Similar to the Ariba LIVE conference last year, one of the main themes at the Ariba LIVE 2013 conference was again that Ariba, now an SAP company, is making it easier than ever for companies to connect to the Ariba Network and collaborate. Accordingly, Ariba and Dell Boomi announced that they are teaming up to deliver pre-packaged integration as a service offering for selling organizations.
Designed to simplify and speed up integration to the Ariba Network, the Ariba Integration Connector, powered by Dell Boomi Integration Packs, aims to enable companies to collaborate more efficiently. The first available connector, which integrates with Intuit QuickBooks, was officially unveiled at Ariba LIVE 2013. Additional connectors to enable sellers who own Microsoft Dynamics GP and Sage 50 (a.k.a., Sage Peachtree) to integrate with the Ariba Network are planned to be released later this year.
It’s a busy conference season and quarterly results reporting period. TEC is chugging down the coffee, keeping up with happenings in the supply chain space. Descartes has announced another acquisition this past week, and we share a few insights from our conversation with them. We also found ourselves on the phone recently with DCRA’s Jon Kirkegaard. TEC’s new Supply Chain Management (SCM) Market Survey Report is out, just before we head to AspenTech’s OPTIMIZE2013 this week. Lastly, the tragedy in Bangledesh should probably be a wake-up call to the importance of supply chain risk management. Where are you headed this week? What’s capturing your supply chain attention? Drop us a line.
Descartes has announced the acquisition of KSD Software Norway AS, a vendor of electronic customs filing solutions for countries in the EU, as well as Switzerland, Norway, Israel, the United States, and Canada. Descartes’ Chris Jones indicates that this is one of the larger of the half-dozen or so acquisitions that it has made in the past 3 years. Descartes obviously covets the additional users to the Descartes Global Logistics Network (adding 1,300 onto the currently cited >8,000 figure), as well as the $10 million in additional recurring revenue. Descartes also believes that, with this acquisition, it become the largest supply chain vendor in Scandinavia, and one of the largest in Europe. (Descartes’ presence in Europe has grown from perhaps a couple of dozen people in 2009 to more than 300 people today.) Descartes will have more to say about this acquisition in its next quarterly call scheduled for May 30. Read the rest of this entry »
SciQuest, a leading public provider of cloud-based business automation solutions, has announced the next major version of its spend management product suite. The latest version includes a redesigned user interface (UI) with consumer-like features and experiences similar to popular Web sites such as Amazon, Facebook, and LinkedIn. In short, SciQuest is bringing a consumer-like experience to business-to-business (B2B) shopping. Read the rest of this entry »
One of the major announcement sets at the recently held joint SAPPHIRE NOW and SAP TechEd event in Madrid, Spain, November 13-16, 2012, was about SAP’s plans to infuse SAP innovations into the world’s most powerful business network, Ariba Network. Through the recent combination of SAP and Ariba, close to 1 million companies are now connected to the Ariba Network—more than any other trading network. The introduction of SAP innovations in social, mobile, and cloud and the in-memory technology of the SAP HANA platform should logically drive global business-to-business (B2B) collaboration and achieve even higher levels of efficiency in sales, procurement, invoice, and payment processes as well as insights through the business network.
Part 1 of this blog series analyzed the positive impressions from my attendance of the AribaLIVE 2012 user event. Still, while it might appear that Ariba is firing on all cylinders, as is typically the case, Ariba is not all things to all people and no company is without issues. Thus this post will discuss some challenges and related rooms for improvement.
A recent blog post talked about my attendance of the AribaLIVE 2012 user event and outlined the main premise of the event: Ariba has become a public cloud commerce network provider first and foremost, while also offering additional related spend management software as required. The vendor is striving to become a business-to-business (B2B) commerce version of Amazon.com and eBay to enable painless transactions by providing a behind-the-scene universal business translator. For more details, see the keynote presentation by Ariba’s president Kevin Costello.
This is what cloud commerce is all about: leveraging the power of a network to make business commerce as easy as personal commerce. And this is the direction that Ariba will continue to take. The vendor has gone all out to expand the Ariba Network (and the cloud-based solutions delivered within it) and extend its position as the world’s largest and most global business network. And these moves are apparently paying off.
SAP and Ariba apparently have good poker faces, since during their recent user events, AribaLIVE 2012 and SAPPHIRE NOW 2012, there was no inkling of this development. At first glance, this is a good fit, as a plethora of large SAP customers use both Ariba Network and Ariba’s procurement, sourcing, contract management, e-invoicing, etc. software (in fact, in the early 2000s, the name Ariba was taboo at SAP’s Waldorf HQ, and Ariba was a competitor that SAP loved to hate). Read the rest of this entry »
After a hiatus of several years, the stars and planets were again aligned for me to be able to attend the AribaLIVE conference in early April 2012. And boy, what a difference several years can make! The last time I attended, in the mid-2000s, Ariba was behind its worst times of the early 2000s and the dotcom ”boom and crash.” For those that are not sure what I am talking about, in the early 2000s, Ariba had quite over-invested in its resource-heavy and inflexible client-server supplier exchanges and was bleeding cash.
The turnaround started when the company decided to focus on spend management software and know-how (sourcing, contract management, spend analysis, invoice automation, etc.), rather than on merely providing the “plumbing” for procurement transactions between trading partners. While the financial performance and posture of Ariba were noticeably improved by the mid-2000s, the company was still criticized by some market observers as being too conservative and focusing on traditional solutions.
Sure, to most of us accounting sounds as exciting as watching paint dry, but no business can survive without properly managing its financial means. Especially in these days of scarce cash, processing invoices faster and more accurately by the accounts payable (A/P) or billing department is critical so that the accounts receivable (A/R) folks can get their cash faster. An efficient A/P function is something that all companies want, but few have been able to achieve.
My recent post Why don’t Potential Benefits of Spend Analysis Come by Easily? described typical challenges of comprehensive spend management solutions. On one hand, there are difficulties associated with massive spend data acquisition and subsequent classification and enrichment, and on the other hand, with presentation and analysis when done using rigid business intelligence (BI) tools over predefined database schemas. I analyzed some examples of automated spend analysis process improvements via expert systems and search engines, but they might also come with different shortcomings.
I concluded my post with hints of some solutions that leverage dynamic on-demand databases and easy-to-use Google-like analytic tools (dashboards) to overcome many of the challenges that previous generation spend analysis and data classification solutions fail to address.
For years (if not decades) now, but especially during tough economic times, companies have been trying to better analyze their enterprise spend over their comprehensive pools of sourcing categories (and individual items and commodities within these categories) and suppliers.
The idea here is to find room for improvement and savings by pinpointing strategic centralized (consolidated) procurement opportunities for a better negotiating power, discovering better (and worse) performing contracts and their individual terms and clauses, by eliminating costly maverick spending, and by dealing only with the best and most reliable suppliers. For more information, see my previous blog series entitled “Are Spend Management (or SRM) apps Suited for the Mid-market?” and TEC’s article entitled “Thou Shalt Manage (and Cherish) Thy (Best) Suppliers.”
While many companies have experienced significant benefits and improvements by deploying spend analysis solutions from specialists such as Ariba, BravoSolution, Emptoris, Oracle, Proactis, SAP, SAS, and Zycus, those benefits do not come by easily or cheaply. Namely, every comprehensive spend analysis implementation is, in fact, an implementation of a sophisticated business intelligence (BI) solution.
My recent article entitled “Why Should Enterprises Manage their Contracts Closely?” analyzed the importance of enterprise-wide contract lifecycle management (CLM) solutions and stated that many enterprises still use inappropriate makeshift tools to manage their important contractual terms and conditions. The article concluded with the fact that enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems handle transactional details of an organization whereas CLM systems handle contract and commitment management. In other words, there is room for both systems in an organization to work in tandem.
My recent series about the merger of JDA Software and i2 Technologies raised the issue whether any independent software vendor (ISV) can at the same time be a successful professional service provider (even without considering a possible conflict with its service provider partners). Coincidentally or not, in early October Ariba sent a message to the market that its focus going forward will be on becoming a trading partner network provider with its on-demand software at the core to facilitate trading transactions.
What happened? Accenture acquired the sourcing services and business process outsourcing (BPO) business from Ariba for a reported US$51 million price tag (after scrutinizing Ariba’s Form 8K filing with the US SEC, it appears that the actual net purchase price was in the neighborhood of US$40 million). This transaction involved approximately 160 people operating in about 20 countries with notable category expertise, sourcing process expertise, and strategic sourcing execution expertise.
Part 1 of this blog series introduced PROACTIS, a UK- and US-based specialist vendor of spend control and e-procurement solutions with accredited partners worldwide. I had the chance to meet the company during my attendance of UNIT4’s UK user event in early 2010, where PROACTIS was an exhibiting partner.
The article then expanded on the company’s history, its procure-to-pay product offering, customers, and partners. Part 2 will analyze recent events, starting with the latest product developments.
In this day and age of news flying fast over the Internet and tweets reaching every nook and cranny of the world, it still took physical attendance at an overseas event for me to learn about a lesser-known successful software vendor. Namely, during my attendance of UNIT4’s user event in the UK in early 2010, I encountered PROACTIS as UNIT4’s exhibiting partner for spend management and e-procurement solutions.
PROACTIS Group, a wholly owned subsidiary of PROACTIS Holdings Plc, was founded in 1996 under the name Get Real Systems Ltd. The company’s first product release was called the Dream Suite and was launched in 1997. The next product’s generation was named PROACTIS 2 and launched in the late 1990s as a PowerBuilder-based client-server software suite.