Last week in Stockholm meant an intensive array of presentations, roundtables and workshops, where some 150 senior professionals in pricing and commercial excellence from all over Europe and North America listened, shared and discussed all that impacts both their industries and their profession at the Vendavo EMEA User Conference.
The event took place in the scenic and historic Münchenbryggeriet on one of Stockholm’s many quays. The venue is located right across the water from the City Hall, where each year some of the brightest minds in the world gather for the exquisite Nobel Prize banquet on 10th December. However, one could certainly argue that the level of innovation, exploration and quest for new thoughts at Münchenbryggeriet for two days in June was on par with that of the gala evening across the water at the opposite end of the calendar year.
The focus of this year’s event was Learn – Shape – Grow, which together symbolize some of the steps towards commercial growth and competitive success that we want to share with our customers and partners.
- Learn – as in learning about Vendavo’s product plans and strategic ambitions, and even more importantly, learning from peers and colleagues in other industries, and how they address the business challenges and organizational hurdles that all large companies have to tackle.
- Shape – as in using these learnings and ideas to help define and evolve business strategies and plans, embracing the ideas and inspirations from the two days in each delegate’ own business development long after the event itself.
- Grow – as in delegates both applying all the different elements of commercial excellence to grow their business, but equally in growing and making use of the amazing network of experts gathered at the conference.
The last bullet is a key component of the user conference, which means that the agenda featured an extensive array of breakout sessions, roundtables and workshops, where the focus was all about the peer-to-peer exchange of ideas between pricing professionals from across businesses, categories and geographies. An equally important component was the dinner cruise on M/S Teaterskeppet into the realms of the Stockholm archipelago. And as this event took place just a few days before the summer solstice – and Stockholm latitudinally being a bit further north than Juneau, Alaska – there were more working hours (or at least daylight hours) at the conference than at any other event in Vendavo’s history.
One of the many highlights of the conference was the keynote speech by futurologist Magnus Lindkvist, who contrasted the competitive world with the creative world. The former is very much a zero-sum game, where one company’s success comes at the expense of others. However, by looking at things differently, embracing diversity as a catalyst and to constantly experiment – with an understanding that you need to accept a constant series of small-scale failures in order to achieve long-term success – you are on your way to repositioning your business and disrupting the category you are in. He also made the important point that the concept of “future” should not be seen as a noun, but rather as a verb. It is not about understanding “the future” but about to constantly try “to future” your business activities, exploring and testing new ideas and opportunities.
The whole notion of change, and the challenges and opportunities that the future holds for businesses, was also evident in the range of roundtable discussions topics. These included: How Industry 4.0 is Affecting Pricing Models; Megatrends Affecting Commercial Excellence – Implications for Pricing Strategies; Mitigating Trade Uncertainties; and Transitioning to Service-based Pricing Models.
Naturally, one of the disruptive factors affecting companies – and a component of many of the presentations and discussions at the User Conference – is the impact of new business models, often fueled by a lower cost of doing business powered by dimensions such as easy access to digital business tools, an abundance of investment capital and a freer exchange of ideas and opportunities. One could easily jump to the conclusion that digitalization, machine learning and artificial intelligence are the answers to these challenges and opportunities. All of these are of course important, but only with the aid and guidance of human expertise and intelligence.
Hence, one of the main take-outs of the event – and indeed of how business needs to evolve – is that it is the balance of expert human intelligence and intelligent technology that is the foundation for future success. Human intelligence without technology does not scale, and technology without human expertise is unlikely to go in the right direction. But combine them and you have the recipe for both growth and the ability to claim your commercial edge.
For more on our 2019 EMEA User Conference, check out this video.