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SAP Spend Connect Live

SAP Spend Connect Live 2023 took place this week on October 9-11 at the Messe Wien Congress Center in Vienna, Austria. This year the in-person event and virtual experience are not simultaneous.

The Spend Connect Virtual Experience keynote and live Q&A will take place on October 24 at 5:00p.m. CEST (Register here), and IgniteSAP will be sharing a summary and news from that event, but for now here are the latest announcements from Spend Connect Live.

The SAP Spend Connect Live Keynote

Muhammad Alam, SAP’s President and Chief Product Officer of SAP Intelligent Spend and Business Network delivered the keynote.

Alam and his team have responded to detailed feedback from SAP customers about their spend management challenges and been developing new innovations in spend management to address them.

“The bottom line is we deliver more spend management innovation than anyone else in the industry because we have more resources devoted to spend management than everyone else in the industry.”

Alam also said that SAP is singularly focussed on helping businesses solve their urgent and critical spend imperatives, including the need for: improvements to supply chain visibility and adapting to a changing trade landscape, maintaining socially and environmentally responsible business practices, and also finding the required talent at the right time for the right job.

He went on to say that AI represents a step change for spend management, particularly as customers are now willing to adopt AI for strategic transformation projects throughout all business processes.

According to Muhammad Alam, the promise and purpose of AI is “The ability to harness data to drive insights and make decisions… it’s what’s driving all of the momentum and excitement. It’s not a matter of if anymore with AI. It is a matter of when, or perhaps how quickly businesses can adopt these technologies and feel the impact.”

SAP has been harnessing AI and embedding it across it’s portfolio, and in intelligent spend management solutions SAP is enabling the use of AI for greater insight and decision-making.

SAP Spend Control Tower

“In the hundreds of conversations I’ve had with customers in the last year, the No. 1 ask I get from them is the ability to see and analyze their spend across all categories. And by ‘spend’ I mean more than just the financials. Today, spend also means the carbon emissions impact across all categories.”

Alam unveiled SAP’s new Spend Control Tower, which is a centralized monitoring solution offering advanced AI features and the power to compare and analyze spend in SAP Cloud ERP, SAP Ariba, SAP Fieldglass, SAP Concur, and SAP Business Network.

The new platform will be released in the first quarter of 2024 and will help SAP customers to uncover efficiencies and cost-saving improvements, as well as making it possible for companies to use AI to help with scope 3 carbon emissions reporting.

SAP Spend Control Tower, which has been three years in development, gives customers a unified data model in which spend data can be rationalized: forming the backbone of their spend analytics. By unifying data from many sources the Spend Control Tower powers further AI innovations, and adds more embedded spend insights in SAP applications.

From a dashboard users can see an overview of all sources of spend with data from S/4HANA, SAP Ariba and SAP Fieldglass. The dashboard also shows the spend trend over the last four quarters alongside the year-on-year comparison. More details are revealed in a Spend by Category chart for equipment and services, and the global highest spend suppliers, as well as individual suppliers. Spend can also be analyzed by region.

In another tab users can see categories related to compliance such as unmanaged spend by region, off-contract spend, and unmanaged spend by supplier. SAP Spend Control Tower also covers other subjects like supplier fragmentation, sourcing risk, and payment terms.

SAP Spend Control Tower integrates natively with SAP Sustainability Footprint Management to provide calculated actual carbon emissions, enabling identification of emissions hotspots. Generative AI can be used to address gaps in carbon emissions data for purchased products, and add estimates of emissions for all categories.

12 Scenarios For Generative AI In Spend Management

Alam announced that SAP is now designing 12 generative AI scenarios to help create insight into processes across spend management and drive efficiency and quality: reducing the time that employees need to allocate to repetitive tasks (like itemizing receipts, translating a contractor job description, or generating catalog descriptions), and enabling them to target activities that are more strategic and more productive.

Other scenarios being developed include: improving hotel receipt itemization, increasing the accuracy of cost estimates, regulating pre-spend policy guidance, enriching supplier responses to postings in SAP Business Network Discovery, capturing market data in category management, and automating the creation of ESG scorecard for suppliers.

SAP Procurement News At Spend Connect Live

Spend Connect Live also featured some demonstrations of SAP Ariba Category Management, and a new capability in SAP Ariba called Buying 360, as well as a demonstration of how SAP’s new generative AI copilot Joule can be used within SAP Ariba Sourcing.

SAP Ariba Category Management, which was introduced in August of this year has now been integrated with large language models using SAP Business AI to improve the ability of procurement professionals to manage category strategy, planning, and development.

By the end of 2023 the solution will use generative AI to enhance market analysis with visual insights into supply and demand, risk, opportunities, and top suppliers. Category segmentation will be simplified and cost structure analysis will be improved.

SAP has also developed new ways to manage third-party supplier risk. SAP has embedded supplier risk assessment AI capabilities into its source-to-settle solutions, improving decision-making in the supplier lifecycle, with automated warnings for high-risk suppliers and systematic reference risk-scoring to create mitigation clauses in contracts.

SAP has been collaborating with Scoutbee GmbH, an AI-driven supplier intelligence and discovery platform to integrate their technology into SAP Ariba Sourcing. By the first quarter of 2024 Scoutbee Discovery will allow Ariba Sourcing users to quickly find suppliers who can meet complex requirements like production capacity, quality standards, and certifications. Short-listed suppliers can be imported automatically into guided sourcing processes, adding an extra layer of assurance for sourcing professionals, and complementing the SAP Business Network Discovery solution.

SAP Concur has also been given a upgrade capabilities with the new Expense Payment Manager service, which allows customers to reimburse employees in more than 25 different currencies, and increase reimbursement options by contracting directly with third-party payment providers.

The AI-Powered Rollout Continues…

SAP has been clear that, along with it’s pivot towards becoming primarily a cloud-based software services provider, it is intent on leveraging the full potential of AI across it’s portfolio: and the announcements at SAP Spend Connect Live lend further weight and clarity to this ambition.

The newest SAP innovations in procurement follow SAP’s strategy of real-time data access, and its improvement of the integration of the business data landscape with SAP Datasphere, along with embedding new generative AI, and the new Spend Control Tower mean that companies have the potential to dramatically optimize their business processes in procurement and beyond.

While SAP has been keen to create modularity in their offerings through SAP BTP so that customers can maintain granular control over their choice of services, the development of the SAP portfolio is being considered very carefully and holistically so one set of solutions brings added value to others.

This strategy means that SAP can bring added value, not only to their own business offerings, but to those of their customers: by minimizing repetitive processes through AI-guided automation, and allowing for undreamt of levels of integration and analytic capabilities between all business processes, which are now adding up to more than the sum of their parts.

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