Purchasing Smart Sourcing Summit — Dispatch 1

I've spent the better part of yesterday and today sitting through a bunch of keynotes at Purchasing's Smart Sourcing Summit. It's been time well spent. If you want to get your fill of some of the highlights from four of the presentations on the first day, check out Tom Stundza's reporting here, here, here, and here. I plan to cover the event throughout the rest of this week and next as well, though with quite a different perspective from Tom's. I'll leave the reporting to Purchasing and instead dive deep on a few of the themes and presenters, offering my thoughts on what they had to say. Hopefully this approach will show why there's a place for both good journalism and blogging / op/ed when it comes to covering the same story.

But what did I learn on the first day of the event worthy of a quick dispatch? For one, I'd say the economic forecasts that came out of two of the discussions seemed too rosy from where I'm sitting. Still, I appreciated the fact that two economists -- one commodity focused, the other, a classic big spending Keynesian with no near-term fear of deficit spending or inflation -- took 45 minutes apiece to share their thoughts with the crowd. This type of dialogue is greatly needed in our sector, but one of the challenges I observed from these types of presentations is that there was little pragmatic translation into what all the observations mean for procurement and supply chain management.

I got it, but I have an academic and professional background in this sort of thing. What would have been more useful for the audience would have been a 5-10 minute buy-side takeaway discussion/summary at the end of each of the talks rather than leaving us hanging in economist chart land. Still, a valiant effort, and Purchasing gets at least a "B+" in my non-inflated grade book for having the foresight to bring such useful foundational content and lively economists to the discussion in the first place. Aside from the economists, Scott Singer, CPO at Rio Tinto, gave an excellent talk on some of the opportunities and challenges he's observed leaving behind the diversified manufacturing world and moving further down the supply chain. Stay tuned for an additional column on Scott's talk as I review some of his observations and learnings as well as offer up the implications and takeaways for Spend Matters readers. All in all, it's been a great use of time so far and I'd recommend the event to everyone in the sector. Purchasing should do these things more often.

Jason Busch

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