SAP Ariba started with some crayons, a paper tablecloth, and the right idea.
It was 1996. Over sandwiches at Quadrus Café in Menlo Park, seven business colleagues were discussing the tremendous waste of time and money involved in corporate purchasing. The problem: outdated, paper-based procurement procedures – tedious, frustrating, and incapable of helping enterprises understand how their money was spent.
The solution, they recognized, lay in this new thing called “the Internet” and the opportunity it presented to link computer systems and efficiently exchange information. Spilling the jar of crayons on the table, they diagrammed their solution and what it would do.
It would have a walk-up user interface. It would integrate with enterprise financial systems. It would hook buyers right up to their suppliers. And doing so, it would fundamentally change the way business was done.
On the surface, it was a great idea for cutting purchasing time and costs. At its core was something much more fundamental and powerful: Our collective need to connect and collaborate with like-minded people.
It was an idea powerful enough to bring together venturous investors, talented employees, and strategic partners. And powerful enough to survive. Whether facing the pitfalls that come with any change endeavor or cataclysmic events like the dot-com bust, faithfulness to our idea of helping trading partners connect and collaborate has helped SAP Ariba stay the course.
Over time, the scope of our work expanded, through development and acquisition, to include the full range of business-to-business commerce activities and the formation of a supplier network. Initially a procurement software company, we came to realize that businesses could enjoy stronger connections and better visibility by reaching beyond their four walls into a space where they could work more easily with their trading partners. So SAP Ariba became a cloud company, and Ariba Network continued to grow.
Then, the global economy emerged from the Great Recession – more connected, mobile, and interdependent than ever. We recognized that SAP Ariba’s calling to facilitate trading partner collaboration would be fulfilled by our accepting the mantle of the world’s business commerce network, and making it a place where cloud-based commerce is as easy for businesses as it is for consumers.
Today we can see how a crayon-drawn idea from years ago can evolve, adapt, and get bigger to have a major impact on the world. Ariba Network is more than 2.5 million businesses strong, with tremendous support as a member of the SAP family. Together with our customers we’re changing the way business gets done. And we invite you to join us.