Sapphire 2021: Klein vaunts rebooted Ariba business network as sustainability driver

At the virtual Sapphire 2021 conference, SAP CEO Christian Klein trumpeted the supplier’s procurement network, Ariba, as the core of a revamped global engine for promoting sustainable economic growth

In his keynote at his second Sapphire as CEO of SAP, Christian Klein hailed what he described as the advent of the “world’s largest business network”.

At the core of the avowedly “new” network is SAP’s Ariba procurement network, together with its Logistics Business Network and its Asset Intelligence Network.

More than 5.5 million organisations will benefit from being members of this connected community, according to the supplier.

In a press statement, Klein said: “During this unprecedented year, the importance of the communities we’re part of has never been clearer. Our new vision will build the world’s largest business community, enabling customers to easily connect with companies across supply chains and creating networked economies across industries.”

The supplier said members of the SAP Business Network will be able to access a single, unified portal to gain what it described as “a holistic view into their supply chain ecosystem, logistics and traceability, and equipment management and maintenance”.

In the pre-recorded keynote, Klein said: “We already run the world’s largest supplier network … and because our applications run supply chains across every industry, we have the most relevant data and expertise.”

SAP started the year with the announcement of its business transformation as a service, Rise with SAP. Rise is a subscription service that bundles the ERP (enterprise resource planning) system S/4 Hana and managed cloud infrastructure and services in one contract.

Klein said in the keynote: “We have seen so much customer interest that today we are expanding our initial offering beyond S/4 Hana Cloud. Customers are saying they want a modular ERP, and that is why we are now including HR and procurement capabilities in Rise.”

In a media and analyst session following the keynote, Klein said: “No business does business alone. We are one community. We had so many disruptions during Covid because we are not organised in the network. You don’t see what is happening when you go down your supply chain. And the most important thing is going to zero waste, zero emissions, zero inequality.”

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In the same session, Julia White, chief marketing officer at SAP said: “We have been in the business network category for a while, but the past 18 months has brought absolutely to the forefront our responsibility to bring this to the next level, the [solution to] the fragility of supply chains. With Covid, we saw that it is overdue to rethink how businesses are all engaging together.”

Around their central announcement, the supplier is also announcing what it describes as new innovations designed to help companies modernise and digitise their business processes to become intelligent enterprises. It is also promoting a portfolio of sustainability-specific business applications that are said to deliver transparency and measurement capability across the supply chain.

As part of its business process intelligence (BPI) portfolio, SAP Process Insights is said to enable organisations to analyse and improve business processes. EY, Deloitte and Infosys are the initial partners working with the BPI portfolio.

The supplier is also announcing SAP Upscale Commerce, an online commerce, no-code system that is said to enable mid-market retailers to create an omnichannel shopping experiences rapidly.

In the keynote, White said: “Since Upscale is integrated with SAP supply chain planning, fulfilment is fast because the inventory has been auto verified with the customer’s order, and the shipment is sent from the closest point to minimise emissions.”

The supplier said the SAP Analytics Cloud is now offering operational workforce analytics and planning capabilities and integration with SAP SuccessFactors. These capabilities are said to link operational, financial and people data.

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SAP makes play to be core of corporate sustainability efforts

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