The US Spend Matters team has descended on the 98th annual ISM conference in Dallas. Having been to many ISM conferences, I have to say that there is a definite buzz here and if I had to sum up the experience so far, it’d be “leadership”:
- Tom Derry, the new CEO of ISM is definitely re-invigorating the organization with its broader focus on the supply chain and a renewed push to elevate the function. The content of the sessions have been strong and the providers in the exhibit hall have generally been encouraged by the level of activity and engagement with practitioners – which hasn’t always been the case.
- If Supply Leadership is about improving the performance of supply and elevating the supply function, then the new ISM mission statement is spot on: “To enhance the value and performance of procurement and SCM practitioners and their organizations worldwide”. This mission focuses on the “what” ISM is trying to do rather than the “how” of the supply process itself (which is the old mission statement about the optimal positioning of resources). It’s a subtle, but important, difference. Too often procurement organizations get caught up in the “how” and not on the “what and why”.
- Lisa Martin, the ex-CPO of Pfizer, and current CPO and now SVP SCM (which is apropos for ISM’s broader direction) at Teva Pharmaceuticals, was announced as the J. Shipman Gold Medal award winner. Although Lisa has one foot in the legacy CPO community, she is also a very progressive thinker and aggressively seeks (and shares) new ideas to elevate not just herself, but everyone in her professional and personal network (her two kids also have budding careers in supply management!).
- Condoleeza Rice was the opening keynote and there are few people positioned to talk as authoritatively about globalization, diversity, difficult negotiations, and leadership. *Note, when asked by an audience member, she still says she’s not planning on running for president in 2016
- Given the broader supply chain focus, Dr. Hau Lee was invited to talk about supply chain agility, and he expanded his usual content to talk in more detailed about “sensible sensing” and “responsive response”. There are some survey event poll results here. It’s a rich topic, but we did offer a 12 point diagnostic (and recommendations) over here on SpendMatters Pro.
- Procurement simply can’t lead without an outside-in perspective on the supply markets. Bernard Baumohl, the chief global economist at The Economic Outlook Group who shared some of the latest data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and also from ISMs economic analysis in its latest Report on Business. We’ll do some follow-up posts on the analysis, but the bottom line is that while the economic recovery continues to be fragile in the face of many global risks (especially the endemic long-term malaise facing Europe), the overall economic forecast for emerging/emerged markets is strong, and the US forecast is also surprisingly robust!
- Technology leadership was well demonstrated with an exhibit hall packed with providers, and while much of the chatter was focused on the aftermath of the Ariba acquisition by SAP, the more interesting aspect was the great “procurement services mash-up” (including application services, content services, etc.) mash-up like we recently outlined in our Procurement Services Market Landscape: The Continuum of Procurement Services research piece.
- Individual sessions ran the gamut, but there was plenty of demonstrated leadership in the various breakout sessions. We’ll be highlighting some interesting ones later, such as in commodity price risk management, contracting for cloud computing solutions, and others.
In the end, these types of conferences are about learning the leadership lessons of those who’ve gone before you and figuring out how to apply them in your environment. We’re encouraged by ISM’s increased leadership in the market and hope they’ll continue down the new and expanded path they’re attempting to lead the entire profession towards.