Digital Procurement World Kicks Off in Amsterdam 

Digital Procurement World (DPW) kicked off its first event in Amsterdam earlier today. Jenny Draper, General Manager, Spend Matters Europe, and I are both attending. Later today, I’m moderating a CPO panel, presenting a short talk on the topic of why some procurement technology start-ups fail and why some succeed and acting as a judge to rate a bunch of start-ups “pitching” to the audience on stage. DPW Shark Tank!

They’re keeping me busy here. But DPW is a new event, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to help shape some of the content and discussions. DPW is run by a veteran of the high-end procurement conference space, Matthias Gutzmann, who was one of the early employees at Procurement Leaders.

Here are my observations thus far.

Vibe

That's 5 Espresso machines!

It was nice to see Champaign available at breakfast, although the crowd is a bit sober (after all, this is procurement) if not dressed down for the event. Jeans are the primary uniform, which is refreshing for typically buttoned-up European events. Attendees seem genuinely excited to be here and the exhibit hall was filled with well over a dozen providers this morning — some young start-ups, some incumbent providers.

The venue itself, Beurs van Berlage, is fantastic. Historic and modernised, it’s worth a stroll inside just to see the gathering rooms. In fact, it was a great metaphor for Diddier Bonnet’s morning keynote on digital transformation and disruption, and proof that legacy does not have to be a handicap in the modern era.

Opportunity

Matthias Gutzmann took the stage for just a couple of minutes to kick-off the event, sharing his perspective on why she started DPW. He noted that he was working at a procurement technology start-up in NYC and was looking for a conference to showcase what his firm was up to. But existing events were too expensive and did not bring the right people, i.e., digital owners, those interested in disruptive technologies as their priority for attending, etc. So DPW was founded.

I remember meeting Matthias for a coffee in London less than a year ago after he came up with the idea and his enthusiasm at the time brought a grin to my face. He is a man on a mission — and one that judging thus far from the morning of Day 1 at DPW, is succeeding so far, and succeeding fast.

For those who don’t know him, Matthias was once a professional athlete (tennis) and he has not lost the competitive spirit.

Focus

The primary agenda items of the event, not surprisingly, focus on digital procurement, transformation and enabling technology. The challenge (and opportunity) for DPW will be to mix the “the old” yet core areas of procurement technology such as source-to-pay and procure-to-pay with digitally disruptive enablers and new markets — and to inspire, educate and provide a forum for useful networking for attendees.

Covering all bases on the former will be easy. The latter? Well, that’s the opportunity, and so far it seems the content and discussions are on the right track. And that’s a good thing, as the 431 people (from 30 countries) are clearly not here to learn about migration from enterprise software to the cloud.

After all, that’s just digital table stakes.

Stay tuned for live coverage from DPW over the next two days.

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