Graphic.card.Tim.networkedcommunities.jpgThey say no man is an island. And the same holds true for procurement. As the function continues its transformation, it is becoming increasingly connected and collaborative. And as business becomes increasingly global, this trend will only accelerate.


“The future of business commerce demands higher levels of agility and knowledge frameworks,” says Tim Minahan, CMO for SAP Cloud and Line of Business.It’s enabled through networked communities that connect people with applications, intelligence and partners to discover and collaborate in the simplest way possible.”


I spoke with Tim about this year’s Ariba LIVE theme, the Future of Business Commerce, and the successes that companies are gaining by leveraging business networks. This blog is the second in a two-part series of my conversation with Tim.


Q:  When you speak with leaders at other companies, how do they view business networks?


Companies view them as the next wave of business productivity.  Specifically, leaders look to see how they can tap into them to drive greater efficiencies that yield improvements in both productivity and performance.


The perfect order is quite frankly, a perfect example, of the kind of business productivity that networks can drive. With the perfect order, the right product is delivered at the right time and place, under the right conditions with the right quantity and documentation, including the correct invoice. Achieving this involves automation and networked collaboration with suppliers. It drives unnecessary costs out of the supply chain and mutually benefits procurement organizations and their suppliers.  But it can only be done at scale in a networked environment.


Sales leaders can drive a number of advantages through networks. Today’s B2B buyers expect an integrated, consistent and knowledgeable purchasing experience.  They want to find the same product information, price and availability through e-commerce sites, retail stores and business networks. Companies like HP are taking advantage of business networks and omni-channel commerce strategies to deliver a simple and consistent buying experience that is personalized and contextualized to gain stronger loyalty and share-of-wallet from their customers.



Q:  Is there one particular story that you’re excited to hear at Ariba LIVE?


I am really looking forward to AIG’s story of procurement transformation.  A lot of companies hit a plateau after their initial phase of procurement integration.  AIG has implemented total spend management across their global operations using Ariba, SAP, Fieldglass and Concur.  Their procurement team has cultivated a strong, collaborative relationship with legal to achieve savings for this area of complex services. AIG’s approach is a reflection of the business networks vision that SAP has communicated to the marketplace.


Q:  What insight do you most want attendees to take away from Ariba LIVE?


No matter where your company is in the maturity of its procurement operations, you can start on the path to transformation and implement business networks and the cloud-based applications on them to advance your organization. Just pick the place that makes the most sense for your business needs. Some companies start with spend analysis to gain better visibility into their overall spend activities. Others start with compliance to implement stronger spend control and best practices within their organizations. Companies that focus on B2B sales can start by joining Ariba Discovery to gain sales leads and build their e-commerce business.


Interested to learn more from Tim? Check out part one of this blog series, where Tim outlines the trends shaping business commerce and how leading companies are taking advantage of these trends to drive business growth and operations optimization.


Connect with Tim via Twitter at @tminahan and read his blog postings at SAP Business Trends.


Stay tuned to the latest news and conversation about Ariba LIVE by following the #AribaLIVE hashtag on Twitter.