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Reflections on The CPO Rising 2017 Summit (Part 3): We Are All Game-changers

Today’s article is the third installment in a series we’re running on the CPO Rising Summit we held last month at the Harvard Club of Boston. It’s been over a month since our second-annual event, and as we end the year, we’re taking some time to pause and reflect not only on 2017, but also on this year’s event. Matt York’s article last week drew parallels between event planning and the preparation that athletes undertake to make themselves competitive. Well, in keeping with that theme, we were all “game changers” at CPO Rising last month….

There was a moment during the middle of Day One of the 2017 CPO Rising Summit when it hit me: it’s an exciting time to be a part of the procurement function. Attendees were smiling and genuinely enjoying their time with their peers, connecting over best practices, and sharing stories of their own challenges. Just a few hours earlier, the crowd at this year’s event was treated to perhaps one of the strongest keynote lineups in the industry: Tom LintonWalter Charles III, and Bill Michels. Although I’m not necessarily speaking for the other members of Ardent’s core research team, I know they’ll agree with me: the 2017 CPO Rising Summit wasn’t just a celebration of the function, it reinforced a notion that everyone working in supply management should believe. That idea? We’ll take a single quote from Walter Charles’ (CPO of Biogen) acceptance speech for being awarded “Innovator of the Year” at the event’s CPO Rising Awards Gala.

“We all have the potential to be game changers.”

The procurement function has been “on the rise” for quite some time now (pun intended). From its initial cost-savings mantras to a deeper philosophy that is founded on being a more strategic component of the greater enterprise, the past decade has seen a relative transformation of the function…and, that transformation was on display during the 2017 CPO Rising Summit last month. One needs to look no further than one of the common threads of the event, agility, to see that procurement sits on the edge of greatness and is well-positioned to be the organizational gamechanger that is needed in today’s fast-paced business environment.

Agility is the gateway to becoming a gamechanging procurement function. In fact, during my opening address during Day Two of the event, I provided the three “legs” of agility that all procurement executives have within their grasp:

  • Technology. From the evolutional of traditional procurement and supply management platforms (such as eSourcing, spend management suites, spend analytics, etc.) to the newfound wonders of the Future of Work (i.e. artificial intelligence, blockchain, machine learning, augmented reality, RPA, etc.), procurement executives sit in an interesting position: they can leverage both traditional and innovative tools to not only enhance the performance of the greater function, but drive more direct value to the entire enterprise. The CPO is certainly rising, and next-generation technology is the toolbox from which they will pull.
  • Talent. Nearly 40% of all enterprise talent is comprised of non-employee workers, from temporary staffers to high-level freelancers and independent contractors. And, as found in Ardent’s new State of Contingent Workforce Management research study, more and more procurement executives are thinking about how work will be done rather than who will address it. Talent has long been a competitive differentiator for companies of all sizes, and, if procurement is going to become even more strategic in its enterprise value, it must tap into the new channels of talent available today (like online staffing platforms), as well as transform the way the contingent workforce is managed (as discussed by both John Zagata and Anthony Nardi at last month’s Summit).
  • Transformational thinking. Transformation starts at the top; whether it’s the Chief Procurement Officer itself, or another C-level role, and one of the major themes throughout the event was this: think differently, think strategically, and contribute more to the greater enterprise. From presentations like Ryan Murray’s overview of how he and his team transformed New York City’s procurement department to Innovator of the Year Walter Charles signaling for a change in how procurement operates, one item was clear at the 2017 CPO Rising Summit: transformational thinking translates into the ability to become more agile.

I want to thank the sponsors of the 2017 CPO Rising Summit, as well as the nearly 130 attendees of the event. We cannot wait to convene yet again on November 7 and 8 of next year!

 

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