Artificial intelligence continues to sweep the enterprise IT landscape, as technology leaders place big bets on intelligent automation and analysis. 

With generative AI at the forefront of advancements for mission-critical applications, SAP recently debuted business AI and user experience innovations for its spend management and business network solutions, including the new SAP Spend Control Tower and SAP Ariba Category Management solutions, at the SAP Spend Connect Live event (October 9-11, at the Messe Wien Congress Center in Vienna, Austria). 

A centralized expenditure monitoring platform for the company's cost-control and accountability offerings, SAP Spend Control Tower will give customers the ability to compare and analyze spend across SAP spend management solutions. 

SAP Spend Control Tower will include advanced AI features that provide staff and executives with near real-time visibility across all spending activities, to help organizations identify cost-cutting opportunities and optimize operational efficiencies. Available in the first quarter of 2024, the platform will provide users with dashboards that display critical spend factors like compliance, opportunity analysis, and sustainability. Leveraging AI will allow users to see into scope-3 carbon emissions reporting within total spend management, gaining visibility of spending and also taking action directly from the solution's data visualization layer to enforce compliance. 

Also announced: the SAP Ariba Category Management solution will be enhanced with generative AI to help procurement professionals build comprehensive, effective category strategies faster. Enabling market analysis processes and making category strategy suggestions that will allow procurement professionals to refine and execute their cost-control initiatives, the solution will be integrated with large language models through SAP Business AI.

'Eliminating the Mundane'

Despite decades of investment in automation and analytical technologies, the process of collecting data and assessing processes to control expenses and monitor operational efficiencies remains time-consuming and tedious for many organizations. 

Generative AI can move spend management forward and help customers control costs, mitigate risk, and increase productivity, according to Muhammad Alam, President and Chief Product Officer, Intelligent Spend and Business Network, SAP. 

Discussing the philosophy behind these announcements, Alam said that SAP seeks to demonstrate how large language models can help organizations to increasingly automate important operations to improve efficiency and optimize strategy execution, allowing managers and senior decision-makers to return their focus to other strategic priorities. 

While introducing these next-generation enterprise solutions to the market, Alam pointed out the importance of bringing practical context to the table. “The potential [of generative AI] is huge for eliminating the mundane," Alam said. "We think bringing it in context is going to create more capacity in organizations, as well as allow them to do more strategic [planning] in a fairly low-cost effort.”

To that end, while keeping customers' security, privacy, compliance, ethics, and accuracy in mind, SAP has already outlined 12 scenarios and use cases for leveraging generative AI across SAP Ariba, SAP Concur, and SAP Business Network offerings, to optimize corporate and value-chain performance.

Other Top Takeaways

Also announced at SAP Spend Connect Live:

  • SAP will embed Joule. the company's recently announced generative-AI copilot, throughout its cloud enterprise portfolio, with availability in SAP spend management solutions planned for 2024.
  • As part of SAP Spend Control Tower, new dashboards in the SAP Ariba Sourcing and SAP Ariba Buying solutions, available now, will offer near real-time insights into key process workflows to help procurement teams to make better decisions more quickly, thereby accelerating time to value.
  • Risk-aware procurement will be delivered by embedding AI-powered supplier risk assessment capabilities into SAP's source-to-settle solutions; these capabilities, now available for SAP Ariba Sourcing, SAP Ariba Contracts, and SAP Ariba Buying, will make it possible to assess risk profiles within sourcing, contracting, and buying solutions. 
  • SAP will collaborate with Scoutbee, a leading AI-powered supplier intelligence and discovery platform company, to integrate its AI-powered supplier search solution with the SAP Ariba Sourcing solution. Through this integration, shortlisted suppliers will be automatically imported into guided sourcing events. This will allow teams to identify suppliers aligned with their requirements, such as production capacity, quality standards, and certification requirements.
  • SAP Concur has launched an Expense Payment Manager solution that will enable companies to reimburse employees in more than 25 currencies via streamlined payment processes and integration of third-party payment providers into the platform.

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