Carrying on SAP’s Heritage of Innovation

Fifty years ago, SAP fundamentally changed how organizations collaborate internally by introducing enterprise resource planning (ERP). Now we are on the verge of creating another step change in how business applications work, one where networked business applications make collaboration seamless across organizations.

SAP Spend Connect Live gave us an opportunity to show how our spend management solutions enable organizations to manage their complete, end-to-end spend — from direct materials to indirect materials, services, contingent labor, and travel and expense. SAP covers the full business process lifecycle, from supplier management to sourcing, contracting, purchasing, and payments. And via SAP Business Network we make it possible to manage that spend in an intrinsically collaborative manner with your trading partners: the tier 1 partners you know as well as tier 2 and tier N partners you don’t.

Manage Your Complete End-to-End Spend

At SAP Spend Connect Live, we introduced new solutions and capabilities that are at the forefront of SAP’s innovation leadership for the next 50 years.

We are listening to our customers, partners, and market research, and we are focused on innovation driven by these guiding principles:

  • A delightful user experience (UX)
  • Data-driven intelligence
  • Collaboration by default

If you weren’t able to attend SAP Spend Connect Live — or if you just want a refresher — here is a summary of our product priorities and some of the innovations we introduced.

© LILA PHOTO

User Experience

It is clear that the next generation of intelligent spend solutions must provide a delightful UX. We are focused on making our applications more intuitive and personalized to help users accomplish tasks quickly, giving them more time for strategic activities.

Travel and Expense: A Next-Generation SAP Concur Experience

We are incorporating consumer-grade DNA into our travel and expense solutions. So far, we have rolled out a completely overhauled expense experience. We shared our vision for a totally new air travel booking experience, one that offers details about the travel products and options available, just like you see in consumer sites.

We’ve also added the policy levers, workflow, and the configurations you expect from the leading-edge corporate booking tool. This is done with a “sustainability first” mindset, natively empowering travelers to make decisions that support company goals.

Procurement: Personalized, Predictive, Sustainable

SAP has always been a leader in procurement, and we continue to evolve our solutions for the future of buying. At SAP Spend Connect Live, we previewed new capabilities, which we refer to as “buying 360.” These encompass the next evolution of guided buying capability from SAP. The new capabilities, which are designed to improve the purchasing experience, leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to create a holistic view of the buyer, what they’re purchasing, and their organization’s environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals.

We have started to include these within the guided buying capability of SAP Ariba software, and you can expect others to be integrated into your guided buying experience over time.

Data-Driven Intelligence

Consistently, customers tell us they want our solutions to leverage AI to enhance their operational decision-making. Our vision is to use analytics to unlock the massive amounts of data in our applications to help businesses make informed and actionable decisions.

Category Management: Actionable Market Intelligence and Category Insights

We plan to introduce a new SaaS procurement solution that empowers category managers and procurement professionals to make strategic category decisions for direct and indirect spending.

Our category management solution will offer intuitive scenario analysis to visualize opportunities. Sourcing and category managers can prioritize initiatives based on corporate spend data, with system-assigned recommendations and confidence levels for opportunities. Additionally, they can generate a comprehensive view of the purchasing categories to establish category goals, develop plans, and execute and monitor progress. Embedded analytics tools provide drill-down capability into categories across multiple dimensions.

The solution is planned to be available to select customers by the end of this year with expanded availability throughout 2023.

Supplier Management: Decision-Relevant Supplier Information on a Single Pane of Glass

For many organizations, supplier data can be a mess. Information about sourcing events, contract data, or supplier evaluation scores are typically spread across different systems and technologies. Making matters worse, most master data is not harmonized across systems.

As a result, data maintenance is required across multiple systems and there is a fragmented view of suppliers, which complicates making the right supply chain decisions. Our new “insight to action” experience for SAP Ariba Supplier Risk and SAP Ariba Supplier Management provides visibility into your supplier base. It combines data natively from different procurement solutions, or from external sources across categories. All relevant supplier information is delivered via a simple user experience.

SAP plans to provide this capability as an initial release in early 2023, with general availability later in the year.

Total Workforce Solutions to Find the Best Talent

Procurement isn’t the only place where we are bringing intelligence and insights to life. Finding, onboarding, developing, and retaining talent is another area where organizations are facing challenges. Increasingly, it does not matter if the talent is a full-time employee or a temporary worker — what matters is getting the right skills, at the right time, for the right job.

Ongoing integration of SAP Fieldglass solutions with SAP SuccessFactors software will give businesses benchmark data and insights so they can make the best hiring decisions fast.

Collaboration by Default

With SAP Business Network, we are taking business applications to the next level by extending collaboration beyond the intelligent enterprise to provide greater visibility into supply chains and help build resiliency. At its heart, business resilience is about surviving and thriving amid disruption. But most disruption occurs outside your organization, where you cannot “see” it.

This is why you need visibility into the multiple tiers of your supply chain, which requires a high level of collaboration with trading partners. Unfortunately, many organizations still share data via phone call, e-mail, fax, or point-to-point electronic data interchange (EDI).

SAP Business Network offers a better way: onboard once and connect to many. It is a real-time, many-to-many platform that enables collaboration by default, rather than collaboration the old-fashioned way.

But what are the essential collaboration functions? These six building blocks are all supported by SAP Business Network:

  • Indirect procurement
  • Direct materials procurement
  • Logistics
  • Asset management
  • Finance and working capital management
  • Talent management

Based on these building blocks, SAP Business Network allows you to break down the silos throughout your supply chain and operate more efficiently across the breadth of your business processes in real time. We believe this will fundamentally redefine business applications of the future.


Muhammad Alam is president and chief product officer for SAP Intelligent Spend and Business Network.

This article also appeared on LinkedIn.