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From ESG to Gen-Z: What's Going to Define Contracting in 2022

By Bernadette Bulacan

Key takeaways from our chat with WorldCC and Deloitte Legal

With the new year upon us, contracting teams across the world are finalizing annual plans to ensure that they can deliver value for their organizations.

That's why we recently brought together experts from Deloitte and World Commerce & Contracting (WorldCC) to discuss what 2022 has in store for contract management, and how teams can stay out in front of these trends.

You can view the full webcast here, and below are some fast insights from our conversation.

The CLM Market Is Maturing Rapidly

Craig Conte, a partner at Deloitte Legal, started the conversation with observations about how quickly the contract lifecycle management (CLM) software market is maturing and what that means for contract practices. He pointed out that CLM solutions are getting sophisticated enough that companies will begin building more data-driven business cases for its use—because the data now exists!

The growing impact of contract management software also means that executives are paying closer attention to CLM technology, according to WorldCC Global CEO Sally Guyer. Business leaders recognize that contract data is a "treasure trove" of critical business information and data, but in many cases contract processes don't empower them to unlock this value.

"Processes and contracts are not fit for the changes that developed in 2021 and now going into 2022. It's important to deliver responses to new crises we're seeing in present time," she noted.

The good news is that the recently released WorldCC Benchmark Report indicates that 61% of organizations have budgets for contract technology. This suggests a likely uptick in CLM deployment and integration in 2022, delivering a massive source of new data that can be applied to improve CLM processes.

For my part, I'm most excited to see this trend push contract teams from focusing primarily on pre-contract processes to post-execution activities. Given the rise of contract intelligence and data management alongside increasingly easy software integration and cloud-based data pools, the opportunities to leverage the power of CLM have never been better.

ESG and Sustainability

Next, we discussed how Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) goals will drive business agendas in 2022, and how contract management software will assist in achieving them.

According to a recent Deloitte report, more than 80% of executives indicated that climate change is a strategic challenge for businesses. Meanwhile, public expectations for companies to show real commitment to ESG goals will continue to increase. In our conversation, Craig noted that contracts must be part of the solution.

"What we are seeing is big companies making public statements of sustainability, but the reality is: You make a promise, so what does it mean for the vendors and supply chain globally? How can you monitor the supply chain? With the technology, awareness, and processes to monitor the efforts, contracts can allow sustainability to be monitored from within," Craig observed.

Changes in Skills and Mindset

One of the most interesting trends from past years that we expect to really break out in 2022 is the shift of contract professionals from (vital) administrative caretakers to data storytellers.

With the right data at their hands, contract managers can tell the business what's driving speed, what's driving value, and what's driving risk in the contract portfolio. To thrive in this new role, contract professionals will need to grow their data storytelling skills and shift mindsets—both their own and their business partners'.

Sally noted that contract professionals who can leverage these elements alongside contract management software will set themselves apart in 2022.

"There is a high demand from senior executives for speed, efficiency, and effectiveness. Now that the toolkit has shifted, it's all about the value each individual brings to the process," Sally said.

The Great Resignation

America broke employee resignation records month after month in 2021. Notably, this exodus has been driven by mid-career employees aged 30 to 45 who carry with them a deep understanding of how their organization operates and delivers value.

According to PwC, 48% of companies plan to change processes to become less dependent on institutional knowledge and contracting teams will be at the forefront of this trend. Whether your company is experiencing high attrition rates or not, CLM technology will insulate contract teams from the chance that their contract management expertise could walk out the door at any moment.

Additionally, the right technology investments will attract the digital-first talent companies need to leverage in 2022.

"We see and continue to see a shift within organizations as they apply the correct investments for new skilled workers needed for businesses to grow in this new market," Sally predicted.

Final Thoughts

One trend that makes me especially excited about the year to come is the amazing contract professionals who have joined Women in Contracting, a group within WorldCC dedicated to fostering women's careers in the commercial and contracting space. There is power in diversity that brings immense value to the workforce. Growing community with inclusivity in the forefront, organizations can help bring people together again.

For a more in-depth view of these predictions, watch the on-demand webinar hosted by Icertis. Click here to watch.