The world has been in a great deal of turmoil over the past few years. As we continue to face unprecedented times macroeconomically and geopolitically, I’m excited to see that the offerings at SAP continue to rise to meet our customers’ challenges.

At SAP Sapphire in 2023, I was proud that we hosted 17 sessions dedicated to SAP Business Network, where we shared insights on how companies can realize real improvements and overcome the real challenges they face in their regional, national, and global supply chains.

During the event it was fantastic to be able to unveil several significant announcements about SAP Business Network. One of the most exciting pieces of news to share was for our trading partners that have standard accounts on the network. As we continue to invest in SAP Business Network, we have truly doubled down on the value for them. We know that true value in any network comes from all parties collaborating and deriving value, and the innovations we are making are delivering just that. At SAP Sapphire, we revealed that we are enhancing portal availability for standard accounts, giving unrestricted access to documents from the trading partner portal. We see this as a first step in helping to simplify the transaction process, enable more commerce, and deliver value to all trading partners on the network.

I was also proud to be in the audience at our keynote session, where we introduced five additional SAP Business Network innovations that are designed to help trading partners onboard quickly and grow their businesses. These same innovations will also help buyers find and qualify trading partners more quickly and easily. Right now, our team is working with early adopters to test these innovations, and we expect them to be generally available in the second half of 2023.

The five innovations announced in the keynote are as follows:

  • Intelligent supplier insights to provide details about a supplier’s performance on SAP Business Network. Suppliers will be able to gain valuable information about sales performance from 14 key performance metrics that can be taken in at a glance on an intuitive dashboard.
  • Improved integration that can make onboarding to multiple customers on the network faster and easier. Instead of building unique integration configurations for each customer, we have the ability to leverage existing configurations to connect more quickly and cost-effectively with multiple customers at once, helping to streamline the onboarding process. With this improvement, buyers can more easily bring trading partners into their network and see value that much more quickly.
  • New marketplace catalogs can enable suppliers to publish their products on SAP Business Network. From the SAP Business Network portal, buyers can search, compare, and make inquiries. With this new addition, trading partners can showcase their products and reach a larger global audience of potential customers.
  • Intelligent lead matching is the new, enriched service that can connect trading partners with prospective buyers ready to purchase. Instead of cold calling, they now can find the right match on SAP Business Network Discovery (formerly SAP Ariba Discovery).
  • Enhancements to company profiles can help trading partners stand out from the competition by highlighting credentials and sustainability ratings. With environmental, social, and governance (ESG) at the top of mind for everyone in the C-suite these days, making this kind of information a differentiator for our trading partners brings value to everyone. In addition to this, we also showcased our partnership with EcoVadis, which provides verified sustainability ratings for trading partners.

Embedding Sustainability in Business Operations

Sustainability is such an important topic that I want to devote some extra time to it. SAP continues to focus on this overall, but I know from my conversations with customers that the focus on sustainability remains sharp. Increasingly, consumers want to purchase goods that were manufactured sustainably, and they want to work for companies that see sustainability as a core value. At SAP and through SAP Business Network, we want to create software products to enable these goals.

Governments are also weighing in with requirements. For example, U.S. policymakers have proposed the Federal Supplier Climate Risks and Resilience Rule, which requires major federal contractors to disclose their environmental data. In Germany, lawmakers passed Lieferkettensorgfaltspflichtengesetz, or LkSG, to regulate companies’ social and environmental responsibility.

With that in mind, we’ve made it easier for suppliers to share key information. They now have the ability to self-report sustainability ratings or pull their EcoVadis-verified rating into their profile. If they are not already rated by EcoVadis and would like to learn more, they can visit SAP Store to start the process.

Additionally, suppliers can now complete a supplier self-assessment questionnaire (SAQ) for human rights due diligence. This standard assessment can help trading partners prepare for due diligence and maintain their data on the network to share with buyers, thereby shortening the onboarding cycle time. The self-assessment complements our supplier risk solution. Buyers can ask suppliers to complete the assessment, either from their SAP Business Network account or from SAP Ariba Supplier Risk.

The SAQ helps shorten onboarding cycle times because the supplier can complete it once and share it with many buyers, rather than completing a questionnaire for every bid. This is leveraging the true “network effect” to streamline processes for both suppliers and buyers.

At SAP Sapphire, we also launched SAP Business Network for Industry, which infuses our transformational business network with SAP’s unique industry expertise. This takes the unmatched depth and breadth of our business network capabilities and combines it with SAP’s industry expertise for a truly unique supply chain solution. The initial focus is on the consumer products, high tech, industrial manufacturing, and life sciences industries.

Don’t miss the opportunity to learn more about SAP Business Network and how SAP can help suppliers grow their businesses at SAP Spend Connect Live in Vienna.

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