Afternoon Coffee: SAP Ariba Announces New Products, Gas Giants Linde and Praxair to Merge

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SAP Ariba went live Monday with four new releases aimed at spurring innovation in the procurement market. The new releases offer support for guided buying, supplier management, supplier risk and direct materials sourcing.

SAP Ariba quietly made what appear to be its biggest product announcements of the year just as December is winding down,” said Jason Busch, founder and head of strategy at Spend Matters. “These four releases appear to be a material step forward for SAP Ariba in bringing innovation to the procurement market once again.

“We’ll be digging into these new releases in January, but our cursory analysis suggests there’s some real innovation in the direct materials sourcing and supply risk solution areas. (Ironically SAP pioneered some of the network capability in the risk area with the original InfoNet product.)

“The direct materials sourcing landscape consists of only a handful of providers, including Directworks and Pool4Tool. SAP Ariba’s entrance should be good for both of these firms, as it will establish credibility for the market in North America.

“In the supply risk management area, the proof will be in the product — and the information it brings. Whether it can compete head-to-head against the likes of riskmethods and others will remain to be seen.

“Ariba is playing catch-up to others such as Coupa in the the guided buying (e-procurement) and supplier management areas. We look forward to dissecting these two new releases, as well, and seeing how they stack up to others.”

A ‘Merger of Equals’

Linde of Germany said Tuesday it had reached an agreement with American rival Praxair to merge, consolidating the world’s two largest suppliers of industrial-gas products. The New York Times reports that merging the companies would create a giant with more than $30 billion in annual revenue and a market capitalization of more than $60 billion.

Wal-Mart to Pilot Blockchain Technology

The “it” technology behind bitcoin is moving out of the world of theory and into practice. Wal-Mart has begun to define data requirements for tracking and tracing pork in China and produce in the U.S., the Wall Street Journal reports, in one of the first major tests for distributed ledger systems outside of the financial services industry.

Modernizing Philly

And finally, news from the public sector: The City of Philadelphia is working to modernize its procurement regulations, which have not changed since 1951. The proposed replacement is a method called “best value,” a practice employed successfully in 18 of the top 20 largest U.S. cities, as well as many states and the federal government.

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