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Innovations Drive Business Networking By @Dana_Gardner | @CloudExpo [#Cloud]

Ariba elevates business user experience with improved mobile apps and interfaces

Innovations Drive Business Networking Forward

LAS VEGAS -- Ariba today announced innovations to its cloud-based applications and global business network designed to deliver a personal, contextual and increasingly mobile-first user experience for business applications consumers.

Among the announcements are a newly designed user interface (UI) and a mobile app based on the SAP Fiori approach, both due to be available this summer, for Ariba's core procurement, spend management, and other line of business apps. Ariba, an SAP company, made the announcements here at the Ariba LIVE conference in Las Vegas.

"This gives us a cleaner approach, more tiles, and a Fiori-like user experience," said Chris Haydon, Ariba Senior Vice President of Product Management. "Users see all the business network elements in one dashboard, with a native UI for a common, simple experience for Ariba apps upstream and down."

The new UI offers an intuitive experience that simplifies task and process execution for all users – from frontline requisitioners to strategic sourcing professionals, said Ariba. [Disclosure: Ariba is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

Users see all the business network elements in one dashboard, with a native UI for a common, simple experience for Ariba apps upstream and down.

The goal is to make the business users want to conduct their B2B processes and transactions using these new interfaces and experiences, in effect having them demand them of their employers. User-driven productivity is therefore a new go-to market for Ariba, with simplicity and everywhere-enabled interactions with processes a growing differentiator.

"We want to make it easier to use the central procurement department, rather than to go around it," said Cirque du Soleil Supply Chain Senior Director Nadia Malek. Ariba Sourcing, she said, helps Montreal-based Cirque standardize to keep all of its many shows going around the world. And by having all the Ariba apps funnel into SAP, they can keep costs managed, on a pay-as-you-go basis and still keep all the end users' needs met and controlled.

In another nod to consumer-level ease in business, B2B enterprise buying on Ariba increasingly looks like an Amazon consumer online shopping experience, with one-click to procure from approved catalogs of items from approved suppliers. Search-driven navigation also makes the experience powerful while simple, said Haydon.

Behind the pretty pictures is an increasingly powerful network and platform, built on SAP HANA. Network-centric and activity-context-aware apps allow Ariba to simplify processes across the cloud, on-premises, and partner ecosystem continuum for its global users. The interface serves up only what the users need at that time, and is context aware to the user's role and needs.

"The future of commerce means processes across multiple business networks, on any device, with shared insights by all," said Tim Minahan, Senior Vice President at Ariba.

Scale and reach

The Ariba Network supports these apps and services in new terms of scale and reach as well. Every minute the Ariba Network adds a new supplier, and every day, it fields 1.5 million catalog searches while generating $1.8 billion in commerce, said Ariba.

"Business strong, consumer simple" is the concept guiding Ariba's user experience development, said new incoming Ariba President Alex Atzberger. And SAP is increasingly focusing on far-reaching processes among and between companies to better control total spend and innovate around the analytics of such activities, he said.

Some 1.7 million companies are now connected by Ariba, more than for Alibaba, eBay and Amazon combined.

Some 1.7 million companies are now connected by Ariba, more than for Alibaba, eBay and Amazon combined, said Atzberger.

Ariba is also in the process of integrating with SAP HANA and other recent SAP acquisitions, including Concur and Fieldglass. Haydon emphasized that Ariba is striving to make those integrations invisible to users.

"Ariba is leveraging SAP HANA to integrate Concur, S4HANA, and Fieldglass, with no middleware needed," said Haydon.

The scale and sophistication of the Network and its data is also enabling new levels of automated risk management to Ariba and SAP users. The Hackett Group says more than half of the companies surveyed recently see reducing supply risk as a key initiative.

The scale and sophistication of the Network and its data is also enabling new levels of automated risk management to Ariba and SAP users. ata-driven risk management is increasingly being embedded across supply chain and procurement apps and processes, says Ariba. Now, the risk of businesses having forced labor or other illegal labor practices inside their supply chain is being uncovered.

Made in a Free World

Also at the conference here, Ariba announced a alliance with San Francisco-based non-profit Made in a Free World to help eliminate modern day slavery from the supply chain. Ariba has donated part of the Ariba LIVE registrations to help fund further development of Made in a Free World's supply chain risk analysis tool, which improve a business's visibility of their supply chain.

Also at Ariba LIVE, the company presented T-Mobile with its 2015 Network Innovation Award. T-Mobile was an early adopter of Ariba Pay, a  cloud-based solution designed to digitize the "pay" in "procedure-to- pay." Prior to Ariba Pay, the payment process was largely paper based, making it costly and inefficient.

Disruption fuels innovation. And innovation drives advantage.

“Emerging payment technologies are certainly disruptive,” said Atzberger. “But as T-Mobile proves, disruption fuels innovation. And innovation drives advantage. And for this, we are pleased to recognize the company with the 2015 Network Innovation Award.”

But the mobile enablement and so-called "total user experience" improvements seemed the most welcomed by the audience. The experience factor may well prove to be where Ariba and SAP can outpace their competitors and fundamentally change how enterprises use business services.

For example, for all Ariba users -- from technicians on the plant floor to sales people in client meetings -- the company now provides a mobile app, Ariba Mobile, which is available from the Apple App Store or Google Play. With the app, users can quickly and easily view, track, and act on requisitions from their mobile devices, transforming the speed and efficiency with which work gets done. Ariba’s approach is not just about replicating existing user interactions onto mobile devices, but providing continuity between desktop interactions and working outside the office.

Easy access

“The Ariba Mobile app provides our requisition approvers with easy access to requisitions anywhere, anytime and gives them the information they need to make spend decisions while keeping up with global demand,” said Alice Hillary, P2P Enablement Lead at John Wiley and Sons. “Using the app, approvers can view their requests in a sleek interface and access details in an easier-to-read format than general emails. The feature has also helped us to address security concerns with approvals done through email.”

And as part of planned innovations, Ariba will provide access to templates, best practices, videos and more within many of its applications, beginning with its Seller solutions. Users will also be able tap directly into the Ariba Exchange Community, enabling collaboration within the context of their apps with professionals who have the expertise, experience, and knowledge to help them execute a process such as responding to an RFP or creating an auction.

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More Stories By Dana Gardner

At Interarbor Solutions, we create the analysis and in-depth podcasts on enterprise software and cloud trends that help fuel the social media revolution. As a veteran IT analyst, Dana Gardner moderates discussions and interviews get to the meat of the hottest technology topics. We define and forecast the business productivity effects of enterprise infrastructure, SOA and cloud advances. Our social media vehicles become conversational platforms, powerfully distributed via the BriefingsDirect Network of online media partners like ZDNet and IT-Director.com. As founder and principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, Dana Gardner created BriefingsDirect to give online readers and listeners in-depth and direct access to the brightest thought leaders on IT. Our twice-monthly BriefingsDirect Analyst Insights Edition podcasts examine the latest IT news with a panel of analysts and guests. Our sponsored discussions provide a unique, deep-dive focus on specific industry problems and the latest solutions. This podcast equivalent of an analyst briefing session -- made available as a podcast/transcript/blog to any interested viewer and search engine seeker -- breaks the mold on closed knowledge. These informational podcasts jump-start conversational evangelism, drive traffic to lead generation campaigns, and produce strong SEO returns. Interarbor Solutions provides fresh and creative thinking on IT, SOA, cloud and social media strategies based on the power of thoughtful content, made freely and easily available to proactive seekers of insights and information. As a result, marketers and branding professionals can communicate inexpensively with self-qualifiying readers/listeners in discreet market segments. BriefingsDirect podcasts hosted by Dana Gardner: Full turnkey planning, moderatiing, producing, hosting, and distribution via blogs and IT media partners of essential IT knowledge and understanding.

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