Why Procurement Should Embrace the Conversational Century

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why embraceThe social media revolution has allowed for traditional institutions to create personal digital conversations with their audience. We are in the era of ‘The Conversational Century,’ and that holds new opportunities for procurement.

When he was born in July 2013, Prince George of Cambridge became the first royal baby to have a hashtag. There were over 3.5 million Facebook mentions of the young Prince in the 24 hours leading up to his birth.

And it’s not just royalty on social media. Pope Francis is the first Pope to engage with a wider audience through Twitter. In the current US election, Twitter and Facebook are top mediums for candidates to engage directly with citizens.

Elizabeth Linder, a Princeton University graduate who built up Facebook’s Politics and Government Programme for Europe, the Middle East and Africa describes this intersection between social media and 21st century governance as ‘The Conversational Century’.

What is The Conversational Century?

Linder defines ‘The Conversational Century’ as the new era in which leaders are turning outwards to have conversations with the public, aided by the latest social media technology. Social media is forcing traditional institutions and influential leaders to change their communication channels and dialogue.

The impact of the conversational century is seen through the shifting nature of communication, from a traditional, one-way channel, to a diverse, two-channel communication channel. Traditional institutions, such as the British monarchy, are actively using social media to engage with audiences, using a personal tone to create a digital conversation.

A shift is occurring in the relationship between politicians, leaders and people in power and social media. Back in 2010, when there were 500 million Facebook users, politicians running for office were only just beginning to explore new technology and start the transition to ‘digital elections’. Now, there are 1.39 billion Facebook users, hailing from a diverse range of backgrounds, languages, and socio-economic classes.

This gives political candidates and institutes the opportunity to speak to a very broad range of people, all at once. Leaders now face the situation where they must contribute and engage with social media in order to stay relevant with their audiences.

Conversational Century and Procurement

Procurement leaders, much like political leaders, need to embrace the Conversational Century and the power of social media, in order to engage with a wide range of people and contribute to live dialogue.

Procurement itself will play an active role in the Conversational Century. Social media platforms offer a unique opportunity for procurement professionals to share knowledge of what is happening in procurement. Companies and industries can showcase what they have done and what they are working on to an active and engaged audience.

Furthermore, as social media is increasingly integrated into corporate life, procurement can use it to play a key role in observing and analysing all sides of the business. It can be positioned between the customer side, internal stakeholders and the supply side.

The increased visibility of data resulting from the management of social customer relationships, social internal stakeholders, and social supplier relationships, will provide procurement with data that can potentially lead to increased collaboration, agility and faster decision-making.

A version of this article previously appeared on the procurious.com blog.