Why Networked Companies Do Better

(Photo: istockphoto.com)

Tim Minahan is the senior vice president of global network strategy and chief marketing officer of Ariba, an SAP company. In this interview, he talks about how the acquisition of Ariba fits into the SAP strategy and how networked enterprises consistently beat the competition with value chain transparency, efficiency, and productivity.

Read the interview in full below, or skip directly to these highlights:

SAP.info: What has surprised you the most since Ariba became part of SAP?

Tim Minahan: The level of innovation at SAP. There is a clearly articulated strategy to be a leader in delivering innovation that advances business productivity and performance. For example, SAP HANA is a major breakthrough in real-time performance and insights, and we’ve only begun to understand its full potential. SAP has some of the most beautiful analytics and mobile capabilities available on the market, bringing the ease and insights we experience in our personal lives to the business user. With Ariba and SuccessFactors, as well as organic development, SAP has made a bold commitment to the cloud. The future of enterprise computing environments will be a hybrid mix of on-premise, cloud, and mobile applications. It’s really about empowering companies to execute business processes in the most informed way, anywhere and anytime.

Next page: How Ariba fits into the SAP strategy

Tim Minahan, Senior Vice President, Global Network Strategy, Chief Marketing Officer, Ariba (Photo: private)

How does the combination of Ariba and SAP help companies simplify how they do business?

We take all the efficiency and performance improvements that customers have come to expect from their SAP applications and technologies within their four walls, and extend that across the value chain. Sixty-three percent of the world’s transactions originate from an SAP system. Ariba offers the largest and most powerful global business network to extend those transactions out to customers, suppliers, and other partners. These two facts demonstrate how well-positioned SAP is, together with Ariba, to usher in the new era of business productivity.

How does Ariba fit into the SAP strategy, including cloud and on-premise solutions?

Ariba is yet another weapon in SAP’s cloud arsenal, and the Ariba network is very compelling for SAP customers. Ariba is the world’s largest, global business commerce network. Nearly one million companies around the world discover, connect, and collaborate more efficiently on our multi-enterprise platform. We can extend, enhance, and enrich all the investments that customers have made in SAP so they’re not only gaining efficiency and productivity with the enterprise, but have full transparency so the entire value chain operates as one agile unit.

What is SAP’s business network strategy, and why is it important for business today?

We are enabling the next era of business productivity by taking all the efficiency, performance, and transparency that customers have come to expect from SAP within the enterprise, and extending those benefits across the supply chain. CEOs, COOs, and CIOs are prioritizing the use of business networks to enhance results across the value chain, and for a good reason. Recent studies show that networked enterprises outpace their peers in nearly every business category with increased sales, higher profit margins, and market share gains.

Next page: What four things set Ariba apart from the competition

We hear a lot about solutions for the networked economy. What sets Ariba’s capabilities apart from the competition?

Four things differentiate Ariba: scale, openness, intelligence, and comprehensiveness. Over the past 12 months, one million connected businesses on Ariba have transacted more than $450 billion in sales, purchase orders, invoices, and payments. Ariba is open to any backend system, unconstrained by any single standard or application—that’s very important for heterogeneous supply chains. There are business rules and logic built into the network—it’s not just an integration gateway. The network encompasses all trading partners and collaborative business processes. This includes everything from discovering and qualifying new partners, to getting access to preferred financing and transaction efficiencies through invoicing and payment.

What accomplishments are you most proud of since SAP acquired Ariba?

I’m most proud of how fast the teams have moved to come together. Engineering, sales, service, and value engineering have worked closely to make sure customers understand the value of SAP plus Ariba. We have a clear product road map, and have already delivered rapid-deployment solutions that make it easier for customers to take advantage of the Ariba network. We’ve brought on dozens of new joint customers, allowing them to create cost-savings and efficiencies at a scale previously impossible, and enabling many to find new business and grow in ways they couldn’t do before.

What can customers expect from the combined strengths of SAP and Ariba in the future?

Customers can expect even greater value and faster innovation. New members increase the value of the network for everyone. So businesses will be able to keep extending the commerce process, doing more of their inter-enterprise collaboration in an automated real-time way. This will allow them to harvest greater insights from the community by bringing together the assets of both the Ariba network and SAP.