eWorld – a cornucopia of procurement delights (and a chance for a snooze)

Amazingly, last week's event was the 28th eWorld procurement event at the QEII Conference centre in London. And it is certainly still going strong, with 600 registrations according to the organisers and perhaps 50-60% of that number turning up on the day. And one of the positives is that it looks like the delegates are more willing than ever to chat to the solutions providers in the exhibition - perhaps the pace of technology change, and increased recognition that it is so important for procurement success, means that people are taking the opportunity to engage with the suppliers.

This time there were some 30 suppliers represented at the exhibition plus a handful of others who run sessions but don't exhibit. I reckon around half of the serious players in the (UK) procurement technology market were there; so (for example) Oracle but no SAP; Capita and Steria but no Accenture or IBM; Iasta and Proactis but no BravoSolution or Zycus. And so on.

One slight disappointment this year was the keynote address. "Procurement as a Catalyst for Supply Chain Transformation" was the topic, delivered by Toby Munyard, Vice President, Efficio Consulting. He came over as a thoroughly decent and experienced procurement chap, but he confessed he had only put his slides together the day before the event, and it was lightweight stuff frankly compared to previous speakers in that slot such as Jim Carter of Network Rail and Eva Wimmers of Deutsche Telecom .

"Procurement has a great opportunity and we should take it" was pretty much the meat of the presentation. Which is fine but needs real substance to be useful. He was speaking "on behalf of CIPS" as the billing had it, so he had a tough Q & A session. It started when one troublemaker in the audience (I wonder who that was??) asked him if he agreed with CIPS' stance on pushing for certification before anyone is allowed to buy anything, given he had talked about the need for procurement to be more consultative rather than a "silo" function.

He was somewhat embarrassed, but to his credit, he did own up that he was not of the same opinion as CIPS on that issue. Another questioner asked him just HOW procurement people were supposed to achieve this wonderful opportunity for recognition, profile etc. "Just go and do it" was the answer, which frankly was not very helpful.

Another session I attended saw a very large software firm simply give a 25 minute commercial for their (no doubt impressive) product suite, to increasing dozing and frustration in the audience. That's not how you do it, people.

A better model was Constantine Limberakis of Iasta in a well attended contract management round-table. He turned it into a genuine discussion, and hardly mentioned his own firm at all. Instead, we had good debate around how to get stakeholders on board with contract management initiatives and other real challenges for procurement folk trying to improve in this area. He did look rather happy however when a delegate said they had tried a large ERP provider's contract management module but "it didn't meet our needs"!

The panel discussion on supply chain finance was another highlight, and I could have done with a longer session on that, with four interesting people on the panel. But we will come back to that in a further post, as well as some of the "new" firms we met, and we will also cover separately my first and somewhat disconcerting experience with Google Glasses and Wax Digital's new "look no hands" catalogue ordering capability!

Another good event anyway, and set fair for eWorld number 29 no doubt next year.

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