This week Spend Matters attended Ivalua‘s annual EMEA conference in Paris.
Like every year (except during the peak of Covid when the event was 100% virtual), Ivalua selected a prestigious location: le Pavillon & Studio Gabriel. It is a premier venue in the heart of Paris: a historic venue with a rich history dating back to 1883 when it was originally used as a ballroom for high-society. Located on the famous Champs-Elysées avenue, Le Studio & Pavillon Gabriel has been beautifully refurbished and transformed into a modern conferences and events space. Over the years it has been the site of many remarkable events, including the first meeting of the League of Nations in 1919, so a very fitting venue for showcasing the latest technological and conceptual advances in Procurement.
Titled “Breaking new ground,” this two-day event explored how businesses must radically shift their strategies to succeed in today’s rapidly changing global economy and how technology can support them.
Day one (Spend Matters did not attend as it was for customers and partners only) consisted of solution-focused sessions covering various topics: managing Scope 3 emissions, invoice automation, direct materials, supply chain collaboration, and so on.
Overview of Day 2 at Ivalua NOW
Day two was open to a larger audience and attracted approximately 3,000 people, with about 1,700 on-site, the remainder being virtual attendees who could follow the event via live stream. After two years of virtual events, the appetite to attend in person was high; Ivalua had to close registrations two weeks before the event having reached the venue’s maximum authorized attendance.
The day was a mix of main-stage presentations in the morning (detailed below) and several break-out sessions in the afternoon.
David Khuat-Duy, Ivalua’s CEO and founder, kicked off the event with an update on the company. Ivalua now has 900 employees, a revenue of $153 million (25% growth), 1,500 certified consultants from parent organizations (an increase of 32%) and a customer retention rate constantly above 95% for more than 20 years.
Going back to the theme of the event, “Breaking new ground,” he focused the remainder of his presentation on the current business climate where the only certainty is uncertainty and where procurement organizations need new ways of working, not just incremental improvements. To illustrate that, two customers took over the main stage consecutively to tell their stories.
The first was Ahlsell, a leading distributor of specialized installation products in the Nordics with a revenue of €5 billion and with 7,500 employees. Ahsell’s CPO, Karolina Hagberg Chinell, explained that Covid triggered their digital initiative as it impaired their ability to travel and meet suppliers. They also saw the initiative as an opportunity to position procurement as a growth enabler and not just a cost killer. She shared a few lessons from their digital transformation:
- The importance of good (master) data
- Robust and standardized processes
- A strong change management plan to create desire for the new solution (not just awareness)
The next customer was IKEA. Slawomir Peter, Supply Chain Development Area Manager – Sourcing and Otto Tell, Business Navigation Manager & Digital Leader – Global Purchasing Development, shared their digital transformation story:
- How they came to the realization that they had created (and developed in-house) a “spaghetti monster,” as one of the speakers named it, of 120 applications for procurement and supply chain, and that it was far from their core business: selling furniture.
- How they saw an opportunity to switch to a solution available on the market to replace many of these legacy applications.
- How and why they selected Ivalua as they saw its potential to be their evolutive procurement backbone as they were able to extend the usage of the solution to categories that were not in the initial scope.
Ivalua’s Chief Product Officer, Pascal Bensoussan, then explained how several factors and trends conspire to drive the product’s innovations and roadmap to fuel customers’ sustainable growth: efficiency + resilience + sustainability.
Some developments are module-specific and include improved AI-centric capabilities in CLM and AP, and enhanced invoice compliance for the clearance models that many countries are adopting. Some are cross-module or at the platform level and they include environmental impact management, user adoption and the launch of Ivalua’s community (of practice). Several Ivalua team members from the R&D team and the Product Marketing team also presented to showcase several upcoming enhancements related to leveraging AI in CLM to author contracts faster and better, improvements in P2P for better and faster bundling to bring even more efficiencies on the buy and supply side, and invoice management enhancements (capture, clearance readiness, etc.).
As mentioned, the afternoon was packed with several breakout sessions delivered by Ivalua’s team, partners and customers. The topics covered were resilience, climate transition, carbon management, inflation and direct materials sourcing.
Judging by the density of attendees (the location was packed) and the quality of the content, the event was a success. It was also an occasion for participants to network and visit Ivalua’s partners’ booths, with plenty of time in the day for such activities. With Ivalua NOW EMEA behind us, its sister Americas event is scheduled for May 3-4 at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, TN, USA.
Find details of Ivalua NOW Americas here.
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