Today sees the beginning of the annual conference of the 101 year old Institute of Supply Management and the convergence of thousands of professionals upon Indianapolis to take place in the annual four-day revelry of the purchasing profession in the United State of America.
Recognizing that their audience is often more junior buyers than Directors and CPOs, this year the ISM has organized sessions into meaningful tracks to try and help the various purchasing team members understand the basics they need to do their jobs (as few people get any formal education in Supply Management before being thrust into a career, and training budgets are still slim to none in many organizations), with a focus on:
- Dos and Don’ts
- Direct and Indirect
- People & Tools
- Risk & Rewards
This is a great director for the ISM to go, as today’s buyers need all the education they can get. Unfortunately, there’s only so much that can be covered in a short talk on the critical subject matter a buyer needs to learn in depth to do her job efficiently and effectively (and run the Procurement Value Engine) and less still that can be absorbed, but we should at least applaud the effort of the ISM to make this event worthwhile for their average attendee (and possibly give her some fodder to go back and fight for an actual training budget).
Of course, as usual, the doctor won’t be there as the ISM conference, and the dozens and dozens of vendors with the big marketing budgets that converge upon it, really only represents the average state of Procurement today. As leaders of today and tomorrow, we are interested in the state of the art, what comes next, and what we have to learn — and do — to prepare for it to take our capabilities to the next level because, as we know it, Procurement is Dead and if we don’t redefine our job, and our capability, we will be buried with it.
As a result, in our niche, we don’t need to be bombarded with a dozen, almost equal, Source to Pay platform demonstrations (because we already know what the average platform does and minor UI differences and workflow tweaks don’t add much value) or last decade’s SIM solutions — we need to know which vendors are adding innovative capabilities like auto-correct and auto-suggest to m-way match to eliminate 90% of the “exceptions” that can be automatically handled, data analytics to let us do predictive trending and take advantage of prescriptive (expert-guided) strategies to maximize the value from each sourcing event, and modern SRM platforms that contain development and innovation management capabilities to extract value where the price is already as low as it can go with current materials, production processes, and supply chain designs.
That’s why we will be waiting with anxious breadth for the Spend Matters 50/50 list to find out who the 50 vendors to know are, and, just as importantly, who the 50 vendors to watch are. We need the next advance, and to get ahead of our competitors in tight markets without a significant increase in budget or support, we need it first. And where you are going to find that innovation is in the vendors on this list, and, surprisingly enough, not just the vendors in the “watch” list — some of the bigger vendors in the “know” list, having acquired some smaller companies and top innovation talent, have let their talent loose and there are some amazing innovations in the pipe this year — just not necessarily what, where, and from whom you’d expect.
While the doctor was consulted last year, this year the doctor was heavily involved in the discussion, including the final cut, and can honestly say that not only does this list represents the best cross-section of vendors in the global market, but it will surprise you. And you will be happy it did. And, better yet, there will be a continuation of the deep coverage of all of the vendors on SM (which will include joint coverage by the doctor, the prophet, and the maverick where it makes sense) and on the Sourcing and Complex Procurement vendors here on SI*.
Start the countdown!
* For the most part, SI will not cover the workforce, trade finance, or services providers in depth as SI will remain true to its core focus (which has kept you here for 10 years) on best practices and processes, technology, education, and topics that no one else covers in the Strategic Sourcing Execution Lifecycle (registration required). [However, this still leaves a LOT of vendors.]