eWorld Procurement & Supply “BaconGate” Sandwich Shocker!

Hold the front page - it's time for Bacongate!

The last few eWorld events have provided delegates with a free bacon or egg sandwich on arrival. (Lunch is not provided free of charge). It is gammon really, sliced from a joint, and is excellent. But on Tuesday this week, on approaching the counter, a young lady told your fearless Spend Matters correspondent that he could not have a free sandwich because “you have the wrong colour badge"!

His companion, procurement legend David Atkinson, was shockingly allowed to consume his freebie because he had a delegate badge as opposed to the Spend Matters "Press" pass. (Our understanding is that exhibitors were similarly denied the delicious bacon butty). Despite pleading that getting to the event had meant braving both the torrential rain and the 7.28am from Farnborough, the catering supremo remained unmoved and un-bacon providing.

Something must be done! This is an insult to all hard working journalists - sack the caterers! Start a petition to Parliament!

OK, I hear you say, enough of all that nonsense, how was the event? Well, attendance appeared to be down somewhat, compared to recent eWorld events, perhaps because of the filthy weather that morning. I counted around 100 in the hall for the initial keynote from Chris Sawchuk of Hackett Group, and the supplier stands never seemed as busy as sponsors might have hoped. And some of the regular exhibitors weren't there; including Science Warehouse, Due North, and Iasta (who seem to be losing profile frankly since the Selectica take-over).

That keynote was fine, Sawchuk brought a lot of energy to an early morning, post- jetlag slot, but I have some concerns about his “customer centric procurement” message. My fear is that procurement functions who don’t really understand what their “product” is, and what they can really offer their stakeholders, will think that a customer-centric, marketing buzz-word facade will disguise the lack of real capability and clear value-adding contribution. But that must be a good topic for a future 10-part series, so we'll move on for now.

Back to the attendance, and I do wonder whether twice a year, every year is straining the level of interest a little, both for sponsors and delegates, but there were many positive points to note too. As my business partner Jason Busch said, this is the best place to see a lot of procurement solution providers, large (Ariba, Coupa, Wax Digital) and small (see below) in a short period of time. And the conference programme is extensive and largely good - I attended 5 or 6 presentations and all were at least “OK” and some a lot better.

New companies to us included Per Angusta, with their procurement performance management software, looking to help procurement functions make the case for their existence, role and success. More on them to come shortly. excelerateds2p are another new name to us, a decent sized business already in fact, specialising in helping firms implement source to pay solutions – a very good presentation from them, which we will also come back to soon. Greenstone offer software to support non-financial reporting (e.g. sustainability) and that is taking them into more general supplier management tools - another interesting business to look at more closely at some point.

In terms of the more established firms, the award for the most audience interaction goes to Seal Software, whose presentation lacked razzamatazz (that’s a compliment) yet generated loads of interesting questions. That supported the theory that we’ve had about this firm since we first met them 3 or 4 years ago – that when you explain what their product does, procurement people are almost always interested, even excited about it. We’ll have more to come from that session too.

And our final key recommendation for the organisers – bacon sandwiches for the press please!

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