Tech Transformation Within CPOs’ Top 3 Focus Areas for 2023

March 22, 2024

Procurement is adapting, which means approaches to leadership need a refresh

The role of the CPO is evolving but, with ongoing adaptations to technology and digitalisation, what further changes can we expect to see?  

With insights from 100+ CPOs and leaders across Procurement, Supply Chain and Risk Management, ProcureCon and Zip’s 2023 CPO Report explores the CPO’s role in decision-making, ESG leadership and technology adoption.    

The report dives into the top priorities ahead, while reflecting on the key barriers and how to overcome them. It outlines the approach that Procurement leaders need to take, in order to build a more mature procurement operation – across organisational structure, technology and strategy – as it rides the wave of its digital transformation journey.  

The CPO’s ever-changing role  

‘In the past, the CPO’s primary role was to procure goods and services for the company while keeping costs low… Many CPOs have begun to play a larger role in decisions beyond procurement, such as those related to Finance, Risk Management, Sustainability, and Technology.’

The CPO’s role continues to evolve: as many as 50% said communication and interpersonal skills are necessary for a CPO to be successful in 2023, compared to 38% the year before.    

Moreover, their top three focus areas over the next year sees technology implementation and transformation sit high at 39%, alongside mitigating the effects of inflation (41%) and delivering bottom-line savings (36%).  

But, what of current procurement strategy planning? 38% say that their 2023 strategy is underway, with the majority (52%) only just beginning this planning, ahead of 10% who say that they currently have none at all.  

CPOs and their approach to ESG  

This focus on digital innovation and ESG follows similar findings in other reports, where CPOs continue to find innovative ways to ensure Procurement is operating sustainably throughout its supply chain and operations.  

But, how much of a role do Procurement leaders play in ESG decision-making? An overwhelming 66% said that this role was moderate, compared to 16% stating large, and 18% small. This shows the continuous correlation across studies exploring the relationship between the CPO’s role and ESG.  

The report reveals 49% of CPOs have led initiatives to acquire, implement or adopt new technologies in the past 12 months, just ahead of the 37% who believe that investment in digital tech should be encouraged, but have not yet implemented it yet.  

CPOs’ top-priority efforts over the next year


  • Enhance the speed and efficiency of S2P activities  
  • Reduce operational costs  
  • Reduce manual tasks from workflows  
  • Gather general actionable insights to support better decision-making  
  • Dedicate time to exploring new opportunities  

Despite this onlook, a number of barriers to effectively evaluating supplier business practices still exist, and have to be tackled:  

  • 49% name manual data entry as a key barrier  
  • 46% poor or incomplete data  
  • 42% enrichment challenges  

Investing in digital solutions can automate such processes, thereby improving efficiency and productivity for employees, by allowing them to focus on other strategic, value-creation activities.  

Key takeaways  

In a similar way to technological innovation itself, significant change is happening amongst CPOs. Decision-making, ESG leadership and tech adoption will continue to evolve.  

  • ESG remains a top priority, but there is still more work to be done  
  • Digital transformation and process orchestration are among the top areas of investment  
  • There is a need to continue overcoming data barriers, such as manual data entry, poor/incomplete data, and data enrichment  
  • Procurement leaders look set to lead technological adoption and implementation  

Learn more about the report’s key findings on the future CPO.  

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