Posted: Sat 21st May 2016
With 420,000 employees French food services and facilities management company Sodexo is one of the world's biggest multi-national companies. The business procures products and services from thousands of firms including many small businesses.
Technology and digital products is high on Sodexo's agenda and Patrick Forbes, buying director at Sodexo, explains how small technology businesses can get involved.
Patrick is a speaker at the Tech Exchange on 24 May in London. The event matches tech entrepreneurs with big companies looking for solutions. As well as Sodexo you'll hear from Microsoft, O2 Business, Fujitsu and John Lewis plus get advice on how to get into a technology accelerator and tips from tech journalists on how to secure media coverage. Book a ticket here.
Can you offer an indication as to the type of products and services you buy at Sodexo?
As a leading services provider we provide a wide range of services to clients in both the public and the private sector and as such the products and services are vast and diverse. The main areas of our business is in the provision of services such as catering and hospitality; retail and vending; security; waste management; cleaning; helpdesk; landscaping; reception; mailroom; technical FM through to a full integrated facilities management (IFM) offer.
Digital solutions seems to be creeping up your procurement list. Why is that?
It should not be a surprise of the growing demand for digital solutions. We only need to look at our personal lives and the use technology we rely on to enhance this, from Strava, Facebook and ordering our groceries online to the use of our mobile phones to track and manage our activity and lives.
With our clients we are keen to be at the forefront of the digital movement. Tech that can help us really engage with our clients and customers on a one-to-one basis through the services we provide will ensure we attain this goal.
This month Sodexo is launching its own global digital strategy which will outline our plan to use digital solutions to boost our offer to our clients. Procurement's involvement is critical to ensuring the value of digital solutions is aligned with our core values in the provision of quality of life services.
What type of solutions are you after, and for what type of clients?
We're looking for solutions that improve consumer experience, drive our own employee's engagement, achieve efficiency of resource use, and all with a zero harm mind-set.
We have a very diverse client portfolio and the requirements for each will be very different. For example, our corporate clients may be looking for employee satisfaction with the food that we prepare and serve; whereas in our justice business the focus is on helping to reduce reoffending following release from custody.
When you work with a small business supplier in a tech capacity, who retains the IP?
Intellectual property is an interesting topic and something that we have had much debate about, either when we are buying services or providing technology as part of our service offering to our clients.
To simplify things we have a simple approach. If we are buying services then the IP is clearly owned by the tech supplier. Should we be funding tech development, where Sodexo is solely funding tech gain that, if used by a competitor may give competitive advantage, then we would require assurance that our funded IP would not be resold within an agreed period of time.
Does the solution have to be complete when pitched to you, or is there potential to work with a small business supplier to jointly complete the solution and take to market?
Sometimes the best solutions are a concept, an idea or a vision that needs a bit of practical application to reach its full potential.
The use of digital and technology in our industry, particularly where we provide a full integrated facilities management offer, is fairly embryonic (beyond work order management systems and basic KPI data). We would welcome the opportunity to work with a small business to take something to market that can help us really engage with our consumers and help make our quality of life offering something tangible and measurable that shows why we are different within our market.
Patrick is a speaker at the Tech Exchange on 24 May in London. The event matches tech entrepreneurs with big companies looking for solutions. As well as Sodexo you'll hear from Microsoft, O2 Business, Fujitsu and John Lewis plus advice on how to get into a technology accelerator and tips from tech journalists on how to secure media coverage. Find out more here and book a ticket below.