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Author's profile photo Jason Cao

Making First Contact at SAP Ariba Live

It has been 5 years since Ariba joined the SAP family, so I’m wondering why I haven’t got around to learn more about one of the most recognized names in the procurement space? I get the feeling there may be others in this community who know as much (or as little) as I do about SAP Ariba.

SAP Mentor Joe Fox gave a really nice introduction of Ariba this February (see replay), so I won’t repeat this here. Thanks again to Joe, Diego Dora and I were invited to attend SAP Ariba Live last week in Prague. Although some Mentors are already very familiar with Ariba and SAP’s Business Network, our presence at Ariba Live 2017 will be the ‘first contact’ by SAP Mentors.

(Alex Atzberger, SAP Ariba President, shares some phenomenal growth metrics during keynote)

Besides learning more about SAP Ariba, my main goals at the event were to get to know the people who attend the event, and look for opportunities to bring communities together.

Locating the event in Prague, and using the Hilton’s central plaza as the backdrop and venue for Ariba Live were certainly the right decisions. Beautiful all around! Given that procurement was the focus, it wasn’t surprising to see that most attendees were either buyers or sellers learning about cloud-integration or ways to get the most value from participating in the Ariba network. 69% of attendees were like me, attending the event for the first time. The breaks between sessions were well-planned, because it gave folks many opportunities to network and to meet the speakers. I suspected a large proportion of attendees were female, and I later found out that the split is 73% male to 27% female.

A big highlight for me was the focus on ‘soft-topics’ like leadership and diversity. For example, Alicia Tillman, CMO of SAP Ariba, sponsored and led a Women in Leadership Luncheon, where the action-oriented theme was “Create Tomorrow: Drive Conversation. Inspire Change. Build Community.” It didn’t take long for both men and women attending the event to get inspired by guest speakers Anne Ravanona (founder and CEO of Global Invest Her), and Leila Janah (founder and CEO of Samasource), as they shared personal stories of their entrepreneurial journeys and challenges they faced.

I heard “Community” mentioned throughout the conference – in the luncheon event, in keynotes, and in multiple conversations I had with attendees. For the 1,500+ attendees, some saw this as a chance for the Ariba community to reunite in person, while for many others it was an introduction to the power and value of people with common interests gathering to share knowledge and ideas.

There is definitely something special about the SAP Ariba community. This prompted me to check out the Ariba Exchange community online. I like how well it is organized, but I think it can benefit from more current content. Here’s an open invitation to all Ariba members to check out and join the SAP Community. My personal experience coming from the BusinessObjects community has been very rewarding and positive. I know this might come across sounding like I’m criticizing a cousin of mine for her outdated sofa. But if my favourite aunt owns a furniture store, the least I could do for my cousin is to set her up with some nice pieces for her living room. That’s what families do, right? I can see many opportunities to bring our communities together, but let’s save that for another time.

Speaking of family, Diego and I had the fortune to meet SAP Mentor and Prague-resident Andy Silvey in person! Thanks Andy for the 6-hour guided walking tour (with plenty of stops for food and drinks)! I can’t think of a better way to spend the evening in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Alright, it’s difficult to attend a SAP Ariba event without getting influenced in one way or another by the community. I admit, I’ve had a taste of the SAP Ariba Kool-Aid!


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