Author: Pete Loughlin

Basware have just made a very interesting announcement and launched Alusta, a “cloud-based platform for business-to-business transaction collaboration." According to their announcement yesterday, Alusta (Finnish for "platform") provides "open, centralized access to all Basware services via a scalable, secure, open collaborative commerce ecosystem for buying and supplying organizations of every size and location." If it lives up to half of the hype, this will be a truly impressive platform. Alusta isn’t ground breaking. It isn’t even new thinking but what it promises is to bring together a wide set of leading edge tools technologies and techniques to create a purchase to pay platform that could be world beating. That’s the promise anyway. So what’s it got that’s so impressive?

In the first post on this topic, we picked up on a theme from Jason Busch at Spend Matters. He reckons that the quality of information available to purchasing and finance community improves as the new breed of practitioner analyst joins what we’ve called the “thought leadership ecosphere”. The traditional analyst community lack the real insight that practitioners offer and as the new breed of practitioner analyst has found their voice through social media, the quality of information available to us all is increased markedly. But just as information quality has changed, so have the rules of the game and vendors who have in the past courted the analysts to get their marketing messages out now need to understand how to engage with the new information community. How do we get this new engagement right? There’s no definitive set of answers but we can see some examples of people and organisations that do get it right.

I have a great deal of respect for the analyst community. They provide a valuable service, if somewhat overpriced but they have for a number of years suffered from the same problem that Hollwood suffers from. They take themselves too seriously. Jason Busch has written on this matter more than once and as time goes by the view he's been espousing for some time is being proved right over and over again. He’s not espoused the view that analysts take themselves too seriously – that’s my spin on it – rather, it’s that the quality and value of the debate in the procurement and finance world is improving markedly as the voice of the practitioner expert becomes louder and more articulate. Allow me to explain why I agree with Jason and what the purchasing and finance community should do to take advantage of the change.

OB10 have just announced an important partnership with Buzón E, a Mexican government accredited e-Invoicing solution provider. This strengthens OB10's service in terms of both compliance and local presence. According to the press release "The partnership with Buzón E will offer OB10’s depth of knowledge in purchase-to-pay automation and flexible technology to more organizations operating in Mexico, delivering improved payment performance and guaranteed compliance with suppliers."

The "power of free" recruits another player as Transcepta, the P2P network, announces the elimination of supplier charges. They announced their move last week and explained that they will now offer the Transcepta Network free of charge to suppliers regardless of size, volume, or type of transaction. This approach, they claim, contrasts with other networks who, in their words, "continue to place hurdles to adoption in front of suppliers, requiring suppliers to pay fees, use time consuming manual portals, and participate in data mapping projects that require IT resources". It's important to note that Transcepta are not increasing costs to buying organizations.

Let's get something straight at the outset. I'm not about to suggest that users of e-invoicing networks will want to use them to play Farmville. But what I can see is that the transactional platforms will become free to use as service providers offer other value added services and I want to explain why.