At SAP Ariba LIVE Wednesday, the main stage presentation featured an overview of the 2017 Ariba Network roadmap, during which the SAP Ariba team surveyed multiple areas it is investing in that will be delivered throughout 2017. Certainly more so than before, the Ariba Network really is at the core of SAP Ariba’s functional and enablement strategy going forward, including applications and partner apps that will eventually begin to blur the line with functionally-oriented modules that SAP Ariba also sells.
The Conferences Category
The future of the Ariba Network is arguably the future of SAP Ariba. As more content, intelligence and capability shifts into not just the cloud but the space between companies, network and platform-based connectivity will become increasingly important for procurement and suppliers alike. Connectivity is even now forming the basis of competition in the procure-to-pay market, with SAP Ariba competitors like Tradeshift making the argument to potential customers that the platform matters as much — or more — than application capability alone. In a series of posts this week, we’ll tackle the past, present and future of the Ariba Network, as well as the SAP Ariba platform.
SAP Ariba and ConnXus announced a new partnership Tuesday at SAP Ariba LIVE. ConnXus is one of the last remaining independent supplier diversity vendors with any scale, although still a small firm itself. There are only a few hundred people in the procurement industry who have tracked the market for supplier diversity databases and software solutions over the years and know it well. Those familiar with this area know that the road to tapping supplier innovation and managing diversity spend through these tools has been paved with the great intentions of vendors that somehow got sidetracked along the way.
SAP Ariba and Mercado Libre announced Tuesday a partnership in support of regional tail spend and spot buying initiatives for corporate procurement organizations. The coming together of the two providers might seem odd at first glance but makes sense for several reasons.
The VMSA Live conference will be kicking off in Phoenix, Arizona, on April 4 — and I am definitely here beating the drum as a big supporter. This will be my third year attending, and this time I will be a lead contributor in two sessions. Over those three years, I’ve seen number of attendees grow rapidly to an expected 400 this year, and I have seen the unique character of the event shape and solidify. In fact, I’d hesitate to call the event a conference — it’s more like a tribal gathering with many powwows where contingent workforce managers, technology and service providers and workforce suppliers can exchange practical knowledge and experience and learn from one another.
Earlier Tuesday at SAP Ariba LIVE, Dr. Matthias Dohrn, CPO at BASF, outlined his organization’s approach to supplier management using SAP Ariba. He began his talk by sharing one of the best equations we’ve ever heard to refute the notion that technology alone benefits procurement: PP + NT = EPP. Specifically, poor processes (PP) + new tech (NT) = expensive poor processes (EPP)! Dohrn noted during his talk that BASF partnered with SAP Ariba to develop a supplier management capability suited to its needs and processes — which, you guessed it, came before the technology.
SAP Ariba President Alex Atzberger and a number of colleagues took to the main stage at SAP Ariba LIVE Tuesday morning to present an update on SAP Ariba’s operations, products and strategy. The discussions were interspersed with customer stories from procurement executives at Johnson & Johnson, BASF and Nielsen. Also, Resilinc CEO Bindiya Vakil made a brief appearance to talk about her firm and the evolution of supply risk management.
At the analyst session that marked the start of SAP Ariba LIVE Monday, SAP Ariba President Alex Atzberger kicked things off by sharing a few numbers and observations on what’s trending within SAP Ariba and its customer base. Here are some of the points in his talk.
SAP Ariba LIVE Dispatch: SAP’s Procurement Transformation, Ariba AI, Direct Procurement, FreeMarkets Alumni and More
Pierre Mitchell, Xavier Olivera and I arrived in Las Vegas Monday for the start of SAP Ariba LIVE. We’ll be bringing you both live and more detailed coverage from the event in the coming days and weeks, including a deeper look of where SAP Ariba is headed on Spend Matters PRO. After landing yesterday, I rushed into a number of end-of-day activities. The first stop was an interview with Marcell Vollmer, SAP’s former CPO. Marcell shared his history at SAP and the story of his firm’s own procurement transformation.
Spending the last 24 hours surrounded by design and cost engineers has taught me quite a bit about operations beyond procurement and supply chain management. Those in the buying and sourcing profession often spend a lot of time thinking about cost, and they sometimes get a bad rap for it. But based on my discussions with attendees, it’s clear to me that procurement is far from the only organizational unit worried about helping revenue get to the bottom line.
Yet procurement struggles with its image: it’s slow, it’s a roadblock to progress, it’s not knowledgeable enough to be valuable in new product development. The practitioners in attendance at Cost Insight, however, have worked doggedly to change perceptions such as these at their firms — to great success, in many cases. Here are three insights for procurement I’ve gleaned from various sessions.
The background music at this morning’s introductory session to aPriori’s Cost Insight conference said it all: “Never get fooled again.”
Manufacturers big and small waste time and money iterating on product designs, and the gap between “should cost” models and real total cost of ownership (TCO) is known to many procurement groups. But a growing openness to product cost management processes and tools, aPriori says, should end this confusion once and for all.
That’s not just the provider’s narrative either. With 65 companies in attendance this year at Cost Insight, the desire for better platforms for new product development, cost management and supplier collaboration is clear.
Pierre Mitchell and I recently attended Icertis’ customer advisory board meeting in Seattle, where Pierre spoke about trends in the contract lifecycle management (CLM) solution space. Pierre’s speech quickly turned into a lively interactive session, one I figured readers of Spend Matters would want to listen in on. After Pierre first stressed the foundational concepts of contract management in procurement, we dug into when companies hit the “breaking point” that caused them to adopt a CLM solution.