Ariba needs to do a 180 and play to their hidden strengths

Ariba needs to do a 180 and play to their hidden strengths

Posted by Pete Loughlin in Supply Chain Finance 02 Dec 2011

Ask a bunch of people what Ariba is great at and you’ll get a range of answers. Some will say they were one of the great dot com success stories. Some will say e-procurement and e-sourcing. Others will say Ariba Supplier Network (ASN) and a few will even say e-invoicing. But I’d be bowled over if any said “dynamic discounting”.

Ariba has more customers actively using dynamic discounting to generate substantial saving for the business than anyone else but their PR machine sounds like it’s still 1999.

Purchasing Insight logoI exagerate to make the point of course but there is more than a grain of truth in this. I have an alert set up so that I’m made aware of when Ariba is in the news – and they are always is in the news. I get bored reading about their quarterly results and their stock performance. As a potential customer, I want to buy Ariba’s products not their stock. Why do they keep telling me they’re still the darling of Wall Street. Don’t they know there’s a recession on? Show me how to save money ffs!

And if they’re not banging on about company performance, they’re telling me they’re the biggest network in the world. If I’m the biggest company in the world, I probably want the biggest network in the world but if I only operate in 3 countries in eastern Europe with a few suppliers in the far east, I dont care about North America and UK and I care even less about South America and France. Quadrem and b-process impress the stock markets. They don’t impress me.

And when they do get round to telling me all about supply chain finance and the way they can help me leverage my receivables to improve my cash flow or use dynamic discounting to support my cash constrained supply chain, why does it sound like they’re selling me a shiny bauble that hangs off what they are really selling, their core business, the ASN?

Ariba has, arguably, the biggest B2B network in the world and they could easily leverage their network coverage to make a bigger noise about their hidden strengths. Their customers and prospective customers are looking to the future – a pretty uncertain future at the moment – and they’re looking at ways of securing that future in imaginative ways that don’t necessarily rely on the banks. Ariba need to face in the same direction as their customers, look towards the future and take advantage of one of their key assets – supply chain finance.

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