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Business Networks Fuel Next Wave of Innovation and Productivity

Nearly 14 billion years ago, massive forces of gravity and friction converged to spark the big bang that gave life to the universe as we know it. The same convergence is now happening in the business world. And industry watchers say it will fuel the next wave of innovation and productivity. In a newly released podcast, industry watchers explore how digital communities and big data are coming together to help companies achieve new levels of performance and profits - and how companies like Ariba, an SAP company and the world’s business commerce network, are driving the transformation.

“Major technology shifts like cloud computing, mobility, and social and business networks have sparked an explosion of a new class of 'unstructured' data - texts, tweets, blog posts, web-based videos, and other social postings,” said Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst, Interarbor Solutions and host of the podcast on BriefingsDirect, an IT news and trends discussion forum, “Companies that can harness this information stand poised to gain unique insights that give them significant advantage over their peers and enable them to improve their performance and profits.”

According to Gardner, business networks like the Ariba Network are the ticket to doing just this. “By and large, people recognize that the information they want is out there, and it’s simply a matter of getting the right data and executing on it,” Gardner says. “Business networks like Ariba are ready-made for this.”

Zachary Tumin, Senior Researcher at the Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program at the Harvard Kennedy School, who participated in the podcast, agrees. “The world is changing fast, and you have to be able to manage the volatility, velocity, volume and variability in order to learn and adapt,” he says. “The opportunity of the networked world is that you can share insights and loop it across the network, so that people understand how to improve every day and every way the core business processes that they're responsible for.”

Business networks have been key enablers of the first-wave of globalization, making it as easy and transparent to conduct business with a partner on the other side of the world as with one across the street. Close to 1 million companies use the Ariba Network, for instance, to discover, connect and collaborate with their trading partners around the world and transact more than $400 billion in commerce on an annual basis.

But networks are about more than just connecting companies, people and processes. Their real power lies in what goes on inside them - all the interactions, transactions and commentary - and the massive amounts of unstructured data that they generate.

“Traditional relational or structured data from internal transactional systems may have served as the foundation for analytic efforts in the past,” says Tim Minahan, Senior Vice President, Network Strategy, Ariba. “But by combining it with the vast amounts of unstructured and community-generated information accessible on social and business networks today, companies can gain new insights that enable them to make more informed business decisions.”

Leveraging the hundreds of billions of dollars of financial transactions and transactional data along with relationship history that resides in business networks, for instance, buyers and sellers can make more informed decisions by detecting changes in buying patterns or pricing trends and provide confidence and qualifying information on a potential – yet unfamiliar – trading partner. And, when combined with community-generated ratings and content, they can glean not only real-time insights, but also recommended strategies for moving their businesses forward.

By accessing the real-time insights into invoice approval status married with historical data on payment patterns of given buyers that business networks provide, banks and other service providers can remove the risks from receivables financing, allowing them to offer more competitive rates and new services to network members that increase revenue.

And with the right technologies, they can do it in real time. “With new, powerful, in-memory data platforms like SAP HANA®, companies have the ability to instantly offer up insights into massive structured and unstructured data sets at the point of either purchase or sale decision, so employees and customers can make more informed decisions about who to engage with or what terms to take or how to approach a particular category,” Minahan says. “That is particularly powerful and something you can’t get in a non-networked model.”

There’s no doubt that big data is getting bigger. But so too are the possibilities for businesses that effectively harness it. To learn more about how Ariba can help, visit: www.ariba.com

About Ariba, an SAP Company

Ariba is the world’s business commerce network. Ariba combines industry-leading cloud-based applications with the world's largest web-based trading community to help companies discover and collaborate with a global network of partners. Using the Ariba® Network, businesses of all sizes can connect to their trading partners anywhere, at any time from any application or device to buy, sell and manage their cash more efficiently and effectively than ever before. Companies around the world use the Ariba Network to simplify inter-enterprise commerce and enhance the results that they deliver. Join them at: www.ariba.com

About SAP

As market leader in enterprise application software, SAP (NYSE: SAP) helps companies of all sizes and industries run better. From back office to boardroom, warehouse to storefront, desktop to mobile device – SAP empowers people and organizations to work together more efficiently and use business insight more effectively to stay ahead of the competition. SAP applications and services enable more than 197,000 customers to operate profitably, adapt continuously, and grow sustainably. For more information, visit www.sap.com.

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© 2012 by SAP AG. All rights reserved.
SAP and the SAP logo are registered trademarks of SAP AG in Germany and other countries. Business Objects and the Business Objects logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Business Objects Software Ltd. Business Objects is an SAP company. Sybase and the Sybase logo are registered trademarks of Sybase Inc. Sybase is an SAP company. Ariba, the Ariba logo, Quadrem, b-process, Ariba Discovery and other Ariba products and services mentioned herein as well as their respective logos are trademarks or registered trademarks of Ariba, Inc. or its subsidiaries in the United States and other jurisdictions. Ariba is an SAP company.

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