Ariba News: Product Rationalization, Integration, and Spend Visibility Hot ‘Rodding

At Ariba LIVE last week, Ariba shared the latest about its joint efforts with SAP in spend analysis. We previously covered some of the platform consolidation announcements that occurred on Spend Matters PRO - here’s a snippet (with full links to PRO coverage at the end of this story):

“It is important to understand exactly how quickly the organization has moved to rationalize specific product areas. In less than two quarters since closing the acquisition, SAP has made the following decisions (our analysis of these actions and comparative product capabilities will follow in a forthcoming PRO research and webinar series):

  • Using the Ariba network as a foundation for connectivity between buyers and suppliers. This includes reducing or eliminating an emphasis on other organically developed products (e.g., SAP supplier self service or SUS), partnerships and acquisitions that previously filled this void

  • Selecting Ariba Data Enrichment (ADE) over SAP data enrichment (the product that represented the codified intellectual property of previously acquired asset, Analytics, Inc.)

  • Clarifying overlapping product capabilities and plans not necessarily based on product maturity and functional depth, but primary deployment model. For example, Ariba’s Supplier Information and Performance Management product will become the only cloud offering for SAP/Ariba for supplier management, while SAP Supplier Lifecycle Management will become the on-premise option for supplier management.”

On the subject of combined Ariba/SAP integrated product roadmap, we also observed the following:

“The topic of the Ariba/SAP integrated product roadmap is important enough to warrant a much more detailed look at specific plans, module-by-module and platform-by-platform. In the interim, SAP has articulated to customers and partners that it will focus on the following areas: delivering network value (e.g., “connecting as many commerce applications as possible” into the network, expanding logistics/payment/supply chain capabilities), extending application leadership (e.g., focusing on expanding spend categories, such as services procurement) and improving infrastructure and scalability (which includes leveraging SAP’s underlying in-memory database capability, HANA, in new ways). SAP/Ariba have also focused recently (and will likely continue to do so in the future) on enabling new mobile, analytics and related product extensions in the procurement area.”

Outside consolidation involving Ariba Data Enrichment (ADE) and SAP data enrichment (a topic that there are multiple perspectives on), one less controversial topic is where Ariba and SAP are headed with the analytical front-end components of spend analysis tools and the database supporting queries. In this regard, Ariba announced at LIVE that the 13s1 release of its Spend Visibility solution would be powered by SAP’s HANA database, which “combines transactional data processing, analytical data processing, and application logic processing functionality all in memory” according to SAP.

In short, HANA can make many types of queries blazingly fast. It can also enable other benefits Ariba shared at LIVE, such as the ability to navigate more quickly between analytical and detailed views and drill downs when looking at spend data. It also allows for more rapid generation of user-defined reports and calculations (i.e., greater granularity, flexibility and “drillability” into data). To compare HANA and Oracle database performance for spend analytics, SAP shared some sample findings of query times. For two typical spend analytics, reports, Oracle might be 50X (or more) slower than HANA. For more complex standard reports, this performance gap might rise to 300X or more. Sample reports on off-contract spend, purchase price variance and annual inflation costs, average 100X or faster in terms of speed on HANA.

In other areas of spend analysis product innovation, Ariba recently added the ability to support greater numbers of custom fields to spend visibility tables, which in turn can let users customize queries more granularly. This might include requesting reports on “multi-level cost centers, account and asset data” based on “leveraging custom dimension hierarchies.” Or a user might use such an approach to attach product-specific data to purchase order information in a query, to provide more granular reporting (Spend Matters note: this is a key step in more advanced spend analysis approaches that tie together spend visibility with supplier management for environmental, materials-centric and related compliance-type use cases). At LIVE, Ariba also told attendees to expect user interface improvements in the spend analysis product in the coming 2-3 years and a generally “enhanced user experience.”

Stay tuned as our coverage of some of the top stories continues coming out of LIVE. In the meantime, Spend Matters PRO subscribers can find additional coverage, analysis and customer recommendations in the following research briefs:

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