Beset by Risks, Buyers and Suppliers Seek to Become More Agile and Resilient

By Tony Harris

Geopolitical issues and economic uncertainty are wreaking havoc on global supply chains, creating new and daunting challenges that threaten to upend entire industries. To overcome them, buyers and suppliers must cut to the core of how they operate and change things up.

To survive and thrive in a world where the only sure thing is rapid and ongoing change, they must be smart, fast, agile, and resilient, working together as they never have before. Intelligent Spend management solutions will enable them to pull it off.

Supply chain technologies have been around for decades, proving their ability to drive game-changing improvements in how things are bought and sold. But these technologies have gotten smarter and more connected; they are poised to deliver even more.

Beyond just powering commerce, Intelligent Spend management solutions can fuel innovation and business growth. And in the year ahead, savvy organizations will tap them to do just this. Here are four things you can expect:

Business Networks Will Take Center Stage

Supply chain technology has historically focused on making processes more efficient internally. But to manage the complexities of modern supply chains and the risks inherent in them, companies must expand beyond their four walls and create an environment in which they can exchange information and collaborate with trading partners around the world in a real-time, transparent way to make informed decisions.

Business networks are an ideal platform for this, as they allow trading partners to align with consistent and accurate information across orders, inventory, capacity, logistics, and asset management. Millions of organizations in 190 countries use SAP Business Network for this reason. More will join them to get and stay connected to trading partners who can help them manage the ongoing challenges they face.

Collaboration Will Fuel Innovation and Growth

Networks are a powerful tool for driving commerce. More than $4.9 trillion a year flows through SAP Business Network alone. But networks are about more than just transacting; their real power lies in the connectivity, insights, and visibility they provide. Companies will unleash this to break down the barriers to supply chain collaboration and fuel innovation and growth. In the face of scarce supply, labor shortages, and rising prices, buyers and suppliers will come together on networks to rethink how goods are produced and deliver innovations that open the door to new products and markets.

The Buyer-Supplier Dynamic Will Shift

Networks have traditionally been viewed as a buyer-centric tool to drive cost savings. And in their early days, they were. But networks have evolved, and suppliers have seen real value in using them. In addition to expanding business with existing customers, networks open the door for suppliers to be discovered by and win opportunities with new buyers. They drive operating efficiencies by reducing the time and costs associated with responding to individualized buyer questionnaires, as a standardized format is used across the network. Further, a network model allows suppliers to onboard once and share and collaborate with many, helping to avoid costly peer-to-peer connections while enabling flexibility and scalability. And beyond simply transacting, they enable suppliers to join forces with buyers to tackle some of the biggest challenges they face, be it supply and labor shortages or geopolitical and economic issues, and move forward in a mutually beneficial way.

Visibility Will Drive Agility and Resilience

Creating resiliency in the supply chain is imperative. And it starts with having the right visibility and transparency. It used to be enough for organizations to have a view into their tier-one partners. But as supply chains have become more global and complex, this no longer cuts it. Companies need visibility across the entire value chain to accurately assess and manage risk. Intelligent Spend management solutions provide the technology required to gain it down to the raw materials level. Buyers and suppliers will leverage them to identify and respond to risks and keep business moving.

Sustainability Will Get a Boost

Sustainability is a top priority for organizations around the world. Many have set aggressive goals, and to achieve them, they must have visibility into their emissions, carbon footprints, and that of their trading partners. With Intelligent Spend solutions, they can gain this visibility across what they’re sourcing, spending, and building. And they will use these insights to demonstrate in clear and measurable ways that they are responsible and operating sustainably and humanely.

Talk of digital transformation is nothing new. But talk is cheap—particularly on the supply chain front where the stakes of inaction are high. In 2023, organizations will get serious and deploy Intelligent Spend management technology, not just to fight fires and drive operational efficiencies but to drive transparency, agility, and strategic relationships that create competitive advantage and accelerate meaningful change. And partners who can help them will share in the rewards.

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

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