We’re led to believe that there’s a fundamental difference between something that’s art and something that’s science. But what do you call the space in between, where the two world’s meet? It’s a question that you can answer for yourself at Ivalua Now – The Art of Procurement, being held, appropriately enough, at The Louvre, Paris 10th – 12th April. The event is free to attend and aims to attract hundreds of procurement and supply chain professionals to discuss and learn more about the latest industry trends and processes.
So what’s “art” got to do with it? Well, the manual based, less regulated processes of the past could certainly be viewed as an art form – with each aspect of the process relying on the creativity of those in charge of connecting the dots. It’s a style of working that produced innovative thinking – but by its nature, could be hit and miss; where “miss” could have a significant negative impact to an organisation’s balance sheet.
But now with strategic sourcing and category management, the process has become much easier to track, monitor and control. Add sourcing workflow to the mix, and introduce machine learning that can link directly to the supplier and track savings, then you can start to see where the science comes in. And in a way, a more automated method of working, serves to elevate the “art” or strategic thinking side of things. We still need - for the moment at least - human insight into the data and what to do with it. As innovations like artificial intelligence, robotics, Internet of Things and Conversational Commerce reshape entire industries, networks are becoming not only faster but actually smarter at drawing insights from scattered data lakes of seemingly unrelated data. In the process, these advances are enabling procurement leaders to look beyond their traditional remit. These days a good CPO is more than an expert in business strategy and making cost savings, they are also empathetic leaders with excellent, cross business communication skills who don’t shy away from using the latest technology.
So if you want to become a CPO, or if you report into one, or if need to find ways to attract the right professionals into your business, then you could do a lot worse than to get inspiration from Ivalua Now’s impressive speaker line-up. In fact you should probably get yourself along to Natacha Trehan, Professor in Purchasing management from University of Grenoble Alps, session entitled “How can innovation, digital technology and entrepreneurial spirit help to attract and retain Talent in Procurement?”
But that’s just one session in a field of plenty to choose from. There are some excellent looking presentations on offer throughout the event from top industry professionals like the CPO Michelin Group, VP Procurement Performance Veolia, CPO Covea, Duncan Jones - VP Forrester as well as a smattering of Ivalua’s top executive team, enough to keep even the most switched-on procurement professional engaged.
For existing customers and those with an eye to becoming one, the sessions on product innovations and the Ivalua roadmap will be key, as will the customer success stories on offer.
But of course, it’s not just about what you’ll learn at the event, but who you’ll bump into, connect with and be inspired by. And with the promise of a cocktail party and a private tour of the Louvre, it’s a perfect opportunity to raise a glass, lift an enigmatic smile and toast the art, or even the science, of procurement.