eWorld March 2016 – A Recruiters Perspective from Andrew Daley

Last week’s eWorld conference was another enjoyable event that brought together many of the great and the good of the procurement solutions/spend management sector.

For me as a specialist recruiter in the sector, the event is very much an information gathering exercise on what’s new in the market, who is doing what with their products and which organisations have the most potential as future employers of the best talent in the sector.

It was fascinating to watch Robert Saric from SAP Ariba whoʼs session was entitled Thriving in a Digital Networked World – How Procurement Can Lead The Way

He touched on some classic examples of disruptive technology, the highest profile of which are Uber and AirBNB. He then drew some interesting comparisons with how the Ariba product can help procurement lead the way in driving change.

I left with the feeling that Ariba is still a potentially attractive employer under SAPʼs ownership and is still very much a force to be reckoned with in this market.

Daniel Ball from Wax Digital was next for me with his speech entitled Integration, Integration, Integration – Why Good Connections Are Key To Raising Procurements Profile which amongst other things showcased Waxʼs integration platform which they now offer as a service.

On this evidence the platform seemed to offer some positive solutions to a common problem faced by procurement and finance professionals – gaining the support of the IT department for a major systems integration project. Effective engagement with the CIO is of course critical if procurement are to truly harness the power of the latest generation of procurement technology solutions.

I wondered how many potential sales have been lost due to a lack of buy in from the IT department?

I then watched Glyn Jones from Tradeshift whoʼs presentation was on Supplier Connectivity.

He talked about Mooreʼs law and the impact it is having on all of our lives, both personally and professionally. There was a clear message that procurement and supply chain professionals need to factor in a greater degree of agility into their processes and technology moving forward, something which we donʼt necessarily associate with well established supply chains.

Oracle’s presentation, Procurement Innovation In The Cloud was delivered by David Hobson their business Development Director for Cloud Applications who produced some interesting stats including:

70% of CFO’s surveyed want one single ERP system
49% of companies surveyed have six or more ERP systems.

More evidence of the potential for growth in this market!!

He then talked about the difficulties of integrating such systems and how the new cloud based systems are much quicker and less costly to implement. This is one of many factors that make Oracle potentially attractive to a wider range of customers than has been the case in the past when they’ve traditionally been associated with really big corporates.

The last session I attended was with the founder of Procurious, Tania Seary with her presentation Get Connected, Get Ahead which is very much the mantra of Procurious. Tania is on a mission to get procurement people making better use of social media and her passion to drive the growth of the Procurious network is tangible.

Her message is that social media can really benefit both the individual and the profession as they encourage greater information sharing and the development of your own personal online brand. Itʼs still the source of some confusion to me why many people donʼt embrace the professional social media sites because of the impact they can have on oneʼs career.

Tania kindly gave us a name check early on when she was referring to head-hunters and how they use social media although I think my co-founder Simon Edbury may have been slightly disturbed at Taniaʼs pronunciation of his surname!!

Procurious have recently passed 12,000 subscribers which is an impressive figure but is still a single figure percentage of the global procurement community so expect to see more growth there.

That said I did overhear one delegate asking another the following question as we were waiting for the lift after the session: “How do you join a social network and make connections?” Maybe heʼs missed the past decade!!

I spent some time after lunch talking to a few friendly faces, many of whom I’ve spoken to about career opportunities in the past and talking to the sales and marketing people about their experiences of the day.

Not everyone is comfortable talking to a head-hunter in such circumstances, particularly if they are with their boss or colleagues, but I was pleased that so many people from my network were willing to say hello.

The key thing to report is that everyone I spoke to found attending the event valuable exercise and I expect to see this event grow in future as the market for procurement technology goes from strength to strength.

One suggestion for the future, maybe they should have a session on how people can build a career in the spend management industry because it’s clearly an exciting and growing market that procurement professionals could move into. It’s a subject I’d feel very well qualified to comment on.

As I mentioned earlier, one of my reasons for attending eWorld is to support our research into which organisations are going to be the most attractive employers in this sector, both now and in the future.

Almost all the speakers that I’ve watched at the last three eWorld events that I’ve attended have been very focused on presenting their solutions in a favourable light to potential buyers. The same appears to be true of the exhibitors and understandably so as they have invested significant sums from their marketing budgets to promote their business to what should be quite a receptive audience.

However many of the delegates attending appeared to be middle managers on fact finding missions, rather than senior decision makers with a clear desire to decide on which solution they are seriously interested in.

Given the profile of the audience, I feel many companies have missed an opportunity to make a strong statement to a large group of relevant professionals.

In a market characterised by a skills shortage, positioning yourself as an organisation which can offer leading professionals outstanding career opportunities is, in my opinion, an important part of both your marketing plan and growth strategy. Yet many companies continue to neglect this. In fact many don’t really have a clear Talent Attraction strategy to support their growth plans.

Those that do have such a strategy would do well to consider making more noise about it in front of such a receptive audience in my opinion.

If you have any comments on this article, please get in touch with Andrew Daley via andrew@edburydaley.com