Commodity EDGE: Initial Reflections on Our First Big Event

Earlier this week, Spend Matters and MetalMiner collaborated to hold our first big event -- Commodity EDGE: Sourcing Intelligence for the New Normal. It was a packed two days with just over 100 attendees and our team did a great job putting everything together, albeit with a handful of kinks (e.g., A/V issues on the first day) that we wish hadn't occurred. I spent a busy couple of days hosting clients, friends and colleagues. I spoke during three sessions and found time to write a number of live dispatches as well, available here sequentially: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14.

All in all, I came away satisfied with things. Most important of all, the general quality and subject matter depth of presentations was good. Next time, we'll aim to follow the closer orchestration and vetted and rehearsed speaker approaches which have come to categorize some of the best events with consistent keynote quality like Forrester's (which while not TED-level, are usually consistently good when it comes to not having any sessions which are average or poor). ISM, IACCM, Procurement Leaders, ProcureCon, Gartner, SSON and all the others I've spent time at are more hit or miss on speaker quality -- as was ours, given the one lackluster presentation this time -- in making sure there are no speaker weak spots.
Aside from this, here some other key criticisms we'll address next time:

  • It would have been useful to provide an aggregate summary of commodity market trends and forecasts in a single presentation
  • We should have showcased live commodity management technology to truly bring alive different use cases and scenarios (rather than screen shots)
  • Planning six months or more in advance (versus just three) to maximize attendance, sponsorship, etc. would have transformed the size and feel of the event
  • Providing actionable roadmaps for helping companies manage commodity volatility including showing where and how to get started (e.g., technology vs. marketing intelligence vs. skills vs. process vs. hedging/risk management options) would have been helpful for the attendees
  • Having a framework and point of view on how and where commodity management fits into procurement, operations and finance organizations could have been a good takeaway for delegates -- ownership, reporting structure, sign-offs, management/board input into policies, etc.
  • Providing industry-specific summaries of general commodity management and procurement challenges (e.g., CPG, food, discrete manufacturing) would have brought things more alive (and made them less academic) for those in attendance

Of course we did some things right (which we hope to repeat next time) besides the general speaker consistency:

  • Success at a pragmatic and creative approach in trying macro issues (e.g., politics, legislation, economics, trade) directly into the procurement, supply chain and commodity management challenges we face today
  • Truly expert and, in certain cases, extremely entertaining speakers for the commodity break-out sessions -- anyone who did not walk away with pragmatic input into their own commodity management strategies in the break-outs they attended was still out to lunch
  • Venue -- the InterContinental O'Hare did a generally good job across the board. Despite some small nits, I would hold an event there again without hesitation
  • Lisa Reisman as MC -- I'm biased (of course) but Lisa did an outstanding job as the combined Commodity EDGE Vanna White and Pat Sajak. Just as our ability to crank on Spend Matters in detailed content output is one of our advantages in making this site valuable, Lisa is a competitive advantage on stage or in front of the camera
  • The rest of the core Spend Matters/MetalMiner conference team -- without the hard work and ingenuity of Sheena Moore, William Busch, Thomas Kase, Taras Berezowsky, Stuart Burns, Kirsten Kirlin, Brianna Tonner and Art Reisman, this event would not have been possible. Great work, everyone. And enjoy, SM/MM conference team, a well deserved Friday off

Next week, I'll continue to share write-ups from the sessions, including the commodity outlooks and forecasts.

Postscript: Lisa Reisman is presenting at ISM (Track Six, Section HF: Minimizing Commodity Risk: Practical Hedging and Nonhedging Strategies for Volatile Commodity Spend) on risk management and commodity management -- and is promising to address to take our Commodity Edge event content to the next level in a single lecture that bridges the intersection of sourcing, commodity management, technology and skills. Moreover, she'll bring it the topic alive by highlighting five examples of what is possible when doing commodity risk management right. Join us in Baltimore in May!

- Jason Busch

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Voices (2)

  1. Jason Busch:

    Good luck Charles! These things require a huge investment of time. I you wish the best with your event and appreciate your kind words. I’d rather level set on what we did right (and wrong) and set out to improve it next time. Hopefully this will also help others thinking about their own events.

  2. The Purchasing Certification Guy:

    Thank you for sharing your candid reflections, both good and suboptimal. We’re planning a conference next year and having you blaze the trail for the new media organizations in procurement is valuable. Congratulations on what sounded like a good event and best of luck in growing this component of the Spend Matters empire!

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