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.