ISM 2019 Houston Conference: Highlights and Musings (Part 2)

The ISM 2019 conference was held in Houston, Texas, in April with the goal to "spark" creative thinking about supply chains and procurement. (JP Morris photo / Spend Matters)

After joining our Spend Matters' team at the ISM 2019 conference last week in Houston, I recapped the event in an earlier post, but today I want to focus on two more sessions, one titled "Procurement Hacks" and the other about sustainability, given by HP Enterprise.

In Part 1, I shared some thoughts on the event and a few of the great sessions there. And I'm already excited for ISM 2020 in Boston, where I live — but first let's finish off what Houston had to offer.

I went to the “Procurement Hacks” session despite being fatigued by the hackneyed (pun intended) term “hack.”

But the capacity-filled session from “emerging” (i.e., young) professionals was basically like a rapid fire set of TED Talks infused with practical tools, including a career self-diagnostic (from Apple), a quick response problem-solving framework/tool (from Volvo), a BCP tool from DuPont, and even a 225 slide deck template from Polaris. I would recommend that ISM continue to not only feature this track but also extend this idea beyond the emerging practitioner cohort. For example, run a contest for practitioners to submit their favorite technique/tool that they can present in 5 minutes, and then pick 10 winners who’ll get 50% off their attendance fees) — and present it in this rapid-fire tool sharing format. Also, record the sessions for corporate ISM programs offered to practitioners.

Another interesting session came from HP Enterprise, the spinout from HP that focuses on enterprise IT hardware and services (not printers, toner, etc.). HPE focused on its sustainability efforts where it uses the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as its core sustainability framework. In particular, HPE focuses most heavily on the goals that it can most proactively address (bolded below):

  1. No poverty
  2. Zero hunger
  3. Good health and well-being
  4. Quality education
  5. Gender equality
  6. Clean water and sanitation
  7. Affordable and clean energy
  8. Decent work and economic growth
  9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure
  10. Reduced inequalities
  11. Sustainable cities and communities
  12. Responsible consumption and production
  13. Climate action
  14. Life below water
  15. Life on land
  16. Peace, justice and strong institutions

HPE recommends picking the critical few that will resonate with your firm and your customers who are likely asking you for your sustainability strategies and actions.

HPE has a fairly large CO2 footprint (12.6M tons per year), so it measures deeply, reports it and focuses on reducing it. Why all the transparency? Not just because it’s the right thing to do, but it’s good to do it proactively rather than begrudgingly, and because customers are demanding the transparency.

In 2018, 1,082 customers asked about HPE sustainability positions, and HPE briefed 140 major customers last year (with 600 inquiries per quarter — now handled through a dedicated call center) who represented $5 billion in revenue. And if you do sustainability well, you can realize positive impacts to the “triple bottom line.” For example, an HPE Colorado facility uses water heated from data centers to warm its campus roads in the winter and eliminate the need to plow them (and cooler land also cools the water in the system).

HPE also supports its employees by giving them 60 hours of volunteer time to go work on SDGs.

Finally, HPE adopts 12 “schemes” (HPE’s term) to report out to its customers from third parties who rate suppliers and/or aggregate such ratings. And in turn, investors applaud, employees are engaged, awards are given, and the enterprise value is increased. What I like about the SDGs framework is that it provides a more aspirational strategic framework upon which to hang GRC efforts (i.e., it’s enterprise-value focused rather than check-the-box compliance centric).

The last session I’ll mention here is Katie Smith’s procurement digital transformation case study at HERE Technologies. I’ll write it up later, but I just wanted to give her a sincere word of thanks for the shoutout to Spend Matters and our persona-based SolutionMap. We’ve been getting a lot of feedback about SolutionMap, and it’s been mostly good, but with some understandable exasperation from providers on the level of effort based on the depth of the solution analyses. The biggest piece of feedback we’re getting beyond simplifying it is that everyone wants more personas — mid-market, industry, role-based, etc. We’re working on how to best do this, so we hear you and will be working on this in 2019.

Next week, I’ll publish more of the interesting lessons from ISM 2019 — and I can’t wait for ISM 2020 here in Boston!

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