Aside from the fact that, in the words of one of my old friends at LIVE, I "wussied out" last night by going to sleep before midnight, I've got to say that I rather enjoyed the first day of the event (and that’s despite not having a coffee maker in my room, having to pay $20 for the gym and being treated like a criminal when my room key stopped working). But these are small complaints. In the important areas, Ariba is doing a good job showcasing how customers at all stages of maturity are driving -- and showcasing lessons learned -- from their sourcing, LCCS/global trade, transactional/operational procurement, contracting and invoicing/payment programs. On the innovation front, Ariba is playing up a few areas: spend visibility, contract management, EIPP and the network, to name a few solution parts. I've not seen much innovation in the sourcing or core procurement products, but then again, I've not talked to the product managers in these areas yet (although I don’t expect to see many breakthroughs).
Perhaps more important, Ariba feels at home having moved entirely away from a software license model with customers – new customers, especially (these were the exact words I heard from a few sources). I sense a “no going back” sort of mentality with all of the executives and managers I’ve spoken with in regards to a subscription and hosted revenue model. As a final wrap from the first day, one session that I look forward to writing up this week was presented by Robert Kane (Weyerhaeuser) on how best to integrate SAP and Ariba efforts together, leveraging both internal and external resources -- including the vendors -- and having them work together with the goal of implementing the best module/system for particular tasks. It was good stuff, even though I felt that there was even more to the story than Bob could let on. The major lesson in it is that Ariba and SAP resources will work together for the common good of the customer.
Stay tuned for a number of more blog dispatches throughout the day (and the week) and live "Tweets". And thanks to everyone for sharing candid comments and emails on whether or not Twitter is helpful.
- Jason Busch