Down the Procurement Nederhütte with Davies, Poole, Gartner, NAO and This Is The Kit

You might have guessed from the somewhat unusual choice of music video in last week’s procurement pub, but I wasn't in Camberley but  actually in Obergurgl, Austria for a week on the ski slopes.

My wife is always worried that the burglaring community of Surrey reads Spend Matters, so doesn’t like me telling everyone we are away.

We had several beautiful days, and there is a huge amount of snow this year – “so much for global warming” as President Trump might say. Actually, some fascinating graphs in one of the mountain restaurants showed long-term trends in winter temperatures, snow depths and so on – not conclusive but they seemed to show an emerging trend for hotter summers in particular, but only over the past five years or so. Anyway, this year is great for snow although we were lucky not to get snowed in (or out), which has happened in many resorts over the past few weeks.

Our picture is the brilliant Nederhütte, one of the best mountain venues in the Alps - you can just about see the glow of the stage with the live band in the background! Sweet Caroline, Is This The Way To Amarillo, AC/DC, the Quo, a bit of Austrian dance music .... the owner of the place plays lead guitar and it is a real party!

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We were frankly shocked and astonished (darling) to hear that Andy Davies is leaving the London Universities Purchasing Consortium after 278 years in charge there. Well, it feels like that but really it is only 9, but he has become synonymous with LUPC and a major influence on wider university procurement, as well as a great activist in the fight against modern slavery. That gives a clue to his new role – he tells us he is “off to join the new team at the Greater London Authority charged with delivering the Mayor's Responsible Procurement Policy”. Davies is a personal friend and a strong ally of Spend Matters and Public Spend Forum, so while we were surprised to see him going, we think the new role sounds very exciting and interesting. We wish him well and hope to have an interview with him soon to look back at the last few years in LUPC.

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Another move - after 9 years with Highways England and before that the Highways Agency, executive director for procurement and commercial David Poole is off to the rail industry – I wonder why he would do that?! Anyway, he joins HS2 Ltd in March as procurement and supply chain director, filling the gap left by Beth West, who recently moved to developer Landsec as head of development for its London portfolio. Poole was supply chain director at GE Aviation Systems & Flight Control Systems prior to the Highways Agency, and we wish him good luck in that  very important new role!

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It’s all been a bit public sector focused this week with Carillion occupying the front pages. And a very well timed National Audit Office report came out too, looking at the cost and benefits of private finance initiatives over the years.  This joins quite a list of very good NAO reports that we need to look at in more detail … more to come next week hopefully.

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So away from the public sector for a minute, Gartner gave us their three top technology predictions for 2018. Not earth-shatteringly original perhaps but interesting and worth reading their views here.  They believe that:

  • fifty percent of all legacy spend-analysis software will be retired, replaced by AI-powered, cloud-based solutions
  • seventy-five percent of all B2B "tail spend" will be bought via online marketplaces such as Amazon Business; and
  • all major procure-to-pay software suites will have embedded virtual assistants and chatbots to help guide buying and self-service requests.

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While the charts and Spotify play lists are dominated by dance / R’n'B stuff that can all be a bit ubiquitous and frankly tedious, below the surface in folk, in metal, in EMO, in jazz even, there is still loads of good and interesting material around. So after our diversion into German rap last week, let’s get back to something a bit more British, eh? So how about some updated folk music from This Is The Kit (although songwriter Kate Stables spends much of her time in Paris apparently!). The band is playing the Shepherds Bush Empire next week, so they aren't just appealing to a few people in a pub either. Their vibe fits with Alt-J as much as it does with the Fairports – well worth checking out their latest  album, and this is the title track from it.

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