April marks my first six months back with SAP, now leading the Product Engineering organization focused on our intelligent spend and business network solutions. I came back because of our strong foundation.
We continue to invest and innovate to help customers move to the cloud, with no better example than the tremendous value companies continue to gain from both our acquired and organically developed solutions across SAP Ariba, SAP Fieldglass, SAP Concur, and SAP S/4HANA Procurement. Each solution set in our business unit is market-leading in its own right.
I’m also excited because we are in a unique position to deliver a next-generation network-driven spend management solution suite that addresses all spend — everything a company spends money on except for payroll — connected to a vast and growing digital business network.
The past six months have been tumultuous for everyone, to say the least. There have been a variety of supply risks and business disruptions: the ongoing pandemic, geopolitical unrest, and severe weather that slowed supply in different parts of the world. Most recently is the reminder that even one single ship can impact tens of billions of dollars of supply every day.
While highlighting the importance of having resilient procurement and supply chain operations, these events have also emphasized the obligations of technology companies — we need to ensure that our customers have the tools to assess such risks and rapidly execute alternatives. The opportunities for digital transformation and leveraging business networks are at the heart of facilitating such data-driven decision-making, and it is why I believe SAP is best suited to deliver on this promise for our customers.
These lessons learned during recent disruptions combined with new processes and ways for doing business will pay huge dividends in the long term. In many ways, they already have.
What Intelligent Spend and Business Network Really Means
My job is to make sure that SAP continues to pioneer and lead the market with intelligent spend management and business network solutions that solve our customers’ greatest pain points, while tapping into the broader SAP portfolio so customers benefit from a completely integrated suite. Our mission is to deliver the solutions our customers use to align every spend decision to their business strategy in the networked economy.
Ultimately, that means we focus every day on developing the best possible solutions to help our customers spend smarter and drive impact for their organizations and communities. Along with delivering business outcomes, we also want to help our customers take a stakeholder view into how their overall spend management function works.
This commitment is reflected directly in our capabilities, in which we continue to invest to meet customer needs. They are historically strong and market-leading individually and will be even stronger far into the future as we continue to integrate and evolve best of breed into a truly unmatched best of suite.
Like our customers, we don’t only think for the short term. We have a long-term commitment to seamless capabilities developed over time.
Our Commitment to Capabilities
At SAP, our vision for procurement is focused on three core areas: One Procurement, Travel and Expense, and Business Network.
We introduced the concept of One Procurement last year and, quite frankly, it generated a lot of questions. It’s on us to set the record straight: One Procurement is our vision for the future of procurement, how we bring innovations like artificial intelligence (AI) and insights to our customers. The idea of One Procurement may have been misconstrued as a single product destination, when in reality it’s truly a journey, centered around our market-leading SAP S/4HANA, SAP Ariba, and SAP Fieldglass solutions. We cover all categories of spend — direct, indirect, and services, including contingent and external workforce — with one strategy for the continual innovation our customers want to solve their business pain points. Our recently released guided sourcing capabilities in the SAP Ariba Sourcing solution is an example of innovation that falls into the One Procurement vision.
We are committed to maximizing each asset in our portfolio to enable procurement to drive business productivity, an end state that we call autonomous procurement. Autonomous procurement is an essential part of our intelligent enterprise strategy, with end-to-end integration and embedded intelligence that allow customers to streamline and automate procurement processes and thereby focus on more high-value tasks.
Furthermore, as part of One Procurement, we are committed to continued superiority in services procurement and contingent workforce management with our SAP Fieldglass solutions. As we start recovering from the pandemic, it is expected that many of our customers will turn to leveraging flexible external workers. To support this, we recently launched SAP Fieldglass Assignment Management, a brand new solution that helps organizations manage contractors performing ad hoc work under existing supplier agreements. The most recent findings from Gartner show that the external workforce is fast-growing and versatile, supporting organizational needs of all shapes and sizes. We continue to invest in SAP Fieldglass solutions and their ability to help companies streamline and scale external workforce management to help maximize their investments and meet business needs.
Travel and Expense
We are committed to continue leading the travel and expense management market, which has been significantly disrupted in the past 12 months. Similar to how we supported B2B spend via SAP Ariba solutions, we’ve developed capabilities in SAP Concur solutions to better manage organizational spend as well. Our spend management assessment tool helps streamline and guide employee discretionary spend, helping keep budgets on track and align spending with business goals.
We are committed to driving value through a digital business network, helping our customers connect with buyers and suppliers via Ariba Network, connect asset operators with original equipment manufacturers and services providers with SAP Asset Intelligence Network, and collaborate on logistics, including tracking and tracing goods and materials, on SAP Logistics Business Network. These networks are all strong on their own, and their combined power enables customers to manage their global supply chains from start to finish. The integration among networks is a key area of focus for us going forward, offering customers the advantages of a common data model, set of services, intelligence, and analytics engine. In this environment, processes and data flow freely and securely across functions and workflows.
No one can predict the future, but I am certainly optimistic. We are dedicated to helping customers on their journeys to achieve real-time intelligent spend management aligned to the business so they can best prepare to be agile in the face of disruption, because let’s face it: disruption is expected. We just never know when or from where it will come.
All companies have unique challenges within the common context of today’s disrupted global business environment. Our technology has evolved alongside our customers and will continue to do so – whether that’s SAP Ariba, SAP Fieldglass, SAP Concur, or SAP S/4HANA solutions, elements of each, or all of the above. We are a long-standing leader in spend management because of the breadth and variety of our solutions and our deep expertise in business process transformation across industries. Our investments in providing outcome-oriented solutions to complex problems will continue to be guided by our customers’ needs.
John Wookey is president of Intelligent Spend and Business Network at SAP.