Expectations for Ariba LIVE

I'm headed down to Orlando in a couple of weeks for Ariba LIVE. LIVE is an event I always like, even though it's probably being held in the conference city I dislike the most (Orlando will also be the location for ISM's event in 2011). As I've gotten a lot of questions about Ariba from prospects, customers, consultants, partners and equity research analysts of late, I thought I'd put down my expectations for the event.

Here are some things I'm expecting (or at least have some reason to expect):

  • Vision -- Ariba has sorely lacked market leadership and vision in recent years, opting instead to focus on a business model transition. I'm guessing this will be the year Ariba comes out with a strong and unique vision for both the market and its own solutions and businesses
  • A new, emerging role around the network business -- and networked business models in general -- to clarify, including an expansion of their Discovery and related offerings
  • Announcements suggesting new ways to better leverage the collective insight and intelligence of the Ariba network (including Ariba's own data as well as that of its customers); this may take the form of benchmarking (both process and item/category), commodity/market insights and related shared intelligence
  • Customer chatter (and potentially push back) about how Ariba plans to make money in the future, especially via its traditional network business and supplier fees
  • The potential for an Ariba acquisition announcement at or soon after LIVE (or the outlier for Ariba to be acquired, as some have suggested in the past couple of weeks). I would not be entirely surprised to see product expansion, network expansion, industry consolidation or related plays to kick off a round of M&A activity for Ariba. Even if no announcements are made, we'll be able to read between the lines of transactional activity to come
  • A clearly articulated roadmap and enhancements to supplement Ariba SaaS integration (including SaaS to SaaS and multi-system financials and business application integration for P2P)
  • Anything but incremental enhancements / improvements to current solutions from a functional release perspective (i.e., any leap-frog type product releases)
  • Some stability among channel and SI partners, but not yet a revitalized partner ecosystem truly excited about working with Ariba compared with other providers in the sector. I'm also not expecting a partner ecosystem and SaaS strategy that suggests Ariba has figured out a win/win for partners
  • A better articulation of how Ariba fits within the growing procurement BPO world (i.e., a plan for getting a piece of the action)
  • Potential leadership changes and/or leadership team additions

What are you expecting at LIVE? I'm curious to get perspectives from all sides of the market: customers, partners, consultants, etc.

- Jason Busch

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