A couple of weeks ago, I attended and spoke at Digital Procurement World (DPW) in Amsterdam. The event was the brainchild of one of the first employees at Procurement Leaders, Matthias Gutzmann. With DPW, his idea was to bring together not only procurement organizations and technology (and services) firms in a conversation around digital, but also to engage the start-up community — and investors.
On just about every count, DPW was a runaway success. (It could’ve had more folks from the investment community there, but I’m looking forward to pitching in next year to help in that regard.)
Perhaps most importantly, DPW was the very first procurement event I’ve been to that did a great job of engaging early stage technology companies and connecting them with buyers, consultants and others.
Here are a few of my observations:
- Many of the procurement tech firms in attendance were truly start-ups. And that was a great thing. Of course, some bigger names also attended as well. (See the standout start-ups named in Spend Matters’ Future 5 )
- The mainstage live “shark tank” inquest of start-ups and associated audience voting worked out perfectly. Noah Eisner (Coupa’s co-founder), Jacob Larsen (Maersk’s digital procurement lead) and I put a bunch of founders on the spot during live pitches and demonstrations that led up to the audience voting Bid Ops the top start-up. This was a high-risk session for DPW to take on (imagine 10 presentations/pitches in one hour, along with a panel Q&A), but it could not have been better. The audience loved it.
- The networking and willingness of attendees to talk openly was outstanding. As one attendee told me, at all other events the whole vendor-practitioner dynamic feels stilted, with a line in the middle of those selling and those being sold to. “Here, everyone was on equal footing and conversation flowed,” he noted.
- There were no egos, elitism or exclusiveness. It felt like a Bay Area event. Whether you were a founder, CPO or lead partner at a consulting firm, the dynamic was down to earth.
- Dress code … not! 90% of folks at DPW came casual — not business casual. I’m now of the opinion jeans is the way to go for events — including speakers. Let’s banish all the vendor sales guys in bad suits from conferences permanently! Perhaps the one exception is black tie dinners (there’s a place for them), but why, why must “business casual” be the norm at other events?
- Venue — DPW used Beurs van Berlage in Amsterdam as the conference venue. It’s probably the best conference space I’ve ever been in from a historic charm perspective. Even the acoustics were fine. And the food, drink (10 espresso machines lined up for the morning, Heineken on draft at happy hour) and vibe could not have been better.
I’m stoked for helping out next year if Matthias and the team will have me back. Kudos to them for pulling off a fantastic first event!