us will always be able to provide, even in the most challenging of circumstances, we want to have the conversations that go back to basics. What is it that you want to achieve? And how can we leverage our combined intelligence, that of our customers, and that of our place in the industry to generate the best business outcomes? Let’s open up the conversations about supply chain aggregation, business goals – near and long term, let’s talk about what we want to achieve and use the best minds to do more with less.

Our perspectives govern how we approach upstream constraints and wider market challenges. I for one am optimistic in the face of mounting global turbulence. I am confident in leveraging our intelligence across our sector and supply chains to create innovative solutions that see us through our immediate local challenges and global disruption. Our intelligence is ultimately our greatest asset.

Without blind optimism; onward and upward, adapt and adopt.


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