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Recently, I took an Uber to a meeting. When the car arrived, the Uber app asked me if I wanted to play a song from Spotify. When I got in, my song was playing and the Uber driver took me to my meeting. When I got out, the receipt was automatically sent to Concur where it was entered into my expense report.

Now think about what just happened. The Uber network, Spotify network and Concur network came together to complete the transaction. Three entirely different networks and services united in a “services mash up” – in a single moment for a single outcome and optimized customer experience.

End result? It was seamless. Simple. This is the model and approach that SAP is extending across each business network we work with. It also represents the future of the digital economy: innovative companies that adopt this model will grow revenue and long-term customer loyalty.

New Challenges in the Digital Economy


In talking to customers, I see 3 major challenges as they consider the digital economy.

  • Businesses are drowning in paper. More than 80% of purchase orders, invoices, and other transactions still take place offline. The result is significant inefficiency.
  • Employee spending isn’t captured in real time. In fact, 25% to 50% of travel bookings happen outside corporate tools, providing limited corporate control and visibility, and losing the benefits of negotiated rates.
  • Companies struggle with building an engaged and adaptive workforce. Only 34% of executives polled in an independent SAP study feel that they’ve made progress in building a workforce that can meet future business goals.

The CEOs I’ve spoken with know they need to adapt, and take full advantage of the digital economy. But where do they start?

The Solution: SAP Business Network Group


This year, SAP created the SAP Business Network Group, bringing together three top leaders in their markets. The SAP Business Network Group encompasses Ariba, Fieldglass and Concur. Each of these cloud-based services uses a real-time, open platform to connect internal business processes to a large ecosystem of partners.

So why does this matter? First, this model of connecting partners across an ecosystem on an open, real-time platform is the foundation of our business network vision. It lets businesses gain greater efficiency and more visibility into processes and decisions. Second, each of the companies delivers a seamless experience for end-users and provides transparency across the entire value chain.

Ariba provides an ecosystem and marketplace used by nearly two million companies who connect to each other through the Ariba network to create effortless commerce between trading partners. So if I need a new tablet, I can log into the Ariba network, see all the devices I’ve purchased before, get recommendations for new ones I might like, compare prices and features, and then buy the item from an approved supplier in line with my company’s policies.

Fieldglass provides complete visibility into all service providers and non-employee workers. It dramatically improves compliance and cost control. For our customers, it’s the primary service used to identify and manage resources from a global pool of contingent labor. Today, it connects 45,000 consultancies, staffing firms, independent contractors, and other service providers. So business users can procure services from anywhere in the world with two easy clicks.

As for Concur, its mission has been to create the “perfect” expense report and eliminate any vestige of paper. In our attempt to do this, we realized we were working to enable “the perfect trip” – a vision that we share openly with every member of the travel ecosystem. In fact, Concur helped one major consumer brand save $1.4 million in T&E costs within three years of implementation.

The Foundation: SAP HANA Cloud Platform


At SAP, we enable connections to other networks and services by providing an open platform for others to leverage. It’s a framework that enables our customers, developers and supplier-partners to deliver new applications and services that add value to our networks, or build new networks of their own, which all interconnect.

SAP HANA Cloud Platform (HCP) is central to this vision. SAP HANA enables any network in the world to connect to our networks. HCP delivers shared technology and business services, such as identity management, data integration, and analytics to each network, as well as other business services and networks. In this way, HCP connects all applications to the SAP product family.

With SAP HANA, companies get connected, transparent and effortless business networks – meaning, a true “mash up” of services that deliver entirely new experiences and improved outcomes.

The Need for Fresh Perspectives


SAP has big plans going forward. We’re building, partnering and supporting other business networks with a focus on making business processes simple.  That’s important for several reasons in today’s marketplace.

The digital economy has shifted how businesses operate. Companies own far less infrastructure, inventory and manufacturing equipment. Employees can work anywhere, anytime using numerous devices. Finally, a growing proportion of the workforce is not full-time, but rather contractors, freelancers or part-time employees.

We need new perspectives in order to create more open and connected approaches to building business services – ones that go beyond the tightly coupled connections of the past and create loosely coupled, dynamic relationships that add value.

The SAP Business Network Group aims to connect your business to the world, and the world to your business. Want to learn more? Watch these informative videos: An Expense Report that Writes Itself, Making Business Commerce Simple, and The Perfect Resource with Fieldglass.

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