Scratch an industry leader, and you’ll find an ironclad procurement operation. What companies like Apple and Walmart have learned on the way to the top of their industries is that procurement leaders are cost leaders with a clear edge over rivals. Cost leaders can out-invest in innovation, capture share through price flexibility and quickly capitalize on new opportunities—all while retaining margins. In a recent Bain & Company study of procurement in the Asia-Pacific region, we found no company executives who would describe their capabilities as world class. Compare that with an earlier survey of North American executives: The 15% of respondents who felt their companies had world-class procurement also were those with the industry-leading costs.
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