Greetings from Baltimore as ISM / Spend Matters Tech Summit Kicks Off

The Spend Matters / ISM Procurement Tech Summit opened in Baltimore last night - well, it was mainly registration, socialising and a certain amount of eating and drinking going on really!

If all you know about Baltimore is The Wire, which according to what I read (having never seen it) is extremely violent and scary, then the Inner Harbour area would come as a bit of a shock. The conference is being held at the Marriott Waterfront, right on the water (as you might guess) and there are miles of harbour front boardwalk that you can stroll around.

Baltimore 2The attractions in the area include the National Aquarium, a science centre, loads of shops from up-market to tourist trap, a host of restaurants and generally the ambience seems welcoming and enjoyable. The restaurant the Spend Matters team hit last night had one of the longest and best wine lists I have ever seen - not the image I had of Baltimore! And talking of the team, it has been great to meet in person for the first time some of my colleagues, including such legendary figures as Andrew Karpie (services procurement and work-intermediation platforms expert) and Xavier Olivera from Spend Matters Mexico / Latin America.

Back to the event. It is a sell-out, with over 250 delegates. Now that includes around 100 supply side folk, mainly software businesses, but it is already clear this is an unusual event. Rather than being there purely to schmooze the practitioners, which is why solution providers normally go to procurement conferences, they genuinely appear to be in the main attending to learn something. Quite a few have made the journey over from Europe, too.

So really we seem to have got both the most forward-thinking procurement practitioners, who realise that technology is both an essential part of their toolbox and a source of potential competitive advantage, and the supply-side folk who know they have to keep up with the latest thinking too.

That's not to say the delegate list is dominated by providers. There are over 100 practitioners, largely from major firms as you might expect, and with a decent international flavour too. We've said it before, but today you cannot aspire to be a top performing procurement organisation if you don't have an appropriate approach to using procurement technology. So well done to our 100+ for being at the leading edge - at least in terms of understanding how important this topic is!

Baltimore car parkThe event starts just as this article is published, but we'll be back with more tomorrow - maybe even later today - as we get going. And in case you think this all sounds very glamorous, here is the view from my bedroom - the roof of the adjacent multi-story car park being the dominant feature!

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