Innovation Matters in Procure-to-Pay

Beyond Bells and Whistles

When it comes to software, vendors need to balance providing a compelling vision against delivering sophisticated features and ease of use.

All are key factors as buying decisions are made. But as technology continues to change at the speed of light and companies appear and disappear, having a strong vision is becoming as much of a factor in buying decisions as usability and price.

Customers are users and users are people – individuals with hearts and minds that want to love the solutions they use

Consider the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Procure-to-Pay Suites, 2016. The new report evaluated 12 different software vendors on 15 criteria in two main categories: “completeness of vision” and “ability to execute.” And this says a lot.

Today’s customers expect software to be simple and they want to future proof their investment. What they want is innovation. And innovation isn’t driven by just making things look nice or eliminating clicks to make things easier.

It comes when you combine simple with a business model that rethinks the very way business is done and enable totally new processes that drive adoption. How can you deliver this?

Know Your Customer

For far too long “enterprise customers” have been treated by company name. What is very clear today is that users are deciding the fate of enterprise software providers.

Customers are users and users are people – individuals with hearts and minds that want to love the solutions they use. Get to know them. Understand – and even anticipate – their needs and preferences. Design everything with them in mind.

Paint a Vision

Start by seeing things through customers’ eyes. Then listen to them.

I love the “aha” moment when a customer conversation gives a clear vision of the future. Market studies, reports and internal brainstorming are great at predicting trends.

But they can’t give you the clarity that your customers can. Customers will challenge you to think differently and deliver innovations that truly move the needle – not just for their companies, but entire industries.

Like the customer I recently spoke to who has been tasked with managing the continuity of service that his company and its products provide.

He’s not interested in just creating an efficient ordering system when a piece of technology breaks down. He wants to build a system that predicts when a device may need a new part and automatically triggers the ordering of a replacement part.

I love this type of thinking because it leads to real innovation aimed at real problems. And it’s a classic example of how innovation for one can benefit all.

Make it a Reality

Innovation matters to people. It gives them the power in their roles and in their journey to transform their companies and do amazing things.

In the last year, SAP Ariba has significantly increased our speed of innovation, announcing:

  • An open platform that can be extended directly by our customers or through our partners through open APIs and eForms
  • A multi-funder supply chain financing platform that will change the game by linking all of the data companies needed to manage transactions and financing events in one place
  • A guided buying experience that enables people to find and immediately buy the goods and services they need to do their jobs as easily as they might buy a pair of shoes or find a plumber—but in compliance with their company policies
  • Light enablement for suppliers that allows them to collaborate with buyers around purchase orders, confirmations, and invoices using an interactive email service—no portals to manage or business process changes required
  • Standard integration to the world’s leading solution to manage an external workforce – SAP Fieldglass.

These innovations are not just redefining the source-to-pay process. They are enabling companies to conduct commerce in a completely new way. And making procurement awesome.

As one customer recently wrote me in an email: “Every single user of the Ariba P2P module LOVES Ariba! OMG!

Today we were at a meeting and three users were like cheerleaders praising Ariba and said they want t-shirts that say ‘we love P2P.’”

This is why innovation matters.

About the Author

Alex Atzberger is President of SAP Ariba, which is jointly named a leader in the June 2016 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Procure-to-Pay Suites with SAP Fieldglass for both completeness of vision and ability to execute. To read the full report, click here.

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