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Author's profile photo Bernd Leukert

Growing the Business with Connected Networks

Social networks play a crucial role in the era of digital transformation. Common examples include businesses using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest for customer service and engagement. So why shouldn’t we bring social networks and collaboration to our customers in the B2B sector? 

Business networks, like SAP Ariba, enable companies to communicate better with partners and suppliers. What Amazon has done in the consumer world, businesses can now do with other businesses – namely, create networks that make the purchasing process faster and easier. They can also support new partnerships: companies can find new suppliers, and sellers can find new customers. For example, the Ariba business network connects over 1.7 million companies, proving great buying and selling opportunities that unconnected businesses are missing. Since SAP Ariba is cloud-based, it also reduces operating costs, missed sales opportunities, and slow cash flow.


In 2000, two sisters in Cape Town, Gheelmeyah Rylands and Ruwayda Tambe, launched the startup company, Sage Health Solutions. The company manufactures, sells, and distributes a broad range of medical and remedial equipment and supplies to public- and private-sector customers, including specially made mattresses and pillows covered in a skin-soothing antimicrobial, antibacterial, waterproof fabric. Initially, Sage was only able to respond to requests for quotations (RFQs) manually, a time-consuming and labor-intensive process. So the company joined the Ariba network to make its bidding process more efficient and accelerate the sales cycle. During its first five years on Ariba, Sage Health Solutions grew from a modest idea to a multi-million dollar business. Today, 80 percent of Sage’s business comes from Ariba’s automated platform.

With SAP Ariba, we are transforming B2B commerce by digitizing all business transactions and business content across value chains globally. This combination is creating new business value for our customers. For example, companies have reported 60 percent improvement in order accuracy.

But SAP’s vision for the network goes beyond the simple ordering of office supplies and traditional point-to-point connections. Our customers can manage all their business expenditures and integrate the network’s content into existing business processes.

The world is quickly moving from a procurement network to a “network of networks,” which includes many elements: suppliers, B2B, logistics, financials, people, and travel and expense. To better serve our customers, SAP will integrate in-memory analytics capabilities through SAP HANA. This will allow customers on the Ariba network to analyze market data, supplier information, transactional history, and contract terms in real time. This way, they have the facts before they make a purchase or sales decision – whether at the office or on the go. They can compare their reports with those of competitors in the network. By doing so, they will see which products are in high demand. In addition, companies can optimize their supply chains.

The era of collaboration
Business networks are bringing us closer to what is described as the Virtual Enterprise
. Already today, we are seeing collaboration everywhere: between companies and their customers, between businesses and their suppliers and partners, between platforms, applications, and networks. SAP is providing everything to support this, enabling companies to focus on their core business in completely new ways and faster than ever. Digitization changes how business is done, but also offers new ways – and companies not reacting to this change run the risk of being left behind.

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