Mary Zampino's blog

What Does Augmented Reality Mean for the Sourcing Organization?

Augmented reality (AR), or mixed reality, is a technology every sourcing professional should understand. It may seem tangential, but forward-thinking executives will take heed as AR will become more and more prevalent in the sourcing industry. AR differs from virtual reality in that virtual reality is a total replacement of your current reality. Augmented reality can be thought of as a digital addition, or supplement, to your current reality. A perfect example is the Snapchat face filters - which overlay illustrations on digital images, specifically faces. My Snapchat buddies send me pictures of their faces with doggie ears attached and so on. Another example is the app Pokémon Go, in which participants found digital creatures in the everyday settings of their reality - places like the park, campus, restaurants and so on. Augmented reality is a technology that can provide packaged experiences that feel real. There are two major types of applications of AR in the market today, consumer and business/industrial.

You are probably familiar with Snapchat filters and Pokémon Go, but what about the augmented reality app that helps you decide where you might place new furniture in an existing room like Ikea offers? Or how about an AR app that allows you to point your device to the night sky and interact with the stars? Or an app that helps healthcare workers find the most appropriate place to insert an IV?

Mary Zampino, Senior Director of Global Sourcing Intelligence, SIG

Getting Started with RPA

The Hackett Group, in conjunction with Symphony Ventures, recently published a whitepaper regarding Robotics Process Automation (RPA). (You may recall that Symphony Ventures conducted an excellent RPA proof of concept at the SIG 2017 Spring Summit with American Honda.) In this whitepaper, the authors provide a blueprint for selecting sourcing opportunities appropriate for RPA. Any sourcing professional worth their salt, should be considering RPA as a viable strategy after reading this statement, "Individual tasks of such processes may be fully automated with RPA, eliminating 100% of labor and up to 90% of cost. The total efficiency improvement achievable through holistic transformation using RPA across end-to-end transactional process can add up to 50% to 75% of baseline cost."

Mary Zampino, Senior Director of Global Sourcing Intelligence, SIG

So Who are the Centennials?

With a new U.S. Presidential Administration, I have been thinking a lot about the future of my little nephew, who is just a toddler now. Like other aunties, I worry about the longterm impact of current votes on our Earth, our communities and our economy. My nephew is considered a "Centennial.” I thought I'd take a moment and learn more about the Centennials and what tools they will have to combat some of these "orders" and "choices." 

Centennials, or Generation Z, are kids born in 1997 or after. They are 25% of the population of the United States (about 78 million people). Nearly 48% of them are minorities. They seem to have an excellent grasp on the challenges they face in their generation; those of decreasing environmental resources like water and increasing cultural issues like religious wars. They have learned that being different is okay. They have learned not to be too risky. However, they have also learned to adapt by working around challenges and building their own solutions. Remember, this is the first generation to live entirely with the internet. They have been surfing the web their whole lives. So this makes for a more serious, more open-minded person, albeit with a short attention span.

Mary Zampino, Senior Director of Global Sourcing Intelligence, SIG

Resolve to Better Manage Your Time in 2017

Another year is upon us and we have 49-some weeks to implement and perfect our resolutions. You have probably already promised yourself to spend more time with family, hit the gym more often, cut your carb intake and adopt a more positive attitude. These are fantastic goals, but achieving them will be difficult if you have not also determined how to better manage your time in order to accommodate these goals. Here are a few best practices and recommendations for managing your time better.     

Delete Unnecessary Email Real-time

If a message is not important or does not require follow-up or saving, delete it immediately after reading it. You do not even have to move your mouse, just a simple CTRL + D will get rid of that message (you can do this directly from your Inbox). You should also sweep your Inbox daily. Deleting unnecessary messages real-time will help that sweep go much quicker.

Categorize, Color and Document Your Tasks

Another great practice is to categorize every task you need to undertake. In Outlook, you can use the Tag feature to assign a Category (with a color code) to every email received. I have never found a to-do app that was more effective and useful than my old-fashioned handwritten list. So, as I write tasks on my to-do list, I also assign a color category to them. Regardless of how you track your tasks, as you perform each task write down how much time was spent addressing the task. At the end of the day or week (depending on the urgency of the assignment), create a color-coded matrix of how much time was spent on each task. This has really helped me understand where I waste my time and how long it really takes to complete an assignment - which is especially helpful as more urgent items arrive on my desk. This way I can project how much time I can spend on an unexpected task and still accomplish my scheduled tasks.

Take that Break

Mary Zampino, Senior Director of Global Sourcing Intelligence, SIG

How to Get the Most from your SIG Event - Part IV: The Afterlife

In the final part of this series, I have a few tips on what to do after a SIG event…and specifically after the SIG Summit…is over.

Summarize your notes. Take a few minutes on your plane ride home while it is still fresh in your mind and write one sentence for every breakout and general session you attended. Make sure write down the overall theme and include key takeaways. Identify any action items for you or your team and who might own them, including any speaker follow-ups. If you need a few reminders, look at the SIG twitter feed using the hashtag for that event. In the case of the fall Summit, we used #SIGFall13. Chances are that someone tweeted some of the key thoughts. The Summit is full of tangible and implementable ideas. Use them!

Schedule time to report your experience to your team. When a SIG team member attends a conference, we report back to our team, providing:

  • Collateral: copies of decks, checklists, takeaways, forms, templates, tools
  • Summary of lessons learned
  • 5-10 new ideas / innovative approaches / topics for brown bag lunch discussions and strategy meetings

Many members have told us that they have to take turns attending the Summit, so a report-out is a great way to share your learnings and make the whole team feel like they were onsite. If you tweet while you are at the event, they can even follow you live!

Mary Zampino, Senior Director of Global Sourcing Intelligence, SIG

How to Get the Most from your SIG Event - Part III: Content is King

After every Summit we ask the delegates to tell us the two most important factors in contributing to their decision to attend the event. Consistently the delegates cite the Summit program content and the opportunities to network. In the first part of this blog series, I summarized some best practices for networking, specifically for Sourcing professionals. In this part of the series, I will summarize best practices for obtaining the most value from the SIG Summit program content. Keep in mind, most of these also apply to other SIG event program content (like our Symposiums, Regionals, Webinars and Town Hall Teleconferences).

Before the Event:

Make arrangements to arrive early and depart late - for Summits this means come in on Monday night and plan to stay until Friday morning. The event schedule is packed and the attendees are high-level...trust me, you want to get there early and stay late.

Write a list of objectives - include the content you wish to cover. For example, you may own the Legal spend category or you may be in the process of supplier normalization or possibly building a case study for procurement transformation. Consider the industries and organizations you may be interested in hearing from...and understand the expectations of your boss and your team members...do they expect you to report your experiences? If so, how? And when?

Mary Zampino, Senior Director of Global Sourcing Intelligence, SIG

How to Get the Most from your SIG Event - Part II: Questions to Spur Conversations

In my last post, I provided some tips for networking. I actually enjoy networking, but I know many who think of it in the same way that others think of public speaking...they are scared to death to do it. They'd rather find the one person in the crowd that they know than to seek out new connections. At SIG Summits, which attract 350-450 people, we try to make it easy to network by putting a special sticker on the nametags of first-time attendees. At the first General Session we explain the sticker and encourage everyone to "introduce themselves to the cowboy boots" (for example, since a cowboy boot sticker was the chosen icon for the last Summit in Fort Worth, Texas). It takes a lot of the pain out of the process for those who don't enjoy seeking people out and is an instant conversation starter. But if you are in a situation without your "cowboy boots," (and/or if you are a network-a-phobe like so many), perhaps some of these questions can be helpful to you. I use them when first meeting a fellow Sourcing professional.

Mary Zampino, Senior Director of Global Sourcing Intelligence, SIG

How to Get the Most from your SIG Event - Part I: Best Practices for Networking

There's nothing more I love to do than get to know someone new. I'm curious about where and how they live, if they prefer a good book or movie over a roller coaster ride (or both), if they like Beethoven or the Beatles (or both), if they went to school abroad or in the South, or wherever. I like stories. I like people. That makes it easy for me to network. However, not everyone finds networking easy. One of the top two reasons people attend SIG events is to network with other like-minded folks who are in the same roles, have similar responsibilities and face the same type of challenges. Every SIG event offers ample opportunity to network, whether at a reception or a meal or our specific speed networking program at the Summits. So whether you're at a SIG event or (gasp) another industry event, I thought I'd take a few minutes and just offer some ideas for making networking a little easier for the "non-networking-inclined."

Create your own elevator pitch - Be prepared to explain yourself in just a few minutes. It's easy to put together your story if you come up with answers to these questions:

  • What is your role at your organization? How long have you been in that role?
  • What are your immediate goals within your current role?
  • What are your future goals? For your current role? For your future role?
  • What is your boss asking you to accomplish?
  • What keeps you up at night?

Review the attendee list beforehand - If available, review the list of expected, registered attendees. Look for folks in your industry and make a list so you can be sure to find them when you're onsite. Ask your team members or direct reports if there are certain organizations or people you should target. Don't hesitate to ask one of the conference organizers for help making these connections, either beforehand or onsite. We at SIG are always happy to facilitate introductions!

Mary Zampino, Senior Director of Global Sourcing Intelligence, SIG

Big Data...It's Personal

Who's watching you? What do they know about you? Are you worried your record in the Big Data database is wrong? Would you correct it if you could? What if you had a tool to manage your big data like you manage your spend? Around SIG, we've been talking a lot about Big Data, as you can tell from Sarah's two posts (which you can access here and here) and my earlier post on the topic. This morning I started a firestorm of emails when I blasted the team with a note about a new tool I just discovered. Although in beta, Acxiom, a company that supplies marketing data to organizations, has published an online tool that allows you to access your personal "Big Data" record. I decided to try it. For a few moments, I stared at the screen, convincing myself to input the necessary information required to produce my report. Naturally suspicious when prompted to enter any kind of sensitive information (from weight to address to social security number), I hesitated to experiment with the tool. I decided I wasn't giving up any personal information that wasn't already public, and for the sake of this blog, I'd try it. After a very quick login, the tool presented me with several categories of information, including data on my characteristics, home, vehicle, economic, shopping, and household interests. Once I click on these categories, I can view the data that this company has about me, and I can actually edit it. For example, I can change my gender, and then configure my data record so that my gender characteristic will be excluded.

Mary Zampino, Senior Director of Global Sourcing Intelligence, SIG

It's All in the Delivery

Following the 2013 SIG Global Sourcing Summit in Amelia Island this past May, I was reviewing feedback from our breakout session attendees and read a comment that referenced the usefulness of the Duarte workshops with respect to presentation content, delivery and design. Usability and customer experience are both passions of mine and drive me when I am constructing guidelines for our Summit breakout session presenters and their slide decks. As a sourcing professional, I am sometimes hesitant to recommend a particular product, service, or provider. But, I can’t really keep quiet about this organization any longer. I attended the Duarte workshop and it was amazing. If you are someone who has to present things like business cases, market reports, research, spend category strategies, or if you have difficulty conveying your message, then this workshop should be part of your professional development. The two-day workshop took place in the Duarte headquarters in Sunnyvale, CA, where the facilitators immediately threw us off by asking us not to introduce ourselves with our name, company and role¸ but rather our name, company and favorite story. In each 5-10 second introduction, I felt like I already knew the person based on their story and their passion in conveying the story. During the workshop, we each built a presentation that addressed a real problem while in the session...but no PowerPoints were allowed...no computers or tablets at all! The presentations required agile development yet no particular expertise with design. We learned some excellent strategies for how to structure a presentation and watched guru Nancy Duarte map some really famous speeches (Dr. Martin Luther King's I Have a Dream, President Ronald Reagan addressing the country after the horrible Space Shuttle Challenger tragedy, and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru speech on India's Independence).

Mary Zampino, Senior Director of Global Sourcing Intelligence, SIG

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