Is Ariba Reinventing Itself? E-Procurement Vendor Overcomes Historical Legacies

Ariba LIVE took place earlier this month, and while some may dismiss the latest happenings from the vendor that led the charge in creating the e-procurement market as simply trying to keep up with the Joneses (or Coupas), there was actually quite a bit of news announced at the event. And this goes beyond the headlines that suggest Ariba is beginning to assume some product leadership and innovation roles in the broader source-to-pay (S2P) market again.

In a series of posts covering the event, we will tackle what we learned at LIVE and share our analysis of what the announcements mean for Ariba, its customers and competitors. In many ways, Ariba has a hard set of simultaneous battles to fight as it slashes its way to the frontlines of innovation in the S2P battleground again.

These hurdles are almost entirely centered on being one of the initiators of e-procurement to begin with – not a bad legacy to have, but one that can weigh a provider down if it is not careful. Below are some of the challenges that Ariba has been addressing (but not yet with 100% success in all cases, at least in my view):

  • The shift in technology orientation from on-premise to true cloud orientation – and the early movement to platform-as-a-service (PaaS) models
  • The nuances of building a S2P suite with an acquisition and integration strategy (i.e., several codes and data instances) vs. building a S2P suite based on one same code and one data base
  • The cultural and generational change in architecting and designing applications generallly (e.g., business-oriented solutions vs. user-oriented solutions). Don’t underestimate this one!
  • Competitive pricing models (i.e., no supplier fees) that weigh against Ariba in many situations with new prospects and existing customers

However, based on the announcements coming out of LIVE, the discussions we’ve had with those close to Ariba and those who attended the various sessions, it would seem the provider is building on a new direction to overcome at least some or all of these challenges, including broader support for the migration from on-premise Ariba and SAP SRM solutions to the Ariba cloud-based network, by promoting benefits like reduced total cost of ownership, faster innovation change cycles and enhanced user experience. It’s still not a native cloud experience – nor a single instance end-to-end S2P suite built on a common code base – but it’s a step in the right direction.

Stay tuned as our reporting and analysis continues. Up next: going beyond the big announcements.

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