When SAP’s Muhammad Alam took the stage for his SAP Spend Connect Live keynote in Vienna, Austria, this week, he looked like a man eager to reveal secrets he’d been keeping for a long time. And the SAP customers, partners, and industry experts in attendance were more than ready to hear what he had to say.

For the past year, Alam, president and chief product officer of SAP Intelligent Spend and Business Network, and his team have been speaking with SAP customers, gaining an intimate understanding of their spend management challenges and envisioning solutions to address them. This includes carefully assessing the buzz around artificial intelligence (AI) to separate what is the usual tech hype from the true promise.

Eliminate the mundane and elevate the strategic with AI

They also mobilized their team of spend management-focused developers to deliver the very innovations he was about to unveil. “The bottom line is we deliver more spend management innovation than anyone else in the industry because we have more resources devoted to spend management than everyone else in the industry,” Alam told the audience.

With its “massive force of engineers” and deep commitment at the highest levels of the business, he reminded everyone that SAP is singularly focused on helping businesses solve their urgent and critical spend imperatives – whether they are practical or existential. This includes:

  • Improving visibility into the supply chain and taking action to counter an ever-changing trade landscape
  • Doing business in a socially and environmentally responsible manner
  • Finding the right talent, at the right time, for the right job

“The common theme in all of this, of course, is your spend…the biggest lever you have to help your business achieve the results it needs to achieve,” he said.

Applying Generative AI Technology to Spend

As SAP Spend Connect Live moves forward, there will be a lot of talk about generative AI and how it can help businesses address urgent and critical imperatives. In his keynote, Alam noted that we are seeing a step change around AI – not just in the technology, but also in the willingness of customers to adopt AI to drive strategic transformation across business processes and functions.

But what does Alam consider the underlying promise and purpose of AI? “The ability to harness data to drive insights and make decisions…That is the promise of AI and it’s what’s driving all of the AI the momentum and excitement,” he said. “It’s not a matter of if anymore with AI. It is a matter of when or perhaps how quickly businesses can adopt these technologies and feel the impact.”

With its intelligent spend management solutions, SAP has made it a mission to enable businesses to use generative AI to harness data for greater insights and decision-making. Which brings us to two of the important innovations Alam announced during his SAP Spend Connect Live keynote: SAP Spend Control Tower and 12 new generative AI scenarios to be deployed across the spend management portfolio.

Introducing SAP Spend Control Tower

Learn more about SAP Spend Control Tower

“In the hundreds of conversations I’ve had with customers in the last year, the No. 1 ask I get from them is the ability to see and analyze their spend across all categories,” Alam said. “And by ‘spend’ I mean more than just the financials. Today, spend also means the carbon emissions impact across all categories.”

Then he unveiled SAP Spend Control Tower, which offers advanced AI features and the ability to see across all spend – in SAP’s cloud ERP solutions, SAP Ariba solutions, SAP Fieldglass solutions, SAP Concur solutions, and SAP Business Network – to help uncover cost-saving opportunities and process improvements, beginning in the first quarter 2024. Alam said he was also “excited about AI driving scope 3 carbon emissions reporting in SAP Spend Control Tower.”

All of the spend data is rationalized in a unified data model as part of our next-generation data lake, the supplier data platform. Three years in the making, it is the backbone for all of our spend analytics. In addition to fueling SAP Spend Control Tower, it also enables embedded spend insights in our applications and powers our generative AI innovations.

SAP Spend Control Tower. Click to enlarge.

12 Generative AI Scenarios for Spend Management

Alam noted that each day, individuals spend a significant amount of time doing mundane tasks because they need to be done. These take time and focus away from tasks that are more strategic and of higher value.

“Generative AI has the potential to eliminate the mundane and elevate the strategic in the daily lives of you and your team members,” he said. “This is our moment to unleash productivity gains that have been lacking for years.”

He announced 12 generative AI scenarios designed to help “drive efficiency, quality, and insight into processes that cut across spend management.” Here’s a high-level view of how these scenarios can help businesses:

  • In SAP Ariba solutions, they can provide a better understanding of suppliers’ sustainability position, enabling businesses to make the right decisions.
  • In SAP Fieldglass solutions, they can make it possible to write better, more comprehensive statements of work (SOW) and job descriptions in seconds versus hours.
  • In SAP Concur solutions, they can help users estimate the potential trip cost and better understand travel and expense policies.

Find out more about the new generative AI scenarios here.

Virtual Experience

If you were unable to attend SAP Spend Connect Live in Vienna, you can still take part in our virtual experience on October 24. Visit here for details.

Mike Conners is a communications specialist for the SAP Spend Management Communications team.

Register for the virtual experience of SAP Spend Connect Live