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2023 procurement and supply events round-up — A Spend Matters recap

12/19/2023 By

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With another busy year of procurement and supply chain events tidily packed away behind us, Spend Matters is pleased to provide a round-up of the main events we attended in 2023, with a short recap of each and key takeaways.

In order of appearance:

eWorld Procurement and Supply – March 2023, London

The soon to be renamed ‘Procurement Strategies and Innovation’ (PSI) event was the first on our calendar this year. Our senior analyst Bertrand Maltaverne gave a well received presentation on the pitfalls of selecting the wrong procurement technology and highlighted the key criteria for choosing a procurement solution you won’t regret buying. Read his recommendations in eWorld: first dispatch.

In eWorld dispatch 2 we covered the new procurement tech vendors exhibiting at eWorld and gave a run down of their key capabilities and plans, including Advanced spend management suite, PAID tail spend procurement automation, and Vendr SaaS buying platform. We also outlined the takeaways from the day’s debates, including How to Stay Agile and Adapt in a Tech-led Future, Procurement with purpose/ESG/sustainability and why the impact and benefits of technology are more evolutionary than revolutionary.

Ivalua NOW – March 2023 Paris

Later that month we attended Ivalua’s ‘Breaking new ground’ event to hear the solution provider’s take on how businesses must radically shift their strategies to succeed in a rapidly changing economy – and how technology can support them. During day two, open to a larger audience than just Ivalua stakeholders and customers, we saw a mix of main-stage presentations and break-out sessions. Some highlights include:

David Khuat-Duy, Ivalua’s CEO and founder, opened the day with a company update. Ivalua at time of attendance had 900 employees, a revenue of $153 million (25% growth), 1,500 certified consultants from parent organizations (an increase of 32%) and a customer retention rate constantly above 95% for more than 20 years. He then moved on to the current business climate where the only certainty is uncertainty and where procurement organizations need new ways of working, not just incremental improvements.

Two customer stories supported that sentiment,. The first, Ahlsell, a leading distributor of specialized installation products in the Nordics, talked about how Covid had triggered its digital initiative and led them to position procurement as a growth enabler and not just a cost killer. They shared a few lessons from their digital transformation. The second, IKEA, shared its digital transformation story. Ivalua’s Chief Product Officer, Pascal Bensoussan, then explained how several factors and trends conspire to drive the product’s innovations and roadmap to fuel customers’ sustainable growth: efficiency + resilience + sustainability.

Read the Ivalua NOW key takeaways here.

Use our Insider Vendor Analysis series for an in depth look at Ivalua’s functionality and competitive landscape, plus its ESG and risk capabilities.

Coupa Inspire Americas – April 2023 Las Vegas

Our analyst team was among the 3000 attendees at the Las Vegas event, Coupa’s tenth annual Inspire, which featured then CEO Rob Bernshteyn presenting on economic instability and the need for organizations to focus on value. A primary theme was ‘community’ – which resonates regularly throughout Coupa events – in conjunction with the changes to Coupa and its customers in the 10 years since the inaugural Inspire conference. For example, in 2013, the provider had $49 billion in spend under management but now (sic) is at over $4 trillion conducted with 9.5 million unique suppliers.

We reflect on the 350-strong new feature announcements made in the 12 months prior to the event to enhance the vendor’s strengths in risk, supply chain, ESG and payments management. We outline the planned extensions to its that provides additional market insights based on anonymized customer data. Beyond these enhancements and future developments we also run over Coupa’s other roadmap announcements.

Read the Coupa Inspire coverage here.

Tune into Spend Matters Insider for deeper vendor analyses and our Vendor Directory for more in depth coverage of Coupa.

Regional SIGnature Events

Throughout the year, Spend Matters had the pleasure of attending regional SIGnature events with SIG (Sourcing Industry Group).

On May 23, solution providers met in Chicago for the Midwestern Regional SIG Event, which Spend Matters cohosted, to give talks aimed at important pain points of the procurement process, the gathering was exclusively dominated by practitioners representing businesses of widely varying focuses. The day began with a talk given by Jason Busch, CEO and Founder of Spend Matters, and Sheena Smith, Chief Strategy Officer at Spend Matters, titled “CRM crushes SRM: how CRM helps Procurement.” In it they focused on how procurement people often face the problem of communicating what procurement does to people outside of the procurement world. The day progressed with a series of rotating roundtable discussions and talks given by Zip, Keelvar, Sphera, United Airlines and CDK Global.

Later, on September 14, SIG held the Eastern Regional SIGnature event in Boston. There the focus was on sorting the hype of GenAI from what it could do and what practitioners would want it to do — specifically, they want it to tackle risk and contracting for them — the impact of AI on the ‘people side’ of things and educating practitioners on what intake and orchestration solutions actually do.

SAP Spend Connect – October 2023, Vienna

SAP held its annual Spend Connect conference (previously known as SAP Ariba Live) in Vienna, Austria from October 9 to 11. We attended to get the latest on product announcements and catch up with clients and SAP executives. The event illuminated both the firm’s strategic intents and tactical efforts (e.g., GenAI). We cover the announcements made at the event and some follow-on insights to address “under the hood” progress on integrating the firm’s app/platform portfolio and integration with customer tech stacks and the broader tech partner ecosystem (e.g., EcoVadis, Fairmarkit, Scoutbee, ZIP and others).

Spend Connect’s themes were generally focused on driving more value into SAP’s app stack and business network(s) individually. But collectively they focused on the UX (CEO Christian Klein said that the UX should “look like a consistent solution whether it’s S/4HANA, Ariba, Fieldglass or Concur”) integration, ESG, business network synergy and of course, Generative AI.

Highlights include:

Rebranding and re-tooling – SAP has rebranded and broadened ‘SAP Ariba’ to now include all of SAP’s core procurement products (i.e., SAP Ariba and SAP S/4HANA) such that the SAP S/4HANA procurement apps shall now be part of the ‘SAP Ariba’ brand and product family.

AI, GenAI and Joule – SAP made some announcements about SAP Joule, its GenAI-powered copilot solution. As they stated: “SAP will also embed Joule, its new generative AI copilot, throughout its cloud enterprise portfolio, with availability in SAP spend management solutions planned for 2024. SAP is also developing additional use cases in collaboration with customers with availability planned for the first half of 2024.”

Understandably, there was a lot of excitement and curiosity surrounding Joule (and broader GenAI),

Better guidance and support within P2P – SAP’s advancements in guided buying capability were generally a continuation of previous efforts and SAP currently partners with Zip for intake management. The 2024 roadmap does however have some interesting focus beyond GenAI to also include spend channel optimization, exception handling (with feedback/learning) and other areas.

Read our coverage of the event here.

DPW – November, Amsterdam/Virtual

Digital Procurement World took to the stage again in November with its customary innovation-focused opening. The day saw lots of discussion on GenAI and much ado about building capabilities to rally procurement to the sustainability cause.

Some highlights include:

Johnson & Johnson on focusing on tech’s move from the Information age to the Intelligence age, bringing great opportunities for procurement. Companies that can combine human and AI intel will be ahead and orchestration and integration of processes is how we pull that all together. At J&J suppliers are a natural extension of the business; they couldn’t make advancements in human health without them. Their main theme therefore is Making Tech Work, and making the 45K ecosystem of suppliers a two-way street is crucial.

David Rogers, Columbia Business School spoke about GenAI and especially ChatGPT. He talked about digital transformation journeys and what to, and not to, expect of GenAI. He also gave some steer on how to avoid being one of the 70% of transformations that fail, drawing on lessons from the other 30%.

Yossi Sheffi, Elisha Gray II Professor, Engineering Systems, MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics talked about supply chains, AI and the future of work. He advocates that the higher level, more strategic jobs will always be done by humans, because we excel at strategy – although we need tools to help us, and we need to use them well. He then went on to discuss the huge impact of tech on the supply chain industry.

Start-Up showcase – DPW introduced a host of young providers at the event who had the opportunity to present to a wide audience. The DEMO 2023 entrants each gave a 4-minute pitch with 4 minutes of questions. In the Grand Finale the start-up winners were:

Sirius — accelerating mining and metal industry transition to sustainability.

ORO Labs — an orchestration platform, also one of Spend Matters Future 5.

Zip Forward 2023 – November, San Francisco, California

On November 8, intake management specialist provider Zip hosted its first annual User Conference. At the event, the provider revealed several new AI-based solution features, and a relatively robust sourcing module. The module is a big step, as Zip previously only handled the sourcing event request intake, vendor onboarding and contract signature/approval steps of the source-to-contract process.

Throughout the conference, procurement and finance panelists and keynote speakers from various high-profile organizations spoke about Zip, intake management and their own procurement software journeys. There were Q&A sessions with various procurement and finance leaders from notable customers, such as Snowflake, OpenAI, Discover and Northwestern Mutual.

You can dive deeper on the intake/orchestration market in our recent coverage here.

And read our coverage of the event here.

We look forward to another year of procurement and supply events to keep us abreast of the innovation that is propelling the industry into the next quarter of the century. And we hope to meet up with many of our readers and customers there too. But before then:

Our Spend Matters Insider readers can get keep up with all the details of what procurement and supply tech innovators are doing and hoping to do. For non-members, please subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date. And as always, if you have any questions about how Spend Matters can help you in your procurement journey, please don’t hesitate to reach out and talk to us humans.