BravoConnect 2017 (and Tottenham Hotspur) in Madrid!

Greetings from Madrid where last night Tottenham Hotspur either pulled off a great result at the Bernabéu / or were demolished by the great Real Madrid. (I'm writing this just before kick-off). OK, now coming back to this at midnight, neither of those things happened so ... a thrilling draw between two fine teams!

But while that was going on, I was living it up at the BravoSolution BravoConnect 2017 customer conference dinner. Very good it was too, followed by dancing to a band; OK, they weren’t quite up to the Front Covers standard set last year, but few aspire to that standard.  But never mind that, I hear you say, what about the conference, the working part of the day?

Let’s start with background. Madrid, coming out of a heatwave, still very pleasant, and the Melia Princesa Hotel, very good except for a somewhat under-capacity lift system. Good conference facilities though, and BravoSolution execs were delighted with the 250+ registrations for the first of these events not to be held in the UK. And a very global audience, with the Middle East well represented in additon to strong attendance from Europe, the US and more.

The keynote speaker was Ron Kaufman, Founder & Chairman, UP! Your Service – he is “is  world’s leading educator and motivator for uplifting customer service and building service cultures”. I must admit, I wasn’t sure about the logic of choosing him when I saw the agenda, but he was in fact very good and surprisingly relevant. We all got a copy of his book “Uplifting Service” too, and I will read it.

He related service to value, which certainly led to some relevant ideas for procurement, and described the six levels of service – “criminal, basic, expected, desired, surprising, unbelievable”. But, he said, to give excellent service is a moving target because once it has been done, the exceptional can become expected. Kaufman was also one of the best speakers I have ever seen in terms of audience engagement, really keeping the audience gripped through a long session  – anyone who ever stands up to talk in front of people would learn from him.

In terms of the BravoSolution folk, I always enjoy hearing from Jim Wetekamp, the CEO. He’s very straightforward, clearly very smart but doesn’t overdo the corporate ra-ra or talk jargon at the audience. We’ll have another article featuring his comments later, but he talked about two main areas; the five key “demands” that he has picked up in terms of what customers want and need from procurement technology; and then a quick review of Bravo Solution’s recent progress and results.

Similarly, we will come back to Florian Winterstein, BravoSolution Strategy supremo, who covered quite a range of topics in a content-packed session titled, "Moving toward Procurement 2020 and the Roadmap Ahead”. Frankly, there was so much material here that I gave up trying to keep notes half way through; I’m getting a copy of the slides so that should help remind me when I come to writing our review of the session anyway!

Then we had the customer-led sessions, from Alfredo Figueira of Galp Energia, Louise Tyldesley of WPP and Luis Peluffo of Rockwool. They all gave useful insight into how they have moved forwards in procurement, with both broad transformation programmes (Galp and Rockwool) or in the more specific area of spend analytics in WPP.

But what I liked about all of them was the sense of realism as well as achievement. Change is rarely achieved easily, was the message. Getting people to do or think about things differently can be a struggle, whether we are talking about people in procurement or our stakeholders. And all three also talked about needing different sorts of people as procurement matures and becomes more digitalized and sophisticated.

That’s all for now – but we will have more reports from Madrid over the coming days. And you can see a short video of me talking about the first day on the BravoSolution Facebook page here.

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