Electronic Invoicing has for over a decade promised to deliver a fundamental change in the way accounts payable operates. "We will be able to eliminate the non-value add activities."; "AP will move from being a cost centre to a profit centre."; "It will evolve from an administration function to a strategic commercial operation." Promises all made in good faith but promises that were not delivered. The challenges of the numerous tax and legal regulations across the world as well as the reluctance of suppliers to play ball have both been significant blockers. But there's another blocker: e-invoicing doesn't make sense.
Have you heard about the internet fridge? The one that detects that you're running low on semi skimmed and sends an email to the grocery store to get you topped up? Well you should have. It's been announced as the next big thing every couple of years for at least the last 15. I saw a prototype in London in 1996. It's never taken off and it never will.
The charging models of the supplier networks may be non-sustainable as the commodity transaction fees are replaced by added value services. But which comes first? Develop the added value products or secure the customers prepared to pay for it?
Jason Busch, the founder and executive editor of Spend Matters, is on a world domination tour at the moment and this week, I had the great pleasure of bumping into him together with Peter Smith in a London pub and took the opportunity to share thoughts on the world of purchasing and stuff.