Trade Extensions Event – Comments from Delegates Suggest a Rewarding Day

Continuing our coverage of last week's Trade Extensions customer event, we thought the delegate profile was interesting. Perhaps not surprisingly, users tend to be forward-thinking and technology-savvy people, given this is leading-edge software, and there were more people in their 20s ("bright young things") than is usual at events of this nature.

In the closing speech, Arne Andersson, Trade Extensions founder, talked about the next generation of this already highly sophisticated software - he paid homage to the strong development team who respond to real customer needs. Now, many companies claim to be listening to their customers, and putting their demands first -- it's easy to say. So I caught up with a few of the delegates who are customers, at the end of the day, to see what they really thought about the company and why they attended the event.

So, in brief: a representative from a massive, UK retail organisation, who was relatively new to procurement (6 months in the job), told me that coming to the event had taught him more in one day than he could have learned from going on a £30K procurement course! The difference he said, is "real people delivering real experiences." So that was a great testimony for the event -- what about the company?

A colleague from the same organisation, who heads the eSourcing team, said that having changed from their existing sourcing system to something more advanced 12 months ago, has proved invaluable in two key areas: logistics activities (not surprisingly) and supplier data capture. "What is so good about the software," he said, "is that it can be used in more diverse ways and in more applications than you would expect: not just for sourcing events, but for instance, other events where you need to capture vendor data, it helps us to really understand suppliers."

He emphasised that while they were only at the beginning of Sigi's journey (see our post here), with the right level of engagement from Trade Extensions, he felt confident they could change their perspective entirely. This, he said, is helped by the customer support, which is "excellent -- we get a UK consultant assigned to us, and a portal accessed by head office, so response times are rapid and we get priority treatment." So what brought him to the event? "Well," he said, "you can get pretty immersed in procurement. It's good to get the vendor perspective, and it's good to learn how other people are using the software - the networking has been very good." So that was impressive - but that's only one company.

A representative from another large, successful firm, this time a multinational packaging corporation, was attending her third Trade Extensions event. She commented on how she had benefited greatly from the networking and had shared her experiences with other users: "Trade Extensions has great clients - it's one of the things that attracted us to them, the sophisticated client base. You can really learn from each other because they are business-intelligent users. The firm really is what it says it is -- relatively small, but incredibly sophisticated, exactly what my organisation needed. You can tap into what they are developing, because they do listen, and they build around what the customer needs".

"To enable that they have created plenty of ways for customers to engage and give feedback, like through the company portal. The software itself  brings you a business awareness which helps you to excel ... The way today's agenda was put together has helped me to think differently about our journey, responsible procurement and compliance - it has given me ideas that I can take back to my company and my role."

So it's clear that Trade Extension customers are passionate about their journeys and about how they can use the software to help them succeed. Feedback on the presentations was equally positive. We worried a little that the Médecins Sans Frontières presentation might have been a little too stark (how much do you want to know about rape as a weapon of war)? And the concept of being shot at by snipers whilst moving stock is not one most of us have to worry about. But the delegates we spoke to found it moving, also inspirational and thought-provoking, raising issues such as the need to understand their own supply chains, and thoughts about how we ensure specifications are appropriate to real needs.

Anyway, based on these unprompted comments from delegates, it seemed to be a rewarding event for everyone. And we'll be back with some deeper reporting on the speeches, and Peter will be giving his insight into some of the themes discussed.

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