SAP Ariba LIVE – Day Two In Amsterdam and Procurement With Purpose

The second day of Sap Ariba LIVE in Amsterdam didn’t start well with a 4-mile coach journey from hotel to conference which took 51 minutes because of traffic – all those bikes really get in the way! It was a very full day, although to my regret I had to leave at 5pm so missed the evening social event, which no doubt we will hear about from others at a later date.

However, even without the evening celebrations to feature, there was plenty to report on. Personally, my contribution came as a panel member for the discussion about “Procurement with purpose”.  This is a major theme for SAP Ariba at the moment, and we have written a White Paper on the topic, which will be available for you to download and read very soon.

The panel was chaired by the indefatigable James Marland from Ariba, who spoke at our pub debate last summer. The other panel members were Tifenn Dano-Kwan, the CMO for SAP Ariba, plus Susan Scott-Parker, the founder of Business Disability International.  Scott-Parker has had many years’ experience supporting people with disabilities and linking them with the world of business. More on that when we launch our paper anyway.

Earlier, SAP Ariba VP Andreas Wagner and three colleagues demonstrated some of the new highlights of the product. The firm is promoting a new user interface, and the way AI is playing a greater role in the look and feel of that – for instance, so the system can “recognise” users and show them information that is relevant to their jobs, even prioritising tasks and laying out the dashboard to reflect that.

Wagner also said that what the system puts in front of users should be not just easy to use but also “interesting” – so news stories around a particularly category or group of suppliers for instance might be an example of that. That might assist during a sourcing process, perhaps providing insight about sector mergers and acquisitions which could reduce competitive pressure, and there is also increasing focus on providing information in areas such as diversity, modern slavery, sustainability and similar issues. (The user can also jump from sourcing straight into analytics too to look at spend, current or past contracts, etc).

Improvements on the supplier side are significant too. They can now login using Google or Microsoft, and using a very user-friendly interface, can give colleagues access to the RFP and allow them to feed information into the proposal. The supplier-side dashboard also brings up interesting information e.g., information about past business and performance related to the client. They can even check market pricing (for commodities at least) and compare that with their own previous bids – this supplier angle looked very neat, we must say.

Guided buying is moving forward, and we spoke to a couple of real live CPOs who are having good experiences with it in their organisations. Again, it can play into the procurement with purpose agenda – for instance, suggesting to users which suppliers to use if they want to support initiatives such as placing a certain amount of business with minority owned firms, or supporting suppliers with accreditations. The system can even include “motivational stories” about the suppliers and their work.  

The final part of the plenary session was a panel with three of the SAP Ariba partners; implementation / integration firm Apsolut, Celonis (whose Process Mining is "an intelligent big data technology that analyzes and visualizes every process in your company") and Semantic Visions, a risk management firm that analyses news, detects external threats, and provides actionable intelligence on risk. Their content comes from 600,000 sources, they say, and we should take a closer look at them at some point.

One of the noteworthy comments from that session was this – “after an implementation, if you ask what the client would do differently next time, everyone says “put more effort into change management””.  So, remember that …

Another point we took from that session and indeed others is the way SAP Ariba is becoming more open to working closely with partners like these across a number of areas, and we’ll come back to that topic when we do a round-up of the event – look out for that early next week. And we’ll tell you more about our Procurement with Purpose paper very soon too.

It’s a shame we must miss day three (as well as the party) but it’s been a worthwhile and interesting couple of days – and everything suggests SAP Ariba are motoring ahead strongly from a business, customer and technology point of view.

 

 

 

First Voice

  1. Paul Howard:

    ‘Put more effort into change management’. An interesting one this, it’s exactly the same message that we (in the OGC eProcurement team of the day) could have had pasted on one of those banners pulled by airplanes and flown across every modern city in the world back in 2004. It seems that no matter how many times it gets said, it’s still doesn’t get the attention it deserves, nor the required resource thrown at it. Could it be that the level of change management effort required, if properly resourced, could have a negative impact on the business case to move to the new technology? Would it then make it ‘marginal’ or worse, not viable at all?

    It’s interesting that clients are still saying that about change management, after all these years, you’d think by now that this had been done enough times that lessons would have been learned and a full understanding gained of the level of change required and plan accordingly, or that the solution providers could provide more practical support as part of their offering.

    Or maybe we’re just destined to go around in an eternal time loop………

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