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Machinery_273036_h_ergb_s_gl.jpgIllinois Tool Works (ITW), a multinational manufacturer of industrial products and equipment, relies on its global supplier base to produce value-added products along with outstanding customer service. But to maintain its position in the marketplace and gain a competitive advantage, ITW needed to better manage its global sourcing spend, reduce costs, and embed sourcing as a key capability.



ITW’s established a sourcing strategy that made Ariba Discovery postings a key task for all new projects, allowing for standardization and a speedy ramp up. Ariba Discovery has enabled ITW to create robust postings, which encourage suppliers to 'self-select,’ giving their sourcing professionals more time to manage their categories.



ITW has also leveraged Ariba Discovery to build a repository of potential suppliers, eliminating single-source supplier dependencies. In addition to growing their trove of new suppliers, ITW has been able to uncover previously unknown capabilities of existing suppliers; both of which add on to cost savings.



"With Ariba Discovery we can quickly find, qualify and add new suppliers to sourcing events, creating a more competitive environment." said Ashley Moore, e-Sourcing Analyst, ITW.



On March 18, ITW will discuss how it is using Ariba Discovery to enhance its supply base and in turn, reduce both costs and risk, at Ariba LIVE, the business commerce event of the year to be held at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas March 17-19. ITW is part of a blue-chip roster of companies set to present at Ariba LIVE. To view additional speakers and breakout session topics, and to register, visit the Ariba LIVE website:



View the Illinois Tool Works case study or read their press release to learn more.



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If you are planning on attending Ariba LIVE, make sure to arrive early on Monday, March 17th for hands-on pre-conference training.

In session #3, titled, “Ariba Sourcing Event Management Advanced Features and Discovery,” Ariba Sourcing Pro users learn advanced functionality in order to get the most out of their Ariba Sourcing Pro module. Through a combination of lecture and demonstration, users have the opportunity to learn about these sophisticated functions. Features covered include:

  • Ariba Discovery: Learn about the benefits of Discovery, including how the matching process works and best practices on how to maximize the value of each posting.
  • Scoring in Ariba Sourcing Pro: Learn how scoring works through topics ranging from buyer setup (including weights, importance, target grade, and pre-graded vs. post-graded questions), to grading an event as a team grader, and completing the process as a project owner, using the Adjust Grade for Consensus option.
  • Data Import/Export using Excel: Save time! And learn tips and tricks for using Microsoft Excel to quickly load data into your sourcing events. Also, learn how to extract data results quickly for a side-by-side analysis of your event results.
  • Custom Offline Response Sheet: Learn how to handle events that go beyond system limitations by using this advanced method of collecting and mapping of data.
  • Sourcing Library: Standardize event content and format by taking advantage of the Sourcing Library. Learn how to add event from the library and help reduce cycle times.



Visit the Ariba LIVE Pre-Conference Training site to learn more and to register.



Visit Ariba Discovery and follow Ariba Discovery on Twitter.

weather map.jpg

Though we are only about a month in, 2014 will certainly be a memorable year, especially due to the strange weather it is giving us. As Florida and parts of the West Coast are experiencing summer temperatures in January, the rest of the country is facing record-breaking low temperatures. There are snow storms in South Carolina and fire danger and drought warnings in California. But we are in luck; Sunday February 2nd is Groundhog Day!



If you aren’t familiar with this obscure holiday based on German folklore, read on for some background and how you can use Ariba Discovery to prepare.



Groundhog Day is celebrated on February 2nd. According to folklore, if it is cloudy when a groundhog surfaces from its burrow on Groundhog Day, then spring will come early; if it is sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its burrow, and the winter weather will continue for six more weeks. The largest Groundhog Day celebration is held in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. The cheeky groundhog, appropriately named Punxsutawney Phil, has starred in a 1993 movie, appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show, and, during Prohibition, threatened to impose 60 weeks of winter on the community if he wasn't allowed a drink.


Preparing for an Early Spring

Some recent postings on Ariba Discovery show that many people are betting on an early spring. There a plenty of posts for warm weather clothing including t-shirts, caps, skirts, and sandals. People are getting excited for outdoor activities searching for beach towels and swimwear as well as camping gear. A few sports-lovers are looking forward to spring weather, seeking tennis racquets and golf clubs. And some people are ready to relax with a cold drink from a beverage cooler and the breeze of a fan in their hair.Groundhog.jpg



Preparing for Six More Weeks of Winter

On the other hand, there have also been some recent Ariba Discovery posts from buyers betting on six more weeks of winter. They are looking for winter gear including sweaters, coats and scarves. Some people are clearly counting on more rain with posts for umbrellas and rain gutters. A few people are even banking on additional snow storms searching for road salt and gas generators. And others are content to snuggle with a warm blanket until spring finally comes.


No matter the outcome Punxsutawney Phil provides, you are sure to find anything you need, from A to Z, using Ariba Discovery. So what do you think? Will Punxsutawney Phil see his shadow indicating more winter weather, or will he be shadow-less predicting an early spring? Cast your vote here.




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E-Commerce-Loyalty-7.25.12.jpgB2B e-commerce is not just something you have to use to meet customer demands. It is not just a good way to boost transaction efficiency and cut costs. In fact, if it is done right, e-commerce can also help drive new revenue, strengthen customer retention, and grow sales in existing accounts. Both small and large business alike can achieve these results.


So what is the secret to this kind of success? Though there is no perfect formula, following best practices and lessons learned by other sellers can help you get started. Read on to hear one seller’s insights along with practical tips you can use.


The Transformative Power of B2B E-Commerce

In a recent webinar, “E-Commerce: the B2B Marketer’s Secret Weapon”, Heather Westerman, eBusiness team lead of large accounts for Lexmark International, shared how her company is using B2B e-commerce as a transformative business tool to gain benefits such as:

  • 98% retention of customers using e-commerce solutions
  • Improved customer satisfaction (moving from ~5-6 up to ~9 on a 10-point scale)
  • Higher sales
  • 25% year-over-year growth in the number of accounts with e-commerce solutions


Lexmark’s approach is not unusual. Research shows that a growing number of sellers are leveraging B2B e-commerce as a competitive differentiator. For example, in a 2013 BtoB magazine survey of selling organizations, 32 percent named their e-commerce website among their most important marketing channels—ranked just below their website for branding. Why? In addition to reducing costs, participants cited “emergence of B2B e-commerce as a strategic asset led by senior management” along with “improved image of organization as a forward-thinking digital enterprise” as top reasons for embracing e-commerce. 


The Lexmark Evolution

Lexmark’s eBusiness solutions team was launched in 2008 as part of a decision to shift B2B e-commerce responsibility from IT into marketing—a move more companies are expected to make as the alliance between the CIO and CMO functions becomes stronger. The change was spurred by the need to 1) address customer satisfaction issues, 2) understand and translate technical features into sales functionality, and 3) deliver a best-in-class web experience and user interface.


The team was also asked to create tools and reporting that could be used for sales and IT as well as marketing—a tricky proposition requiring them to bridge widely divergent perspectives by collaborating across multiple departments. “Without this collaboration, the customer’s experience and satisfaction are impacted,” Heather says.


From Appeasing Customers to Pleasing Them

What began primarily as a customer demand and management challenge, however, soon evolved into something greater. Today the eBusiness solutions team serves as a valuable resource in the sales team’s toolkit and a stepping stone to deepen customer engagement. “We’re able to do more at a lower cost now because we took the time to develop a platform, and it has become a direct marketing and sales tool to our customers,” Heather says. The website serves as a one-stop shop that eliminates guesswork. “Customers no longer need to search all over the place for the information they need regarding products, price, or even whom to contact. A single URL is shared, and the customer communicates that out for all employees to use, ensuring that everyone receives the same information and shopping experience globally.”


Customers also enjoy an easy, experience when buying from Lexmark. “We really aspired to create that B2C experience in the B2B world,” Heather says. “The complexities didn’t go away; we just pushed them to the technology, so the customer didn’t have to deal with them.”


Lexmark’s Lessons Learned

  • Your company’s blemishes will show on the web. “Anything you have in terms of pricing issues, disconnects in product information, or breaks in the supply chain or customer support will become very evident on the web,” Heather says. This makes it crucial to document processes and have contingency plans in place to ensure fast resolution when breakdowns occur. “The worst thing that can happen is an issue arises and the customer is the first one telling you there’s a problem.”
  • Invest in building a team to support your e-solution. “Having the right skill sets in place is key to keeping everything running smoothly once you launch,” Heather says. Lexmark’s team covers both internal and customer-facing tasks, with clearly defined roles to cover every major need—a significant part of which is managing culture shift.
  • Build technical solutions with scalability in mind. “Often we had salespeople come to us and ask for functionality for a specific customer,” Heather explains. “We said, well, what if other customers are going to need this? Let’s not just build it for one, let’s build it for all.”
  • Support customers from site to ship on the web. “Understand that your customers who begin their shopping experience on the web want to stay on the web, so it’s very important to centralize customer service [online],” Heather says.


Measure Results to Escalate Impact

Research indicates that best-in-class companies track their e-commerce ROI, and Lexmark meets this mark while keeping customers top of mind. “The ROI for an e-business solution is not just measured in dollars or units sold, though we do track them,” Heather says. “Our primary focus is customer satisfaction and analytics. If a customer is dissatisfied, it can cost us the business. So we make it easy for customers to leave us feedback; we track how many customers we retain each year, how many new customers are added, the number of order issues, and how long it takes us to resolve the issue. Most recently, we have seen customers expand their business with us.” The simplicity and ease of use provided by the company’s e-commerce solution have been key drivers of this growth.


This article originally appeared in the Supply Lines group.


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2014-new-years-resolution-be-more-awesome.jpgWhile setting goals or New Year’s Resolutions, people often overlook setting professional goals. Over the past few weeks, I have been speaking with Ariba Discovery suppliers to learn some simple steps buyers can take to “become a better buyer” and accomplish their professional New Year’s Resolutions and goals. In Part 1 of the “Becoming a Better Buyer” series, we discussed supplier diversity. In today’s follow-up, we will discuss a second goal, commitment to collaboration.


A buyer’s success on Ariba Discovery – as any buyer/supplier relationship for that matter – largely depends on their ability to communicate and collaborate with suppliers. Although the following examples are geared toward buyers using Ariba Discovery, they are applicable to any transaction between a buyer and seller.



Tip #1: Be detailed when describing what you want. People cannot read minds. If you went into a hardware store and a salesperson offered to help you find something you couldn’t just say you needed “tools.” You have to be detailed, for example: “I am looking for a handheld, 8 inch, Phillips head screwdriver and 1 and 5/8 inch Phillips drywall screws.” The same goes with postings on Ariba Discovery. Make sure to choose the specific categories and sales territories relevant to the posting. Provide a detailed description of your buying needs and attach relevant documents.



Tip #2: Be clear and upfront in what disqualifies a supplier. If a supplier needs to be local or deliver within two business days, be upfront about those facts in your posting. Are references required? Again, that information needs to be available in your initial posting so suppliers know if they qualify for your opportunity.Question-People.jpg



Tip #3: Answer all supplier questions in a timely manner. Even if your posting is incredibly detailed, some suppliers may still have questions or require additional information before they respond to your posting. This is sometimes because the supplier may have some innovation that will help you become more competitive but they want to make sure it is appropriate for your business.   Remember, suppliers are typically domain experts in their particular space, so leverage their knowledge to help you make the best buying decision.  So, make sure to answer all of their questions in a timely manner to give suppliers enough time to respond by your posting deadline.



Tip #4: Respond to all suppliers. Suppliers may have put considerable time into preparing their offers. It is important to close the loop with all suppliers who took the time to respond – whether or not you decide to move forward with them. This will also allow you to build a reputation as a good buyer to work with and provide you a list of back-up suppliers and potential suppliers for future projects.




Tip #5: Provide feedback and rate your suppliers. Ariba Discovery is free for buyers to use, but suppliers pay a fee to respond to your posting. Even if they are not awarded the business, every supplier deserves feedback to know why they did not win your business and what they could do to improve their chances in the future. If a supplier gave a thorough, timely response to your posting, take the time to rate them, regardless if they won your business that time. Many buyers consider supplier ratings when making their decisions so your feedback is helpful. In the end, suppliers are hunters, they don’t expect to win every time but they do want to know if it is good hunting ground so quack by providing feedback to let them know you are a serious buyer. This feedback is what helps keep the supplier quality high on Ariba Discovery.



Read the Buyer Posting Tips Datasheet for more tips and tricks.



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