It was a great event and I found it to be one of the most informative, innovative and rewarding conferences of the year with an impressive lineup of speakers who shared some amazing insights as well as a broad range of attendees from procurement, technology vendors and a number of interesting startups.
Why was this? Well, it was full of new ideas and great pitches from a number of startups showcasing what their platforms could do and a number of stimulating conversations about the future of digital procurement and the challenges people are facing right now.
Ultimately what the event taught me was an appreciation of how we need to use technology both to automate and to get better data to enable better decisions, and transform procurement from being tactical and reactive to being strategic and adding measurable value.
This has huge implications for the development and sourcing of talent in whatever business or sector you are in.
The message is clear: you need to collect, understand and control your data far more effectively than you have done before and this needs people with greater capabilities around analysing and interpreting data, but also what it means is strategically to engage and influence more.
The market for products and services that can facilitate this shows no signs of slowing down. All three of the Directors from Edbury Daley attended the event and we all had the same concerns raised to us, that all organisations are struggling to find people with Digital Procurement Skills whether in Procurement, Consulting or Technology Vendors.
It is a real challenge to find those who understand the ecosystem and this scarcity has meant competition is fierce and with this has come rapidly rising salaries. It is literally a ‘bidders’ game. The event confirmed what we see and hear day to day.
For Procurement Technology Suppliers finding people has never been harder and if you are looking to recruit you need to think carefully about how you will attract the people you need.
In person events are gathering momentum in our post-Covid era and are a great opportunity for sparking new relationships and cementing old ones. Last week’s Digital Procurement World was in its second full in-person iteration following the pandemic and with our senior team in attendance here is a bit size summary of what we saw and heard. If you weren’t there yourself it may be a guide as to whether you should attend next year.
Matthias Gutzmann and his team made a point of moving the needle from traditional executive business dress towards tech start up ‘wear what we want’ for the event. Whilst this seems unimportant it positively changed the dynamic. A more relaxed atmosphere lowered barriers to conversations between all attendees and speakers and created a higher number of friendly open interactions between customers, vendors and consultants. I even spotted a well established account executive pop back to the hotel for a change from suit to jeans!
Presentations were short and snappy with main speakers given a 25 minute slot but the punchiness was exemplified by the start-up pitches where 6 presenters were given just 3 minutes to get their message across to the audience. Looking around the room this led to higher audience engagement as evidenced by fewer eyeballs drifting towards mobile phones whilst speakers were on stage.
What really stood out to me was the far higher profile of procurements’ role in decarbonisation than at any previous event. There were specialist carbon accounting and supply chain visibility software vendors and those businesses got more air time on stage than ever before. To quote Pierre-Francois Thaler, CEO of Ecovadis, “More has happened in the last 2 years than the previous 13”. With the forthcoming regulation for carbon disclosure across all the G20 nations, sustainability’s time has arrived. If you are a sustainability tech business should you be switching your presence from sustainability conferences to procurement events?
As you might expect, full suite and best of breed software vendors were there in force as they sought to engage with new and existing customers but how about the corporate procurement community? The consensus opinion was that elite procurement functions were well represented with their leadership but this led to the question of are we preaching the converted in terms of technology? Typically these teams are already well advanced with their digital transformation journey. Is it the rest of the corporate procurement world that we need to be engaging with if the benefits of technology are to be reaped across the board?
We loved DPW’s fresh approach to conference design. It was a great platform for us to expand our formidable global network in digital procurement and spend time with some familiar faces, too. The format reduced the sense of vendor and customer and enabled lots of exploratory conversations across the procurement tech ecosystem. If you were there, I hoped you enjoyed it, if not perhaps it will be on your agenda next year.