SAP Ariba Live… “The Art of the Possible” – What have we learned From Day 2?

SAP Ariba Live… “The Art of the Possible” – What have we learned From Day 2?

Building the Dream through Digital Experience

Whilst Monday prompted us to “Dream Big”… Tuesday’s message was all about “The Art of the Possible”. That is, as Tifenn Dano Kwan (SAP Ariba CMO) defined, “building the dream through digital experiences”.

The audience in attendance for the first session of the day were treated to a powerful introduction from Spoken Word Poet Marshall Jones who excelled in setting the scene for the topics to come…

…and with a fully engaged audience Andreas Wagner (VP, Head of LoB Procurement, Middle & Eastern Europe) took to the stage to talk about how SAP Ariba allows us to connect the dots between cognition and user experience. We learned that technology is powerful when the experience becomes personal, intuitive and interactively tailored to a specific user; and this is an area that SAP Ariba are continuing to excel in.

Andreas invited Lloyd Keays, Mike Evans and Angela Cain to share the stage with him and demonstrate how SAP Ariba has improved it’s user experience for both the Buyer and the Seller through making the system more intelligent and through better use of big data and AI. And there are some key improvements that are worth a mention.

User Experience for the Buyer

Discussing firstly with Andreas how our newest generation are interacting with technology in a way we simply did not have the capability to when we were younger (for example, mobile phone speech recognition), Lloyd Keays (Global Head of Pre-Sales at SAP Ariba) moved on to how we must replicate this advanced way of utilising intelligence within technology to simplify the buying process. One of the implementations SAP Ariba has carried out on the buyer side is embedding SAP Cloud Analytics into the Ariba News Feed, and this allows the user to receive specifically relevant and interesting information that serves to directly improve the ability to make smart buying decisions (Such as, for example, an immediate update when two of your competing suppliers merge which would have an obvious influence on the bidding process and sharing of information between the companies, which as a buyer you would need to be aware of). In essence, the systems learns from your previous behaviour and ensures you are fully equipped with information at your finger tips to help you fully prepare for important RFPs.

User Experience for the Supplier

From a supplier perspective the intuitive nature of SAP Ariba is just as impressive, as was showcased by Mike Evans (Presales Specialist at SAP Ariba). Mike gave us a demonstration through the eyes of a supplier highlighting improved user experience from single-sign-on for quick responses to an RFP, to use of advanced intelligence to build out the bid team. The consensus is that for a supplier, SAP Ariba systems are increasingly simple and easier than before to operate. The personalised dashboard makes preparation of bids from suppliers more focussed / tailored to what a buyer may be concerned with (for example, the dashboard will alert a bid team to the potential risks a supplier will have been alerted to, allowing the supplier to tailor their bid accordingly to pre-answer any questions a buyer may be harbouring), and ultimately allows a fast RFP response time.

Angela Cain (Sr Solutions Consultant at SAP Ariba) was able to add some additional insight into the systems focussing on how users can utilise intelligent information to selectively work with ethical and diverse suppliers as part of an overall pledge to make the world a better place. With over 1 million people living in slavery and 152 million children pushed into forced labour SAP Ariba allows us to see not just what the supplier is doing, but also how ethical they are, who they trade with, and soon we will also be able to look at who the suppliers’ supplier is dealing with! Shareholders like this, and we are seeing a massively growing diversity agenda for companies globally. With Ariba we can actively choose to do business with a supplier who shares the same ethics as us.

The 4 Pillars; User, Category Manager, Supplier, Shared Services

SAP Ariba want their systems to make life easier, simpler and more intuitive for those using them. Sudhir Bhojwani (CPO SAP Ariba) was clear in his message that feedback on the current model has been largely positive. With Guided Buying having a positive effect on rendering users as “happy” across modules ranging from Sourcing and Contracts through to Risk and Invoicing he noted that Guided Buying has not been so much of a concern for Category Managers. As Bhojwani states, “Category Managers don’t need GB”. They would rather spend time “managing suppliers”. As such, SAP are now working with Category Managers to help them do this and develop a solution. The exception at the other end of the model is the Supplier, however, Suppliers are customers too… and without them… there is no procurement! So SAP Ariba need now to focus on connecting these dots , to switch from a modular experience to a user based experience and to concentrate on a strategy that that ties all these parts together into delivering a unified end-to-end process.

SAP Ariba and S4 HANA

Sudhir also elected to speak about SAP Ariba in the context of S4 HANA, and this is ultimately to “make S4 HANA better”. Together, as a fully integrated solution, Ariba and S4 HANA will create a better and simpler user experience providing options still for direct procurement through S4 HANA, and indirect procurement by way of SAP Ariba. In the opinion of Bhojwani, SAP Ariba should not profess to be a procurement solution for the direct procurement market, for instance, at Microsoft earlier this year SAP Ariba solutions were implemented to cater to indirect sourcing whilst direct sourcing for MS will be directed by IBP (see a more detailed explanation around how Microsoft are utilising SAP Ariba and IBP here).

SAP Ariba are however working on a direct materials sourcing solutions which can be fully integrated with the ERP whether it be HANA, ECC or an SAP competitor. Sudhir rounded up by loosely detailing how SAP Ariba are also working on additional APIs for customers to integrate should they choose. These include the likes of add ons for diversity, sustainability, etc and should provide a great opportunity for 3rd parties to deliver added value.

The Partner Ecosystem

The final keynote speaker for today’s’ Main Session was Sean Thompson (SVP, Global Head of Business Development and Ecosystem at SAP Ariba) who discussed with us why it is imperative that SAP Ariba put the delivery partners first. To be succinct, this is to foster a healthy ecosystem and to maximise value. Looping back to Sudhir Bhojwani’s comments about an open API strategy, Sean reiterated that SAP Ariba must work with other business to open up the experience and enrich users. A well nurtured ecosystem will ensure that everything we do will help take Ariba to the next level. Sean parlayed this thought into the introductions onto the stage of representatives from 3 delivery partners (apsolut, Celonis and Semantic Visions) affording each expert the opportunity speak.

Thomas Herbst (Founder / MD at apsolut) fresh from the good news that apsolut won SAP Ariba EMEA Delivery Partner of the Year broke down what he would like to do differently given advance foresight and this largely focused on investing more into Change Management. Moving forwards the business will strongly promote change management and strategies to identify best practice through a top-down approach to understanding how cloud software works.

Remy Lazarovici (Sr VP, Business Development at Celonis) spoke about how although the business is new to the Ariba ecosystem they have deep roots in SAP and have a capability to provide process intelligence. As a market leader in process mining, Celonis can help a business fully visualise it’s processes and as a result of this how to identify areas for improvement.

Frank Vrabel (CEO at Semantic Visions) had the final say and in a sense Semantic Visions represents the cutting edge of supplier intelligence and artificial intelligence. Frank alerted us to the fact that Semantic Visions collect 90% of the world’s media content and are able to detect emerging external threats or risks to Ariba customers. Collecting content from over 600,000 sources Semantic Visions harness layers of analysis (big data semantics) using the power of SAP HANA (as Ariba requires real-time intelligence). This is a truly impressive representation of big data at work.

SAP Ariba Road Map

The 2:00pm session was one I highlighted in my #SAPAribaLive Day 1 Review (read it here) as one of particular interest, and the break down of SAP Ariba’s product strategy road map across Q1, Q2, Q3 and Q4 for 2018 was both exhaustative and insightful. What I took from this session was just how much work SAP Ariba are putting into improving all areas in order to stay innovative and at the front of digital procurement. It is clear that they are listening to feedback and constantly reviewing and amending their product strategy in order to deliver to customers the features that they need in order to get the best out of the product.

Over the course of the 2 hours the complete Q1 to Q4 strategy for Operational Procurement (Dan Pouliot – VP Operational Procurement Solution Management at SAP Ariba), Strategic Procurement (Hong Xu – VP, Products and Innovations at SAP Ariba), Direct Spend & Supply Chain Collaboration (Vasee Rayan – VP Solutions Management, Ariba Network at SAP Ariba), and Systems Innovations (Jason Brown – VP Globalisation Solution and Product management at SAP Ariba) was dictated, however, the complete review is too vast and detailed for the scope of this Day 2 review… but should you be interested in a full copy of my review and breakdown of this session then get in touch ( and I will happily share with you an extended report.

Meeting the Sponsors

Back in the SAP Ariba Market Place it was great to engage in some fierce networking and set a new personal best for caffeine consumption within a 12 hour period. For me personally, meeting with others in attendance has been my favourite and most valuable part of SAP Ariba Live. It has been nice to put a face to countless SAP Ariba Guru’s I have spoken to over phone and email across the past year and to share experiences and understanding of what the future holds for SAP Ariba through 2018 and into 2019. If you were unable to make it this time but wanted to, or were unsure as to whether it would be a worthwhile investment, then for next year then I would urge you to book in and experience the buzz of the place. The RAI has been an amazing venue and I’m sure SAP Ariba will put on an equally if not more impressive set up in 2019.

Visiting the sponsor stalls in the Market Place was a positive experience too. All of the consultancies I have spoken to are excited at the prospect of new implementation projects, procurement practice growth, and in improving their unique offering to new and existing customers through investment in hot areas including Change Management, SNAP solutions, Supply Chain Collaboration, Cognitive Disruption, etc. Martin Denham (Operations Director at Xoomworks) talked about how he expects to see a rise in the need his consultancy have for Consultants to deliver end to end SAP Ariba S2P projects, whilst Milind Gapchup (Sr Manager EMEA at Bristlecone) spoke of his focus on upskilling consultants and a desire to lead the way in guiding customers on SAP Ariba for both technical and business process (a true Consultancy approach) as well as moving towards innovation in SAP Ariba such as Supply Chain Collaboration. There is definitely a need for skilled consultants across the UK and Europe especially those with strong Business Process understanding, Change Management for Procurement Solutions and Direct Spend or Supply Chain Collaboration experience. Currently, given that many of these innovations are recent and as such the lack of commercial exposure available to consultants based on existing project implementations a second port of call will be for consultancies to train from within. Fabian Staudt (Procurement & Supply Chain Manager at EY) suggested that within his teams personality and potential are highly contributing factors in who they employ, with a view to upskilling consultants in areas that are needed. In essence, if you are an SAP Ariba Consultant then you have great options available to you in the current market across EMEA. The rate of new SAP Ariba projects from end users means that consultancies need resources to fulfil commitments to clients. If you are wondering where your experience fits into all this then I’d welcome an opportunity to speak about your specific situation and options. I’ll be available for coffee all day Wednesday 25th April at the RAI or otherwise get in touch via my contact details below for a confidential chat.

As an SAP Ariba Specialist I know the market place very well, have successfully placed SAP Ariba experts into many of the consultancies demonstrating at SAP Ariba Live including SAP Ariba directly, Deloitte, ExceleratedS2P, Bristlecone and apsolut, and am always enthusiastic about discussing all things SAP Ariba!

Celebration Night – Muziekgebouw

No SAP Ariba live event would be complete without a fancy meal and opportunity for all to get together and network into the late hours. Impressive would be an understatement and Muziekebouw was worth the flight to Amsterdam alone!

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

Best regards,

Tyler Watts (SAP Ariba Specialist at bluewaveSELECT)

+44 (0) 1423 559 559 / +44 (0) 7738 566 539 /

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