DPW2021 - What an event! 🚀

DWP2021 may have ended last week but we firmly believe the buzz around the conference, the lessons learned, messages imparted and networking opportunities presented will go on a great deal longer.

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With our unrivalled line-up of speakers and sponsors and a global attendance in excess of 3000 delegates, there was only one place to be for anyone in the procurement community.

The highlights? Where do you start? From the first DJ set on the opening morning of the conference, the mood was set and although the pandemic meant that a lot of the action was virtual, the interactions between our delegates, our sponsors and hand-picked selection of speakers was very much real. 

The agenda for the event was always an ambitious one but the fast-paced nature of the debate and the kind of discussion it prompted surpassed even our own expectations. Led superbly by Vivianne Bendermacher, the wide range of topics covered has been given even greater significance  by events elsewhere in the world at the moment and that was one of the really exciting and energising aspects of DPW 2021. The agenda of the conference didn’t simply reflect the issues facing procurement and supply chain, it pretty much covered the major talking points that businesses and communities around the world are grappling with right now.

Chief among them, of course, is sustainability, and the power of procurement to play the most prominent role imaginable in shaping the future. This was a message that was hammered home by speakers from across all industries, the consensus being that procurement needed to embrace the digital world to do all it can to meet the environmental challenges that are shaping the way that businesses operate and consumers behave. It was a topic that Joel Hyatt, co-founder, chairman and CEO of Globality, addressed on the opening morning.  

“Procurement is being asked to help enhance the company’s ESG strategy,” he said. “They actually care about performing against their stated ESG strategy - and they care about that because it turns out that everyone they worry about cares about that in a real way, including their investors and shareholders, and their colleagues and their customers. Procurement is being asked to help because the biggest asset a company has to advance its ESG agenda is how it spends its money. AI powered digitalisation makes a huge difference in being add to add value.”

That, in an almost perfect nutshell, explains why procurement is so important to tackling climate change at large, and carbon emissions in particular.

Pierre-Francois Thaler, the co-founder and co-CEO of EcoVadis, told delegates that the good news was that supply chains were responsible for 80% of the planet’s emissions – which, in turn, meant that 80% of the solution to the problem lay squarely in procurement’s hands.    

In between the DJ sets, this should have been music to the ears of the ambitious and exceptionally talented CPOs of the present and future.

During an event that very much placed innovation and forward thinking at its heart, there was also an emphasis on how – even in the digital world – people are still the key element to both ensuring success and creating a culture where creativity can flourish.

Money and resources also play a role, as Michael Wade, Professor of Innovation & Strategy. Cisco Chair in Digital Business Transformation, IMD, made clear in a talk which tackled the thorny issue of why such a large percentage of digital transformation fail to live up to their billing.  It was an insight not short of humour, but one which emphasised that when it comes to digital there is still work to be done, digital was, he said, an area that deserves significant resource allocation rather than plain old lip-service.  

The over-riding feeling throughout DWP2021, though, was one of excitement and the sense that when it comes to digital, we’re on the cusp of a new era – one chock full of possibilities. Creativity and innovation have never been so important or in such abundance as we witnessed in ours.

The future is bright and after an event which, we believe, has set a new benchmark and set the standard for others to attempt to match, the message from all our delegates, speakers and sponsors was clear.

Bring it on!   


DPW is the global innovation and mission-based ecosystem for digital procurement. We are driven by our purpose: To unlock the true power of procurement through excellence in digital.
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