IBM Study: Top Chief Procurement Officers Drive 22 Percent Higher Profit Margins

Companies with top performing procurement organizations report profit margins 15 percent higher than the average company – and 22 percent higher margins than companies with low performing procurement organizations. 

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IBM says companies with high-performing procurement organizations are driving better bottom line results.  According to the study, these organizations report profit margins of 7.12 percent as compared to just 5.83 percent for companies with low-performing procurement organizations. 

Also, companies with top performing procurement organizations report profit margins 15 percent higher than the average company – and 22 percent higher margins than companies with low performing procurement organizations.  

The 2013 Chief Procurement Officer Study was conducted by the IBM Institute of Business Value (IBV) and highlights the business impact that Chief Procurement Officers (CPOs) can have on a company’s competitive advantage and profitability.

It explores how top-performing CPOs can increase their influence over strategic business imperatives by driving efficiency and performance, introducing innovative new processes and uncovering new insight into supplier networks that have a measurable effect on the bottom line. 

The largest of its kind, the study surveyed 1,128 procurement executives in 22 countries across North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. Of the respondents, 15 percent were found to be top performers, defined by their ability to exert influence and drive innovation across their companies, while also excelling at procurement fundamentals.  

The study identified several common actions that enable top performing procurement organizations to achieve such impressive results.


Gain Insight Through Big Data Analytics – By using analytics to tackle Big Data challenges, CPOs can gain new insights into internal business operations and their supplier networks to identify vulnerabilities.  83 percent of high performing CPOs excel at leveraging analytics compared to just 63 percent of the low performers. 

· Collaborate Well Within and Beyond the Enterprise – Social Business technology helps global procurement organizations to connect with internal and external partners. According to the study, 80 percent of high-performing companies report that collaboration across departments, such as IT, marketing and sales, is both a key strength and an investment priority, compared to only approximately 45 percent of low performers.  High performing procurement organizations see the benefit of close partner collaboration, and therefore are more likely to create strategic alliances.  For example, top performers direct 38 percent more of their annual spend through strategic alliances than low-performing organizations.

· Adapt to Changing Market Conditions – By using big data insights and collaboration, high performing CPOs are in a better position to quickly respond to changing internal and external conditions, from demand changes to supply disruptions and product redesigns. The study showed that 73 percent of top performing procurement organizations are effective at gathering insights from the supplier community, compared to only 16 percent of lower performing counterparts. 

“There are tens of millions of dollars at stake, and the IBM IBV CPO study reveals how and why high performing procurement leaders have significant impact on their organization,” said Craig Hayman, general manager, IBM Industry Solutions.

About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at [email protected]

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