We had the opportunity to attend SAP Ariba’s Live user conference in Las Vegas, held from March 21st till 23rd 2017, at the Cosmopolitan. The event was well attended with over 3200 attendees, good partner representation and influencer selection.

So take a look at my musings on the event here: (if the video doesn’t show up, check here)

No time to watch – here is the 1-2 slide condensation (if the slide doesn’t show up, check here):


Want to read on? 

Here you go: Always tough to pick the takeaways – but here are my Top 3:

Ariba is on a roll – A few years ago it seemed that Ariba (add an SAP in front of every time you read Ariba going forward) maybe in the state of a being the sleeping beauty of enterprise software. Always there – but not going anywhere. That has changed in the recent year and Ariba now has the momentum to show it: Even for SAP adding 10 of the Top 100 Global Businesses in 12 months is quite a feat – and both a testament to the market position that Ariba has achieved as well as the attractiveness of what Ariba has recently provided and plans offer soon. And suppliers will pay attention when hearing that Ariba has added B300US$ in 2016 in network volume. Similar to e-commerce we can see the networks synergies playing in favor of Ariba.

SAP Ariba Live Holger Mueller Constellation Research
Atzberger - Make Procurement Awesome

Functionality Push – Last year Ariba unveiled the Guided Buying approach, both a simplification on the product side and usability improvement for the UX. The combination has worked well for Ariba and proven popular with customers. Spot Purchases were announced, too and are available now, the upcoming implementation at Latin American trading powerhouse Mercado Libre is a proof point that Ariba has built good functionality. When asking Mercado Libre for the reasons for selecting Ariba, they first mentioned the synergy effects of using SAP already – something that bides well for further sales of Spot Purchases into the SAP install base.

SAP Ariba Live Holger Mueller Constellation Research
Ariba 2016 Momentum

That the combination of UX improvement and simplification is working out for Ariba, is also seen by the plans to bring the same concept to bear on the Supplier side with the Light Account: During the keynote, we saw the demo of onboarding a new supplier in 2 minutes, something as unthinkable as well as un-achievable in today’s business practice.

SAP Ariba Live Holger Mueller Constellation Research
McDermott & Atzberger Q&A

Blockchain meets Purchasing – In a sign of times, this was also a conference with a Blockchain announcement, and SAP picked Hyperledger for its first dabs into distributed ledger technology. Certainly, a good choice, though SAP likely will also have to support other blockchain technologies, but Hyperledger is a good start. And few places lend themselves more to the blockchain scenario than purchasing, so it’s good to see SAP innovating.



It is remarkable how fast SAP Ariba is moving, especially when one considers (which was not much part of the public talks at the conference) that Ariba is in the midst of a major re-platform endeavor – moving off Oracle and onto SAP HANA. Usually vendors take a noticeable pause while undergoing exercises like these – not so much SAP Ariba. It is good to see the vendor doubling down on things that work, e.g. the UX improvements and the overall process simplifications, while at the same time innovating with blockchain, team productivity software (Microsoft Teams was shown) and speech recognition. Still a tall order – to make a traditionally boring administrative software like Procurement awesome… to get there Ariba has shown the willingness to partner and be an open platform and finally has embraced lofty goals such as diversity, or even more ambitious – the quest of ending modern age slavery, a topic near and dear to the heart of Ariba boss Alex Atzberger.

On the concern side, Ariba has to deliver a lot while a lot is happening. Never an easy scenario for any vendor, so we will be keeping an eye, especially on the platform side, how Ariba will progress in the next quarters.

Finally, it was good to see that SAP seems to have found the right length of ‘leash’ for the Ariba subsidiary – not too close to stop innovation, and allowing freedom (e.g. manifested in Ariba using angular.js and not Fiori) but also have leverage (e.g. with HANA). That SAP CEO McDermott said in a Q&A (see a Storify Tweet Story here) that he would be open to e.g. integrate with perennial co-opetitor Oracle, speaks signs of the flexibility and pragmatism that is lived now at the top of both companies, always a good sign for customers.


Want to learn more? Checkout the Storify collection below (if it doesn’t show up – check here). Don't miss the Day #2 keynote Storify collection here.