Graphic.card.FINAL.Sundar_Kamak_future-of-business_quote_1-LI.jpgWhat’s the key to success for sourcing and procurement leaders? According to Ariba’s Sundar Kamakshisundaram, it’s summed up in one word … collaboration. 




When leaders collaborate inside their organizations, with their customers, and across their supply chains, they can drive savings, efficiency, compliance and innovation. Collaboration is increasingly a top strategy for sourcing and procurement leaders. And collaboration powered by technology ensures that information and insights can be shared and analyzed across the company. The result is a greater level of influence with C-suite executives. 


Sundar is vice president of solutions marketing for Ariba and he will host a series of talks at Ariba LIVE, which takes place April 7 to 9 in Las Vegas and 8 to 10 June in Munich. I spoke with Sundar about the evolving role of souring and procurement leaders.  


Q. In your view, what is the future of business commerce? 

It’s all about collaboration and innovation. Companies are looking to collaborate better with suppliers, partners, and customers, with a particular focus on optimizing revenue and profits. Collaboration enables a variety of opportunities and needs that businesses face, such as discovering sources of suppliers in new markets and making payments easier for suppliers.   


Companies today operate in communities with their customers, partners and suppliers.  The only way to achieve the scale required for collaboration across these communities --- the supply chain -- is through business networks. They recognize that their organizations need to be at a much higher pace of collaboration to achieve innovation. Without scalable collaboration, it will be difficult for businesses to thrive. 


Q. What will Ariba LIVE attendees hear that may be new to them? 

One of the sessions that I’m excited to introduce this year looks at the growth of influence that chief procurement officers are having within their enterprises. Purchasing has moved away from being a back-office function to becoming a key strategic engine. Before ascending to the CEO post at Apple, Tim Cook led procurement and supply chain operations. He has talked about going outside his comfort zone and injecting supply chain throughout the organization. Similarly, we’re seeing other leaders emerge from the procurement and supply chain ranks like GM CEO Mary Barra


The session, Expanding the CPO Sphere of Influence Beyond Procurement, will feature a panel discussion with Tom Donatelli, CPO of Teva Pharmaceuticals – North America, and Norbert Riezler, SVP and Chief Procurement and Sustainability Officer for the Las Vegas Sands. Collaboration within and outside the enterprise is key to drive business imperatives and deliver value beyond savings. Both Tom and Norbert will share how they have each leveraged collaborative processes and technologies to boost business success.  


Q. Is there a common challenge or aspiration you hear from procurement leaders?

It depends on the context and varies among organizations. For example, oil and gas companies often use contingent workers to dig wells. This is a notable spend category that both procurement and HR need to manage. For services organizations, such as law firms and consultancies, travel and expense is a huge spend category.  While these two areas are different, procurement leaders want to gain control because the greater the control, the greater the opportunities are to identify and capture savings. 


Getting visibility into the total spend landscape is critical. If 50% of total spend isn’t compliant, you’ve got a huge spend issue. When Leslie Campbell was CPO at Reed Elsevier, she focused on spend analytics. Initially, other leaders thought she was trying to exercise too much control over their functions.  However, she was able to deliver insights to the organization that it wasn’t aware of -- which enabled smarter spend management and strategic planning. 


Connect with Sundar on Twitter @ksundar1. Stay tuned to the latest news and conversation about Ariba LIVE by following the #AribaLIVE hashtag on Twitter.