Event Season In The Procurement Technology Sector – Autumn 2017

Event Season In The Procurement Technology Sector – Autumn 2017

The autumn months are a busy time in terms of conferences in the procurement technology sector and I’ve  attended four excellent events in London recently.  Whilst e World offered a chance to compare a wide range of solution providers, Coupa, Basware and SAP Ariba organised single vendor events underpinned by their own sales agenda.

Each of these events offered an insight into the capability of the software through a number of informative presentations, and the cultures of the respective organisations.  I offer my own thoughts and comparisons below.

As a specialist recruiter in the sector and largely impartial observer, I find these events a very useful way of developing my knowledge, keeping up to date with the latest developments in the technology and enjoying the networking opportunities that exist between presentations. It’s great to catch up with long established contacts, meet new people and listen to conversations about people’s experiences of using the technology.

eWorld

I’ve been to several eWorld events now and it is the best option if you are looking to get a flavour of the myriad of options available in procurement technology.

This year had even more exhibitors than the equivalent event last year with the vast majority of the major players represented in the exhibition area.

There’s a wide range of presentations from solution providers, implementation partners and end users offering the procurement professional an great learning opportunity.

The opening Keynote, Procurement And The Brexit Bombshell from Dr. John Glen, Director of The Centre for Customised Executive Development Cranfield University was very interesting if slightly alarming for a self-confessed “remoaner” like me.  His advice was “plan for a hard Brexit, hope for a softer one.”  If you get the chance to see him present, take it.  Alternatively you can find him on YouTube.

I particularly enjoyed watching Mo Ahmad of Ariba talking about #MakeProcurementAwesome for the Mid Market and Ian Thompson of Tradeshift’s presentation on Procurement Innovation: How to Successfully Transition from Being Measured on Savings to Being Measured on Value?

Ian Thompson of Tradeshift

Both raised some interesting points and had an engaging, thought provoking presentation style.

You can view the other presentation topics and request details here: http://www.eworld-procurement.com/programme/

My only real negative about this event is that its surprising not to see more senior decision makers attend given the quality of the agenda and potential value of these solutions.  The audience appears largely dominated by middle management procurement people who seem to gain a great deal from it so I ask are the leaders missing out?

The next eWorld event is on the 28th February.

Messrs Edbury & Daley at eWorld

Coupa Inspire

The venue of Park Lane Hilton set the tone for the event along with a very upbeat feel about the environment. With impressive lights and modern introduction music, it was standing room only for Rob Bernsteyn’s opening address.  He gave a very bullish, strong performance, articulating Coupa’s values with an impressive presentation, extolling their Value as a Service mantra.  

A Coupa slide

He was followed by Paul Desrosiers of KPMG’s procurement technology practice.  Paul interviewed two Coupa/KPMG customers in a well-rehearsed Q&A offering an insight into what Coupa has brought to their organisations.

The Digital Leader – KPMG

With over 700 people in attendance, there was just enough space in the venue and this resulted in quite an energetic feel to the event, particularly around the exhibition area where the likes of KPMG, Deloitte, Hackett, Bearing Point and Xoomworks were all exhibiting as potential Coupa partners.

I had a series of very interesting conversations  with the consultants that I know from these organisations that typically had one common theme – there’s a shortage of people with experience of implementing the Coupa technology (and many of the competing solutions) to the extent where it can achieve its full potential with all the associated change management work that accompanies the use of such a powerful platform.

Of course it’s one of our jobs to help our clients overcome such skill shortages and we have various methods we can recommend but more on that another time.

One thing I particularly enjoyed was watching the dynamics of the event.  There was a lot of visible evidence of potential deals being discussed between Coupa sales people, prospective customers, and the various implementation partners giving a real buzz to the environment during the breaks.

My personal highlight was the presentation by Paddy Lawton, founder of Spend 360 (acquired by Coupa in January)

Paddy Lawton of Coupa talks about Neural Networks.

He gave a fascinating summary of his journey from the origins of Spend 360 with manually inputted and analysed data to the point where he’s at today.   In the process of explaining this journey he articulated a very compelling case for the use of these technologies with the emphasis on the value of the data, both now and in the future.  His message was largely echoed by Eric Wilson at Basware event the following day, and if there is one key headline for the layman to take away, its that the sooner you start to make better use of your data, the sooner you can start to reap the enormous rewards for procurement.

As an aside the food was excellent and a lot of people seemed pleased with the range of top end Coupa branded merchandise.  The flask will certainly come in handy for me on the golf course this winter!

Basware Connect

The Basware Network

The following day took me to CodeNode, a very different, more understated venue with a real technology theme.  On a smaller scale to the previous day, it felt more intimate and the presentations had more of an educational rather than sales feel by comparison.

There were plenty of Basware staff on hand to meet with potential and existing customers and the venue made for easy networking and open discussion.

Matthew Syed (AKA “The Ping Pong guy” from the BBC radio podcast and Times journalist) gave the opening keynote and he was absolutely excellent.  His presentation on “black box thinking” was fascinating.   He talked about the “growth mindset” offering comparisons of learning methodologies between the aviation and healthcare sectors with some references to sport thrown in.  It’s well worth buying his book or watching some of his presentations on YouTube if you haven’t seen him speak.

He was followed by the aforementioned Eric Wilson (VP of S2P at Basware) who covered a range of topics including the huge importance of data.  He discussed how our current machines will be obsolete soon but the data we are producing through them will only increase in importance in the next few years.

Eric Wilson of Basware

There were several other really interesting presentations from the likes of Theresa Lacey and Louis Fernandes, and again it offered a great opportunity to develop one’s knowledge of the power and importance of spend management solutions.

Theresa Lacey Making Sense Of The Terminology

It was great to see some of my contacts from the old Procserve business and compare the different cultures of the US owned Coupa versus the Finnish owned Barware – fascinating stuff for a recruiter.

The Future Of Procurement – Ariba

In early November Ariba invited both customers and potential prospects to its latest event.  The Royal College of Surgeons was an atmospheric venue with its 500 year history, on-site museum and intimate lecture theatre where it felt like the audience were almost on top of the speakers.

It was a largely educational agenda with a subtle sell of the capabilities of their solution thrown in, making for another enjoyable event.

It was great to see Justin Sadler-Smith back in the sector after recently joining the business. He gave an excellent introductory speech and more evidence that he’ll bring a great deal to Ariba’s business in the UK, particularly with the partnership with IBM on Cognitive Procurement given his background at Emptoris.

He was followed by former SAP CPO and now Chief Digital Officer, Marcel Vollmer who gave a really insightful view of the impact of technology in both our personal and professional lives.  He also talked about SAP’s own implementation of Ariba.

Some of the numbers for SAP’s transformation to Ariba

Between them they touched on some interesting issues including:

  • Procurement moving into a different space in future business with its changing value proposition
  • The growing importance of data scientists in procurement
  • The potential for areas like Category Management to be largely automated
  • The move towards supplier management and innovation rather than just delivering hard savings
  • A strong message that the potential for change is here now and able to move at a rapid rate if we embrace it

The Future of Ariba S2P with Marcell Vollmer.

Later in the afternoon I really enjoyed listening to Andrew Croston of Smith & Nephew who gave a warts and all account of their experience of implementing the Ariba solution with consulting support from Deloitte.

It was a refreshing change from the often 100% positive presentations that are so common at such events.  He was largely very positive about both organisations but also gave a good account of the challenges they’ve faced, and some useful feedback for anyone about to embark on a similar transformation journey.  His dry northern wit also kept me and the rest of the audience amused throughout.

The three partners exhibiting were excelerated S2P, Deloitte & Apsolut but in keeping with the rest of the event they appeared to be in educational rather than full on sales mode.

Some Final Thoughts

  • Procurement professionals really are spoilt for choice with solutions at the moment, the power of the technology is amazing, the real challenge lies in how you harness it for your organisation and finding the skills required to do so.
  • Procurement professionals should go to as many of these events as possible.   There are so many ways to learn about what’s happening and ultimately to enable you to choose the right solution for your business.
  • The skill shortage I’ve been talking about for so long shows no sign of abating but you can raise your own profile and knowledge by embracing these learning opportunities.

Andrew Daley, November 2017

If you would like to discuss any of the points raised here please contact me via andrew@edburydaley.com

 

 

New Research – The Things Our Clients Say About Us…..

New Research – The Things Our Clients Say About Us…..

In our recent client survey we asked our regular customers to “summarise your thoughts on recruiters generally and how your experience with Edbury Daley compares to your other, existing or previous suppliers.”

Here’s what they said:

“You provide a much more personal service and leverage insight to help our choices”

I feel that Edbury Daley are a trusted advisor. I generally don’t like other recruitment agencies”

“I find Andrew (Daley) personal, trustworthy and honest. I feel like his industry expertise sets him apart from his competitors in that I trust that he knows the kind of skills we are looking for, and the kind of candidates that would be a good fit for our business”

“Edbury Daley come across a smaller more personal resource”

My experience of Peter Brophy and Edbury Daley has been exceptional. The company demonstrates professionalism and knowledge of industry with matching right candidate(s). Throughout the process; from initial contact to successful placement, they helped me to gain insight of candidates and i found them easy to chat with; highly recommended!”

“A really down to earth but clever person to deal with is Andrew. Shows a passion for understanding our business and getting the right fit candidates for it”

“It is the trust and honesty that Andrew has given and shown me that means I don’t have to engage with other recruiters.”

For the full results of our survey please visit Top 20 Client Survey Reveals Honesty Is The Best Policy.

 

 

 

 

The Big Debate – The Future Of Procurement Skills

The Big Debate – The Future Of Procurement Skills

In each of our last four reports on the state of the procurement and spend management job markets we’ve commented on the skills shortages that exist within the profession.  

Many others have conducted research or written their own thoughts on how the procurement profession is adapting to change.  There are links to several interesting articles below.

We believe the issue is becoming increasingly acute as the power and capability of the various procurement technology solutions available increases apace.  That topic is particularly well covered in this research – The CPO Survey 2017

Here are some further opinions worth considering:

Predicting the Future with Procurement – Conclusion of the CPO Survey 2017

The Future Of Procurement Is Connected

Breadth, Depth, and Reach: Preparing Your Procurement for the Digital Age

The Rise of AI in Procurement: Separating Hype from Reality

Is Procurement Equipped To Deal With This Economic Uncertainty

Thoughts on Ariba Live, June 2017

Where Are The Skills That Will Support Procurements Evolution

Some Questions About The Impact Of Technology On The Future Of Procurement Skills And Careers.

The Impact Of Brexit & Trump On Procurement

We welcome your comments on the subject below and hope we can develop an interesting debate.  Also please feel free to post links to any other relevant articles

 

Top 20 Client Survey Reveals Honesty Is The Best Policy

Top 20 Client Survey Reveals Honesty Is The Best Policy

The results of a recent survey that we’ve undertaken with our top 20 clients operating in the global technology procurement and spend management sectors, has revealed that trust and honesty are the most important factors when it comes to selecting a recruitment partner.

The survey asked respondents to rank certain factors on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being extremely important. Trust and honesty received a weighted average response of 9.87, while the other factors completing the top five most important included advice on specific candidates (8.80), value for money (8.80), breath of industry network (8.60) and candidate management and closing (8.20).

50% of respondents identified Competitor Staff Mapping & Analysis and Bespoke Salary Research for Benchmarking Purposes as other recruitment services they would like to see us offer.

When asked what we could do to improve our service, responses included “put more information about candidates across on LinkedIn”, “increase search and pre-selection of procurement candidates from our specific industry” and “keep understanding our priorities”.

When asked to select what difference we made to their business, 57% responded “finds candidates that others can’t” and “has wider knowledge of the procurement technology market”, while 50% answered “makes me aware of candidates coming to market” and “sells our business effectively to candidates as an employer of choice”.

100% of respondents are likely to engage with us again with 60% extremely likely while 100% are likely to recommend the company to others with 65% extremely likely.

Commenting on the results of the survey, Andrew Daley, director at Edbury Daley says: “This is fantastic feedback and we’re delighted with the results, but we know there is always work to be done on further improving our service and offerings. One of the objectives of the survey was to identify areas where we could improve and we’ll be working hard to make progress on the areas highlighted.

“We are really pleased that our clients place so much importance on trust and honesty, especially as these values are the foundations of our business. But we won’t be resting on our laurels.”

For a copy of the full survey report please contact Andrew Daley.