In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, SAP moved its 2020 SAP Ariba Live conference to a virtual platform. This extended the reach of the event to those who work in the procurement and supply chain functions and allowed for customers, partners, and suppliers to have a conversation about spend management, regardless of where they are based.

SAP prerecorded all the keynotes and breakout sessions, which covered updates and enhancements to SAP Ariba along with customer stories. The virtual event explored topics including how businesses and governments have been responding to the pandemic. From their laptops, attendees heard how SAP Ariba can help strengthen their supply chains and streamline the procurement process, even in times when these are both under pressure. The key theme of the entire event was cohesion, as SAP announced new interconnected features for SAP Ariba.

New World, New Supply Chain Measures

In the first keynote, President of SAP Procurement Chris Haydon spoke about how the challenges posed by COVID-19 are affecting the world. To help companies in this difficult period, Haydon emphasized the fact that SAP is making SAP Ariba Discovery free to any business through June 30, 2020. This online service matches sellers with buyers looking to source specific goods and services.

“Disruption is our new reality,” he said. “Companies that are not agile enough to pivot in this time of disruption are at risk.”

Time to Move to Just-in-Case Supply Chains

There were a few breakout sessions focused on the geopolitical ramifications of COVID-19, as well as ways businesses can adapt to this new landscape. Ian Bremmer, president and founder of Eurasia Group and GZERO Media, spoke about these external forces affecting our daily lives and vital supply chains. He said the current situation underscored the need for companies to establish “just-in-case” supply chains. “Not many companies have done a lot of work here,” he added.

Organizations must prepare for worst-case scenarios so that supply chains can continue to function in times of crisis. Bremmer added that the private sector’s response to the outbreak has been “robust,” but businesses need to continue demonstrating they can act as critical components of the social safety net. With the help of the private sector, he believes that governments can overcome the virus.

SAP Ariba: A Focus on Intelligent Spend Management

Haydon announced a few broad changes to SAP Ariba. Moving forward, the software will be grouped together with SAP Fieldglass and SAP S/4HANA Operational Procurement as a single organization. This means that SAP will enhance these products in tandem while “moving forward with one clear vision.”

Haydon was later joined by Michael Weingartner, president of people and spend management at SAP, and Stefan Olson, presales solution consultant for SAP Ariba, in a keynote examining the future of SAP Ariba’s Intelligent Spend Management. Hayden described this as “a profound, forward-looking change in how we look at procurement.”

Enhancements include reimagining the buying process, reinventing the buying experience, and reshaping the way users connect with trading partners. Data-driven insights and integrated solutions are cornerstones to all three of these focal points. This allows vital information to flow from buyers to suppliers and back again. For example, SAP Ariba embeds risk and sustainability considerations across the entire global supply chain, allowing users to view that information easily before they commit to an action.

Weingartner also said that the development team invested a lot of time to integrate these applications with SAP Analytics Cloud, so that customers can use the same data end-to-end to drive improved business intelligence.

Connecting with SAP Ariba Customers

During a time of social distancing, SAP Ariba Live still delivered compelling customer stories. Lucille Trickett, senior director of global solutions for Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s Office of Legal Affairs and Administration, presented a keynote on the company’s journey with SAP Ariba. HPE went live with a new source-to-contract solution in every country where the company does business. It then completely restructured its IT infrastructure by consolidating multiple ERP solutions into SAP S/4HANA and deployed SAP Ariba Buying and Invoicing procure-to-pay (P2P) cloud solution at a large scale.

In one of the breakout sessions, Jo Peterson, VP of cloud and security services at Clarify360; Jinesh Parakulangara, senior manager at HPE Global IT; and Nicole Flikier, digital tools and analytics global lead at Stanley Black & Decker, explained how each company successfully deployed SAP Ariba solutions in concert with SAP S/4HANA and the insights they gained. For example, Stanley Black & Decker used SAP S/4HANA and SAP Central Finance to provide “global and consistent financial information” and a single source of truth for the company’s financial data. 

Want to hear from these experts yourself? All of the SAP Ariba Live keynotes and breakouts are available on-demand. Register and get access to the entire digital conference here

Register for the on-demand ASUG webcast,City of Tacoma’s Transformation to SAP Ariba,” to learn best practices and more.