Procurement Summit in Berlin – Purchasing is more than Big Data

This year’s Procurement Summit took place in Berlin on 29 and 30 September. Approximately 800 participants gathered in the halls of Station Berlin to discuss current topics in procurement and present innovative solutions. My quintessence after two days in Berlin: a lot can be done with data if it is available in high quality, but good procurement lives from innovative buyers.

I have been attending trade fairs and events for buyers for more than 15 years. The exchange of ideas, the presentation of projects and tools have always been and will always be an enrichment. Therefore, I am a friend of such events. However, the great added value for me is the network that has expanded from trade fair to trade fair over time. You get to know each other, meet again and exchange ideas.

For reasons of space, this year’s Procurement Summit took place in Berlin and not in Hamburg as before. After 1.5 years, it was finally a face-to-face event again. Because, as I already said, the direct exchange is one of the most important reasons for me to attend. And it felt good, even with the necessary distance. The content focus of the contracts and discussion rounds can be summarised with the heading’s digitalisation, sustainability, and transformation, not surprisingly, but also the current focus in purchasing. However, it was also apparent in the discussion rounds that one focus was missing: security of supply. An operational topic that is currently tying up a lot of resources in many purchasing departments.

The event was rounded off with a total of 26 start-ups that either presented their solutions or were represented with a stand. Start-ups are always a good indicator of future topics for purchasing. And here, too, one could identify focal points. AI in the transition from operational to strategic purchasing, sustainability, and data analysis. The use of AI as a basis for decision-making, e.g., in awarding contracts, is becoming increasingly intelligent and learns with every use case. The results of tenders can thus be transferred even better into award decisions. This is certainly a great help for purchasing, especially in the case of recurring, frequently conducted tenders. Transparency and management of sustainability in relation to CO2 emissions and supply chain legislation will increasingly occupy purchasing in the future and supporting software tools will play an important and central role in this. Here, too, very interesting solutions are currently being developed. For the interpretation of data and large amounts of data, intelligent software solutions will continue to play an outstanding role in the future. The derivation of measures can only take place based on specifically processed transparency. Data mining, not a new concept, will become a standard tool for individual buyers with the help of the right tools.

So much for the official part. But what was heard between the presentations and partly also in the discussion rounds: Purchasing departments are getting more and more additional tasks without currently being able to handle them and AI only works with good data. Data mining, AI-based award decisions, automated tenders, transparency over the supply chain and CO2 calculation in real time will only work if the data basis is available. I have often heard the sentence in the auditorium: „If we had the data“. A well-known topic. And what is true for established processes is even more true for the new topics in purchasing. It is not surprising that there was no presentation on the real-time calculation of CO2 emissions in the supply chain. Few companies have already started for this, many are still waiting. But one thing is common to all: data collection will be costly and long-term.

My quintessence: a great two days for direct exchange, many suggestions for day-to-day business, but no ground-breaking innovations. How could it be, we lack the data.


Oliver Kreienbrink

Managing Director. ADCONIA GmbH