SAP Ariba Live 2018 Event Review

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SAP Ariba Live 2018 PDF Procurement final day 740 x360

Steve Britton, CloudTrade Client Services Director, EMEA reflects on the bigger dream for procurement set out at SAP Ariba Live in Amsterdam last week from 23 to 25 April 2018.

I was privileged to be able to attend SAP Ariba Live 2018 in Amsterdam last week, the 2017 theme was about making Procurement ‘Awesome’ and the event provided deep content into the Ariba product capabilities and development roadmap and did not lack on detail or enthusiasm from the attendees. This year the event was in a different league, let me shed some insight!

2018 the theme was about ‘Dream Bigger’ we were all encouraged throughout the three day event to imagine the way the world of procurement could be if we dreamed a little bigger. Today’s technology advances are removing the boundaries that once imposed restrictions on the way we source, requisition, buy, receipt and pay for the goods and services we require. Many key note addresses and reference points focused on how through creative and intelligent procurement we can make the world a better and safer place. After all we are after all just tenants on the planet and we have a social and morale obligation to protect where we live and those who inhabit the place we call home, procurement can and does play a massive role in this.

It’s worth reflecting for a moment on the scale of the Ariba Network, there are 3.3 million business connections and $1.6 Trillion in transactions annually, this is twice the size of Amazon and Alibaba combined, with a new supplier connecting every 60 seconds, this is some powerful business network.

Positive procurement

We were given insight to how businesses and people have been able to leave a lasting impact on the way we live, we heard how Save The Children International have leveraged the power of intelligent procurement to create a lasting impact on children around the world. We heard how Royal Phillips have implemented SAP Ariba Procurement ‘Guided Buying’ to deliver self-service tools integrated with purchasing policies to deliver improved compliance delivering massive benefits for the organisation.

So the theme was about using technology to make procurement have a positive impact on what we buy, where we get the goods or services from and what the business outcome will be of our buying decisions.

Everything from identifying and removing ‘Forced Labour’ from our supply chain to using intelligent technology to assist our buying decisions to ensure we are smart in what we buy and that our decisions meet policies, these and many more topics were presented through case studies and technology demonstrations, and then the ‘Why’ in procurement was addressed through intelligent sourcing with products like Guided Buying and SNAP.

One of the key messages I heard from attendees was about how technology can make the procurement processes easier, more efficient and through the data that is captured provide insight of our procurement habits and their impact on finance and our future procurement strategy.

Procurement as a seamless digital process

Procurement is becoming a seamless digital process, the buying experience we have on a Sunday with our families is being translated into our business lives, we want, no demand the same user experience, expect to be presented with intelligent options based on our preferences and historical patterns. We want to be offered options through a collaborative network of trusted partners and to be presented with settlement options, buy now, pay later etc.

Least, we forget suppliers! being able to access a buying network of this size and through the available technology receive insight of the behaviours and buying patterns, suppliers can intelligently manage their stock portfolio, commercial framework and provide surety of policy compliance for the buyers. I also heard that buyers and suppliers want to be able to communicate and submit trading documents easily and without restrictions.

A digital channel with 100% data accuracy

I was therefore immensely proud to be able to support the event on behalf of CloudTrade Technologies as the technology provider delivering the SAP Ariba Network’s latest invoice submission channel ‘PDF Uploader’ I attended 2 presentation slots that were addressing PDF Uploader and Invoice digitisation and automation, both sessions were oversubscribed. Buyers were expressing frustration in the fact that non Ariba Network transactions where the invoices is received via paper or email need to be manually keyed for posting. Those organisations that I talked with said that OCR was not reliable and resulted in manual effort to correct errors, so PDF uploader presented the ‘missing link’ in that it provides a digital channel with 100% data accuracy so receipt to post is fully automated. The interest in PDF Uploader was overwhelming and we look forward to supporting SAP Ariba in delivering this exciting technology to the Ariba network.

read how to use PDF to automate invoice processing

My biased comments aside for a moment (well what else would you expect?) this years event was massive in terms of the number of attendees, rich content and had bucket loads of innovative technologies to help us transform procurement and also we all came away understanding that technology is powerful when it becomes personal…Dream Bigger!