One of the new products that Spend Matters has been most impressed with in the broader procurement and supply chain sector in the past year is SAP Supplier InfoNet (you can read our initial impressions of it in this series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4). Yesterday at Sapphire, we took a quick look at the most recent version of InfoNet, which marks the first GA version. This version, which officially launched today, leverages SAP's HANA (in memory database) technology. It features an expanded set of now 160,000 different news sources (wires, papers, financial, government information, etc.) integrated with both internal (i.e., company) and network supplier performance-related information.
While HANA makes these real-time supplier data mash-ups possible in the latest release of HANA, InfoNet has also focused significantly on simplifying and enhancing the user experience since the first release, especially in how it both presents and restricts information to prevent data overload for the typical user. The front-end presents a very slick, Web 2.0 feel, built entirely on HTML5, while also leveraging Ajax to update screen content dynamically. The combination of the HANA-powered back-end for real-time queries of potentially massive datasets combined with a new presentation layer is unique in the market and will only improve overtime.
SAP shared that one of the use cases resonating most for InfoNet customers and prospects is providing network visibility at all levels of the supply chain (e.g., providing a rapid view into incidents at multiple tiers of the supply chain such as fires at plants or lower tier supply disruptions). However, the unique IP of InfoNet remains the network foundation of the application, and the ability to examine how your own suppliers are performing based on a set of KPIs (e.g., average lead-time, fill rate, on-time delivery, responsiveness to corrective action requests) in the context of broader network performance.
Curiously, Supplier InfoNet is now part of the supply chain group within SAP and not procurement. Commercially, we encourage SAP to still get the word out through its procurement-focused teams with this solution, as most supply risk functions we know in companies are run by former procurement team members (often reporting into finance).
Stay tuned for a much deeper look at InfoNet in the coming weeks.