This year’s Digital Procurement World conference drew a full house of procurement professionals from across the globe, marking a clear departure from the events that we became familiar with during COVID times.
For us, DPW was the first large-scale event where Keelvar had a significant number of representatives from our growing team in tow.
For many attending the two-day conference, I don’t think we realized how much we had missed being able to say something to teammates in person, and so, from our perspective, DPW was a fantastic opportunity for socializing and rapport-building with those who may not have met in person before.
“Mood and ambiance are just as important as the content”
Taking place in the heart of Amsterdam meant the relaxed vibe of the city set the tone of the event. As per the event itself, it's very different to anything else in procurement and supply chain; it's razzle dazzle, music, lights and DJs playing.
At DPW, the mood and ambiance are just as important as the content, and I think there’s an important truth in that because people are able to relax more and be more open to conversations when they feel it's a social gathering – particularly one with a dress code of "startup casual" that positively encourages the wearing of hoodies, and sneakers rather than three-piece suits. DPW's organizers make an effort to be unorthodox, which I think is refreshing.
There was a good mix of blue-chip companies across industries, from manufacturing to automotive, pharmaceuticals, food and beverage, to retail in attendance – and many were looking for something new to help progress their sourcing function. Many people I spoke to recognize that if they get good at managing spend and their sourcing, they're gaining a competitive advantage. And at a time when there are so many problems in supply chains, it's a huge competitive advantage – more than ever before.
“Many recognize that if they get good at managing spend and their sourcing, they're gaining a competitive advantage”
I believe event organizers need to work hard to get corporations to come, but tech companies are easily attracted if they're convinced there are the right corporations going. This can easily become a problem where there are so many tech companies that it’s just a noisy din.
However, I think Keelvar was able to do enough to stand out at DPW because what we do naturally tends to be more differentiated than some others that fall squarely into categories like commoditization, spend analytics, and invoice automation.
For us, autonomous sourcing is fresh and new. The enterprises that were attending were looking for something that would give them a competitive advantage, and because of that, I think that they were attracted to us. DPW is a good fit for us and these types of companies.
Of course, it can be helpful to have a gimmick as well – as our popular Batak game proved – but it's one thing to attract a crowd and another to hold a meaningful conversation with someone and be confident that you have the solution that they’re looking for.
A Meeting of Procurement Minds
No doubt, this was a meeting of the most forward thinking minds of sourcing and procurement. The conference saw myriad compelling speakers, plenty of subject matter experts and industry leaders take to the stage. My own personal highlights at this event were Eloise Epstein, Sam de Frates, and Carol Vandermensbrugghe.
Up to now, there has been an oversimplified view of how you can automate tail spend and tactical buying. What we presented at DPW for the first time was an introduction to how a more nuanced autonomous sourcing solution can automate best practice, so that your suppliers will be satisfied that this is a process they can engage in and will let them put their best foot forward.
“There has been an oversimplified view of how you can automate tail spend and tactical buying”
Likewise, stakeholders will avoid any e-sourcing practices if they feel it's going to oversimplify the information they need to share with their suppliers and the information they need to get back in return to analyze what the best offer is.
During our own presentation at DPW, we revealed a means of embracing that complexity in your tail spend so that you can automate it successfully, and I think that has piqued a lot of interest.
At DPW we didn't get into much detail on what's included in our offering, but those who will be joining us in Zurich for Keelvar Konnect will see how we can quickly design, build, and operate sourcing bots that can work in an autonomous fashion.