Global Head of SCM Development, Operations & Digital

Reinhard Plaza-Bartsch, Global Head of SCM Development, Operations & Digital at Vodafone, joined the telecoms leader 14 years ago in the nascent era of digitalisation. Today he drives the digital transformation journey, empowering individuals to do more, and reach their shared objectives.

“Digitalisation needs to be very much linked to the actual expected business outcome,” he says. “As a function, we want to deliver more value to the organisation. The way we enable that is by having a very clear roadmap of new capabilities that will, first of all, free up capacity of our commercial teams so that they can devote more time to more value adding activities. And it is also about equipping these teams with more digital capabilities or data insights that provide them a full end-to-end visibility about what is happening in their area of spent.”

In an innovative approach to partnerships, the company is taking a leadership position in digitalisation through an innovative, co-development approach to partnerships. The latest project is with Bigger Systems, an automation firm outside the traditional sphere of procurement software vendors.

“This is a very ambitious co-development project,” Plaza-Bartsch says. “We’ve worked hand-in-hand with our category teams to shape the user journey that we want to achieve, and on that basis, really start adding on the capabilities throughout the process. Our ambition is that this becomes a fully autonomous, end-to-end solution, where everything from supplier selection, to contracting and risk management happens automatically, all on the platform. This is a completely different approach than we would have followed before, and what we noticed as we went through this process is that every single category is unique - the specifics that you need to build and develop for them will be quite different.”

Plaza-Bartsch is also driving digital to make ESG commitments tangible. Vodafone sits on the governance board of Chain Yard, which gives it access to a platform called Trust Your Supplier, through which procurement professionals can gain information on supplier ownership, behaviors and ethical compliance.

“The questions are: what are the internal targets that you define and how do you measure them? We’ve taken a number of measures, for instance, 20% of our scoring criteria when evaluating suppliers now surrounds sustainability. In this regard we are making ESG tangible so that we can measure and drive it. Another aspect is moving towards even better transparency across the business and supplier base. We need to know more about the partners we're working with. Understanding the diversity in our supply base and understanding the ownership structures of our partners is becoming more important than ever.” 

Another key objective is minimising carbon emissions, not just through direct business operations, but throughout the value chain. "And for us digital capabilities are essential to be able to understand the emissions that we're producing today through what we procure,” Plaza-Bartsch says. “By creating this visibility, we can not only identify what our current baseline of emissions is, but also actively drive a reduction in emissions on a year-by-year basis through our procurement practices.

“Readiness of technology will be another major point of focus - keeping pace,” he adds. “We have big ambitions around our autonomous procurement journey, and we are keen to push the envelope further. We need technology to keep up with the speed of change and deliver the value that we're expecting.”

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