ISM2017 - An Insider's View

Brad Fackoury, Account Executive at Bonfire, was at ISM2017 this year.  In this guest post, he gives us a front row seat to the conference and his biggest takeaways.


As I entered Coronado Springs at Walt Disney World for ISM2017, I knew we were in for something special.

ISM2017 brought over 2,500 global supply chain and management leaders together to learn, share, and network with some of the brightest minds in the private sector.  

The schedule was filled with exceptional keynote speakers, sessions led by supply chain and international superstars, and receptions held in an exhibitor hall filled with vendors ready to showcase the latest and greatest to attendees.

It was exciting to see to all of the newest innovations and ideas under one roof.  Evidence of the seismic shift happening in sourcing was clear to see: the ascendancy of sourcing, its growing importance within the organization, and the volume of technological innovation helping to support that growing role.

While at the conference, I had many conversations with procurement leaders about their initiatives.  Frequently, these initiatives were exploring solutions for cost reduction - either by streamlining or simplifying their sourcing processes.

These professionals painted a variety of unique pictures, but a common theme was emerging:  the feeling that procurement has been left behind technologically.  

Procurement teams at leading organizations are often stuck using a patchwork of tools, while many of their tasks are still completed manually or offline.

In talking to these leaders about potential solutions or what they were doing to turn things around, there seemed to be 3 common responses:

1.  "We have nothing in place to help us with sourcing and are quickly falling behind"

This was a more rare situation, but a concerning one to hear.  With the changing needs placed on sourcing and the rapid pace of technology innovation, 'no tools' simply isn't an option if you want to remain competitive.

2.  "We have tools in place, but the process still involves a lot of leg work"

A number of procurement leaders had a patchwork of tools or services they used to conduct their sourcing.  This included combinations of ERP functions (often not sourcing focused), email, and Excel.  These leaders were quick to point out that their current processes left a lot of be desired, particularly when it came to visibility, control, and efficiency.

3.  "We are looking at new modules for our ERP, and other alternative solutions that are more catered to our needs"

A mix bag of tools (or a complete lack thereof) isn't a sustainable option - gaps in these areas are no longer acceptable.  Many leaders are tempted to turn to their ERP system, but this is where things begin to breakdown for them.

When it comes to choosing a technological approach for your sourcing, this is the common dilemma leaders face:  do I invest more in my existing large ERP platform?  Or do I invest in a best-in-class tool that focuses specifically on my needs?

I feel like this last point really speaks to that technological shift we saw at ISM this year.

The organizations who understand the impact strategic, value-based sourcing has across the company are choosing to invest resources on new, modern SaaS tools that go beyond ‘making due'.   These best-in-class tools can layer or work in parallel with existing ERP systems, but give procurement teams the power to supercharge their sourcing performance.

For me, the big take-away from ISM was how leaders are choosing to navigate the coming shift in sourcing, and what technology approaches they are taking.  Increasingly, procurement leaders are looking to the next-generation of focused SaaS platforms to solve their business challenges. 

If you're exploring your options, there are key aspects that you need to consider.  I'd recommend attending the webinar below to learn more about sourcing and technology for business or enterprise applications:


I am excited for what the future holds for rest of 2017.