The Future of Procurement has Arrived

Procurement has come a long way in the last decade. It used to be a tactical, manual process. Today, it is a strategic, digital function that is driving business transformation. And it’s about to get smarter, faster and more efficient. In a defining moment for the industry, SAP Ariba and IBM are joining forces to deliver next-generation cognitive applications that redefine the source-to-settle process. When it comes to procurement, automation and simplicity are no longer the name of the game – it’s all about intelligence and insights.

Together, SAP Ariba and IBM can serve up this information and help companies quickly make sense of it to realize a more intelligent source-to-settle process for managing all categories of spend.

Leveraging SAP Leonardo, IBM Watson technologies and SAP Ariba, we can deliver solutions that are unlike anything else on the market today. IBM has built a cognitive procurement platform trained specifically to understand procurement transactions and unstructured data such as weather, non-standard part numbers in contracts and complex pricing structures. In combining the power of IBM Watson with SAP Leonardo and SAP Ariba, we can leap existing procurement benchmarks and deliver unprecedented value to companies around the world.

In partnering, we will use data insights to empower procurement professionals to make smarter, faster decisions across their supply chains. The new applications we develop will impact the entire procurement process from improving spend visibility to assisting buyers and enriching content management.

A digital assistant combined with machine learning, for instance, will transform sourcing events by helping with tasks such as defining the correct Request for Proposal type, identifying appropriate suppliers to participate based on commodity category, region or industry and delivering intelligence on market signals and pricing pressures to optimize results.

With SAP Leonardo and IBM Watson, contracting will be become smarter and more comprehensive, as applications automatically identify relevant terms and conditions matched to legal library and taxonomy, uncover similar contract terms for a specific commodity by industry or region based on benchmarking data and suggest optimal prices to target based on expected volume and contractual discounts. SAP Ariba and IBM will also explore automating the extraction of contract terms and summaries to help customers ensure compliance in next-generation procurement.

IBM Global Business Services will provide consulting and services to build, implement and operate the applications using tailored roadmaps to help enterprises of all sizes lower costs and realize faster time to value. In addition, IBM will work with SAP Ariba to bring new and existing IBM customers, including those using IBM Emptoris solutions, to the SAP Ariba platform where they can benefit from this expanded functionality.

This partnership is all about innovating for the future of procurement to drive real transformation. Together, SAP Ariba and IBM will launch a Cognitive Procurement hub to further the development of next-generation solutions and services, jointly exploring applications of emerging technologies, including blockchain.

We’re inspired by the future of procurement. And together, we’re going to change the game.

Alex Atzberger is President, SAP Ariba, Jesus Mantas is General Manager, Cognitive Process Transformation, IBM Global Business Services

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