A look into the future: This is what the buyer's profession could look like in 2035

Digitalization has already revolutionized numerous sectors, and the purchasing department is no exception. The purchasing profession is changing, driven by developments in digitization and social values that will continue to have a significant impact. So I thought about what a buyer’s job might look like in the year 2035. Let's take a look into the future of purchasing together.

The younger generations and their expectations

Digitization will affect nearly every aspect of the purchasing process. At the same time, the future of purchasing will be shaped by younger generations and their values. These are putting not only purchasing but also corporate values to the test and are already influencing the direction that purchasing is taking. With a keen understanding of economic and social interrelationships, their key concerns include sustainability, environmental awareness, and social justice. For them, the companies they buy from will not only be service providers, but also ambassadors of values.

The ongoing digitization of purchasing

Looking forward, the future becomes clear: In the world of purchasing, digitization will always play a central role. The buyers of the future will become increasingly dependent on digital tools and will use them as a matter of course in their everyday work to be able to work more efficiently and transparently. The ability to purchase products and services online will continue to grow in importance as it offers convenience and transparency. Buyers will also ask not only "what" but also "how" and "from where" when they do their work and interact with suppliers.

A look into the buyer's future:

So, what exactly might such a future look like? Imagine the following situation: The year is 2035. You are 41-year-old Soley, a purchasing manager at a well-known automobile manufacturer specializing in environmentally friendly hydrogen vehicles. Your job is not only a source of income, but also a way to live your values and beliefs. When you were young, you learned to look for meaning in your work and you have based your entire career around it.

Your day begins on your sunny Madeira rooftop terrace. The friendly voice on your smart home system informs you about the weather, the date along with the most important industry updates. Digitization has effectively shaped your everyday life, from automated coffee makers to robots that keep your home clean. You remember the words of your former boss, who had said that you will drive the digital revolution. And you start your working day satisfied.

The power of digital transformation in purchasing

Your workday is significantly supported by digital helpers, so you can concentrate on the essentials. An AI assistant, comparable to today's voice assistant, makes organizing and communicating easier for you. Purchasing processes have become highly digitized, and you can rely on innovative technologies to keep you on top of things. Your AI assistant, Susi, takes over administrative tasks and schedules digital appointments for your international team automatically, reliably, and completely independently. Thanks to a real-time AI translation program, language barriers are also a thing of the past.

The day begins for you with an exciting project start. The collaboration with your international team, which Susi has put together based on specific qualifications and skills, is going extremely well. You can even accurately assess where action is needed first. A drone delivered the sample parts to you yesterday, just in time for the start of the project.

Your work is still based on the five success factors established by Jens, who was your boss and mentor when you first started your job. These factors are still valid. You go into the project feeling good because the concept of sustainability is now an integral part of your purchasing decisions. Plastic is being replaced with environmentally friendly materials. The German Supply Chain Act, which was viewed with skepticism early in your career, has brought about positive changes in the supply chain.

And what will it all look like in 2050?

You look into the future optimistically when you think of the year 2050. You’ll be in your late 50s by then, but still ready to pave the way for the next generations. Maybe by then, self-driving cars will be moving through the skies and changing the logistics industry once again. But one thing is for sure ­­– digitization will continue to shape the purchasing profession even then, bringing changes that you can't even imagine today and make your life easier at the same time.

You're probably wondering now, "How do you know the future is going to look like this?" I can't be certain, but I can imagine it. Digitization is opening up new opportunities to make the buyer's job more efficient and sustainable. The buyers of the future will play a key role in steering companies in a sustainable and transparent direction to ensure long-term business success. It's up to us to embrace these changes and actively shape the future of purchasing.

What's your vision of purchasing in 2035? And what do you think about the current developments in the field of digital purchasing? Let's talk about it, via LinkedIn or in a free appointment. You can also find more exciting topics in my book, Purchasing in Transition [Der Einkauf im Wandel].

For more on this and other issues for sustainable purchasing strategies, listen to my podcast.