Commodity/PROcurement EDGE: A Q&A with Jason Busch on What’s New and Different This Time

With Labor Day over, we’re drawing ever closer to our fall conference, Commodity/PROcurement EDGE, to be held October 8 and 9. This is the first part in a short Q&A series with Jason Busch on the details of the conference. Today we’re looking at what sets this conference apart from the regular procurement event and from last year’s conference, along with how technology topics to be covered were chosen and prioritized.

Sydney Lazarus: What sets this conference apart from other procurement events?

Jason Busch: I’ve been to a lot of procurement events, and a number of them cover technology, risk management, even economic commodity outlooks. But I haven’t seen one that really goes into a deep level of detail in each of these areas and provides a clear outlook for procurement organizations on where things are headed. At the same time, a lot of topics are typically set at conferences many, many months in advance. We set the agenda less than two months ago. So we’re basing it on discussions we have all the time with procurement organizations and consultants as to what they’re concerned about today and what they want to hear. We’re hoping that it’s going to be extremely timely.

SL: How will this year’s event differ from last year’s EDGE conference?

JB: Last year’s event really focused on commodity outlooks. We gave an overall economic view, and Bill Strauss, the Fed in Chicago, talked about where things were headed with the economy. We’re having Bill join us again this year. But last year was really about looking at where prices for metals, energy, or packaging, etc. were all headed—and then the technologies that could support commodity management.

This year we really branched out. But we’re keeping that core as well, though attendees are going to have a much greater choice for the breakout sessions if they attend the traditional commodity track or if they attend other tracks. Take for instance the track dedicated to broader procurement technology—whether it’s e-Procurement systems, invoicing systems, or supplier management tools. We’re going to really dig into sourcing technology as well. So this year’s not just about commodity management and economic outlook, even though attendees will have that again. It’s also about the broader technology side and the procurement solution side.

SL: How did you prioritize the technology topics to be covered?

JB: Procurement technology is such a broad topic. I sometimes explain to people who are joining procurement organizations for the first time that you can’t look at this as a corollary to sales and CRM. There are so many types of procurement technology, whether it’s procurement, contract management, invoicing, supplier management systems, you name it. It crosses so many areas, yet often the systems aren’t tied together.

To prioritize, we really looked at what we’ve seen in the market and the questions we’re getting. Where are these questions trending? What are the biggest priorities for procurement organizations in 2014? I also think a lot of these answers are relevant for consultants. In fact, a lot of our readers and subscribers on the PRO side are also in the professional services business. They’re looking to help their clients answer these questions.

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