How Can Procurement Embrace Technology Start-Ups?

This is our second dispatch today hot-foot from Digital Procurement World in Amsterdam by our man on the ground Jason Busch. We’ll be hearing more from him as the two days of content, workshops, competitions and special programmes evolve.

Today, I sat in on a panel discussion (see picture) titled “Using Pilots and POCs to Test New Solutions and Get Buy-In for Transformation from Key Stakeholders.” Participating in the discussion were Maex Ament (centre) who co-founded Taulia and is now off to a fintech blockchain start-up, Centrifuge, Sylvia Noel (left) CPO of Covea, and Michelle Baker (right), CPO of KPN.

Michelle’s story at KPN stuck out, at least to me, as very atypical for procurement organisations -- especially one at a former government-owned utility. Michelle told the story of how KPN has three organisations which are closely aligned to identify innovative technology for the business. These are procurement, a “scouting” team and a venture capital arm.

Michelle noted that the “goal of this effort” is for KPN to become “more start-up friendly.” As an example of putting this into practice, rather than subject technology start-ups to “draconian” 15 page T&Cs for contracts, it offers streamlined “start-up” contracting terms which are 2-3 pages.

In addition, KPN has a dedicated procurement team member whose only focus is to “push through” POC-based opportunities for disruptive start-ups, acting as a liaison to the business, helping streamline the procurement process and reduce barriers to accelerating the adoption of new digital technology.

This individual works hand-in-hand with the “scouting” organisation whose goal is to spot potentially innovative technology for KPN to adopt. And, of course, the venture capital arm can step in and help support (financially) promising firms KPN might leverage itself.

Fascinating stuff. It shows procurement can reverse its role as “gatekeeper” and can, in fact, be a catalyst for innovation of all sorts coming from the world outside.

Stay tuned for more to come from Digital Procurement World!

 

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