ISM 2014 — Initial Impressions from the Conference

Nearly 25 percent of the Spend Matters and Azul Partners team (including MetalMiner) is at ISM this week. Pierre Mitchell, Lisa Reisman, Thomas Kase, Sheena Smith, and I touched down in Las Vegas on Sunday. So far, we’ve had the chance to sit in on a couple of the initial sessions and say hello to a few people on the floor. It seems like there are more providers at the event than ever before, but what’s most curious is the diversity of providers in attendance. McKinsey is even here — and is passing out books on a vision for the sector titled Procurement 20/20. The McKinsey team attending the event shared that procurement is a material portion of their overall operations practice — which represents a very significant portion of the overall firm practice.

McKinsey is quietly situated in the back of the floor area. Many of the usual suspects have jazzier and larger booths in front. But a number of the newer ones (like McKinsey) have smaller formats. Take for example GRMS  — a company that’s never displayed at ISM before and is in the back corner. They’re a 200-person organization that has quietly built a global supplier on-boarding and background check process that takes into account the basics of supplier information validation (e.g., TIN, OFAC, UK Anti Bribery Act) but can also do localized information search and validation globally direct from regulatory sources, even within Asia. Each deployment and information validation collection and requirements (e.g., environment, health, and safety data) are customized to a procurement organization’s needs.

We’ll be covering ISM throughout the week, but a number of items stick in my mind already:

  • New faces are coming out (providers and practitioners alike — this is no doubt the biggest ISM yet and the conference is attracting those that have never been a part of it before).
  • Old faces are still involved — it’s great to see folks like Dave Nelson still involved with ISM. I just had a few minutes to say hello to Dave this morning but hope to have some time to get his opinion on some topics later.
  • Pushing the industry forward with young talent recognition — I’m excited that ISM has teamed with ThomasNet to pull together a list of “30 under 30 rising supply chain stars." The Richter Scholars program is outstanding in its own right, but more programs and attention is needed to get younger talent into and excited about the sector. I hope that the 30/30 program accomplishes this, and kudos to ISM and ThomasNet for partnering on it.
  • Packed rooms — the breakouts are packed (I was turned away from the first one I wanted to attend).
  • Expanding the discussion — I spoke briefly to speakers from John Deere and Nucor this morning who are presenting on public policy issues and procurement (a great way to expand the conversation beyond sourcing and PPV!)

ISM is bigger than ever — in attendance, attendees and the scope of discussion. Finally a big ISM conference on supply management — not purchasing!

Stay tuned for continued coverage.

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