Down the Procurement Pub with IBM, Raj Sharma, Robot Overlords and All We Are

I’ve had a busy and quite eventful week considering it is supposed to be deep into the holiday season. It was a real pleasure to meet the CPO of one of the largest and most influential firms in the world (still) – Bob Murphy of IBM. He is the successor to the legendary John Paterson, who retired last year. Now what are the odds of a Scotsman replacing a Scotsman as CPO of a huge global firm? But that’s what has happened here. I reckon it is something to do with the accent and the lasting effect of Sean Connery – that tough yet charming voice and persona is perfect for a CPO of course. Roberts is impressive, as you might expect, and we will have more from our discussion to come. Here he is with three of his colleagues at our meeting.

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I also spent a day and a half with Raj Sharma of Censeo and Public Spend Forum, and an associate of my business partner Jason Busch. Censeo is a major public sector consulting firm in the USA, and Sharma is well connected at White House levels with the US public procurement agenda, so we had interesting discussions with a number of current and past senior figures in the UK government procurement sector. Thanks to those folk for sparing the time to swap views, issues and ideas with us - much appreciated.

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We liked this article from the GCN website about the US Air Force looking to use artificial intelligence to make sense of the huge amount of data and complexity that is inherent in their procurement processes. There is an IBM connection here too, in that it must be quite likely that the “cognitive computing tool” the Air Force chooses will be IBM’s Watson super-computer. But we particularly liked the comment from CSIS’ Andrew Philip Hunter who quipped, “I just this second learned that my job is going to be taken by a robot … because we spend a lot of time analyzing the Federal Procurement Data System, which now computers will do. But I for one embrace our new robot overlords.”

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By the time you read this, I will be watching some noisy young indie band at Reading Festival. As we publish this at 1.30 pm, that could well be the end of the set from The Districts, who we have featured here previously, or perhaps All We Are, on the Dance Stage, the favourites of excellent music website Alphabet Bands.

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