Stop…Millennial Time!

The Millennials are here and there is nothing you can do to stop them. Those born between 1982 and 2000 have surpassed the Baby Boomers in sheer numbers and are now the top consumers globally.


Hospitality is one of the most challenged industries when it comes to ‘Keeping up with the Millennials’, as it is typically a very traditional industry and change isn’t exactly its favourite word. Hotels in particular have been doing the same things, in the same way, for years now. They know change has to happen but more often than not they are quite uncertain as to what that change might be.

Marriott International for instance has gone from producing high-thread-count bedsheets to a YouTube Web series aimed at entertaining younger travellers. They also went on to buy Starwood Hotels & Resorts in a $12.2 billion deal because of its strong presence in the lifestyle brand category. W Hotels (part of Starwood) is all about edgy design, gourmet food and trendy public spaces — all features appealing to the Millennial traveller.

Redesigning for Millennials

A keen focus and demand for the latest technology, public areas with high speed WiFi for both work and play, as well as clever loyalty programs offering instant gratification, are all key to the millennial consumer.

“Millennials aren’t so interested in staying in their room, but congregating in compelling spaces with great design, music and a unique point of view,” says Jason Pomeranc, CEO of SIXTY Hotels. It’s why hotels like ACE and CitizenM are doing so incredibly well. They are first and foremost utilising their non-room space and creating inviting, cutting edge design hubs of interaction.

From major chains to small independent businesses, hospitality companies across the world are redesigning properties, spending a fortune on new technologies and even using Facebook Messenger for their Customer Service communications. It’s what Hyatt Hotels have done recently. In fact, there is a lot you can do from the app if you plan a stay at the Hyatt: check availability, make reservations, enquire about the view and even order room service.

How the Major Players Take Action

The reason for all this commotion – in the USA alone, more than 1 in 3 workers are Millennials, which amounts to some 83.5 million people. “They are becoming the earners, the spenders, the travellers, and importantly, the workers,” remarks Tina Edmundson, Marriott’s global officer for luxury and lifestyle brands.

Here is how a few major players are taking action based on this research:

  • Marriott launched Moxy and AC Hotels specifically with Millennials in mind
  • Best Western unveiled Vib, a chic urban boutique hotel
  • Hyatt premiered Hyatt Centric, an affordable lifestyle hotel
  • Hilton will open Canopy next year in Iceland. Each subsequent hotel will be inspired by the local community in everything from design to food and drinks

“By 2025, these guys are going to make up three-quarters of the workforce,” says Guy Langford, vice chairman and U.S. leader of travel, hospitality and leisure at Deloitte. And this is the one aspect the industry still isn’t facing. Most of the back office operations have not changed in the past 10–15 years. For Millennials, each day at work is like going Back to the Past…The heavy use of paper, spreadsheets and antiquated software makes adoption within the Millennial workforce sector very low.

This in turn affects staff retention and therefore drives staff costs ever upwards. Offering Millennial staff the opportunity to continue their digital, one-click habits at work by implementing technology heavily focused on User Experience (UX), is an absolute must for productivity.

“We have to understand what impact they’re going to have in 10 years’ time,” says Langford, “so changes made now, for both the Millennial consumer and the Millennial employee, will see huge ROI.”

Procurious Big Ideas Panel Discussion #4 – What Are We Doing to Create Communities of Practice?

What is the procurement profession doing to create communities of practice?

Building on Tania Seary’s keynote speech and the idea of collaboration across the procurement profession, David Noble, Tania Seary, Diego Barilla and Sue Steele discuss what can be done to bring a dispersed community together.

From spend entrepreneurship to professional accreditation and certification, the final discussion panel at Big Ideas Summit 2015 threw up some interesting questions and answers and got the wider group thinking about how we can help to map our future.

Watch the full discussion here.

See all the keynotes and panel discussions from the Big Ideas Summit, plus Big Ideas from our 40+ Influencers.

Like this? Join Procurious for FREE and meet like-minded procurement professionals from across the world.

Cost Breakdowns – As Much About What’s Important As About Price

“As I hurtled through space, one thought kept crossing my mind – every part of this rocket was supplied by the lowest bidder.” John Glenn, NASA


Time was that the old-school view of procurement, as illustrated above, prevailed. Of course, since then, times have changed, and procurement has emerged after the Lopez era to prioritise quality alongside purchase price.

However, companies continue to hold purchase price as a primary driver in making decisions, with other factors remaining as things that need to be taken into consideration somewhere along the way.

Procurement organisations following this track are likely to find themselves under more and more pressure in the coming years without really understanding why. And it is because the concept of cost itself is changing – and nowhere is this clearer than in the cost breakdown.

Changing the Meaning of Cost

There are two things changing what cost means. First of all, procurement is expected more and more to act strategically. In addition to all the obvious costs on top of purchase price: installation, operating, maintenance, and disposal costs, procurement is expected to think several steps down the line, or at least should be.

As well as looking at short-term cost, it is important to have an idea of future prices, and therefore the behaviour of the cost drivers that might influence this. Not all purchasing is a simple transaction – suppliers need to be developed, strategies need to be formed.

In structuring cost breakdowns, procurement organisations have to ask two key questions – am I making the best economic decision today? Is my decision helping my company to gain a competitive advantage tomorrow?

Secondly, the development of information technology and increasingly globalised supply chains present a wide range of risks as well as opportunities. This all has an effect on what we mean by cost. Globalisation is opening supply chains up to new risk challenges: the unknown quantity of a new supplier from abroad, disruptions from natural disasters and political instability, differing local conditions like lead times, and growing awareness of lacking environmental and labor standards outside of the EU.

The same global media network that can feed vital information to procurement organisations also opens corporations up to risk: specifically brand damage when an environmental or labor scandal goes viral, with all the costs of revenue loss and re-call expense that come with it. Global brands like Apple and Adidas have recently become much more active on this front in China.

Coupled with incoming legal requirements in Europe, such as the UK Modern Slavery Act, procurement organisations have to factor much more into their cost breakdowns. It’s no wonder that people talk about procurement delivering value.

Procurement Value

This is a colossal amount of information to process. But procurement value is not some nebulous concept floating over all of this. It’s simply a matter of defining what is important for your company – what is going to produce value. Maybe it’s making productivity faster or better, maybe it’s reducing risk in quality or in logistics.

You can only identify this by working with your internal customers, for example, engineering and manufacturing, and working cross-departmentally. Procurement professionals will also need to be attuned to how values change across an organisation. For example, as public awareness of supply chain ethical scandals grows, procurement will be expected to value Corporate Social Responsibility as much as other departments.

Crucially, these values can define what gets prioritised in the cost breakdown and help you navigate the jungle of information out there.

This is also where technology can play a massive role. With an expanding market in procurement technology, especially in Software as a Service (SaaS) and big data analytics, there are great opportunities to bring together the data you need in one place, rent extra information from business intelligence suppliers who can turn qualitative information into figures, and understand it all in a way that makes sense to you.

As the nature of cost changes, procurement organisations need cost breakdowns that do justice to this. It follows that they need to select the right software to support new cost breakdowns.

One thing is for sure: the day of the Excel spreadsheet cost breakdown is over.

Charlotte Spencer-Smith works for POOL4TOOL, based in Vienna, Austria.

Buy vs. Lease – The Sharing Economy and Procurement

It was tarnished as a fad, or worse still, a hipster trend. But the ‘sharing’ or ‘collaborative economy’ is here to stay. This new purchasing practice is changing the way we consume products and services in our daily life.


There is hardly an article about this new economy that doesn’t discuss the way that companies like AirBnB and UBER are disrupting consumer markets.

The number of Americans who have taken part in the sharing economy has grown by 20 per cent in the last 18 months. You would be hard pushed to name another sector that has seen a similar increase.

What is the Sharing Economy?

For the uninformed, the sharing or collaborative economy refers to the peer-to-peer sharing of goods and services (normally in place of purchasing outright), and is generally facilitated through a community-based online platform.

As is highlighted above, the sharing economy has gained a lot of traction in consumer markets such as accommodation (AirBnB), transport and ride-sharing platforms (UBER), and business funding (KickStarter). There are many, many more examples.

What is less clear is how or, perhaps more importantly, when these new purchasing practices might find their way into common procurement practice. Smaller organisations, or ones with less formal procurement processes, have allowed the use of businesses like AirBnB for business travel, although this is far from the norm.

Procurement has been doing it for years

But it poses an interesting question – is the sharing economy really any different from the age-old procurement question of ‘buy vs. lease’?

‘Buy vs. Lease’ is one of the key decisions frequently made by procurement, irrespective of the industry in question. For example, when an outlay was required for a new asset, say vehicles or fleet, the ‘Buy vs. Lease’ question would be asked (and usually answered by senior decision makers) as to whether the goods should be bought, or merely leased as required, leaving the maintenance and up-keep to someone else.

Building Furniture in Berlin

This cross over between big business procurement and the small-scale personal sharing economy was highlighted brilliantly on a recent trip one of the Procurious community made to Berlin (and was kind enough to share with us!).

Friends of theirs had recently returned to Germany after seven years living in Sydney, and had moved into a new flat. The flat came completely unfurnished (no curtains, no lights, no kitchen cupboards), so significant furniture construction was required before they could fully move in. Some of the new furniture was ubiquitous IKEA gear, and thus required nothing more than an Allen key and a lot of patience to construct.

However, other items required more work and, importantly, more tools. This included an orbital sander and other wood working tools to alter a chest of drawers so that it would fit into a small space inside the new flat.

Ordinarily this would have required a trip to a hardware store and a large outlay on new equipment that would subsequently lie redundant for years to come. But in Berlin, and many other cities around the world, there is app called peerby that can help. The app allows individuals to connect with other people locally and lease/borrow items they have (at a small cost), rather than buying their own.

Cost Considerations

Interestingly, the considerations for Buy vs. Lease are the same whether you are constructing furniture in Berlin or buying plant equipment in for a mining company in Western Australia. In order to make a good decision, buyers should consider how often they’ll use the product, how core it is to their operations (if you plan on doing a lot of woodwork, maybe its worth buying the orbital sander), the cost per use, and when the product will become obsolete.

It seems the sharing economy has merely brought an old procurement process (Buy vs. Lease) to the consumer market, meaning that purchasing practices that previously could only be leveraged by big business are now available to recreational (perhaps that’s the wrong word) furniture builders in Berlin.

It remains to be seen whether or not these practices will cycle back round again in the procurement world, but under the guise of the sharing economy.

Eternal Flame

The New Year brought the tragic news of the passing of David Bowie. The term genius is often attributed to artists, though not all deserve it. David Bowie was a true genius and more.

Completely unique, forever surprising with a rare ability at multiple reinvention throughout his career. Bowie was responsible for some of the greatest music of the last 50 years and will continue to inspire artists and fans for the next 50.

His death has, of course, prompted a resurgence in sales of his back catalogue – to be re-discovered by new generations who weren’t previously familiar with his work but feel his influence through contemporary artists. Bowie was also a master of collaboration – one of my favourites being “Fame” co-written with John Lennon & Carlos Alomar. Here’s a 1975 clip of Bowie performing “Fame” live, in which his styling looks strangely modern.

Why is this relevant to Marketing?

There’s a common misconception among some marketers that the death of an artist makes their work freely available for use in brand campaigns. This is, of course, wholly incorrect and ignores the complex rules surrounding life of copyright in songs and sound recordings. This becomes more complicated for work where the artist and songwriter is the same person – such as David Bowie.

What’s Life Of Copyright?

As I explain in my new book Music Rights Without Fights, both songs and sound recordings have extensive periods of copyright protection during which time the rights owners have exclusive control of the work. This control includes the ability to grant (or withhold) licences for the work to be used in association with brand marketing campaigns and charge an appropriate licence fee.

What’s The Length of Life Of Copyright?

Here’s where it gets complicated – This varies by market and differs between songs and recordings. Taking the European Union (“EU”) as an example, Life of Copyright is:

For Songs & Compositions:

70 years from the end of the year in which the songwriter or composer died. Where the work has multiple creators, it’s 70 years from the year in which the last creator died.

For Sound Recordings:

70 years from the end of the year in which the sound recording was first commercially released.

What’s The Term For Music Beyond Life Of Copyright?

The common terms are “Out Of Copyright” or “Public Domain”.

So, I Can Use Anything From 1945 And Before For Free, Right?

No, wrong. It’s not that simple.

For songs, in theory, within the EU, any song written by a songwriter who died in 1945 or before is out of copyright – and hence could be used by a brand in an advertising campaign without payment of a licence fee. However, in practice copyright law allows new arrangements of out-of-copyright songs to be registered as new in-copyright works.

If your brand or agency commissions a new arrangement (or sources an existing recording) of an out of copyright song, chances are, the arrangement will have been registered as a new work which requires the usual licensing process and applicable fee.

For sound recordings, there’s a legal view that a new copyright exists in remastered versions of old recordings. If, for example, you have a CD version of a 1945 recording, the record company that remastered and released it could claim copyright in that CD recording. The only safe option is to source an original shellac 78 rpm disc from the period.

A Word Of Warning

The above guidance, whilst always subject to detailed due diligence, roughly applies to campaigns limited to EU states. However, where campaigns are made available online, other market jurisdictions come into play where rules differ.

For example, life of copyright in sound recordings in the USA is 95 years – so, only sound recordings commercially released in 1920 or before would be public domain. Likewise, life of copyright in songs varies across regions so non-geo locked online campaigns have high risks attached for those who rely on public domain status to avoid licence fees.

What Does This Mean For Procurement?

If your marketing colleagues say they’re using out of copyright music in a brand campaign, and therefore have no music line item in the production budget, alarm bells should ring. It’s rarely that simple and the cost of getting it wrong through copyright infringement far exceeds the payment of licence fees handled in the correct manner.

What Can I Do To Be Safe?

Here’s a quick check list once your marketing colleagues have told you which music they plan to use:

For Songs – you need clarity via detailed due diligence by a qualified expert on:

  • Death dates of songwriter / composer / lyricist
  • Identity of previous copyright owner (if work is assumed to be public domain)
  • Summary of markets in which the campaign is due to run
  • Cross-check against copyright legislation in those markets
  • Copyrights status of new or existing arrangement of the work intended for use

For Recordings – you need clarity via detailed due diligence by a qualified expert on:

  • Date of first commercial release in the markets in which campaign will run
  • Cross-check against copyright legislation in those markets
  • Identity of previous copyright owner (if recording is assumed to be public domain)
  • Availability of original shellac 78rpm disc that pre-dates copyright period

Want To Know More? Enter Competition To Win Free Book!

If you’d like to know more about music rights and how to license them with controlled cost and risk, we’re giving away 10 free copies of my book Music Rights Without Fights to Procurious members.

To be in with a chance of winning, follow the link below and answer all the questions there. In the event of there being more than 10 entrants who answer the first 5 questions correctly, we’ll use our fiendishly difficult tie break question to help select the winners.

The competition closes at 17:00 (GMT) on Friday the 5th of February, with winners announced the following week. You must be a member of Procurious to be eligible for the competition!

Full competition Terms and Conditions, can be found here: Music Rights Without Fights – Competition T&Cs.


Good luck!

Smart Cities – Revolutionising Public Procurement in Barcelona

Barcelona – a city of churches, tapas and endless Gaudi landmarks – boasts an intriguing procurement initiative that is fundamentally changing public procurement methodology. 

The concept is new and the way changes are being made is a stroke of genius. Traditionally, public procurement initiatives have looked something like this:

  1. Determine the problem
  2. Determine a solution
  3. Develop a scope of work containing detailed specifications as to how the problem should be solved
  4. Go to market to see who can meet your specification.

Decision-making is generally carried out within the four walls of a government building and leads to nothing more than a race to the lowest price point between two or three large suppliers.

Turning Public Procurement on its Head

Barcelona has completely flipped this process. Rather than telling suppliers what they want, they are simply outlining problems that are present within the city (like bicycle theft or potholes in the road) and asking the public to come up with innovative ways to solve them.

By opening civic problems up to the cities entrepreneurs, Barcelona is leveraging a vast pool of innovation and creativity that resides within its city. The following quote by CityMart‘s (the organisation behind this initiative) CEO, Sascha Haselmayer, sums up the approach brilliantly.

“City governments need to get out of procuring by specifying the solution they want. They can’t possibly have enough knowledge to do that well. What they should do is specify the problem they want to solve and show metrics on what success looks like. And then allow the market to inspire them to find the best solutions.”

As well as suggesting product solutions, applicants to the BCN Open Challenge are encouraged to challenge current city regulations and services in order to address six of the city’s key civic problems. Essentially, the canvas is blank and creativity, freethinking and innovation are encouraged.

The response to this initiative has been astonishing. Since Barcelona published its six city challenges online, the initiative has received over 50,000 views and more than 100 official submissions. CityMart stated that a benchmark number of views for public procurement contracts of this nature would normally be around 7,000.

Boost for Small Business    

In a country whose economic woes are well documented, this initiative provides a vital lifeline to Barcelona’s small and medium sized organisations. CityMart claim that 98 per cent of all ‘open procurement’ projects listed on it’s website are awarded to small and medium sized organisations.

This is a significant contrast to traditional public procurement tendering practices; where long lists of specifications and pre-requisites along with protracted contract award cycles, rule out all but the largest and most established suppliers from winning public contracts.

When you consider that city and community spending globally accounts for $45 USD trillion a year (yes that’s right…TRILLION!), you begin to get an understanding of the impact this sort of initiative could have for small businesses across the world.

An Engaged Community

It’s not just small business that benefits from the new model Barcelona has implemented. The project is making huge progress in improving community engagement. The city defines its problems in conjunction with its citizens, encourages these citizens to suggest solutions, and then uses tax payer funds to provide a work space from where these problems can be solved.

If that’s not effective community engagement, we don’t know what is. The project’s tagline is ‘Open for business. Open for innovation’ and it certainly holds true.

While opening a city’s problems up to the public certainly encourages innovation, community engagement, and supports small business, it’s important not to overlook the financial benefits these projects can create.

Global consultancy firm McKinsey has estimated that city governments can reap savings of up to 10 per cent by opening up procurement contracts and leveraging innovative community based problems solving.

Don’t tell your suppliers specifications…ask them for solutions

All procurement teams can learn something from the work that is happening in Barcelona. Procurement professionals could all benefit from being a little less prescriptive in telling suppliers what it is they want. The power is in admitting that these teams alone can’t possibly come up with the best solution to every business problem they face.

But how can professionals possibly know what they want when they don’t know what’s out there? By admitting their ignorance and opening up problems to more people, it is possible to leverage the vast creativity and innovative power that lies within communities.

So move your discussions away from specifications and prescriptive statements of work, be more creative and stop telling people what you want and start asking for solutions.

Braving the Cross-Cultural Humour Divide

Humour can help to diffuse tension, break the ice or create camaraderie. However, frequently humour can get lost in translation when crossing the cultural divide.

After Christmas I enjoyed a short holiday on the Great Ocean Road, Victoria with my family. As we were enjoying a walk along one of the many beaches I couldn’t help but overhear a largely Asian tour group meandering along the beach close by.

I overheard the tour guide tell a joke. To me the joke sounded quite amusing, but judging by the immediate reaction (or rather lack of) of his tour group, not many other people did! Aside from a few polite giggles there was mostly silence and looks of confusion. My immediate thought was that people probably didn’t understand the joke. Maybe there were language and accent difficulties, humour differences, etc.

Cross-Cultural Challenges

Humour across cultures is very difficult. Aside from the lack of a shared background, there are many subtle nuances, common phrases and local references in humour and joke telling that can very easily fall flat when told to foreigners.

When we engage in humour, we unconsciously make assumptions that our audience/s are similar to ourselves and will therefore receive the humour in a manner that we intend it to be heard.

There is no doubt that communicating humour is one of the most difficult cross-cultural communication challenges that exists. In countries such as Japan, humour rarely crosses hierarchical borders and wouldn’t be appropriate in formal contexts; in other cultures such as Australia, humour can be appropriate in these settings and viewed as a means of reducing tension and balancing power inequities.

Humour Tips

So how do we know if our humour will be received as funny, misunderstood or offensive in the context of no shared knowledge and background with our audience? Here are some basic guidelines:

  • It is essential that you have a high level of cultural and language awareness, sensitivity and understanding
  • As a general guide, I recommend avoiding sarcasm and jokes, rather wit and self-deprecation can often be safer options
  • Observe others – how they deliver and receive humour. Take note of the context, seniority, facial expressions, body language, etc.

I often remind my expat coaching clients that when they find themselves understanding local humour and sharing in it, they are well on their way to true cultural immersion.

Although there are cultural barriers to the shared understanding of humour, keep in mind that even within our own cultures what is considered funny and not funny vary enormously. I admired the tour guide I mentioned earlier because although his joke may not have received many laughs, he was brave enough to have a go. I would guess that he probably had some insight that the content couldn’t be offensive and was making a genuine attempt to create a relaxed, light-hearted environment for the group.

While we need to be cautious when using humour in cross-cultural settings, I urge you to not be too discouraged because humour can be a great way to build relationships and begin to really understand your cross-border colleagues and clients.

Think Quality Over Price When Purchasing Corporate Uniforms

Price isn’t the most important element of a uniform negotiation, according to a disruptor in the Australian uniform industry. 

An award-winning Australian uniform market disrupter has urged procurement professionals to think twice when considering haggling on price for the company’s corporate attire.

Melbourne’s modern uniform manufacturer, Cargo Crew, reveals that while procurement is far more than just being about price these days, some negotiations start and finish with price and deadline requirements. Other procurement professionals appear to be more progressive in their approach, treating the transaction as a partnership rather than a mere supplier by looking for ways to cement a strong relationship from the outset.

Choosing Quality

“We’re dealing with procurement professionals in increasing numbers, and want to help them understand the benefits of a quality uniform, which has the potential to transform the entire image of an organisation overnight,” client service director, Narelle Craig, says.

“You should never under-estimate the importance of the corporate uniform when you’re next in the market for an upgrade.

“When it comes to uniforms, price should not be the most important factor. We use audited factories to manufacture our product line, have ethical certifications not to mention using the highest quality materials and a client care team, and all of that comes at a cost. But it delivers huge value to an organisation, and removes a lot of the headaches felt by procurement professionals who have countless things to consider when ordering a uniform,” Craig says.

By choosing a quality uniform, procurement professionals are saving their company money in the long term. This is because they don’t have to replace their uniforms as often, saving the resources to coordinate re-ordering uniforms, and lessens the number of staff complaints that their uniform isn’t wearing well.

‘Fashion-Forward’ Uniforms

Cargo Crew was launched in 2002 by Craig’s sister, Felicity Rodgers, who as a fashion designer noticed a gap in the market for fashion-forward uniforms.

The business has flourished since launching its first range of Denim uniforms in 2012. Cargo Crew has dressed growing numbers of corporate Australian and New Zealand organisations including staff at Renault, Freedom Australia, ME (the bank), Dulux Group and SkyBus.

Comfort, the breathability of the fabric, attention to details such as longer length tees and shirts so staff can reach comfortably in the line of duty is paramount, Rodgers says.

“A uniform completes an organisation’s corporate story and reflect what the business stands for. Staff need to feel really good about what they wear, and again, that comes at a cost. Procurement people need to keep in mind the style, look and image they want to reflect in their brand,” Rodgers says.

“We set out to create a uniform brand that not only filled a gap in the market, but also excited and engaged our audience.”

The business is also investing heavily in operations under the watchful eye of Paul Rodgers (Felicity’s husband), who is focused on business efficiencies such as warehousing space, online ordering platforms, reporting and client management.

Cargo Crew Team

The Cargo Crew Lead Team (l-r): Paul Rodgers, Felicity Rodgers, Narelle Craig

Direct to Client Sales

Cargo Crew differs from other uniform suppliers in that it cuts out the middle man, selling a retail-quality product direct to the client rather than to a wholesaler to on-sell.

The business won the 2015 Telstra Australian Small Business of the Year Award for developing a product range with flair usually lacking in the wardrobes of corporate Australia. The Telstra Award comes on the back of 44 per cent overall sales uplift year-on-year and a growing number of corporates interested in their product, which boasts 60 variations.

In the past six months, the company’s stock holding size has grown six times. The world is sitting up and taking notice, too, with interest and orders coming from Italy, USA, UK, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Sweden, France and more.

The emphasis on style has seen the Melbourne-based business with an online store transform the modern uniform since the company launched 14 years ago. Cargo Crew now employs 18 staff.

“We’ve noticed both small and big competing businesses try to mimic our style, brand and product range, which is actually a big compliment, but of course brings its own set of challenges to the table that we’ve had to deal with.”

Cargo Crew has increased the partnerships it has, expanded its range, held a pop-up event in Sydney and even started its own publication, The Crew Review. It also has plans under way to develop a new division of the business for corporate clients, soon to be announced.

Passion from the Podium – 7 Speaking Tips for Procurement Pros

Apparently, the old underwear trick doesn’t work anymore.


Last year my son confided in me his nervousness about making a speech at his school assembly. I shared the old tip “pretend they’re all wearing just their underwear”. He replied, “Mum, that’s even scarier!”

And he’s probably right!

Public speaking is one of the most terrifying prospects we mortals face.

In my experience, there are just a few essential ingredients to becoming a screaming success on the stage. Here are my top public speaking tips for procurement professionals.

1. Talk about what you love – A lesson I learnt very early in my career was to only talk on topics you really know well, are comfortable with, and – ideally -passionate about.

Let me return to my (then) 8-year-old son’s school assembly presentation. He insisted that his topic was “Piranhaconda” (which, in case you missed it, is the sequel to the much better known “Sharktopus”). Both are B-grade (at best) movies that involve a lot of terribly clichéd, semi-clad, screaming women and tough guys with guns/missiles. Get the picture?

At the risk of being personally embarrassed at his selected topic for this highly competitive, academic audience, I encouraged him to talk about what he loved…(a movie about crazy hybrid animals) and he did a sterling job. Barely referring to his notes, he spoke with passion and was rewarded with a glowing review in the weekly newsletter (phew!).

My point here is, that no matter what your topic, if you talk about something you know and love, you are going to do a much better job. Your audience will be so much more appreciative if they feel passion coming from the podium.

So, spare the time to really think about your topic. Uncover and share where your real enjoyment is generated from. It may not be the technical details of your new eProcurement system or contract management process, but more about how you managed your team, and managed the change.

2. Also talk about the BAD stuff – A stalwart of my inner-circle procurement community is Santos’ CPO, David Henchliffe. He’s always encouraging The Faculty’s Roundtable members to share “when things go wrong”.

The quote “we learn from our mistakes” could not be truer. A mistake shared is a community lesson learnt. Everyone benefits. Sharing your failures also supports your authenticity as a leader. If you can show your vulnerability and humility you become a lot more accessible to people. Plus, let’s face it – nobody’s ever going to believe that your project/learning process was as perfect as some presenter would have us believe.

Tell your audience you overcame adversity – tell them how your number one supporter stabbed you in the back, tell them how your funding floundered, complain about moving goal posts, how your supplier stalled at the gate – your audience will love it! Why? Because (of course) this is their world too!

3. Write it down. That’s right – commit the whole darn thing to paper or screen! Why? Because it’s the only way you can guarantee you have really worked through your thinking. Many years ago, I remember hopping onto the stage with my dot points, confident in my subject matter, only to make a less than optimum impression when I ‘um-ed’ and ‘ah-ed’, circled back on previous points, and then took 200 words to say what I could have said in 20.

Writing out your whole speech gives you the opportunity to really think through your structure and how you want to effectively make your points. You can make your dot points from there and throw all the detail away once you’re clear about your speech.

Of course, the other MAJOR advantage of committing your thoughts to paper is that you can then fashion it into a blog, post it immediately on the day of your speech (ideally – exclusively on Procurious!), and encourage people who connect with or follow you to read and reflect on your thoughts. In this way, not only are you communicating to those in the audience, but you are also ‘amplifying’ your views through social media. A very nice ROI on your time!

4. Jettison the Jargon – Like you, I have sat through way too many procurement presentations that are strikingly similar in both their content and delivery. If we are going to individually and collectively ‘spice it up’ and enthuse our profession, we need to create a bit of a stir with our language and choice of vocabulary.


Because people stop listening when they hear repetition. You need to keep them listening by using different words and terms that make them think about what you are saying.

5. Make it Visual – Story-telling is now a well-accepted formula for successfully communicating a message. Use it! Kill the PowerPoint – it sends your audience into a semi-comatose state where they are more focussed on the timing of your next slide change, than what you’re actually saying. Use emotive and unusual photographs and infographics (that people can read from the back of the room).

6. Practice, Practice, Practice – I was surprised to read in the book “Talk like Ted” that the best Ted Talkers have rehearsed their speeches up to 200 times. They practise with friends, colleagues, anyone who will listen. And it’s not just about delivery, it’s about fine-tuning the words they use and simplifying them as much as possible to gain clarity. They write and re-write their presentations to ensure they are communicating what they really mean.

7. Make it quick – “Talk like Ted” also insists that speeches should be specifically 18 minutes only! Apparently that’s the magic number for giving your audience enough, but not too much, information! Audiences today are growing more and more used to the sound bite. Leave your audience wanting more, rather than being bored and switching off.

So there it is! Good luck with your next speaking engagement – I look forward to feeling the passion coming from the podium!

Will Amazon Over-Stretch Its Supply Chain with ‘Dash Replenishment’?

Back in March last year, when Amazon announced its ‘Dash’ button service, many people thought it was an early April Fool’s joke. As it turned out, the online giant was completely serious.

The first Dash devices went live this week and, although currently there are only a small number of products available with Dash Replenishment, it’s clear that Amazon has plans to expand its range and deliver another service that promises to disrupt and change the way we shop for frequently used goods.

Dash Button Partners

For those of you who don’t know, the Amazon Dash Button is a wifi-enabled electronic device, aimed at making re-ordering commonly used consumables and household goods easier. Each Dash Button is unique to a specific product, and when the button is pushed, an order is placed for that product through the user’s Amazon shopping app.

The Dash Buttons exist in two formats. First, the Buttons are built into electronic equipment (think printers, washing machines, etc.) and are used to reorder consumables specifically for that equipment. The second format are buttons, sold individually, for specific products (washing powder, toilet roll) that users can leave in convenient places around the house to assist with their shopping.

To begin with the Buttons will only be available on request to Amazon customers who are already registered for Amazon Prime. Once requested, customers will then link the Buttons to their existing accounts.

To date, Amazon has announced Dash deals with a number of electronics manufacturers, including Samsung, Whirlpool and Brother, as well as with large FMCG organisations like P&G, for products like Tide and Bounty.

Supply Chain Pressure

It is a testament to Amazon’s willingness to push the boundaries of their business model that they would even try this sort of service. Not known as a site where household items are commonly purchased, Amazon are looking to leverage their experience in current activities and try to change our shopping habits. Again.

However, some experts have warned that Amazon might be putting too much pressure on their service management systems and supply chain by introducing another service that is built around fast delivery and high levels of customer service.

With an increasing number of customers using Amazon’s Prime next-day delivery service, the launch of Amazon Prime Now one-hour delivery in some cities around the world, not to mention the roll-out of Prime Now Restaurant delivery in some American cities, it’s not difficult to see where issues may arise.

Neil Penny, product director at Sunrise Software, comments: “Amazon’s Dash Replenishment is the retail giant’s foray into instant gratification and user convenience, with the model using connected devices to potentially provide limitless access to products while also removing any effort from the user themselves.

“However, the more seamless and predictive a service appears, the more work must go on in the background to meet these mounting expectations. While the idea is great on paper, it is questionable how realistic it will be for most firms with their current fulfilment strategies.”

Customer Expectations

As with anything else that Amazon does, customer expectations will be high. The retailer will have to work hard to ensure that the expectations are met for both product availability and delivery times.

In order to make sure that this venture succeeds, Amazon will have to work closely with its own service providers and supply chain to ensure that the products currently available under Dash Replenishment are available when required, and that the service providers can meet deadlines for stock delivery, delivery capacity and order prioritisation.

And should the current model succeed, it may see Amazon expand the products available, both for the inbuilt and individual buttons, as well as having other companies follow suit with their own products.

Penny states, “While Amazon’s new service is launching with products like print and washing supplies, the automatic model is likely to see widespread adoption across other companies and industries in the next few years.  With IoT-enabled devices becoming increasingly more commonplace, more firms will come under pressure to adopt similar approaches.

“Being able to keep track of the complex web of suppliers and service level agreements and respond to demands quickly will be an absolute requirement for any service provider hoping to keep up with demand.”