Friday Rant: Commodity Edge — Reflections Before Our First Big Event Next Week!

Today is the last business day to register for Commodity EDGE (I'm sure we'll be taking a few on-site walk-up registrations as well). We've been hard at work putting together the conference agenda and lining up the best speakers to cover a range of topics, from a general economic and manufacturing outlook to targeted commodity forecasts and sourcing/procurement implications across a range of categories including ferrous metals, non-ferrous metals, plastics, energy, ingredients, indirect materials, and much more. It's been a fun (and highly time-consuming) process. And I can say that in the near-term, we most likely won't be producing events going forward with the same type of regularity as the main procurement conference outfits. Once a year feels about right (maybe twice).

As anyone in the conference business will tell you, the level of detail and organization that goes into pulling off an event -- down to the very last minute details -- is baffling to outsiders who have not been involved in the planning process. Our events maestro happens to be an old friend of mine, although our relationship did not start out that way. Back at FreeMarkets, where she led our events efforts, I may have yelled at her for one reason or another over a personal concern as our big customer event was just getting started at a venue in Scottsdale. Fortunately, she raised her voice louder than mine and put me in my place in less than a minute, creating a minor scene as I recall. We've been friends ever since (and now she runs our events).

I probably deserved the lashing at the time. But the experience also served as my first piece of on-the-job event training, highlighting the nuances -- and criticality -- of getting everything right. From trying to vet c-level speakers to ensure they won't put everyone to sleep to making sure that guests truly feel welcome and are getting what they need from the event, managing the smaller details never ends. Nor do the infinite issues that tend to crop up at the last minute. Fortunately, I've learned to surround myself with detail-oriented folks who are better at this sort of thing than me. But I still lose sleep over it.

Those who can join us next week will see what we hope comes off as a tightly orchestrated event, combining old tricks with new to enhance the attendee experience. We're featuring videos, for example, from some of our sponsors and the Spend Matters/MetalMiner crew in between sessions. I've personally lined up speakers for one panel discussion on the first day of the event and a breakout session on the main day where we won't just be talking about technology to manage sourcing and commodity strategies -- we'll be showing them through use cases to really bring the point home. I'm hoping this approach provides more impact for those who are looking for specific takeaways about how they can immediately get started on their own commodity management approaches as soon as they head back into the office on Wednesday.

On the Spend Matters side, both Thomas Kase and I will be co-presenting as well as live blogging the event. William Busch, who runs client services for us, will also be attending, as will Sheena Moore, our fearless editor. Richard Lee (who runs our consulting arm Spend Matters Group) is also dropping by. Unfortunately, Peter Smith, my UK/Europe Spend Matters counterpart, decided to make use of a much-deserved week off to go skiing, so we'll be missing him. On the MetalMiner front, however, the entire team will be coming: Lisa Reisman, Stuart Burns, Taras Berezowksy and Brianna Tonner. And Tom Finn will be here from HealthCare Matters

If you're on the fence about attending, I hope the agenda and speaker list puts it over the EDGE (pun intended) for you. We've put a ton of work into orchestrating and vetting the content to make sure Commodity Edge provides a definitive and pragmatic brain dump of all the key issues for developing and managing both sourcing and commodity risk management strategies in today's climate. Showtime is nigh. So join me as we go straight up to the Commodity EDGE and stare down the forces of volatility threatening our way of doing procurement business.

- Jason Busch

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First Voice

  1. Peter Smith:

    I’m sorry to be missing the big event, and I’ll be thinking about you as I progress in a stately fashion down the red runs…
    I’m sure it will be an excellent event fopr the delegates and I look forward to hearing all about it!

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