At SAP Ariba LIVE Wednesday, the main stage presentation featured an overview of the 2017 Ariba Network roadmap, during which the SAP Ariba team provided a quick (demonstration) overview of the multiple areas it is investing in that will be delivered throughout they year.
- An update functional interface including new dashboard-driven workflow and visibility for suppliers. When suppliers log into their dashboard, the updated experience not only will provide insight on such areas as open items (e.g., invoices and orders) but also graphical insight into other activities such as open tasks (which can be drilled into) and early payment acceleration opportunities — all front and central visually in graphical format. Our quick impression is that the interface feels more of a “supplier or e-commerce workbench” than a vendor network portal alone.
- “LinkedIn- type supplier profile pages for suppliers to position their footprint, qualifications and capabilities, including past performance/ratings, certifications, contacts and locations. We are guessing that validations (e.g., insurance certifications validated through SAP Ariba partner Global Risk Management Solutions) will flow into this profile view.
- An "app-store" for companies to plug and play third-party (or SAP) capability on top of the Ariba Network in a pre-integrated manner. Examples shared include pre-integrations to ConnXus for supplier diversity, SAP Leonardo for IoT and supply chain considerations, Integro for collaborative supply planning/ staging/orchestration and Freightos for shipping.
- An open platform capability that enables customer or partners to build capability specifically on top of SAP Ariba. This includes SAP Ariba’s new Extension Studio, which represents the next generation (though that tagline does not do it justice) of past SAP Ariba’s form capabilities. It’s visually oriented (for an analyst or business user) with drag/drop capability to build linkages, integrations and workflow. We traded notes with a boutique Ariba consultancy / systems integrator at LIVE that told us it is working with Ariba's platform framework and has developed a template for oil and gas companies (configuration), a template aimed at consumer packaged goods firms ("including ERP transactional supplier performance dashboards") and a "retail template including buying channels with Ariba Guided Buying."
- Direct spend enablement, perhaps the biggest recent enhancement being new Supply Chain Collaboration (SCC) capability. Originally designed for customers in the high-tech manufacturing industry (Microsoft as the co-innovation partner) and pharmaceutical industry (where quality reporting and traceability are connectivity requirements), SAP Ariba is planning to roll out additional support scenarios for this EDI replacement capability throughout 2017 and beyond.
Certainly more so than before, the Ariba Network really is at the core of SAP Ariba’s functional and enablement strategy going forward, including applications and partner apps that will eventually begin to blur the line with functionally-oriented modules that SAP Ariba also sells. It is not yet clear, just yet, what the overall economics of this partner / app model look like for SAP Ariba -- or their customers or partners for that matter. But the move to opening up the Ariba platform and network is clearly underway in earnest.
Spend Matters recommends that customers, potential customers and partners should invest significant time in understanding all that has happened with SAP Ariba not only building new capability on the network but also starting to deliver on the promise of making it open outside of cXML alone — including how they can participate in this emerging ecosystem.
Stay tuned as we continue to take a deeper look at the new face of the Ariba Network in the days and weeks to come.