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IT Briefcase Exclusive Interview: Leveraging Social Business with Tim Minahan, Ariba

April 2, 2013 No Comments

One of the biggest benefits social business offers to the modern Enterprise is the ability to interact with both customers and fellow employees from anywhere in the world and at any time.

In the below interview, Tim Minahan from Ariba outlines ways in which social business networks provide an easy way to link, coordinate, and conduct virtual business in today’s rapidly evolving business world.

  • Q. Do you see social business as positively affecting the way consumers and employees interact with companies?

A. Just as social networks have fundamentally changed the way we engage with friends family and merchants in our personal lives, social tools and business networks are bringing the same efficiency, performance improvements and insights to the business world. Companies are leveraging digital networks to more efficiently engage with their trading partners and collaborate across the entire commerce process. And in the process, they’re creating a new way of operating that is driving the future of business productivity.

  • Q. How can social business help facilitate business transactions in any part of the world and at any time?

A. Social networks have made it easier than ever to drive conversations, gather intelligence and manage relationships. Facebook has created the world’s largest network of personal connections. Amazon offers the world’s largest and most convenient network for personal shopping. Everything you need to manage your personal lives is contained within these networks – there’s no need to leave them to make things happen.

Business networks provide an equally easy way to link and coordinate a virtual ‘extraprise’ of partners into a shared community executing improved and coordinated processes in a more informed way than in the past.

Just as Facebook is the destination for people looking to more efficiently manage their personal networks and activities, business networks are the destination for companies looking to better manage their trading relationships and commerce activities. Much like their social counterparts, business networks provide:

– Cloud-based applications that allow organizations that share a business process to share the underlying technology infrastructure that enables that process.

– A community or network of partners through which companies can quickly discover, qualify, connect, and collaborate with trading partners.

– Capabilities in the form of best practices, community-derived intelligence and other unique features or services that allow members of the community to gather intelligence and make more informed decisions.

  • Q. What do you see as the pros and cons of social collaboration within the workplace?

A. At its core, social collaboration is all about relevant connections and efficient interactions. Businesses realize that they can no longer be competitive on their own. With supply chains that stretch around the globe, they are more reliant on external partners. And as a result, sharing information and coordinating processes is critical. So companies are looking beyond the traditional view of IT to extend their procurement, sales, and finance processes and systems outside their four walls. They want to discover, connect, and collaborate more efficiently with their trading partners, and they want to do it all as easily as they do in their personal lives.

And they are leveraging trends like cloud computing, mobility and the convergence of enterprise applications, social media and communities to do it. The impact of this convergence is clear in the consumer world. Whether searching on Google, shopping on Amazon, downloading music from iTunes, or engaging on Facebook or Twitter, we use networks to run our personal lives because they make things easy.

When shopping on Amazon, you don’t worry about connecting to each individual merchant. When it comes time to pay, you don’t worry about integrating into each individual bank or credit card company. It’s all done for you within the Network. “Whether you’re buying a book or a blender, you get the same simple shopping experience. It’s all transparent and easy for the end user.

Through social tools and collaboration, businesses can drive the same experience.

  • Q. How can businesses begin to overcome security and integration challenges associated with social business?

A. Many business networks today are built from the ground up to enable mission-critical transactions in a highly secure environment. Companies need to select a network platform that can both scale and protect the integrity and security of their business information and align with the systems and processes of their customers and partners.

  • Q. How important is it for companies to have the ability to mine and analyze the data accumulated through interactions, transactions, and unstructured engagement and commentary that occurs within these social networks?

A. Traditional relational or structured data from internal transactional systems may have served as the foundation for analytic efforts in the past, but there are vast amounts of unstructured and community-generated information accessible on social and business networks today that when combined with this data, deliver new insights that enable companies 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  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.

  • Q. How is Ariba Network currently working to provide organizations with these data mining and analytic capabilities?

A. As the world’s largest and most global network, Ariba has more than 15 years of transactional and relationship data and community generated insights. We harvest this information and deliver it within a business context to help all members of the community make better decisions faster than ever before.

  • Q. What other solutions will Ariba Network put forward in 2013 to help businesses take advantage of the benefits offered through Social Business today?

A. We have several planned investment that will leverage network-derived intelligence to enable new insights and new types of collaborations that are impossible outside a true networked model. We’ll be announcing some of these at Ariba LIVE May 6-8 at the Gaylord National Resort and Conference Center in Washington, D.C.

Tim Minahan

Tim Minahan is Executive Vice President, Network Strategy and Global Marketing for Ariba, an SAP Company. A pioneer in business-to-business collaboration, Mr. Minahan created the market for business networks and the vision for the networked economy – a world in which companies leverage the power of social and business networks and advanced analytics to enhance collaboration, insights, and productivity. In his role with Ariba, Mr. Minahan is responsible for the strategy behind the Ariba Network, the world’s largest and most global business network, and for the design and execution of effective messaging, go-to-market programs, and marketing initiatives to fuel its growth.

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