Thriving Amid Uncertainty and Disruption: 2023 Predictions for Intelligent Spend Management and Business Network


Wasn’t 2022 supposed to be the year businesses emerged from the shadow of the pandemic and the disruptions that came with it? Instead, here we are dealing with many of the same challenges — as well as new ones.

Perhaps what we’re experiencing is something business leaders have known for years: uncertainty and disruption are the constant. It’s how we deal with them that sets us apart.

As we approach 2023, the same questions linger: How long will inflation continue? Will there be a recession?

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to find clear answers. For example, The Wall Street Journal recently reported a slowdown in the logistics and supply chain, which should eventually lead to lower prices. But on the same day, it also reported — more ominously — that the globalized supply chain continues to bring turbulence to food prices.

With global supply chains remaining dynamic and perpetually susceptible to disruption, where does this leave us? If the past few years were focused on responding and surviving, 2023 looks to be the year when business leaders leverage proven technology to build long-term resilience for their organizations.

We asked our leaders for their perspective on this as well as what they expect in 2023. Here’s what they had to say.

“During the last two years of continuous disruptions, companies were forced to realize the necessity of supply chain visibility. As companies shift to building more proactive strategies, they will make plans to adopt new technology to achieve such visibility, helping them build resiliency within their organization. User experience will also remain a top priority for companies, allowing employees to accomplish the tasks they need across their spend management applications. As we look ahead, data insights and intelligence will also play a significant role in helping end users do their jobs more effectively to deliver more value to an organization. Skill shortages will remain a concern among many industries; however, finding, onboarding, developing, and retaining talent are what will differentiate the successful organizations from the ones that aren’t.”

Muhammad Alam, President and Chief Product Officer,
Intelligent Spend and Business Network, SAP

“Given the supply chain challenges we continue to experience, businesses will most certainly continue to digitalize spend management processes and leverage business networks to increase supply chain collaboration, to improve organizational agility, and to gain real-time business insights. The other side of this coin is people. Thinking about how to avoid the ongoing talent crisis and build a workforce of longevity, we will see more businesses focus on nurturing their employees to retain good talent. They will enhance the workforce by upskilling existing talent to meet employees’ desire for career growth while also meeting evolving business expectations. Businesses will attract early talent to the workforce by enticing them to make a difference in the world by helping to solve the next generation of problems. This will require businesses to continue to drive clarity on their mission and purpose. Last, but certainly not least, businesses will maintain focus on including diverse perspectives to ensure they are delivering the strongest strategic decisions that can only come from diversity and inclusion. If an organization cannot deliver on the above expectations, they will inevitably be less competitive in the market for top talent and a resilient workforce.”

Etosha Thurman, Chief Marketing and Solutions Officer,
Intelligent Spend and Business Network, SAP

“As we approach 2023, it’s clear that the world’s business leaders will continue to grapple with economic, political, and environmental uncertainty. The good news is that dealing with uncertainty does not mean operating our businesses blindly. Digitalized procurement processes, data visualization, and business networks have ushered in a new era of visibility, collaboration, and strategic decision-making. With the right technology, procurement and supply chain professionals have access to an integrated view of total spend across their enterprise and deep visibility into their supply chain. This enables improved inventory management, predictable lead times, more efficient sourcing of supply, and cost savings. It also helps them tackle some of their most complex challenges, like achieving sustainability compliance and building long-term resilience for their business.”

Jeff Collier, Chief Revenue Officer,
Intelligent Spend and Business Network, SAP

“Over the last few years, workers and employers alike have come to see the huge upside of leveraging a flex workforce. Even pre-pandemic, workers were looking for a different experience, one that offered flexibility and the opportunity to try new things. Temporary workers have proven they offer an effective way to address staffing and skill gaps, control costs, and manage the overall workforce more effectively. This year an Economist Impact study found that 50% of organizations surveyed plan to increase their use of external workers. My prediction for 2023 is that businesses will continue to build on the efficiencies of the temporary workforce. They’ll leverage vendor management systems like SAP Fieldglass coupled with freelance management systems and direct sourcing providers to find, engage, and manage external workers — both contract and contingent — enabling them to streamline recruiting, contracting, onboarding/offboarding, and security.”

Vish Baliga, Chief Technology Officer,
SAP Fieldglass Solutions, SAP

“In 2023, the SAP Business Network team will strengthen its commitment and partnership with customers to achieve supply chain transparency, resiliency, and sustainability. We will continue to modernize and innovate our network to drive vibrancy, infuse the trading partner experience with enhanced one-to-many supplier integration and intelligent insights, and improve platform performance and scalability. In addition, we will accelerate the transformation to our federated next-generation SAP Business Network, enhancing value for all trading partners within the world’s largest B2B marketplace.”

Paige Cox, Senior Vice President, Chief Product
Officer, and Head of SAP Business Network, SAP

“In 2023, market conditions and inflation will remain volatile as a new paradigm impacts interrelated supply chains. This is driving businesses to focus on fundamentals like controlling costs and finding new revenue. Meanwhile, governments, employees, and consumers are elevating environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors to a higher priority. These factors are driving buyers to diversify their supply chains, creating opportunities for suppliers to ‘shine brighter’ by highlighting their presence and value and their ESG credentials. Interestingly, inbound and outbound logistics continue to emerge as key competitive differentiators to drive efficiency, control cost, and earn customer loyalty. Business networks offer transparency, access to working capital, and connection that enable buyers and suppliers to address disruption collaboratively and build supply chain resilience. In 2023, organizations should look to leverage robust business networks adapted to their industry — not just generic solutions.”

Tony Harris, Senior Vice President, Chief Marketing and
Solutions Officer, SAP Business Network

“As we head into 2023, I expect businesses to act on the need for agility and instantaneous collaboration with trading partners, no longer relying on manual processes to connect buyers and suppliers. As we have been reminded countless times in recent years, supply chain volatility is all but guaranteed. I anticipate a shift in how companies prepare for disruption; while 2020 to 2022 has largely consisted of supply chain shortages, many companies could also start to face supply and inventory overages, given the current macroeconomic state. Having visibility to manage both ends of the spectrum and creating supply chain transparency is critical. Companies will look to evolve their business network into one with real-time collaboration capabilities and unobstructed inter-company visibility across trading partner networks. Collecting and acting on intelligent insights will be key to developing networked enterprises beyond the siloed, disconnected nature of previous years.”

Val Blatt, Global Head, SAP Business Network
Customer Success and Go-to-Market, SAP

“The year ahead will be a test of leaders’ abilities to do more with less, including weighing the costs and benefits of their corporate travel program in maintaining key business relationships. The pandemic taught us a lot about the value of business travel. According to SAP Concur pulse survey findings from early 2022, most U.S. finance managers said their company experienced a revenue loss in 2021 as a direct result of employees’ inability to travel at pre-pandemic levels. It’s important that leaders keep these learnings in mind as they prepare for uncertainty in 2023. They’ll have to balance saving money where it counts, continuing progress on priority initiatives like sustainability, and positioning their company for growth when the economy stabilizes.”

Charlie Sultan, President,
Concur Travel, SAP Concur

“With the role of procurement continuing to become increasingly more strategic, we are seeing a greater need to digitalize category management. This is confirmed by a recent study conducted by Economist Impact and sponsored by SAP, which found that more than 40% of respondents said category management is a top priority in driving digital transformation in procurement. Additionally, businesses are looking to create buying experiences that are more predictive, personalized and sustainable for their employees as well as buyers of strategic categories across all types of spend — direct and indirect materials, maintenance, repair, and operations and service. In 2023 and beyond, we expect the demand for procurement technologies such as these to continue to grow as they enable businesses to make the data-driven decisions needed to better inform their indirect and direct spend channels.”

Salvatore Lombardo, Senior Vice President and
Chief Product Officer, Procurement Solutions, SAP

To hear more perspectives from supply chain leaders, tune into the Supply & Demand Chain Executive on-demand webinar featuring Bryan Rawson, senior manager of Software Development at T-Mobile, and Sudy Bharadwaj, vice president of Strategic Engagements for Intelligent Spend and Business Networks at SAP, as they discuss how organizations can make more agile, informed business decisions to help prepare for what lies ahead in 2023 and beyond.

This article first appeared on the SAP News Center.