Sourcing Center Stage: 10 Major Moments from SPARK 2019

What happens when you plan something and your expectations are more than exceeded? That was SPARK 2019.

More than 400 guests, from all over the globe, gathered to hear Sourcing best practices full of grit, triumph, and transformation. Even as I type the words “thank you”, it’s tough to put our collective gratitude into words on a page. Honestly, I am still taken aback from the experience.

When we set out to plan SPARK, we had one goal in mind—dive deeper into Sourcing and Procurement to address the question we kept hearing: How? So we invited our customers such as Adobe, Anaplan, Biogen, Conagra Brands, Gilead, LendingTree, Salesforce, Sleep Number, Unitywater, VMware, VSP Global, Wellmark, Workday, Zappos, Zebra Technologies, Zendesk, and more to help us produce 24+ sessions on rich topics covering dynamic negotiation, change management, transformation, supplier performance, and the list goes on.

At SPARK 2019, our focus was to put Sourcing Center Stage, and with the support of Scout customers, we brought that vision to life. In real-time, Sourcing and Procurement leaders took the stage, drove the conversation, and shared best practices to empower their fellow leaders and pivot their teams to be at the center of business strategy.

Thank you honestly for making this all possible, as Scout could not be happier with SPARK and the collaborative conversations that took place at SFJAZZ. We truly hope you left the event feeling the same way and embrace your well-earned applause for your passion and everything you bring to your field.

The following highlights only just begin to unpack SPARK. In the coming weeks, we will be sharing more content, sessions, and materials so stay tuned!

Looking Back on 10 Major Moments from SPARK 2019

1. “Scout DNA will have the ability to save enterprises considerable amounts of time and money that have previously slipped through the cracks.”

At SPARK, McKinsey’s Expert in Digital Operations and Procurement, Teresa Liptak, spoke to the key role that technology plays in dynamic negotiation, and that each step and every interaction must be viewed as part of the entire strategy. How can Sourcing string each piece together in a cohesive way? By leveraging a modern environment that supports real-time insights and instant supplier feedback, critical when creating an effective framework.

Liptak set Wednesday’s stage perfectly, as Scout’s Co-Founder and VP of Product Chris Crane, and another McKinsey expert, Solution Manager Jason Waller, announced Scout Dynamic Negotiation Analytics (Scout DNA), an empowering new module and a first for the industry.

Following on Tuesday and Wednesday’s big stage presentations, Crane and Waller then held a collaborative roundtable to share best practices on sourcing optimization, dynamic negotiation, and how solutions like Scout DNA can seamlessly tie these activities together. Says Crane, “Scout DNA enables Sourcing to accelerate the negotiation and selection process for fast, data-driven decisions that deliver cost savings, expedite go-to-market, and achieve greater business impact. No mathematics Ph.D. required.

2. “Teach your organization the art of the possible.”

SPARK’s keynote speaker and former CEO of General Electric Jeff Immelt, shared his thoughts on leading through change and transformation. How do you reframe the enterprise to drive change? Immelt says, start by creating a belief system that data is a competitive advantage and make sure to nurture young talent and empower them through technology: “You have to own your digital tools in order to own the art of the possible.

3. “Scout has allowed my Sourcing team to grow successfully and become empowered.”


A theme that was on point at SPARK: moving towards an integrated ecosystem, something that fit right in to Workday’s session with John Bruno, VP of Global Real Estate, the Workplace and Procurement and Betsy Bland, VP of Corporate Strategy, who touched upon their recent partnership with Scout: “We think it’s a perfect match; Scout and Workday share the same beliefs around culture, people, and investing in the user experience.

4. “Expect that you’ll have to react and adjust to the unexpected.”

When Michael Leiken first joined LendingTree, he was tasked with building the Procurement function from the ground up. Told “Here’s your desk, now go procure,” Michael didn’t let a lack of technology stop him from creating strong relationships with his stakeholders. In fact, by demonstrating ways Procurement can add value outside of its usual scope, Michael and his team tightened alignment across the organization and gained the trust needed to effectively support the business.

5. “Procurement requires a ruthless focus on gaining power and using it. Good technology enables this.”

Dr. Hugo Evans, Vice President of A.T. Kearney, the market leader in Procurement, discussed the future of Procurement technology and advised that teams should move towards a more connected ecosystem of simple yet agile tools. He also spoke of optimizing today’s Procurement roles by hiring individuals who aren’t just data-focused but have high emotional IQs, intuition, and creativity.

6. “What is the emotional cost of transformation?”

An honest, fan-favorite session from SPARK was with Natasha Gurevich, VP of Global Procurement from Salesforce on how to approach transformation with a people-first mindset. To proactively prepare and protect your team during a transformation process, always acknowledge upfront that it’ll be tough; explain what it actually means for them along with the benefits. Says Gurevich, “Trust is the number one value.”

7. “When you include startups in a diverse supply base, you’re bringing on innovation that can be evolutionary and revolutionary.”

Linda Chuan, Co-Founder of the Silicon Valley Sourcing Leaders, Nimfa Delos Santos of Zappos and Kathleen Wong of Adobe sat down to discuss how supplier diversity means more than just checking a box; it also means supporting smaller companies and their budding technology. By working with younger organizations, Procurement can influence their product roadmaps through direct feedback, reap the benefits of short response time, and become much closer to a product that’s flexible and empowering for teams. Says Chuan, “I strongly believe that our software should be able to do what we want it to do.”

8. “Best advice I can give: get close with ambiguity. We don’t know it all.”

We were so excited to welcome Sourcing leaders Rendi Miller of Zendesk, Jeri Sessler of SDMR, and Anagha Kale of VMware, who ignited the audience with advice on what makes a great leader and how anyone, no matter their role, can become one. By surrounding yourself with a strong network of people, being genuinely curious and continuously expanding your skill sets, you can become a leader for your organization. One rule of thumb from Sessler? Be humble. We don’t know it all, and that’s okay.

9. “We’ve gotten great feedback from the business on how Scout provides visibility.”

Sarah Toomey, Head of Global Procurement for Anaplan, spoke to collaboration and real-time decision making, crucial for her team to act quickly and efficiently. What does this mean for Procurement? “Making sure we have the right folks engaged in the project early and having constant communication to ensure we’re in lockstep during negotiations and contracting.” This way they can avoid a late request or delayed stakeholder feedback that changes the discussion. “Scout plays a role in how we achieve connected planning internally. This is important because we believe it’s a new way to make decisions.”

10. “Treat every initiative like a start-up. Feet on the ground. White-glove service. Voice of the Customer.”

Right away, Bob Amareld, Associate Director, Strategic Operations & Technology, Global Procurement at Biogen, had everyone laughing. After following Allen Gannett’s animated talk about finding your ‘Flash of Genius’, Amareld quipped, “That was quite upbeat, and now I’m about to change that.”

All jokes aside, Amareld captivated the audience with what a successful Center of Excellence looks like and the different frameworks Sourcing teams can use to get there. With his achievement of creating three distinct Centers of Excellence, and associated savings of $500 million in just three years, Amareld proved there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to building a Center of Excellence.

“Your team is genuine and clearly caring of your customers.”

Let’s just say, there was no shortage of fun at SPARK. To top off a busy day of knowledge-sharing, we hosted a Havana Sourcing Club reception — complete with live music, salsa dancers, and tasty cocktails. That’s not all, Wednesday’s Bougie Brunch came with breakfast tacos, avocado toast, waffles, Bloody Mary’s and Mimosas. Even our co-founder and President, Stan Garber, had some fun on stage as he helped to kick off SPARK looking sharp in his top hat and red tails.

Thank you to all of our show-stopping speakers who helped to knock SPARK out of the park:

We can’t wait to see you at SPARK 2020!

Yesterday, our friends at Ardent Partners wrote a great recap of the event, and we want to share one quote we think is Scout in a nutshell: “Although Scout is only four years old, it has captured the attention of many in the market and it really seems to have captured the hearts and minds of its customers.”

These words mean so much to hear, and we couldn’t have done SPARK without our amazing customers, the Sourcing and Procurement community, and our behind-the-scenes Scout team.

If you have any questions about SPARK or Scout’s Sourcing and supplier engagement platform, please feel free to reach out. We’re always here to help.

Michaela Dempsey | Tags: , ,

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