Spend Matters — Our Foray Into Events: Balancing Social Interaction, Education and Accessibility

As Spend Matters continues to grow at a pretty significant clip, (thankfully faster than we had planned), we have tried to balance building new revenue streams and at the same time create greater accessibility and social interaction. This week in London, Peter and I held a great Oxford Union-type debate. Intenda and jCatalog generously underwrote the costs for libations and vittles for the group of over 30 practitioners and providers who joined us (the free event was open to those who asked to attend in theory, but we filled nearly all the seats with personal invitations, given the small venue).

Our plan is to repeat these structured but informal gatherings in the UK this year and introduce them in the US, too. But we're not yet sure how we can best balance the openness that has made Spend Matters what it is to date with the need to be somewhat exclusive in open events, given limited seats. Perhaps our approach in London this week was the right one -- i.e., let people know about it on the site -- but restrict the number of seats to compact venues, which makes such gatherings a more intimate and personal affair.

Next Tuesday morning, Spend Matters is hosting our first "conference" in conjunction with MetalMiner: International Trade Breaking Point: Overhauling Manufacturing Sourcing Strategies, Risk Mitigation Techniques and Total Landed Cost Models. We also decided to make this physical event free, via invitation only. But we'd like to invite everybody to listen in through a free live simulcast. We've also structured the format to create a more interactive approach than most events, with three hour-long sessions hosted by panels of top industry professionals from the manufacturing, public policy, and purchasing worlds.

With this event and the other recent get-togethers that we've hosted, we decided to take a different tract than other conference organizers in structure, form and execution. Yet, like the event earlier this week, we want the content to be useful to all who come. In this case, we're hoping to leave both physical and virtual attendees with the following benefits:

  • Translating policy to sourcing action -- gaining critical insight into how the global trade landscape could drastically change over the next 12-18 months and how this will impact global sourcing strategies
  • Becoming an expert to educate your organization -- learning practical strategies to anticipate and prepare for the public policy outcomes and real total-cost and trade impacts
  • Walking away with practical tools -- pocketing pragmatic total cost models and insights that can immediately help bridge the divide between policy makers and company EPS

Going forward, I suspect we'll accelerate the frequency of both less formal debate-style events as well as actual conferences to keep things as approachable, accessible and useful for readers as possible. We'll also attempt to stay flexible with global readers, allowing you to join us in person, watch a video of an event (live or recorded) or read the resulting content and analysis we share directly on the site. For example, we're in the early stages of planning an event to likely take place later this year that will provide what we hope will become an annual, definitive commodity update aimed at procurement professionals covering the metals, energy and related market environments (in addition to offering a procurement-driven economic view on trade, GDP, employment, etc.).

In all of these endeavors -- whether held informally over a pint at a pub or more formally -- our plan is to stay as accessible as possible. Because we believe that the spirit of opinion, two-way dialogue, and social interaction/community that we're attempting to foster across our three web sites needs to come through in-person as well.

- Jason Busch

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