Keelvar's Amsterdam Takeover: Keelvar Konnect & DPW

Jamie Maidment

October 23, 2023

What a week in Amsterdam! Recently the Keelvar team was in town for two events: Keelvar Konnect and the annual DPW conference. As someone still fairly new to the procurement world, it was eye-opening and inspiring on so many levels.

I left our Keelvar Konnect event with three main takeaways: procurement is full of brilliant, innovative people; procurement can make a real difference; and procurement is ready for a bit of a shake up!

The one-day event was full of panel discussions featuring our customers and partners, so that first takeaway should be of no surprise. Talks included leaders from Siemens, Henkel, and Jaguar Land Rover explaining the journeys they have all undertaken to transform their procurement processes. And what was clear was that all of their journeys were different. They all had different challenges and different ways of looking at those challenges.

Two quotes that stuck in my mind were “transformation is never done” and “one-size-fits-all" processes don't work.” All panelists agreed that the key to any successful transformation project is to continuously evaluate and iterate. Evaluate against the project goals and iterate over any implemented processes.

Another stand-out quote was “everyone at your company is a buyer", which was said in the context of enabling non-procurement people to easily utilize procurement’s processes. This one resonated with me personally. As someone who has worked in sales and marketing my whole career, I have definitely been guilty of buying things without procurement’s knowledge!

The next stop on the Keelvar takeover of Amsterdam was the excellent Digital Procurement World conference. We had eight members of the team present, walking the floor, listening to sessions, and working the booth. Much needed as the conference was full of brilliant procurement people, all interested in seeing a demo of Keelvar.

The conference was full of brilliant procurement people, all interested in seeing a demo of Keelvar

One of the big themes of the conference was automation. Most vendors were pushing this message, and most of the sessions featured a discussion on automation in one form or another. Coming from the sales and marketing world, this was no big shock to me. Automation has been a hot topic on this side of the fence for a number of years. But it did lead me to a couple of thoughts.

1. Procurement has been left behind and slightly forgotten about when it comes to technology. But this is definitely changing! It is clear to see, with so many great best-of-breed products on show at DPW.

2. Automation is not always the answer. Some words of warning from us over here in sales and marketing: there is a tipping point when too much automation can lead to negative results, and I feel like we are dangerously close to falling off of this cliff in sales.

Things like automated emails have been around for a number of years (I am sure everyone reading this has received plenty of those), but now there is a movement towards using Gen-AI to write these emails and have bots automatically send them out to the poor recipients, whose email inboxes are becoming more and more clogged up.

Another (in my opinion, even worse idea) gaining traction online is to use a bot to record sales conversations and take notes. Then automatically send an email appearing to come from the salesperson with a summary of what was discussed.

Why do I dislike these ideas so much? They remove the human element from these interactions. And we are expecting the bots to show a high degree of understanding that is simply not yet possible with AI.

Bots are not good at understanding human emotions, showing empathy, and then using that in communication, all of which are the foundation for building relationships, one of the most important aspects of sales, and an equally important aspect of procurement.

There is so much in procurement that appears ripe for automation. At Keelvar, we have Autonomous Sourcing bots for running tenders on auto-pilot. Removing hours of repetitive, manual tasks. Tasks that are perfect for the bots to take over. But we are also aware that some sourcing decisions require human intellect. Price is not the only consideration.

There is so much in procurement that appears ripe for automation

Things like sustainability are a big factor. And so are supplier relationships, which is why Keelvar bots can be designed by procurement teams to work for them. Customizable workflows are designed by category experts who know what is important for their business. Automated approvals when it makes sense. But not when it doesn’t. Keelvar bots run tenders for buyers, collecting all of the data, running multiple bid rounds, and then providing buyers with options to make decisions.

Automation and AI will change every aspect of business. But it will never replace humans' ability to make complex decisions, particularly when relationships are involved.

We hope to see you at the next Keelvar Konnect event! Ready to dive deeper into Autonomous Sourcing? Speak with one of our experts today.

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