eWorld Procurement and Supply Autumn Conference Overview

Once we’d beaten the driving rain on our journey to eWorld Procurement and Supply yesterday, the sight of the Grand Connaught Rooms off Covent Garden was very welcome.  We were well looked after by the staff and were glad of the nice hot drinks and breakfast bites on offer courtesy of Proactis.

The first session was the keynote motivational speech ‘Altitude to Attitude’ by Adventurer Tori James, the youngest British woman to reach the summit of Everest. We didn’t attend it, but we have listened to her before at other events. However, we did speak to a representative from eprocurement firm ProProcure who did attend. Her impressions were good. She came away feeling inspired about teamwork, leadership and a positive mind-set. Tori had talked about her team having to be returned to base camp, owing to climate conditions and their readiness to tackle them, while other teams continued to the summit (although it must be said she did reach the summit on another day). She highlighted how it is often hard for a leader to make the difficult decision to split up a team to achieve a goal, but that sometimes it’s the right decision for all. So our listener came away understanding that sometimes you have to be the leader, listen to yourself and make the decisions to do the right thing.

eWorld seemed busier this year. More exhibitors we felt, and larger crowds, although good use of space meant more areas to sit and work or to network. Some of the sessions, we understand, like the Edbury Daley one on combining new skills and technology were ‘sold out.’ So we’re promised a synopsis of the key takeaways for those who couldn’t ‘get in.’ Watch out for that.

And it was nice to meet people who were dipping in and out of the day just to attend chosen presentations – this flexibility is something we’ve always said is a positive for eWorld.

There was lots of emphasis throughout the day on sustainability and CSR – Jenny Draper’s session on reducing your carbon footprint and how your S2P providers should be helping you sparked discussion around why and how it is a universal issue and one which you should be able to rely on your suppliers to lead on. Responsibility, while it behoves buyers to think ethically, needs to come from the supply base too. There was also a workshop in two parts on measuring sustainable solutions, and how emerging tech can be used to help you do this. There was a presentation from supplier portal Greenstone on bridging the gap between sustainability and procurement, and a session from Interserve on using e-procurement supply chain practices to support CSR.

And lots of focus this year on supplier management and risk monitoring. Quite hot at the moment! One of those sessions we listened to was from Andrew Leach, a supply chain risk consultant from Company Watch. We’ll tell you more about his learnings from managing risk at Rolls-Royce for 20 years in our post next week. He focused on why we should be concerned about risk – wherever it sits in the layers of your supply chain – even though it seems a time- and resource-hungry occupation for something that hasn’t even happened! But he has some good advice.

As you would expect there was a lot of focus too on AI and digital assistants in procurement. We attended a speech from Ian Anstey, business development director at a firm called apsolut. We hadn’t heard of them before; they are a SAP and SAP Ariba certified partner for on-premise, cloud and hybrid procurement solutions. While he spoke from that point of view solely, he had some good general knowledge to impart on the use of bots in procurement, the business justification needed for them and why you should even bother. More on that next week.

Plenty was also said about digital transformation – we thought we’d get away with not mentioning that, but it was as always the ‘elephant in the room.’ People tried to talk around it without saying the actual words, but adapting to change, digital source to pay, implementation and integration strategies were very much on the agenda. We will tell you a bit more about the session from Corcentric on that score.

And finally – the other elephant – Brexit. From a legal point of view, "will Brexit break the supply chain", delivered by Sam de Silva of CMS. He talked in some depth about the clauses concerning Brexit that you really should consider putting in your contracts, and what represents a bonafide breach of contract and what doesn’t. Again – more to come.

So another very good eWorld event – a great place to meet new and innovative firms that you may well not have heard of. One we caught up with yesterday was AppZen – AI platform for business spend analysis. We’ll tell you more about them soon too.


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