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Ariba: All Fired Up

Feature Article | July 8, 2015 by Stephan Magura

On average, the Ariba Network – which connects suppliers and buyers on a single Internet platform – expands to the tune of one new company every minute. Unsurprisingly, when it comes to buying goods and services online, the largest business commerce network worldwide is now as essential a part of everyday life for the world’s trading partners as Amazon is for consumers.

Yet, despite seeing over 71,000 purchase orders and 224,000 invoices processed on its business commerce network every day, Ariba is not about to start resting on its laurels. After all, the competition never sleeps. Accordingly, the SAP company recently announced a new version of its Ariba Sourcing suite, which integrates the Ariba software with SAP ECC (ERP Central Component) and thus makes it much easier for companies to manage their direct materials sourcing.

Moreover, as Ariba’s Chief Product Officer, Sanish Mondkar reports that Ariba has also refined its tools’ usability, delivering what the company calls a “total user experience.” If Mondkar’s comments in a recent video interview are anything to go by, customers can expect a lot of improvements and news in the second half of this year.

Ariba’s product offensive will be music to the ears of its network participants, among themSchweitzer Fachinformationen.” The online specialist literature supplier delivers a vast range of materials to customers on demand, covering everything from scientific papers to complex databases, and presents its diverse offering to customers in electronic catalogs on the Ariba platform. For web commerce companies like Schweitzer, anything that helps simplify the relationship between buyers and sellers on the Ariba Network will be extremely welcome.

Schweitzer’s head of corporate business, Alexander Graff, is very impressed with the Ariba Network overall, but looks forward to seeing the trading platform offer more options for buyers and sellers to collaborate and share their expertise more effectively.

As far as the future of web-based business commerce is concerned, Graff expects competition between suppliers to intensify. The reason for this, he explains, is that in the past, suppliers were often only able to strike good business deals because their buyers didn’t have access to the big picture of other offers available. He explains, that as business networks continue to increase their domination of B2B commerce the market will become more transparent and the rules of the game will change. Buyers, he predicts, will be spoilt for choice; while suppliers will have to decide whether to become generalists or to seek out a niche in which their particular brand of expertise is still in demand.

Like other representatives from the Ariba community, Alexander Graff took the opportunity to mingle with fellow suppliers and buyers at the Ariba Live European customer conference in Munich last month. Such gatherings are increasingly entering the radar of companies like Schweitzer Fachinformationen, because, as part of the SAP Business Network, Ariba offers them compelling new opportunities to link up in web commerce networks and create seamless business processes. Ultimately, that will even extend to business networks communicating with each other to intelligently make informed decisions on a company’s behalf. SAP Executive Board member, Steve Singh, who is responsible for the Business Network Group, presented a similar scenario at this year’s SAPPHIRE NOW conference.

For her part, Alicia Tillman, Ariba’s new Chief Marketing Officer, has made it her mission to proactively educate the existing Ariba community about the benefits of network effects. She also intends to make sure that the SAP community understands exactly what the Ariba solutions are capable of. As Alicia explains, this is because collectively Concur, Fieldglass, Ariba, and SAP have the potential to give many organizations precisely what they are looking for in a service provider: innovation, global reach, and the ability to simplify business processes – and all from a single source.

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