To be able to see where you’re headed, you’ve got to look back at where you’ve been.
I just looked back at my December 2019 blog post and I was spot on, but for all the wrong reasons. I predicted that we would continue to elevate the role of strategic sourcing, broader adoption of technology, and a focus on upskilling sourcing and procurement teams.
I did not predict that a global pandemic would make the world talk about “supply chains,” albeit with a focus on toilet paper, Clorox wipes and a shortage of personal protective equipment. People came to realize that strategic sourcing professionals were the heroes who protected their sources of supply or quickly adapted to secure new sources.
While the pandemic continues to rule our lives in one way or another, we still see shortages on components for home gym equipment, bicycles and even casters for home office chairs. So, while some supply chains still have issues, many industries are experiencing a boom year and outpacing sales over any year in the past.
Looking back at the news of this year, many of us vaguely remember the Australian bushfires, and I distinctly remember racing go karts when news broke that Kobe Bryant died. I know some people were distracted by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle walking away from the royal life and Parasite swept the Oscars. This was all immediately non-news and forgotten quickly when the pandemic became a reality. (Personally, I am glad of one “trend” that did not last through the pandemic, which was padded shoulders and puffy sleeves.)
SIG’s Global Executive Summit is where forward-thinking procurement leaders come to experience pioneering trends grounded in today’s new realities. It provides a dedicated space for you to network with industry thought leaders, learn from different perspectives, and keep pace with emerging developments in strategic planning and procurement technology, all of which are essential to inform the way we work.
Taking place October 13 to 15, this Summit isn’t just a three-day-long webinar, it’s a live event! Everyone who attends will come away with data-backed insights and actionable resources. Sourcing and procurement leaders are continuously being shaped by new developments in contract management, remote work, sustainability, stakeholder buy-in and third-party risk management.
The keynote addresses and breakout sessions will directly address these trending topics and more:
Contract Lifecycle Management
Many sourcing bottlenecks are the result of poor contract management practices. Digitizing and automating the process, from initiation to award and renewal, can expedite the process and enhance compliance.
In my conversations with practitioners and procurement leaders, this topic comes up frequently. You can expect sessions that focus on executing complex negotiations to the role that advanced technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning play in managing the lifecycle of contracts.
The Global Executive Summit is a space for procurement leaders and teams to be informed by other companies’ experiences, share techniques, and unlock higher levels of value creation and savings. Importantly, networking and making connections is needed now more than ever.
Who Should Attend the Global Executive Summit?
SIG Summit attendees are senior-level executives at Fortune 500 and Global 1000 companies, including C-suite executives, vice presidents, directors, senior analysts and managers. SIG member companies and qualified buy-side procurement practitioners can attend the digital event free. If you're not a SIG member, check out the membership page. Membership options have been expanded to include individual and free memberships.
The format of the event will take place virtually over the week of October 13 to 15 for a few hours per day, so you can fulfill your daily work obligations while engaging in the event remotely.
The inaugural SIG Procurement Technology Summit was unlike any other industry event. As COVID-19 swept across the globe, my team and I had to pull off something we’ve never done before: turn our in-person Summit into a completely virtual event.
While the circumstances were less than ideal, it was a humbling experience and a good reminder that to stay relevant, you must be flexible and agile when disruption strikes. Admittedly, a global pandemic was not in our risk scenario playbook, but you can bet that it will be going forward.
New Concerns for Procurement
In order to provide SIG members with the most up-to-date and relevant content, we ask for your feedback to find out what’s top of mind for you, your colleagues and your organization. For the first time in six years, the economy is a top business issue. This is markedly different than what you told us was a top concern just six months ago. Now, most people are concerned with how the crisis will impact:
Income and business opportunities
Negotiations in a virtual world
Business resiliency and continuity
Resiliency of their organization and the talent they support
Addressing risk – in the supply chain, in supplier negotiations, in online business operations and transactions
Many of our Summit presentations pivoted to reflect these new realities, and our upcoming events will feature practitioners and thought leaders sharing how their organizations responded to the disruption with flexible, proactive measures. The common thread in all of this is advanced technology and strong leadership.
I am pleased to announce that SIG has appointed the following nine senior executives to the SIG Advisory Board for a three-year term:
Jeff Amsel, Vice President, Global Sourcing and Real Estate, HERE Technologies
Tony Filippone, Chief Procurement Officer, Axis Capital
Daryl Hammett, Chief Operating Officer, ConnXus
Ed Hansen, Partner, Co-Chair, Outsourcing and Digital Transformation Group, Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough
Pat McCarthy, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Global, SAP Ariba and SAP Fieldglass
Mike Morsch, Vice President, Global Procurement and Supply Chain, CDK Global
Michael van Keulen, Chief Procurement Officer, Coupa
Chris Sawchuk, Principal and Global Procurement Advisory Practice Leader, The Hackett Group
Michele Wesseling, Associate Vice President, Global Third Party Management Office, TD Securities Limited
The diversity of these companies is a true reflection of the SIG community at large. The value that the Board brings through their insight and experiences is immensely important to the strategic direction for SIG. SIG’s members represent trillions in annual revenues and sourceable spend and their impact on their organization’s operations and bottom line cannot be overstated.
This impressive Board will begin their term at the SIG Procurement Technology Summit taking place online beginning on May 11, and are rounded out with these existing Board members:
Like most of you, when I try to fall asleep and clear my mind, I can't help but dwell on these questions. The world has proven itself to be very small and more interconnected than we might have realized. I also feel that this is a test of leadership as well as a test of people's character.
Impacts on the Gig Economy
4. Do you think about the gig workers and what this might mean to the future of the gig economy?
5. Will people drop the flexibility they once craved for more traditional employment that has PTO, sick time, health insurance and other benefits?
6. Do you think that when half of the workforce embraced the gig economy for flexibility and the thrill of ever-evolving work experiences that they thought about what a pandemic means for them or not being able to file for unemployment?
7. Will we think about localizing and diversifying more of our supply chain to protect against the risk of a future pandemic?
8. Will companies retreat to adding costs to their supply chains by adding inventory to protect against risk, or will we learn to open our inventory to share with other companies?
Impacts to the Government and the Economy
9. In the future, who will you trust to lead you?
10. Have you gained or lost trust in the government or the media; and did it change once the pandemic got closer to home?
11. Do you ever think that people were maybe overreacting, or did you hold firm in your urge to protect every human life, the economy be damned?
12. Do you ever wonder about all the self-employed small businesses and get stressed trying to think of a way they can survive?
13. Once the government started talking about “the cure being worse than the virus,” did you capitulate, if even for a minute?
I recently went back to read an article that I bookmarked a while back on the predictions for 2020. Forget self-driving cars and flying cars; Popular Mechanics magazine predicted in 1951 that every family in the 21st century would have at least one helicopter in their garage. They also predicted in 1957 that every road and street would be “replaced by a network of pneumatic tubes,” and your car would only need enough power to get from your home to the newest tube.
Dave Evans, the chief futurist for Cisco Visual Networking, actually predicted in 2012 that he'd be out of a job by this time because, as he forecasted, everyone would be able to predict the future themselves.
Automating Everyday Tasks
I wasn’t alive when Popular Mechanics made its predictions, but I was alive for the statement by Dave Evans. What I know for sure is that while his prediction for companies to make data-informed decisions is slowly coming to fruition, we are far off from a world without futurists. What amazes me is that most automation predictions were in the form of self-driving cars rather than taking place in everyday life.
As we settle into the holidays and celebrate with family and friends, we also look to a new decade. Absent a downturn economy, it’s hard for some to understand the importance of a strong procurement and sourcing organization. But we are so much more than just a cost-savings industry. While we are seen as an overhead, we really are the engine that keeps the company on course.
Rather than looking back at all the gains our industry has achieved this year, here are my thoughts on some of the exciting trends that I believe will pick up momentum in the next year.
1. Elevating the Role of Strategic Sourcing
Without strategic sourcing, we would not be able to improve cost, quality and service levels while guarding against third-party risk. Without the strength of our negotiations, contract development, business insights and supplier relationship management, we would fail on safeguarding our supply chains against human trafficking, conflict minerals and child labor.
I’m seeing more interest in third-party risk management from boards and company executives, and in my conversations with them, it’s clear that more resources will be devoted to supporting sustainability initiatives and the ability to act on business insights.
The Fall Global Executive Summit was one of the most well-attended Summits to date. With record attendance, compelling thought leaders, the first-ever Innovation Hall and a glitzy night recognizing the Future of Sourcing Award winners, it was one for the books! During this year’s speed networking, a whopping 207 meetings were booked and this year’s prizes for raffle winners were really spectacular, including a $5,000 donation to the winner’s charity of choice from Givewith, one of our newest social impact provider companies.
Fall Summit Recap
The general session keynotes kept audiences engaged and our thought leaders answered some really great questions from the audience. Coupa’s CEO Rob Bernshteyn talked about how data, AI and community intelligence are impacting procurement; a panel of experts from Bank of Canada, PwC, Adobe and Boeing discussed tried and true best practices to be better at your job; the panel with LeaseAccelerator on upcoming changes to leasing standards elicited lots of discussion; and Kate Renwick-Espinosa closed us out with a look inside VSP Global’s inspiring company culture and commitment to fiscal fitness.
One of the most buzzed about events at the Summit was Innovation Hall where provider companies that are utilizing AI and machine learning for everything from talent management to contract writing and negotiations networked with attendees while the Future of Sourcing Awards talks took place alongside them. It was great to see everyone’s gears turning as they talked about common challenges, potential solutions and learned more about opportunities available to them.
During a panel I hosted at Coupa Inspire on the role of the CPOs as “spendsetters,” the conversation evolved, as they often do, to the topic of third-party risk management. We quickly got around to discussing “tail spend” and the amount of inherent risk in the tail since it is fairly typical to not have done any true sourcing of this spend. Even more concerning, we don’t know who our third or even fourth parties are with any degree of background, let alone the risk exposure. An audience member during the Q&A asked a great question: If you could ask your tail spend three questions, what would they be?
This struck me funny and felt like we were putting a human face on something that is typically so intangible and unknown, almost like being face-to-face with a distant relative who you always speak about in whispers (admit it, we all have one). This made me feel like it was time to get personal and ask all the things that I had thought and whispered about, but never had the guts to ask... and this was my chance.
When I asked my panelists to comment, they did not hesitate.
“Who are you?”
“Why do you even exist?”
“How can I make you go away?”
“How did you even come to be in the first place?”
“I don’t even know you!”
The entire audience became engaged in a lively conversation. I told the person who asked the question (and I hope to find this person one day and thank him, in case you know the man in the second row, with glasses I believe, stage left, please tell him to reach out to me), that this conversation was not over. There was so much left uncovered.