The Amazon Business Exchange (ABX) Event, a new conference on the procurement rota, took place on 9th October with the Victoria House Basement in Holborn full to capacity with 500 delegates.
The main sponsors were SAP Ariba, Coupa (who are both partnering with Amazon Business), Barclaycard, Accenture and YPO which gave it a slightly different feel to the likes of eWorld and Procurement Leaders, a sense emphasised by what was quite a different audience to many of the events we attend.
Whilst there were a few familiar faces, there was definitely an international feel to the audience which was predominantly mid and senior-level procurement professionals. Representatives from the other solution vendors and consultancies were conspicuous by their absence.
This was the first ABX event in Europe with people tuning in via live streaming. Todd Heimes, Director of Amazon Business for Europe, opened proceedings with a few interesting thoughts about their view of the procurement world and how Amazon intends to have a major impact on it.
The pictures of his various slides that we have published here give some great insight into the data he was able to share with the audience. Amongst the headlines were:
- 89% of procurement leaders say that 50% of their processes can be automated
- 94% of procurement leaders have implemented a 3rd party marketplace
- By 2025 70% of all savings will be driven by data analytics. He made the very pertinent point that there is a talent shortage centred around data (maybe he read one of our Insider reports!)
- Only 34% of digital transformation projects are judged to be a clear success with more than 50% classified as a clear failure.
- More than half the FTSE 100 are already Amazon for Business customers
He talked about the gap that exists between procurement leaders’ plans and the businesses expectations. Amazon intends to fill that gap and who would back against them given the success of the business overall?
Following Todd on stage were a couple of notable Amazon for Business clients Dietmar Harteveld Head of SCM for EMEA at Siemens and Bouygues Construction Global CPO Eric Bouret.
Both talked impressively about their journey with Amazon for business, their savings, process improvements and positive feedback from the business.
Two areas of capability really got my attention and are worth considering for CPOs. Firstly Amazon’s system of progressive discounts over time which don’t require bulk purchases or supplier negotiation if you are a Business Prime customer. The second was built in Spend Analytics, something that procurement professionals need to start using more of.
Next up was David Price, MD of lead sponsor Barclaycard Commercial Payments talking about how they might work with Amazon. Todd asked David about how Barclaycard is making a difference to supply chains in an era of Brexit uncertainty and increased regulation.
He talked about the importance of “injecting liquidity into the supply chain” in areas of vulnerability and pointed to two key elements of the Barclaycard solution that could make a real difference in future. Firstly built in analytics (data again!!) to support their customers’ payment strategies and a similar capability for suppliers which could have a multitude of benefits for companies needing to manage their cash flow more efficiently. For example, faster payments to the supplier community has given them a significant value add in the Barclaycard service and moved the dynamics of the relationship towards the supplier community away from the previously dominant buyer.
There were some good breakout sessions for the procurement delegates to enjoy after lunch which made for a successful event overall. We expect to see much more of Amazon in the business community now, particularly given their alliances with such high profile organisations, and given the global success of the Amazon consumer business, we think it’s reasonable to suggest that this is bad news for other marketplace businesses.