IBM event in London – global procurement risk, innovation, mobility and Watson

IBM acquired Emptoris a couple of years ago now, and since then there hasn’t been a huge amount of news about new products or other developments in the procurement software space from them. But now, we get the feeling that the firm is looking to put themselves firmly back in the spotlight.

One sign of that is their upcoming event in London, titled Global Procurement and Contract Risk, on Friday, September 19th. I’ve been asked to speak at the event, along with a range of senior IBM execs and a key practitioner viewpoint from Mark Roberts , Global e-Sourcing Director for AB InBev, the largest brewer in the world, with brands such as Stella Artois, Budweiser, Leffe and Bass.

My suspicion is that title of the event is somewhat narrow compared to what delegates will actually get. For instance, Roberts’ session is titled Innovation in Procurement. The giant food and drink companies are pretty much leading edge in their procurement practice and use of procurement technology, in my experience, so I’m sure that is going to be interesting.

From the IBM side, they are fielding some big hitters, including Rob Morris, European Vice President, Industry Solutions and Pat Knight, Vice President, IBM Global Procurement talking about 'The Evolution, Challenges and Future of Procurement' . She is very senior in the IBM internal procurement organisation, whilst Morris is a very senior guy with a sales and consulting background in the firm.

I’m also very interested to find out how IBM plans to use their super-computer, Watson, to support procurement and related activities. We’ve touched on elements of “big data” here previously, such as an interesting use of analytics to detect fraud. But the scope is obviously much wider than that, and if anyone should be at the forefront of extracting useful, actionable information from huge piles of data, you might expect it would be IBM. (And read this if you want a taste of what Watson may be able to do).

As well as a roundtable session focusing on Analytics, another is looking at the future of mobile in the procurement context - not my strong point currently but something most of us should probably be thinking about. And what am I speaking about, I hear you say? Maybe I’ll save the detail for another day... but I will certainly touch on risk, given the session’s title, but maybe a few other things as well.

The event is mainly aimed at IBM / Emptoris customers, but there are a few places available for Spend Matters readers. So if you’d like to come along, listen to the speakers, no doubt have some interesting discussions, and hear the latest in IBM’s thinking relevant to our space, then please drop an email to Sarah.Fardon@uk.ibm.com .

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