SAP’s relaunched SAP Business Network 5.5 Mgalbraith Channel Futures is an ambitious initiative that unifies the vendor’s Ariba marketplace, logistics and asset intelligence networks. It’s designed to help supply chains move faster and smarter, according to CEO Christian Klein.
It’s an attempt to build on a promise Klein made at last year’s Sapphire Now conference, the first time he was sole CEO. That was to refocus the company on sustainability.
1. Streamlined B2B Collaboration
SAP’s new business network will bring together the company’s Ariba marketplace, logistics and asset networks into a single unified trading net. It will bring customers and suppliers together in a community that spans 5.5 million enterprises.
At the second virtual Sapphire Now conference, SAP announced a new set of offerings that will help buyers and suppliers build smarter supply chains. The most notable of these, according to SAP CEO Christian Klein, is the SAP Business Network.
As Klein pointed out, the SAP Business Network combines the SAP Ariba procurement network, the SAP Logistics Business Network and the SAP Asset Intelligence Network into one unified trading net. It aims to help companies better manage their supply chains by delivering greater visibility and management within those long-fragmented networks.
It will also help companies manage their assets better by providing a holistic view of those assets through cloud-based technology that enables users to communicate spare parts and service needs, collaborate with equipment manufacturers, create digital “images” of equipment and unified data sets describing them.
With this information, users can make informed decisions about how to manage production capacity, plan for service downtime and repair, and maintain machinery parks more efficiently.
This information can be accessed via a dashboard and will allow users to identify trends in real time. It will also let users share insights with their trading partners and suppliers, so they can improve efficiency by reducing operating and storage costs and downtime and minimizing related expenses.
In addition, the new SAP Business Network offers intelligent trading partner onboarding and registration. This feature enables the automated assignment of trading partners to customer accounts and supplier contracts, eliminating errors. The solution also allows for standardized workflows between customers and suppliers to help streamline the buying and selling process.
Another new feature is the SAP Asset Intelligence Network, which aims to improve asset management by enabling communication between trading partners. It will also allow companies to create digital “images” of equipment and unified data sets describing it, which can be used by members of the SAP Business Network to help them maximize the value of their assets.
2. Enhanced Track and Trace
The onset of the global pandemic and subsequent trade restrictions and lockdowns have left supply chains in disarray. But SAP is here to help. The company is kicking off the new year with a bang with a suite of five ‘business transformation as a service’ solutions that target vertical industries including retail, consumer products, automotive and utilities.
One of the coolest things about this suite of offerings is the way they are integrated. A combination of the Ariba procurement network, the logistics business network and the asset intelligence network will provide a unified platform for trading, purchasing and tracking information about assets across 5.5 million connected organizations. This is a massive undertaking, but one that should pay dividends in the years to come. The most significant challenge will be figuring out which suppliers to enlist in the nascent network, but the company says it will go a long way towards achieving this goal, with free onboarding of its 100 most strategic suppliers. It will also likely require some serious tinkering to get the system to shine on a regular basis.
3. Smarter Purchasing
Among the biggest stories at SAP’s Sapphire Now conference this week was the announcement of SAP Business Network 5.5, which integrates the company’s Ariba procurement network, SAP Logistics Business Network and SAP Asset Intelligence. Together, the networks will bring 5.5 million enterprises into a common trading network to improve supply chain visibility and management.
The announcement was a welcome reminder of SAP’s commitment to sustainability. That theme resurfaced at last year’s Sapphire Now 2020, when SAP CEO Christian Klein set out to show that his company could provide technology for a better world, one he described as zero waste, zero emissions and zero inequality.
Today, it remains a focus of the company’s sustainability program, which is backed by five new Rise offerings targeting retail, consumer products, automotive, utilities and industrial machinery. But as Klein and Julia White, SAP’s first-ever chief marketing and solutions officer, stressed in their opening keynote, it is the follow-through that matters.
In the case of SAP Business Network, that is a lot to do. With the three networks already siloed and requiring integration, onboarding all the suppliers into the community will be a major undertaking.
But it should prove to be a worthwhile effort. If it succeeds, it could help to bolster SAP’s pitch for intelligent enterprise and business transformation offerings and, perhaps more importantly, to show progress in integrating the B2B networks it acquired.
With SAP’s acquisition of Ariba last year, it is now the company’s dominant B2B platform. The company’s strategy is to expand on that acquisition by reselling Ariba on a public cloud hyperscale platform, which would make it an important part of SAP’s broader push into omnichannel commerce.
As the COVID-19 pandemic made clear, companies have to adapt to a new digital landscape shaped by trends like remote work and e-commerce. And that means transforming the way they buy, sell and deliver goods and services.
For that reason, SAP announced at Sapphire a number of initiatives focused on reducing the environmental impact of their supply chains. Two new software packages help manage the sustainability elements of product design and lifecycle management, while a “control tower” application promises a commanding end-to-end view of supply chains.
4. Better Financial Management
When it comes to reimagining how companies interact with their supply chains, SAP is no slouch. The company’s enterprise resource planning software is at the heart of the world’s largest and most complex networks. That said, sap is always looking for new ways to help its customers reimagine their businesses with cloud-based software that enables big data analytics and machine learning.
In particular, the company is experimenting with the concept of a multi-cloud supply chain network – a single unified database that connects disparate information and processes in real time. It’s a bit of a challenge to implement and maintain, but the potential is there. Keeping tabs on suppliers and partners will allow you to make informed decisions that could save your company millions of dollars.
One of the best ways to do that is by implementing SAP Business Network, its aptly named “Channel Futures” initiative. It is a suite of specialized solutions that will give you the tools to manage your entire supply chain – from procurement and customer service through to financial and asset management. The company says that its 5.5 million connected companies are already reaping the rewards of a better and more efficient way to do business.