Author: Pete Loughlin

Embracing innovation is crucial in the procurement world. Peter Smith's recent series on procurement innovation has produced some fascinating debate, but it's not only innovation in our procurement processes that are important, we need also to be mindful of new products and new way of doing things so that when we don't become blinkered in our sourcing approach. Innovation is great - which is why our patent laws are so bad.

Recently, we published a piece about the e-invoicing opportunity that the bank have been ignoring. You can read it here. It was met with a large and polarized response. There were those that agreed wholeheartedly that the banks appear to have ignored e-invoicing, those that believe they've done so with good reason and those that believe the banks have responded to the opportunity. I was especially pleased and flattered that both Jason Busch and Peter Smith - men whose opinion is always worth listening to - took the time to pen robust arguments, one in support and the other disagreeing with the views expressing in Purchasing Insight. It is true that the banks have explored e-invoicing, JP Morgan and RBS are just two examples. But the investment is paltry compared to the investment made daily in other parts of the banking world. The opportunity that they're missing is not the one about jumping on the increasingly attractive bandwagon of P2P - that's the B2B and technology innovators game. The opportunity they are missing is the opportunity to destroy their transaction business - before someone else does it for them.

The problem with a fast moving market is knowing when to jump on and just as important, when to jump off. If only we had a crystal ball! Electronic invoicing is a bit like that at the moment - whether your organisation has a mature e-invoicing programme or not, it's incredibly useful to know what the rest of the market is doing - your competitors, your suppliers and your customers. That's why it's important that you support this research.

Twitter is a must. Everyone knows it's important but those that know why seem to be few and far between. Purchasing Insight logoWe get the ordinary social media. People can engage on-line with friends, colleagues - even strangers with a common interest. And it not just fun - it's a really useful tool to mobilise people whether that's for a spontaneous party in Time Square or a political rally  in Tunisia. We get celebrity twitter too. It is so easy to communicate to eager fans and keep them engaged whether that's with serious commentary on the current affairs or simply feeding them celebrity tittle  tattle. But what about corporate twitter? Is it really that important to corporates and if it is - what should businesses be doing about it?

The banks have known about the e-invoicing opportunity for years. More than one global bank was seriously investigating the concept as a means of generating transaction revenue before the turn of the century. Why is it then that over 10 years later do we still have no bank-led e-invoice offering and why have the banks elected to ignore what is a potentially serious threat to their core business?

I like and admire good sales people. I would even go so far as to say that I enjoy being sold to - when it's done well. Taking the time to understand me and my situation, my objectives, my likes and dislikes. Adding value to the purchasing process by overlaying technical expertise to help me refine my requirements. Being respectful of the competition and respectful of the constraints on my purchasing process that at times can make me appear to be a difficult buyer. This is what I like. I'm a sucker for a good, professional sales pitch. Which is why I was so disappointed recently to come across one of the worst sales pitches I have ever witnessed from a company - a software vendor in the P2P space - who really should have known better.