Our Woman on the Ground – Jenny Draper at ProcureCon Indirect

Spend Matters GM, Jenny Draper, was at ProcureCon Indirect last week - Europe's premier event for CPOs and Heads of Indirect from Europe’s biggest indirect spending companies. Here are her general observations from the two days, and we'll have more in detail next week.

If you attended ProcureCon Indirect last Tuesday and Wednesday 2nd-3rd April you’ll have enjoyed the great location and blue skies of Copenhagen. Depending on your pallet, the lunch selections were an acquired taste; steak tartare, veal and pickled rhubarb amongst the choices. But what of the content of the conference?

The opening presentations were under the theme: ‘Positioning Procurement as a Value-Generating Function’.  The 20-minute addresses from Jan Fokke Van Den Bosch, CPO of HSBC, Michelle Baker, CPO of KPN, Marco Romano, Procurement Data & Analytics Officer, IBM were content-rich and informative of their own organisations’ experiences and with a thread of raising the value of procurement within the organisation.  I hadn’t heard Marco Romano speak before but enjoyed the session and I’m always keen to hear what Jan and Michelle talk about; I enjoy how they share experiences and opinions, both enlightening and refreshing.

The theme then moved along to ‘Embracing The Digital World’. Letitia Thomas, Programme Editor for ProcureCon Europe had told me that the big topic for attendees is ‘Digital.’ Google’s Vaishali Salmond, Strategic Sourcing Lead EMEA & Latin America, Google & Michael Tiano, Strategic Sourcing Manager, Google undertook the first slot under this theme and went into quite some detail about their process using machine learning for spend analytics. For those wanting to address their spend analytics this was a very detailed session.

A session which hooked me in was from Burkard Schemmel, Head of Enterprise Customer Success DACH & CEE, Amazon, under the title ‘Marketplaces in a digital ecosystem: How can you use marketplaces to promote your procurement organisation as a true business partner?’ He very much made the case for the effectiveness and efficiency of marketplaces in procurement. Given Maistro’s (a B2B marketplace for business services) presence as a partner at the event, I sense growth in this area of procurement, which I’d be delighted to see.

I spoke in the Icertis slot on the topic ‘Why Contract Management Should Be the Foundation of Your Procurement Transformation’.  I’m a flag waver for CLM and believe it’s been in the shadows of other procurement techs for far too long, despite how vital it is in the role of any commercial relationship.

Master classes, workshops and panel discussions took care of the afternoon slots, varying in theme but what was becoming obvious as the conference progressed was the number of senior procurement professionals speaking, being panel members, chairing workshops and sharing their experiences with the attendees. It felt very collaborative amongst peers, a conference designed to facilitate relationship building and sharing of pain points and opportunities, perhaps more so than I’ve witnessed at many events.

Day two saw a theme shift to procurement challenges: New Frontiers in Supplier Diversity, Risk Management & Sustainability, Transforming Procurement Strategy and round table discussions from vertical industry sector and procurement stream perspectives.

All in all, I believe procurement professionals will have come away from the event with new connections, experience sharing and ideas to consider implementing. I talked at length to Kieran Sullivan from Capita and we both agreed that these events are often more about networks to reinvigorate, new relationships made and collaborative opportunities to foster based on the shared peer level of the guests.  I’d say this event certainly hit that mark and hope for similar discussions at ProcureCon Europe, Barcelona in October.

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