The more I look at the proposed acquisition of Ariba by SAP, the less sense it makes. SAP didn’t need the functionality. They didn’t need the brand. The Ariba shareholders will clearly be pleased to see this deal go through but what, I wonder, would an SAP sales guy be thinking and what would Ariba’s competitors be making of it all?

e-procurement

Purchasing Insight logoActually SAP already have e-procurement in spades. The new SRM v7 is as credible as anything on the market. Ariba doesn’t add anything substantial to the current proposition apart from an integration layer. The guys and girls at Coupa can sleep well at night.

Supply Chain Finance

It’s the next big thing but Ariba has failed to set the world alight with their supply chain finance offering so far. Why would an SAP sales person embarrass him or herself by pushing an Ariba solution against a superior, native SAP offering. No sleepless nights for the Taulia team either.

e-invoicing

This is something that the SAP guys could and arguably should get excited about. e-invoicing per se isn’t, from a functional point of view, a big deal but but Ariba’s supplier network is a jewel in the crown of this deal. Having said that, the SAP sales people that remember the Commerce One acquisition will be hoping for a better execution this time around.

What would the competition at Tradeshift, OB10, Basware etc etc be thinking? Suddenly, one of their biggest competitors just got bigger? Possibly. But the e-invoicing model is changing and the switched on players know that e-invoicing isn’t the future – not on it’s own anyway. e-invoicing is just one of the enablers. An enabler to holistic P2P that opens up new opportunities for trading partners to be more profitable. Tradeshift get that. Basware absolutely get that and OB10 know it too. So although the new SAP/Ariba will remain a force to be reckoned with, they will need to keep up and demonstrate that they see the end game too.