Ariba is using cloud computing to introduce fine-tuned cash flows to supply chain management, offering both buyer and seller more visibility and control over their working capital. "Pain points change," notes Peter Lugli, senior director in charge of the working capital management practice at Ariba. "Now cash is indeed king and working capital is getting a higher priority than ever, so tying up cash unproductively has become an acute pain point."

Ariba for years has staked out a position as a provider of high-tech spend visibility and control solutions, primarily for buyers. The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company claims 91 of the Fortune 100 as customers and boasts a network of 300,000 suppliers. Now cloud computing is "letting us take things to the next level," Lugli says.

"Many supply chains are still mired in paper-laden, closed-loop systems," he says. "Without visibility and collaboration, corporate finance leaders are meeting the ups and downs of today's volatile business environment with one hand tied behind their back. Cloud-enabled technology, collaboration and community consciousness help companies better manage cash expectations among them."

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