SAP Spend Connect Live called procurement professionals “superheroes,” who used superpowers to weather recent years’ business and technology disruptions, before moving on to a serious conference agenda with solution and enhancement previews.

Etosha Thurman, SAP Chief Marketing & Solutions Officer, Intelligent Spend and Business Network, told attendees they’d become “spend management heroes” who “carried the world” as “spend management became a matter of global importance” and “supply chain became a household phrase.”

According to Thurman, “Supply chain risk was the global organizational risk area for the C-Suite” in recent years, and it continues as a priority with heightened expectations for procurement professionals who:

  • Manage supplier relationships as a strategic differentiator
  • Play an expanded role to deliver key business imperatives; and
  • Take “spend management beyond the traditional remit,” including partnerships with chief human relations officers (CHROs).

Manage Spend End-to-End

To step up to these opportunities and expectations, and to help supply and procurement “manage your spend in the most complete, most end-to-end fashion,” Muhammad Alam, SAP President and Chief Product Officer, Intelligent Spend and Business Network, shared key product roadmap elements and new capabilities.

He said SAP improvements aim at three areas:

  • User experience, which he characterized as “how do we fundamentally redefine the workflow?”
  • Data-driven Intelligence, to “unlock the power of the massive amount of data” in SAP systems, “enriched by external data, and “apply AI on top,” and
  • Enable collaboration, which Alam said, “by default, SAP Business Network breaks down silos throughout the supply chain” to support collaboration.

As business travel rebounds, Alam said SAP invested in a “next-generation expense experience” for customers of its Concur travel and expense application. With general availability this quarter, Alam said early adopters saw a 30% jump in user satisfaction over previous versions. A video of future Concur Travel platform capabilities showed improved graphics, usability features, and sustainability choices.

In what SAP billed as a more “predictive, personalized, and sustainable buying experience” beyond the current guided buying, Alam unveiled “buying 360” capabilities for SAP Ariba. The enhancements, available to select customers early next year, are suited for individuals seeking single items to large-scale group purchasing for direct and indirect materials; maintenance; repair; operations; and services.

In a demo, the buying 360 capabilities searched, identified, and made recommended purchases based on the buyer’s role, and, using AI, provided recommendations based on peer purchases. A mobile version included voice and picture search features.

Data-Driven Category Management

At Spend Connect Live, the first in-person event in three years, SAP announced SAP Central Procurement, private cloud edition, availability, under the data-driven intelligence banner. In addition, SAP declared category management a procurement strategy focus with continued digital product investment.

“Category management is a new entry in our SAP Spend Management portfolio,” Alam noted. SAP plans to shift the highly manual data collection and analysis processes to more automated, instantaneous data access, category insights, and actionable information to develop and track category management strategies and plans.

The “one-stop workbench” via SAP Ariba solutions can integrate data from various procurement systems, according to SAP, and “slashes time by providing relevant data where it is needed, when it is needed.” The solution for category management is planned to be available to select customers by the end of this year with expanded availability throughout 2023.

Collaboration by Default

To support its collaboration by default theme, Paige Wei-Cox, Senior Vice President, Chief Product Officer and Head of Engineering, SAP Business Network, discussed how SAP Business Network connects “people, processes and systems across multiple enterprises, digitizing transactions and creating transparent, resilient, sustainable supple chains.”

Following an SAP Business Network simulation to show how a logistics situation team could use the portal to gauge supplier options, risks, and sustainable business practice data globally, Cox said SAP intends to support customers’ needs that move beyond tier 1 suppliers to develop and integrate services across “tier n” networks. Our ambition is to continue to provide the world’s largest business network converging procurement, logistics, asset, and industry-specific networks to deliver value for our customers.”

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