7 years after hooking up, SAP gets much, much cosier with Ariba's supply chain and procure-to-pay software

ERP giant targets unified master data management and data model

Nearly eight years after buying Ariba, SAP is integrating the UI, data management and analytics across its business applications and procurement software.

SAP had already built 250 point-to-point API integrations between Ariba and its suite of business apps. At Ariba Live this week, which was made an online conference event due to the COVID-19 pandemic, SAP said it was making the publication of these APIs more accessible and standardised through its SAP API Business Hub.

SAP said initially it would use SAP Ariba Cloud Integration Gateway to build SAP S/4HANA Cloud into SAP Ariba Sourcing and SAP Ariba Contracts solutions.

But it is its work on data models and master data management (MDM) which show the ERP goliath is finally bringing Ariba's procurement software close to the bosom of its core business.

One service to rule them all

Beyond 2020, SAP intends to build a single master-data service as a central access layer so that users only need to maintain master-data changes once, and any changes will ripple through all SAP applications, including Ariba.

MDM is that tricky field in which companies try to find a single definition for all the things they need to count and record. In complex organisations where thousands of people might each see the same thing in a slightly different way, it is easier said than done.

SAP also plans to unify data models across SAP enterprise application, Ariba procurement software, and SAP's FieldGlass service management software.

Vasee Rayan, general vice president, SAP Procurement Solutions, told The Register: "The main focus was for us to align the domain model. We took the two domain models that are critical for a procurement function: the supplier and the product master."

The idea is that when the same supplier is defined in both SAP FieldGlass and Ariba, for example, it is clear who owns what part of that data. "We have to ensure that that data model is aligned across the board, which was not the case before," Rayan said.

SAP also told us it will embed its SAP Analytics Cloud across all spend management, sourcing, and procurement solutions, giving them access to analytics running on SAP S/4Hana's in-memory database in an integrated system.

Lastly, SAP is creating unified look-and-feel, administration, and who-can-access-what data governances across Ariba and enterprise applications. It is standardising fonts, colours, and layout between environments, so users are less baffled going from one to the other. The UI will include common functions across applications such as guided user-assistance, cross-application navigation, and a single inbox where tasks across various SAP applications can be processed based on the user's role.

Businesses using both SAP enterprise applications and Ariba might be interested in the ability to mange MDM in an integrated way between applications. But master data is more than just a technical challenge, it requires business people in different fields to agree terminology. That's where the fun starts. ®

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