A prediction from the doctor with regards to Big Procurement Events

In a recent post over on Spend Matters UK on eWorld Procurement and Supply by Peter Smith, he made a number of observations on the event that happened last month. A few of these might have been unexpected by the average practitioner, but are not really surprising when you think about it. First we’ll cover them and then we’ll discuss why the doctor does not think these observations to be all that surprising.

Mr. Smith’s observation number two: There was also a good number of suppliers, although there seemed to be quite a few of the bigger software firms missing this time.

Mr. Smith’s observation number three: The standard of the presentations is still highly variable.

Mr. Smith’s observation number four: The other thing that might help on that would be a little more detail on the content in the programme.

Mr. Smith’s observation number seven: Ultimately, there is considerable value to delegates in eWorld, particularly if you are smart / lucky enough to choose the right sessions ….

Let’s start with observations number three and four. When you have an event that relies on lots of vendors forking over lots of dollars, you can’t always be that fussy when it comes to whose dollars you accept. And since those dollars come at the price of a presentation, it’s obvious that since vendors are of various quality, the presentations, as well as the descriptions of such presentations, will be of various quality. And as a result …

Mr. Smith’s observation number seven is a logical consequence. As a result, the value to delegates will be entirely dependent on those delegates choosing the right sessions, which, with limited information, will depend as much on a delegate’s luck as the delegate’s skill in picking the right presentation to attend. But the most important observation is …

Mr. Smith’s observation number two — the lack of bigger software firms. Not only does the doctor not find this surprising, but expects more and more absences from the leading firms in the year to come. Why? The ROI of this event for a leading provider is less and less every year. The more providers who are present, the less mindshare each provider gets. The bigger the event gets, and the more practitioners who get to go at little or no cost, the more the vendors have to pay to attend. In other words, vendors end up paying more for less every year. Especially when the practitioners who are attending the big events not only range in seniority from Junior Buyer, with no buying influence, to CPO, with ultimate buying authority, with the majority being on the Junior Buyer side of the scale.

And if you are a large, best-in-class, vendor, with a decent education budget, you have enough to finance and attend a much smaller event with a larger percentage of Director’s, VPs, and CPOs, where you are not only going to get more mind-share, since there will be fewer vendors at this smaller event, but more potential marketshare, since every individual that shows interest is one with actual buying authority.

Furthermore, since the even larger best-in-class vendors can host their own Procurement education days, with thought leaders, client case studies, and hands-on training sessions, these best-in-class vendors can get 100% mindshare for a limited time from every person who attends. So what’s the better value? A big event like eWorld or ISM where vendor capability ranges from simple e-Negotiation capability to full-fledged Source-to-Pay with little hope the average attendee will have time to figure out the difference? Or a smaller, focussed event, where the limited number of vendors have similar capability, more time to educate the participants, and a chance to educate more senior participants? Obviously, the latter, and, as a result, it’s only a matter of time before the number of absences at big events like eWorld and ISM from big, leading vendors increases. And that’s the doctor‘s prediction.