The Morning After the Night Before
On day 3 the attendees at #SAPAribaLive were split into 2 camps… those with bleary eyes from the previous nights’ fabulous entertainment in Muziekebouw, and those who had retired before the early hours of Wednesday morning future planning for the final few sessions at what has been an amazing event. And come 8:30am the RAI in Amsterdam was again packed with pockets of discussions, demonstrations and enthusiasm.
Before the daily sessions started I was able to visit some more of the sponsors in the Market Place and meet with the experts I have been working with over the last 12 months. It was really nice to see their hard work being rewarded too with awards for SAP Ariba Partner of the Year accolades going to both ExceleratedS2P and apsolut as well as to Accenture for their continued excellence in the field and strong implementation expertise to clients across EMEA.
Fireside Chat – The Future of Procurement
It was a real pleasure to attend the sit down between Amina Anderson (Director of Sourcing and Procurement Research at SAP Ariba) and Marcell Vollmer (Chief Digital Officer at SAP Ariba). Amina posed some thought invoking questions and Marcell engaged the audience brilliantly in his ability to speak with a clear vision about where the future of procurement must head in order to help companies transform their digital strategy to the fullest.
We learned that the emerging technologies geared up to forever disrupt procurement are abundant, and the Internet of Things (IoT) is currently the main technology already in use. When questioned, 83% of participants in a recent study said that digital procurement was considered important to them, however, only 5% would consider themselves to have mastered this, which leaves an incredible chasm between those who want to embrace emerging technologies and those actually have. In the future, people want to integrate innovations such as robotics process automation, machine learning and AI. But what Marcell felt particularly strongly about is Blockchain (and this is an area that if you haven’t done already then you will come to hear a lot more about throughout 2018). Vollmer suggested that General Ledger with Blockchain will transform the way in which you can drive safer transactions and will become the most disruptive technology in the future.
“Blockchain will be THE MOST disruptive technology in the future”, Marcell Vollmer, CDO, SAP Ariba
SAP Ariba is now investing further in these areas for software improvement (SAP Leonardo combines and consolidates these disruptive technologies), machine learning is already in use – think Guided Buying, etc – and artificial intelligence and cognitive computing will be next as SAP Ariba partner with IBM Watson to help drive processes.
One example is the ability to ask the system a question, and the possibility even exists to do this by voice, and to receive an answer back based on data from the past 12 months (e.g., asking “I want to create a new contract” will provide you with previous contract examples and suppliers you have already used). This improves the ease and speed at which you can complete RFPs for example. The system is also very intuitive, alerting you to important changes (such as payments terms from 30 to 60 days).
Marcell spoke about leveraging data to make us smarter and the process simpler, automating business processes and looking at integrating Alexa into the business space in order to help with this. One concern raised with automating so many business processes is how this will affect jobs… are they safe? Marcell countered this by saying that whilst procurement functions are getting smaller due to more tasks becoming automated, that it is the responsibility of the business to look at change and how we can adjust and create new roles within our companies.
The advancements being made should be seen as positive and are helping us to “Procure with a Purpose”. 3 areas within which SAP Ariba are proud to contribute is (i) driving supplier innovation, (ii) improving risk management and (iii) creating a sustainable supply chain (eradicating child labour from our supply chains in the process). Procurement can be a value proposition that defines the impact we are having on our future (SAP Ariba set up a booth within the Market Place for companies to make a pledge and become a Champion of Change. bluewaveSELECT made our pledge… I hope you did too).
Vollmer indicated that we should be realistic about the speed of how quickly automation will happen, and also look at the number of jobs that are being created because of this change. It is up to us to develop and generate training we need to upskill within our organisations, and there is a vested interest on company leaders to do this for their employees. A large part of change management should focus on this strategy within future thinking businesses!
So we have to agree that procurement has changed significantly over time, and Marcell Vollmer agrees that we should re-evaluate the role of the CPO… perhaps they should re-brand to CCO (Chief Collaboration Officer) or why not go one step further and term it Chief Purpose Officer? The Business Network will undoubtedly play a bigger role in future, and with automation coming in too collaboration will be vital in connecting business partners, buyers and suppliers. We can only be successful through teamwork.
To close out Vollmer had some strong words of advice for anybody thinking about starting their digital journey right now: Think about the vision; what is the role of procurement; how do you see yourself; what role do you want to play; how will you get your people behind the change; how can you transform your vision; what technology is available; digest this; assess the use cases; do the business cases justify your decision; drive change management. There’s that word again… Change Management!
Opportunity for those who work in Digital Procurement
A clear message I received talking to leaders in the Market Place was that they will continue to expand aggressively utilising a model of both external recruitment of highly skilled SAP Ariba Consultants and Managers, as well as actively training and upskilling form within the organisation. Manuel Palanca (Global Head of Advisory at ES2P) described to me how currently ExceleratedS2P are involved in some very interesting Ariba implementation projects internationally, and how in order to offer the best possible service to both existing and new clients they will look to add more resources to their teams to further bolster the consulting services and support offered as they look to build upon the successes of 2017 (recognition from SAP as an Ariba Partner of the Year).
At apsolut (also recipients of recognition for SAP Ariba as Partners of the Year), eProcurement Director Zayd Mauthoor spoke passionately with me about the businesses plans to double in size and revenue by continuing their close relationship with SAP directly and striving for excellence at all levels across true digital procurement consultancy for their clients. Their base in Germany helps tie them strongly to SAP and Zayd believes strongly in not just hiring experts into management roles but in identifying young talent who can take advantage of the opportunity to learn through the support of apsolut becoming our highly skilled consultants of the future. Given the shortage of Consultants with strong skills in the market such as Supply Chain Collaboration and Direct Procurement as examples due to lack of commercial projects in these areas to date Zayd suggests these areas will be desirable moving forwards.
Deloitte echoed the sentiments of ES2P and apsolut, and as a larger Consultancy who have made grand steps in their SAP Ariba offering globally this year the business are also looking to strengthen their practices in all regions. Andrew Smith (Director at Deloitte UK) talked to me about the challenges Deloitte have faced in finding senior level managers who possess the business process understanding combined with product knowledge in digital procurement including around more recent innovations such as Guided Buying and Direct Spend. And it’s clear that for those who do have this experience their will be opportunity for you to capitalise on it! Slimane Gherrab (Manager at Deloitte France) and Frederic Girardeau-Montaut (MD SAP S2P & Ariba Technology at Deloitte USA) were also excited about the future for Deloitte globally as they are involved in bidding and winning more and more projects that will allow them to implement full S2P complex solutions for major brands across 2018 and 2019. The overriding message is that for consultancies… the heavy work load is set to continue to rise, and to accommodate this more talented resources will be required. These resources will either need to be hired into the business from outside (more likely for the senior / niche skilled roles) or trained and promoted from within. Which means for the market it is currently a great time to be involved in SAP Ariba and Digital Procurement.
Wednesday’s General Session – We Must Think Boldly and Embrace Change
With Change being the focal point of the day we learned that we all need to think and act differently because of change. Some leaders elect to think boldly and embrace change, and these are the leaders who are the most successful. Built on authenticity and trust, customers and stakeholders expect us to action work that effects the world in which we live. Essentially, we must both talk the talk AND walk the walk.
P2P 2.0 at Philips
Daniel Laumayer (VP & General Manager EMEA at SAP Ariba) sat down with Albert van Mastrigt (Senior Director Procurement Transformation & Business Process Owner at Philips) who gave us a charismatic explanation of how Philips have embraced change in order to conceptualise P2P 2.0. Stepping out of the shadows of old school procurement buying screens where shopping consisted of scanning lists of data, Albert wanted to bring the Amazon feel to P2P in Philips, whereby a buyer can visually see images of products/services and navigate around the user interface with ease.
His team set about making it their mission to make P2P awesome. Design of P2P 2.0 included making major improvements through selecting SAP Ariba as the partner to build Guided Buying. van Mastrigt explained that when we have a dream, we need to share it with our teams and our family, because when a team dreams together great things can be achieved and great successes can be shared.
Neuroplasticity in Adult Brains enables Continual Change
Amy Bran is a Neuroscientist who strives to make organisations better through game changing neuroscientific insights. Her inclusion in the session was a welcome one of light relief backed up by cutting edge research and out of the box thinking that in fact has a direct correlation to how we operate within the workplace to ensure we facilitate change effectively. With the message of the day being “Leading Change” Amy explained how our brains have the capacity to change continually in our adult life (not just when children as was previously accepted in research). This plasticity in our brains means that we can, in fact, foster change incredibly easily provided that we practice change little and often. This is great news for those who want change in their organisation.
Amy used volunteers from the audience to demonstrate her points as she moved through the topics of brain plasticity, social exclusion, cognition, out of the box thinking and mindfulness – all key areas that we can consider when creating a working environment set up to encourage and facilitate change.
The Final Word from Barry Padgett, President, SAP Ariba
We are all on a journey of transformation and if we want to re-wire procurement then we first need to start with ourselves, our own teams and our unconscious bias. On Monday we explored dreaming big, Tuesday enabled us to look at how we can make these dreams realistic and Wednesday was all about leading change with courage. The concurrent theme that ran deep through the 3 days was that we must ensure we are doing this with purpose. There is power in purpose and power in procurement, and if we all work together then we will ensure that there is purpose in procurement!
Barry Padgett’s final words were to thank every body for coming and to announce that next year SAP Ariba Live will take place in Barcelona between June 4th and June 6th.
SAP Ariba – bluewaveSELECT
If you are planning on beginning your own digital transformation journey and implementing SAP Ariba procurement solutions then it’s important you get it right from the very start. And whether it’s a 12 week low cost out of the box SNAP solution, or a complex fully customised SAP Ariba end to end S2P solution you’ll need to ensure you have the best possible team in place to deliver your project.
At bluewaveSELECT my role allows me to focus solely on sourcing SAP Ariba experts globally. I’ve been fortunate enough to develop relationships with a strong network of the very best SAP Ariba Consultants on the planet and am perfectly placed to help you attract the right people to your own project teams, helping you do this quickly, efficiently and at a low cost to the business.
As such, please feel free to get in touch with me directly for a chat about your needs. Whether you are looking for a complete project team, an individual with a specific niche skill set, or even if you are a consultant yourself looking for your next role or project, I am always happy to network and help #MakeProcurementAwesome
Tyler Watts, SAP Ariba Specialist at bluewaveSELECT
+44 (0) 1423 559 559 / +44 (0) 7738 566 539 / firstname.lastname@example.org