PALO ALTO, Calif. – Twenty years ago, procurement was a manual function driven largely by phone calls, faxes and handshakes. Then along came the Internet. And a company named Ariba. And everything changed. It all started with the idea that buying and selling among businesses didn’t need to be so hard. That with the right technology, companies could automate the process and interact in totally new ways that enhance their top and bottom lines.
“As one of its first fully integrated suppliers, we have improved our efficiency by processing thousands of orders and invoices through the network seamlessly.”
“What Ariba was talking about in 1996 was a revolutionary concept,” said Shelley Stewart, Vice President and Chief Procurement Officer at DuPont Company. “We took a big chance in embracing it at the time, but it has clearly paid off. Technology and networks have completely changed the way business is done and helped to move procurement from a tactical function to a strategic driver of business value.”
Zachary Engels, Senior Analyst, Sourcing, PolyOne Corporation, agrees. “For us, procurement has always been about more than just savings. Our goal is to drive supply chain efficiency on a global scale,” he said. “And although it seemed crazy at the time, we realized that technology and business networks could help us do this and increase the value we deliver to our organization.”
Focused on Innovation
SAP Ariba paved the way for this transition through innovations that over the last two decades have completely changed the way buyers and suppliers connect and get business done. The company for instance:
- Launched the first online catalog for procurement.
- Developed the first software to conduct reverse auctions.
- Created the Ariba Network, the first business network that today is the largest, most global on the planet, with more than 2 million companies transacting nearly $1 trillion in commerce on an annual basis.
- Delivered comprehensive suite of cloud-based procurement applications ranked first among all vendors.
- Went live with Ariba Discovery, a global business matching service that automatically connects buyer needs with seller capabilities.
- Rolled out Ariba Spot Buy, the first solution to combine the technology, content and expertise needed to gain visibility into unplanned buys with workflow capabilities to get them under control.
- Released AribaPay, an electronic payment solution identified as the most Disruptive and Best B2B Innovation.
- Delivered Guided Buying, a contextual experience that automatically leads users to the goods and services they need to do their jobs, then guides them through executing purchases in compliance with their company policies and processes.
- Opened its platform, allowing companies to develop and deliver new commerce services that drive value for their organizations, their customers and anyone connected to the Ariba Network using open APIs.
Committed to Customer Success
SAP Ariba continues to push the limits of what is possible and deliver innovations that fuel business transformation.
“It’s always good to see vendors doing some hard work and heavy lifting to help their customers move faster and better, delivering innovative tools they can use to come up with new business processes, new strategies and new directions that make them much more strategic,” said Holger Mueller, Principal Analyst & Vice President Constellation Research, Inc.
Ken Redler says this is exactly what SAP Ariba has helped his company do. At a time when many were still questioning the viability of the Internet as a tool for business, Redler, the Chief Technology Officer of cSubs, whose business is helping companies procure, manage, and analyze their knowledge resources, knew it was the future.
“We had customers coming to us saying, ‘This is the way we are going to do business,’” he recalls. “So we had to put an eCommerce platform in place.”
In 2005, Redler and his team set up a catalog on the Ariba Network to give its customers a simple, consumer-like way to manage the content flowing into their organizations. Within two years, 25 percent of the company’s business was coming from it.
In 2012, cSubs took things to the next level and leveraged the network to go to market with Clarity, a new licensed content and contract management solution that gives companies centralized control of their electronic content tasks and analytics. “In doing so, we became a more strategic partner and gained a tremendous leg up in competing with much larger companies,” Redler said.
The idea of moving from bricks to clicks wasn’t something most big box retailers were even thinking about 20 years ago. Office Depot joined the Ariba Network in 1996 and created a digital procure-to-pay process that has optimized the way it operates.
“Office Depot values our long-time relationship with SAP Ariba,” said Emile Naguib, senior product manager for Office Depot, Inc.“As one of its first fully integrated suppliers, we have improved our efficiency by processing thousands of orders and invoices through the network seamlessly.”
Looking to the Future
Procurement is no doubt a different function than it was two decades ago. But the transformation has only begun. “No longer just about managing spend and delivering savings, procurement today is about creating opportunities for both buyers and sellers to connect and collaborate across the entire source to settle process in totally new ways that create commerce and drive business advantage,” said Alex Atzberger, president, SAP Ariba.
This not only requires a new approach, but innovative tools to support it. And SAP Ariba is expected to remain at the forefront of delivering them.
“The forward-looking road map has never been more exciting,” said Simon Ellis, Program Vice President, Supply Chain, IDC Manufacturing Insights. “SAP Ariba is clearly on the right road to becoming the best-in-class procurement vendor. The company started as a leading procurement vendor and has continued to evolve with new and innovative solutions and a business network that help companies deliver better commerce.”
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