SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Courtney Abud

Related Topics: Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, @CloudExpo

Microservices Expo: Article

Online Collaboration Improves Procurement

Ariba Network helps Cox Enterprises manage procurement across six different ERP systems

The latest BriefingsDirect podcast, from the 2012 Ariba LIVE Conference in Las Vegas, explores the latest in cloud-based collaborative commerce with Cox Enterprises, a $15 billion communications, media, and automotive services company.

We'll learn how Cox, through the Ariba Network, manages multiple ERP systems for an improved eProcurement strategy, and has moved toward more efficient indirect spend efforts to improve ongoing operations and drive future growth across more than 50,000 employees.

To hear more about how they have done this, Interarbor Solutuons Principal Analyst Dana Gardner interviews Brooke Krenn, the Senior Manager of Procurement Systems for Cox Enterprises, based in Atlanta. [Disclosure: Ariba is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

Here are some excerpts:

Gardner: A lot of organizations either have organically developed multiple systems for different groups or, for merger and acquisition reasons, have different ERPs. How has that been a challenge, when it comes to procurement?

Krenn: We have six separate ERP systems spanning major subsidiaries, including Cox Communications, Manheim, Cox Media Group, and AutoTrader.com. Cox is a very interesting company in that our business units are very diverse and very unique. Across four divisions and our holding company we have those six ERP systems.

So with that, obviously, there are a lot of challenges. There's not a lot of common ground, when it comes to purchasing. Across those six ERP systems we needed some way to drive consistency, as we focused on really capitalizing on our indirect spend across all the business units.

Procurement systems team

My team is the Procurement Systems Team. We fall under supply chain in Cox Enterprises. I have a team of three, and we manage our eProcurement platform, with which we do about $50 million year-end POs, and average about 1,500 POs a month. We also manage our P-Card program, which is about $130 million a year in spend, and also our fuel card program, which is about $50 million a year.

Historically, our spend, specifically the indirect spend, has been all over the place. We haven’t had a lot of visibility into that spend and haven’t had a consistent manner in which we purchased.

Ariba was one of the top contenders, simply because of the user experience was most important to us, and also how quickly we could implement it.



We had an eProcurement solution for about 10 years. We were on that software for a decade, and it was just very dated. It wasn't supported very well. We knew it was time to make that change. Where we were in the economy, everyone was looking at the most logical places to save time and money and to become more efficient. Obviously, procurement was one of those areas where we could do very quickly.

We knew the first step was replacing the software that we did have. Immediately, Ariba was one of the top contenders, as we looked for a new solution, simply because of the user experience was most important to us, and also how quickly we could implement it.

Gardner: So you’re going from an on-premises software installed affair to now more of a software-as-a-service (SaaS) and cloud affair. Was that something that was difficult or something you were looking forward to?

Krenn: Moving to the cloud in an on-demand solution was great for us. Having the on-premises software in the past, any time there was an upgrade or an update, we had to be sure IT knew about it and we scheduled the time on a night or a weekend. We had to call on resources internally within the company. So it was very exciting for us to move to an on-demand solution and all of the technology that was available with that.

A great change

For the users, it's been a great change, because now they consistently know there's one place to go. When they need to order office supplies, when they need to order something for their break room, when they need to order business cards, they know where to go. In all of our divisions and all of our locations, employees want to do the right thing. They want to purchase the right way. A lot of times they're just not sure of what to do.

So with this implementation of a new tool, we were able to really drive them in the right direction, and it was an easy solution for them. It was easy for us to implement, and it's been very easy for our end users and our employees to adopt.

Gardner: Has that, in fact, translated into other metrics of success that you could describe for us?

With this implementation of a new tool, we were able to really drive them in the right direction, and it was an easy solution for them.



Krenn: Probably one of the biggest wins for us has been just driving compliance against our contracts. We’re able to see very easily now when a location or a business unit within one of the divisions is purchasing off-contract or when they're not utilizing one of our preferred or negotiated suppliers. That's probably been the biggest win for us.

We have the visibility now to see very quickly within our P2P tool and also within our spend management tool to see where this spend is taking place and able to reach out directly to those locations or to those employees that are purchasing off-contract. Obviously, the more purchasing power we have, the more spend we are driving to these contracts, the better our pricing is going to be going forward.

Unconventional


We went about implementing our new P2P solution a bit unconventionally, you could say. About 98 percent of our transactions are actually on a supplier card -- a P-Card model, which has just been tremendously successful for us. With that, we didn't have to integrate directly into our six separate ERPs because our payment method is with that supplier card.

Ease of implementation was one of the biggest wins. Also with that is the ease of use for the end user. There's no reconciliation for them at the end of the month. We’re taking care of all of that GL coding information, all of the approvals, upfront. The supplier card model, again, has been great on the end user side as well as on the AP reconciliation side.

You may also be interested in:

More Stories By Dana Gardner

At Interarbor Solutions, we create the analysis and in-depth podcasts on enterprise software and cloud trends that help fuel the social media revolution. As a veteran IT analyst, Dana Gardner moderates discussions and interviews get to the meat of the hottest technology topics. We define and forecast the business productivity effects of enterprise infrastructure, SOA and cloud advances. Our social media vehicles become conversational platforms, powerfully distributed via the BriefingsDirect Network of online media partners like ZDNet and IT-Director.com. As founder and principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, Dana Gardner created BriefingsDirect to give online readers and listeners in-depth and direct access to the brightest thought leaders on IT. Our twice-monthly BriefingsDirect Analyst Insights Edition podcasts examine the latest IT news with a panel of analysts and guests. Our sponsored discussions provide a unique, deep-dive focus on specific industry problems and the latest solutions. This podcast equivalent of an analyst briefing session -- made available as a podcast/transcript/blog to any interested viewer and search engine seeker -- breaks the mold on closed knowledge. These informational podcasts jump-start conversational evangelism, drive traffic to lead generation campaigns, and produce strong SEO returns. Interarbor Solutions provides fresh and creative thinking on IT, SOA, cloud and social media strategies based on the power of thoughtful content, made freely and easily available to proactive seekers of insights and information. As a result, marketers and branding professionals can communicate inexpensively with self-qualifiying readers/listeners in discreet market segments. BriefingsDirect podcasts hosted by Dana Gardner: Full turnkey planning, moderatiing, producing, hosting, and distribution via blogs and IT media partners of essential IT knowledge and understanding.

Latest Stories
In 2014, Amazon announced a new form of compute called Lambda. We didn't know it at the time, but this represented a fundamental shift in what we expect from cloud computing. Now, all of the major cloud computing vendors want to take part in this disruptive technology. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, John Jelinek IV, a web developer at Linux Academy, will discuss why major players like AWS, Microsoft Azure, IBM Bluemix, and Google Cloud Platform are all trying to sidestep VMs and containers...
Using serverless computing has a number of obvious benefits over traditional application infrastructure - you pay only for what you use, scale up or down immediately to match supply with demand, and avoid operating any server infrastructure at all. However, implementing maintainable and scalable applications using serverless computing services like AWS Lambda poses a number of challenges. The absence of long-lived, user-managed servers means that states cannot be maintained by the service. Lo...
With the new Kubernetes offering, ClearDATA solves one of the largest challenges in healthcare IT around time-to-deployment. Using ClearDATA's Automated Safeguards for Kubernetes, healthcare organizations have access to the container orchestration to dynamically deploy new containers on demand, monitor the health of each container for threats and seamlessly roll back faulty application updates to a previous version, avoid system-wide downtime and ensure secure continuous access to patient data.
Isomorphic Software is the global leader in high-end, web-based business applications. We develop, market, and support the SmartClient & Smart GWT HTML5/Ajax platform, combining the productivity and performance of traditional desktop software with the simplicity and reach of the open web. With staff in 10 timezones, Isomorphic provides a global network of services related to our technology, with offerings ranging from turnkey application development to SLA-backed enterprise support. Leadin...
With the rise of Docker, Kubernetes, and other container technologies, the growth of microservices has skyrocketed among dev teams looking to innovate on a faster release cycle. This has enabled teams to finally realize their DevOps goals to ship and iterate quickly in a continuous delivery model. Why containers are growing in popularity is no surprise — they’re extremely easy to spin up or down, but come with an unforeseen issue. However, without the right foresight, DevOps and IT teams may lo...
Platform9, the open-source-as-a-service company making cloud infrastructure easy, today announced the general availability of its Managed Kubernetes service, the industry's first infrastructure-agnostic, SaaS-managed offering. Unlike legacy software distribution models, Managed Kubernetes is deployed and managed entirely as a SaaS solution, across on-premises and public cloud infrastructure. The company also introduced Fission, a new, open source, serverless framework built on Kubernetes. These ...
Emil Sayegh is an early pioneer of cloud computing and is recognized as one of the industry's true veterans. A cloud visionary, he is credited with launching and leading the cloud computing and hosting businesses for HP, Rackspace, and Codero. Emil built the Rackspace cloud business while serving as the company's GM of the Cloud Computing Division. Earlier at Rackspace he served as VP of the Product Group and launched the company's private cloud and hosted exchange services. He later moved o...
As you know, enterprise IT conversation over the past year have often centered upon the open-source Kubernetes container orchestration system. In fact, Kubernetes has emerged as the key technology -- and even primary platform -- of cloud migrations for a wide variety of organizations. Kubernetes is critical to forward-looking enterprises that continue to push their IT infrastructures toward maximum functionality, scalability, and flexibility. As they do so, IT professionals are also embr...
Kubernetes is a new and revolutionary open-sourced system for managing containers across multiple hosts in a cluster. Ansible is a simple IT automation tool for just about any requirement for reproducible environments. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 18th Cloud Expo, Patrick Galbraith, a principal engineer at HPE, will discuss how to build a fully functional Kubernetes cluster on a number of virtual machines or bare-metal hosts. Also included will be a brief demonstration of running a Galer...
DevOps is under attack because developers don’t want to mess with infrastructure. They will happily own their code into production, but want to use platforms instead of raw automation. That’s changing the landscape that we understand as DevOps with both architecture concepts (CloudNative) and process redefinition (SRE). Rob Hirschfeld’s recent work in Kubernetes operations has led to the conclusion that containers and related platforms have changed the way we should be thinking about DevOps and...
Cloud-Native thinking and Serverless Computing are now the norm in financial services, manufacturing, telco, healthcare, transportation, energy, media, entertainment, retail and other consumer industries, as well as the public sector. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that pro...
Docker is sweeping across startups and enterprises alike, changing the way we build and ship applications. It's the most prominent and widely known software container platform, and it's particularly useful for eliminating common challenges when collaborating on code (like the "it works on my machine" phenomenon that most devs know all too well). With Docker, you can run and manage apps side-by-side - in isolated containers - resulting in better compute density. It's something that many developer...
Technology has changed tremendously in the last 20 years. From onion architectures to APIs to microservices to cloud and containers, the technology artifacts shipped by teams has changed. And that's not all - roles have changed too. Functional silos have been replaced by cross-functional teams, the skill sets people need to have has been redefined and the tools and approaches for how software is developed and delivered has transformed. When we move from highly defined rigid roles and systems to ...
In a recent survey, Sumo Logic surveyed 1,500 customers who employ cloud services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). According to the survey, a quarter of the respondents have already deployed Docker containers and nearly as many (23 percent) are employing the AWS Lambda serverless computing framework. It's clear: serverless is here to stay. The adoption does come with some needed changes, within both application development and operations. Th...
Kubernetes is an open source system for automating deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications. Kubernetes was originally built by Google, leveraging years of experience with managing container workloads, and is now a Cloud Native Compute Foundation (CNCF) project. Kubernetes has been widely adopted by the community, supported on all major public and private cloud providers, and is gaining rapid adoption in enterprises. However, Kubernetes may seem intimidating and complex ...