SmartBuyABB has contracted IBM and SAP Ariba to support the digitisation of ABB’s procurement – with the launch of SmartBuy. The latter is a new design of an end-to-end employee purchasing program. It aims to match the ease of on-line shopping with the intuitiveness and speed of a search engine. SmartBuy can also be tasked with automating the process of finding, procuring and managing ABB’s supplier network, with services like self-registration and contract processes.

Daniel Stumm, ABB’s Head of Indirect Procurement said: “We wanted to transform our eProcurement processes to drive business value and create a better experience for our user community and suppliers while avoiding the need for major training and allowing for an increased level of self-service.

Along with IBM’s industry experience and guidance, we chose SAP Ariba solutions because we believe in their ability to help elevate our procurement function and support our longer-term business objectives.

ABB’s need

ABB seeks to become a “true cognitive enterprise” – by automating business processes and workflows. It is looking to modernise its existing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. Increasingly these can lack the flexibility needed to support rapid business growth.

By building intelligence directly into enterprise systems, ABB hopes to establish a foundation upon which it can apply technologies like AI and blockchain. The objective is digitisation which unlocks new value for customers. Hence the interest in SmartBuy.


SmartBuy has SAP Ariba solutions at its core. As such should provide ABB employees with an enhanced self-service method to:

  • purchase indirect materials and services
  • guide users to preferred suppliers, processes and policies.

To deliver this SmartBuy provides 24/7 support with an intuitive, single, self-service interface for ABB’s employees and suppliers across the globe. It creates a seamless experience which aligns with ABB’s corporate policies.

ABB decided on IBM Services, recently named a leader by Gartner for SAP S/4HANA Application Services, to design and implement SmartBuy. What was relevant for ABB is that IBM had completed >5,000 SAP projects and helped >400 businesses transform their enterprise systems with SAP S/4HANA. In effect, IBM’s long-standing relationship and experience with SAP solutions facilitated the implementation of SmartBuy.

At IBM, we believe that there is more to an eProcurement solution than just cost savings, we’re also focused on security and user experience. With SmartBuy, ABB can tap into the power of AI to help remove manual error-prone repetitive tasks and long search times for products and manufacturers, allowing procurement resources to focus on more strategic operations,” said Neil McCormack, managing partner – Geo Leader, IBM Services EMEA.

And while running SAP Ariba solutions in a hybrid cloud environment, we’re able to make ABB’s systems and processes more intelligent without sacrificing existing security controls.

Enterprise Times: what does this mean

The search for ‘digitisation’ as a means to improve enterprise business efficiency is well underway. ABB is no exception and seeking improvements to increasingly creaky ERP systems makes sense, as does linking up with SAP Ariba and its deep experience of procurement.

SmartBuy is new. It exploits existing SAP Ariba solutions and procurement know-how. Designed and implemented by IBM, SmartBuy should assist ABB to obtain improved business value as well as provide a fast, intuitive experience for ABB’s employees and suppliers. What is not so clear is how blockchain (or AI) will play a part in the future. Indeed, SAP Ariba is not known for its blockchain interest. Maybe ABB will be looking to either IBM or internal capabilities to add this dimension.

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Charles Brett
Charles Brett is a business/technology analyst consultant. His specialist areas include enterprise software, blockchain and enterprise mobility tech (including metering). Specific industry sectors of interest and experience include finance (especially systems supporting wholesale finance), telecommunications and energy. Charles has spoken at multiple industry conferences, has written for numerous publications (including the London Times and the Financial Times). He was the General Chair of the bi-annual High Performance Systems Workshop, 2005. In addition he is an author and novelist. His Technology books include: Making the Most of Mobility Vol I (eBook, 2012); Explaining iTunes, iPhones and iPads for Windows Users (eBook, 2011); 5 Axes of Business Application Integration (2004). His published novels, in the Corruption Series, include: The HolyPhone Confessional Crisis, Corruption’s Price: A Spanish Deceit and Virginity Despoiled. The fourth in The Corruption Series - Resurrection - has is now available. Charles has a B.A. and M.A in Modern History from the University of Oxford. He has lived or worked in Italy, Abu Dhabi, South Africa, California and New York, Spain, Israel, Estonia and Cyprus.


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