The rise of the digital conference

The digital delegate and rise of the virtual summit

Much has been said about the rise of the digital economy continues, with organisations such as Airbnb and Uber cited as major disruptors in their industries. In business eLearning and social media are changing the way we learn and network. Are conferences next in the digital revolution?

The rise of the digital conference

As organisations become more geographically dispersed and look to reduce costs associated with meetings and conferences, webinars and virtual meetings have become much more common. Websites like Go To Meeting and Any Meeting allow anyone in the world to set up a webinar and connect with others without having to leave their desk.

Upgrade your presentations

And it’s not just meetings either. Presentations can be given a new lease of life by having them in a virtual environment. Presenters don’t have to stand up in front of a room of strangers, polls and surveys can be done in real time to provide instant feedback and by linking a hashtag to the meeting, the conversation can continue on social media.

Are Conferences Next?

So we come back to our original questions – are conferences next in the digital revolution? The technologies exist to allow this to happen. Google+ Hangouts on Air is just one of them. The service allows individuals and organisations to schedule content for broadcasting and subsequently publish the videos on YouTube.

Add to this the ability to have interactive conversations in real time, control who sees what and add banner advertising, and this becomes a real opportunity for reaching a wider audience. And to top it all off, the service is free.

It makes sense for conferences to investigate how to leverage technologies like this to expand their audience. Conversations can start before the event, speakers can get all the questions in advance (saving the awkward silence as everyone lets others go first in the Q&A) and social media can track thoughts and opinions long after the event has finished.

And this is what Procurious intends to do in April this year.

Big Ideas Summit 2015

Procurious is throwing open the doors to the world’s first digitally led conference for the procurement profession – Procurious Big Ideas Summit 2015. Planned as a unique think tank event, our Big Ideas Summit will draw on 40 of the world brightest minds from established thought-leaders, senior business leaders and commentators to discuss outside-of-the-box cost solutions.

The aim of Big Ideas is to inspire a new generation of business intrapreneurs to drive innovation and change in large organisations. Structured around three topics – RISK, PEOPLE and TECHNOLOGY – the event aims to change the world’s mind about cost and tease out solutions that will drive competitive advantage, agility in unstable markets and long-term value for organisations.

All the ideas and content will be amplified through Procurious. We’re welcoming more than 4,500 procurement professionals from across the globe to submit questions to speakers in advance as well as tune in, learn and participate in real time.

How you can take part

It doesn’t matter where you are in the world – we want you to help shape the agenda – register your attendance at our Procurious Big Ideas Summit Group.

You can also submit your questions on Twitter by tweeting us here: @procurious_ #BigIdeasSummit2015.

As a ‘digital delegate’ you’ll also be able to access a rich collection of supporting material including; articles, interviews and video content post 30 April.

For more information about the day head on over to our bespoke event site: http://www.bigideassummit.com.

Meanwhile, here’s what’s happening elsewhere in the world (we promise you it’s conference-free!)

Fast-fashion retailer Cotton On gears up for expansion

  • Cotton On Group has revealed plans to add 227 jobs in Australia and overseas this year as the Geelong-based value fashion retailer embarks on another expansion phase aimed at maintaining its five-year record of 20 per cent-plus sales growth.
  • Cotton On Group’s sales are forecast to rise 22.5 per cent in 2015 to $1.51 billion and the privately owned company is budgeting for 20 per cent-plus growth in 2016 by opening more than 100 stores and expanding e-commerce with new online sites, improved digital content and click and collect options.
  • COG, wholly-owned by Mr Austin and Ashley Hardwick, usually shuns publicity however have agreed to ‘lift the lid” and answer what they feel is unwarranted criticism of its supply chain and employment practices. It has a fully vertically integrated direct sourcing model and fast replenishment systems that rival those of global fast-fashion chains such as Inditex’s Zara, Sweden’s H&M and the Arcadia Group’s Top Shop.
  • Products are designed by a team of more than 60 designers and trend forecasters based at the global headquarters in North Geelong and at four hubs overseas. Products are manufactured by 170 suppliers at 330 factories, mainly in China and Bangladesh, and are sent two to eight weeks later, depending on the category, to seven distribution centres in Melbourne, Brisbane, South Africa, China, Singapore, California and New Zealand.

Read more at BRW.com

Supply chain threatened by ‘perfect storm’ as talent leaves industry

  • The global supply chain is heading for a perfect storm of rising demand, an ageing workforce, expanding skillset requirements, faculty shortages and an image problem, according to a white paper sponsored by DHL Global Forwarding.
  • Similar to the acute shortage of truck drivers blighting the US and Europe in particular, the gap between demand and availability of supply chain professionals is only going to get worse, states the report, with between 25 per cent and 33 per cent of the workforce “at or beyond retirement age”.
  • The white paper, entitled ‘Solving the Talent Crisis’, is based on research by Lisa Harrington, a senior research fellow at the Supply Chain Management Center, University of Maryland. It is specifically focused on the burgeoning automotive sector, where the problem is arguably more acute, but should be required reading for every supply chain executive.

Read more and download the white paper at The Loadstar

Scotland’s oil and gas supply chain sees ‘record’ sales

  • Sales from Scotland’s oil and gas supply chain grew by 11 per cent to a record £22.2bn in 2013, according to figures released by Scottish Enterprise. The sector recorded sales of about £7bn through international subsidiaries, up from £6.3bn in the previous year.

  • Direct exports from Scotland grew by 13 per cent over the same period, reaching a total of £4.2bn. Domestic sales for Scottish-based supply-chain firms were also up, from £9.9bn to £11bn.

  • North America continued to be the top region for international sales, followed by the Middle East and Asia Pacific.

  • Singapore, Qatar, the Netherlands, Iraq and the UAE all joined the top 10 country rankings for international sales during the year.

Read more at BBC.co.uk

Sports Direct responsible for fifth of all zero hour contracts in retail sector

  • Sports Direct is responsible for employing nearly one in every five workers in the retail and wholesale sector on a zero hours contract, official data suggests.
  • The revelation comes as a senior employment lawyer warned that the company, owned by the billionaire Mike Ashley, may have broken rules on consultation by giving staff at its USC fashion house only 15 minutes’ notice before they lost their jobs on 13 January.
  • The retailer’s chairman, Keith Hellawell, was grilled by MPs last week over the collapse of USC, which left 83 redundant.
  • He was also questioned about the company’s use of zero hours contracts. Sports Direct employs  nearly 15,000 on terms that guarantee no set hours each week. Mr Hellawell claimed that Sports Direct uses the contracts no more than any other retailer, but data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) appears to cast doubt on this.

Read more at Independent.co.uk

‘Made in UK’ electrics firm hits £5m mark

  • Tapping into the new found popularity of ‘Made in the UK’ is boosting the fortunes of an Aldridge electronic components specialist. One-LUX, which designs, assembles and supplies LED lighting control solutions, is on course to hit the £5m mark for the first time in its seven year-history after reshoring the manufacture of two new products.
  • “We’ve always designed our products in-house but previously offshored high volume lines to the Far East to ensure we remained competitive against our rivals,” explained Glynnis Murray, who founded the business in 2008. “However, in the last year we had noticed a desire from our customers to buy British made products and this, when combined with demand for shorter lead times, made us consider exploring manufacturing closer to home.”
  • She continued: “Working with the Business Growth Service’s Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS), we mapped out our supply chain requirement and then got signposted to a number of firms who could meet our requirements. “We were pleasantly surprised at how competitive local suppliers were and, combined with the greater control we now have over lead times and quality, is going to be a major bonus as the demand for OMNI-LED and UNITY-LED will be significant.

Read more at Business Quarter