Q&A with Jason Busch: Fall Conference, Future of SAP/Ariba, Tools Integration, and More

Yesterday Jason expounded on what makes Commodity/PROcurement EDGE different from your run-of-the-mill procurement event. In the second part of this Q&A, we cover how SAP/Ariba and the ERP ecosystem will be addressed and what you will learn in the breakout session “Stitching Sourcing, Procurement, A/P, Contracting and Supplier Management Systems Together." Read on!

Sydney Lazarus: How will you structure content at the event to address the future of SAP/Ariba and the ERP ecosystem?

Jason Busch: One of the biggest areas of concern for our readers is SAP/Ariba. For example, organizations that had Ariba Buyer in the past (and still have it) might be happy. But what’s their broader strategy in terms of working with Oracle or PeopleSoft tools? This might seem like the old-hat question in terms of best-of-breed to ERP migration, but in reality, because of the SAP/Ariba deal, it’s coming up as a bigger priority for companies to evaluate. We certainly intend to keep discussing what’s been articulated publicly about the SAP/Ariba pipeline in terms of products and strategy.

There’s also the broader question of talent drain. With Ariba, there’s obviously going to be talent attrition in terms of having employees fully vested and leaving after the merger. We’re seeing it right now. This happens with any acquisition; I don’t want to single out SAP and Ariba. But how that impacts roadmap and products is something people should ask. Ariba was a specialist vendor. SAP is an absolute giant. Together there’s a lot of potential, but also a lot of unanswered questions. So we hope to have a truly objective forum, to share our ideas in addition to what’s been articulated out there. The ERP ecosystem question is equally as important, and we’ll be tackling that as well.

SL: How should procurement and IT think about tools integration in a SaaS/cloud and systems world?

JB: One of the biggest achievements in the last decade in procurement technology has been massive migration, led by Ariba, to delivering software not behind the firewall but essentially running what’s termed multi-tenant instances of the technology in the cloud. What does that mean? Essentially running a shared version of the technology with multiple companies but segmenting the privacy and the database so that information isn't shared.

There are big advantages of this within solution delivery. It’s more streamlined. Customization is replaced by configuration. But at the same time, it makes systems integration more complicated. So how do we get, for example, our e-Procurement systems to talk to our vendor management systems? How do we get our vendor management systems to talk to back-end systems around badging, permissions, even for a contractor to enter our building? And how do we manage those permissions in real-time, where somebody might be a contractor one day and have no affiliation with us the next?

SL: What will the session “Stitching Sourcing, Procurement, A/P, Contracting and Supplier Management Systems Together” cover?

JB: In looking at these different areas, a lot of companies pursue technology investment individually. Maybe they are interested in the suite that ties them together, but especially in looking at areas like contract and supplier management, tools often stand alone. We plan to cover how to iterate the business case for this, and the value of bringing these areas together. It doesn’t mean choosing one suite, but the integration strategy for looking at these together is critical. We’ve been doing quite a bit of writing on procurement information architecture, and we’ll tie that in too. As architects, heads of procurement must think about linking systems together.

Check back next week for the last part of this Q&A, and you can register for our conference here



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