New sponsors, new venue and one big question – my day at eWorld

Having missed the September event both myself and my colleague Peter Brophy were very much looking forward to attending and we weren’t disappointed. The new venue gave the event a fresh feel and was ideally suited to the number of sponsors and delegates at the event.

Proactis was the headline sponsor as has so often been the case, understandably so given their public sector footprint and the traditional make up of the audience.

Amongst the usual suspects among the other sponsors were the likes of SAP Ariba, Tradeshift, Scanmarket, Market Dojo and growing social media presence (and increasing their portfolio of services) Procurious. Other key players from the procurement tech sector included GEP, Wax Digital and Ivalua along with several others we hadn’t seen there before like Tungsten Network, Sievo and Amazon for Business. There’s a full list of sponsors here.

I had planned to attend several presentations as usual, but I spent much of my time networking with the vendors’ sales and marketing people along with a few long-standing procurement contacts, so much so that I only made it to the opening keynote (more on that later).

The question on everyone’s lips was “what’s the market like?” and the answer of course is that the Brexit related uncertainty is certainly impacting on the wider UK professional job market as companies delay key investment and hiring decisions. Frustration with the politicians is clearly not confined to the offices of Edbury Daley but for some, there was a refreshing sense of “it’s still business as usual for us.”

There were the usual brief, cryptic conversations with those who would like to talk further in a more private setting, no doubt about their own personal career objectives, which is always welcome from our perspective of course, and much discussion about the challenges of hiring experienced sales or implementation specialists for the vendors targeting further growth.

So, all in all, a very productive day on the networking front, particularly as I felt there were more senior procurement leaders from the private sector present than has been the case at some previous eWorld events.

In terms of the keynote presentation, Michelle Baker, CPO of Dutch telecoms firm KPN gave an interesting insight into her career, leadership philosophy and of course the impact of technology on procurement.

Amongst the points that resonated with me were the following:

Michelle talked about innovation coming from small businesses that would typically be found in the long tail of spend for most organisations. She cited the example of companies in the pharma sector crowdsourcing from 2-3 person businesses to identify real sources of competitive advantage but flagged the challenges for procurement professionals of identifying the sources of this innovation, and the difficulties of managing those sorts of supplier relationships effectively. I thought that was a fascinating example of the changing demands and skills required for procurement professionals in the future.

She also talked about the need for procurement professionals to take responsibility for their own personal development, how they should focus on deep learning and what she is doing as a leader to help facilitate this. This was of particular interest to me given that my own recent public speaking engagements have focused on the need for self-education for those that have real aspirations to embrace the future of digital procurement.

There’s another eWorld event in the Autumn so keep an eye on their website for more details nearer the time.  I hope to see you there.