While not my first time in Las Vegas, this was my first time at AribaLive. From various emails and YouTube videos, I was pretty excited about attending this event, well beyond that, I was excited about having the opportunity to evangelize the SAP HANA Cloud Platform (HCP) story with a new group of people and beyond that, learning more about the Ariba Business Network. This opportunity was afforded to me by our team, Jeramy Ivener & Michael Bain who are the HCP leads for our go-to-market and center of excellence teams, respectively. I’ve always held the belief that in order to help solve a business problem, actually any problem for that matter, you must first understand the business. Ariba was a completely new area for me, so being completely immersed in this topic for next several days was going to be awesome.
The event was 3 days long and it took over the Cosmopolitan Conference center. The first day consisted of various workshops were designed to allow businesses to network with their peers and learn best practices. There were various workshops that focused on the buyer, seller, partner sides of the house respectively. Many, if not all of these, require pre-registration, because of this, I was not able to attend. Which is why I cannot offer you any more details. Towards the latter half of the day, into the early evening, there was a welcome reception that introduced all attendees to the “Commerce Pavilion.” If you’ve attended other conferences, this is equivalent to a showroom floor which consisted of various partner booths and Ariba Demos. The next couple of full days always kicked off with breakfast in the commerce pavilion and then leading into daily keynotes presented by Ariba executives and invited leaders in the various industries. The remainder of the day were well organized breakout sessions that made it easy for you to create an agenda and follow the key topics you wanted to learn about. This meant that if you were interested in a particular learning track, e.g. as a buyer or as a seller, you would minimize the scheduling conflicts. Tuesday was capped off with a huge party at the Marquee day/night club which allowed attendees to further mingle and build up their networks and socialize.
The content of the conference centered around some key themes that were mirrored in the keynote presentations and breakout sessions. Aside from what you’d expect from the keynotes, customers sharing their stories of how the Ariba Network has shaped their business and contributed to their success, this year there was a strong message about digitization and the digital economy. For many of us in technology, we sort of take it for granted that working with a computer or staying connected 24/7 is just like the air we breathe and sometimes think that this cannot somehow be incorporated into other industries like agriculture or construction as examples. But the trends have shown that digitization has not only penetrated these industries, but transforming the way they do business – making them operate more efficient and faster. The common overtone about digitization was certainly speed. Allowing business to be agile and adapt to changes very quickly, all facilitated by digital information.
Another effect of digital transformation was the need for customization, specifically adapting to the needs of the industries. It only made sense that as more and more users begin to use the system that their needs also differ from the existing base and opportunities arise to help make the solutions fit their specific needs. Whether these come in the shape of creating questionnaires that are specific to their needs, or perhaps creating an interaction interface for a user group who just wants to order something simple. These were features that were then supported by some new features in Ariba, including customizable forms.
With the increase the demand for more customizations or extensibility of solutions, there is the need for help, help from an ecosystem to help create these features and functions to tailor towards the specific business needs. Therefore, Ariba was adopting quite a new strategy for them, which is openness. Later this year, they will be opening up more API’s, beyond their current cXML based services that will allow the partner ecosystem to build new extension applications to help fulfill these additional requirements and needs for their customers.
SAP HANA Cloud Platform
This was a perfect fit for SAP HANA Cloud Platform to be present at this event, as HCP is the platform that brings together the tools and services needed to help those partners and customers realize those extensions. We were present in the commerce pavilion. We also made a presence in the digital world by interacting and reacting in the twittersphere with the attendees at the conference. Lastly, Jeramy, Michael, and I had a breakout session towards the end of the conference where people were primed to wanting to know more about how and where they could build these extensions. Although we were the last session of the last day of the conference, there ended up being standing room only. There was a good mixture of Aribians, Customers, and Partners in attendance. In this breakout session, we introduced to SAP’s Platform as a Service. We went through a discussion on the use case and demonstrated sample solutions on the possible solutions and scenarios that could be built using Ariba & SAP HANA Cloud Platform. Amongst this was also a deeper dive into one the demo that Alex Atzberger had presented onstage that showed how IoT and predictive maintenance could help businesses stay up and always running. The scenario showed how being able to monitor machinery, in this case a dump truck who has sensors monitoring the temperature of its engine. Predictive maintenance has shown that over the course of a few days, the operating temperature has trended upwards and failure is predicted to occur in the next 5 days. An alert is given to the operator, who never has to exit the system, but then is presented with a cause and course of action. The action presented is the opportunity to locate the replacement parts, and then place the order with a supplier through the Ariba Network. Order is confirmed and delivery date is given and made sure that the part arrives in time before the machine fails. If you think about all the assets in the SAP portfolio, the scenario could be even extended beyond this, where, perhaps the expertise to repair the machinery has to be sourced, of course then we could also find this through SAP Fieldglass. How about making the travel arrangements for this worker, SAP Concur. The opportunities are quite numerous on how SAP HCP, which has the native capability to integrate with these SAP solutions (and others).
My three take aways from this event were: I loved the way it was organized; At the ground level, many inside Ariba still do not understand SAP HANA Cloud Platform; with Ariba opening up API’s there will be a pull of information how these API’s can be used to build out scenarios.
While the event was only 3 days, it was non-stop, content was jam packed. Somehow though, it was very nicely arranged. As mentioned, I liked the fact the tracks were well organized and that overlap was minimized. Another great thing was that the sessions all started and ended at the same time, so you didn’t have to worry about missing part of a session. The breakfasts and lunch were all centered in the Commerce Pavilion, and with no breakout sessions scheduled for this time, everyone ate at togther and actually had a chance to network and socialize.
I spoke to quite a few number of Aribians, and it was clear that many had heard of HANA, HANA Database, HANA Platform, HANA Enterprise Cloud, HANA Cloud Platform, with all these HANA’s as they put it, the story as to what each was, was a little confusing. I think there is an opportunity for HCP, HANA Cloud Platform to help clarify the story and distinguish our capabilities from the other HANA family of products. The first method was sharing a concept that has been voiced by Steve Lucas and many in leadership; there is HANA the brand, and HANA the products, including the database, the platform, of course us, the HANA Cloud Platform – SAP’s Cloud Platform as a Service.
The timing couldn’t be more perfect as Ariba adopts and open API strategy, customers and partners are already asking well where should do this. With us being here at the ground floor, HCP will help provide many of the answers to the fresh questions many will have. If customers are already using SAP products, why wouldn’t you think about using SAP HANA Cloud Platform? There will be an opportunity for both Ariba and HCP to help customers and partners provide a solution that helps solve business problems end-to-end. HCP is close to Ariba and will help customers maximize the value of Ariba’s new open ecosystem.
You can find many more of my impressions through the tweets that I had made during the event, you can join me on twitter at https://twitter.com/thesapmic