Do you remember the days when we used to attend these things called “conferences”? In a big room, with hundreds of other people, none of them wearing masks. Crazy, wasn’t it!
Like every industry Procurement & Supply Chain software vendors are having to find new approaches in the pandemic world, and firms are coming up with ways of holding events virtually, some of which work better than others. Next month, on May 5th and 6th, I’m looking forward to what looks like an interesting and worthwhile virtual Procurement conference – Ivalua NOW 2020 Virtual Edition.
Ivalua’s events have been consistently strong for several years now. But their scheduled March event in Paris (aimed at customers and prospective customers) was cancelled at fairly short notice. This May event replaces the planned US physical conference, and will be run using a clever platform that mimics much of a physical event – you walk into the virtual “room”, choose from concurrent break-out sessions, “visit” different exhibitors, get product demos and so on. The May 5th programme is open to everyone, while the 6th is limited to current Ivalua customers.
The overall theme is the “Journey to Procurement Excellence”, focusing on how Procurement can deliver value through supplier collaboration, supplier risk management and more advanced strategies and capabilities to deal with Procurement and supply chain management risks and challenges – while not forgetting cost and operational perspectives. While there will be sessions featuring customers at various stages of their digital transformations, the focus is on stories from more advanced organizations that have established Procurement as a strategic business partner through innovative ways. However, there’s no doubt the pandemic is going to crop up and there are some sessions from Ivalua customers that should be fascinating and useful.
Jon Stevens is President of the JLL Digital Business, the unit within the long-established property management firm that is taking the business into new technology-enabled areas. That includes ideas which turn “Procurement” into a source of revenue and competitive advantage rather than just being the spend manager. That includes an online marketplace which JLL (with Ivalua) has built and offers to tenants of their buildings. The service is provided by JLL and enables those firms to take advantage of economies of scale and effective processes to buy many of the items they need, quickly and competitively.
Stevens will also talk about JLL’s Covid-19 pandemic response. It is clear that the way people work is in a process of rapid change, so how does a huge property manager plan for more home working, perhaps ongoing distancing between people when at work, as well as better security and cleaning for buildings and so on? Stevens will also discuss how JLL views the nature of office work changing in the post pandemic world, and how businesses, including the Procurement function need to rethink their approach to empowering employees in the new normal.
Another customer session will come from US health not-for-profit, Baylor Scott & White. The session will present a great example of the importance of ensuring digitization addresses not just low hanging fruit, but also strategically important categories that are harder to manage. Here, Covid-19 makes some initiatives underway even more vital. For instance, digitising the paperwork in hospitals relating to equipment and supplies can free up valuable time that nurses and doctors currently spend doing paperwork. Complex workflows and product flows for prosthetics such as artificial hip or knee joints take the products from supplier into the patient’s body ultimately, and again technology can make processes more streamlined and indeed safer for patients.
Other speakers include Dawn Tiura, founder and President of Sourcing Industry Group (SIG), who is always worth hearing and I suspect will have motivating as well as valuable things to say about the challenges facing Procurement and supply chain people. On the public sector side, our friend Raj Sharma, founder of Public Spend Forum, will be leading a discussion with two senior federal government Procurement officials, looking at the barriers to smaller firms winning government work, and (more importantly), the innovative solutions being applied by governments to increase SME participation.
Again, that is key again in the current environment, as we want to encourage more small and innovative firms to help manage vital supplies of key pandemic-related products, from testing kits and ventilators to gowns and visors.
There will also be updates from Ivalua themselves, with themes around how their product can support direct materials Procurement, supplier collaboration, relationship management and contract management solutions, plus a focus on innovation in the P2P space, with sector-leading partnerships that brings user benefits through (for instance) real-time product and pricing updates.
It does look like an interesting day from start to finish, although the beauty of a virtual event is you can slip off for a quick walk or cup of tea at any time without anyone noticing! The event runs from 10am to 6pm US East Coast time, so for those of us in Europe that makes it an afternoon / evening event. But let’s face it, many of us have lost track of time and any sense of the 9 to 5 routine these days, and that timing does mean you’re allowed to listen to the “afternoon” sessions with a glass of something refreshing in front of you. You could even wear your pyjamas …
You can sign up here, it is all free to practitioners, and I look forward to meeting you (virtually) on May 5th.