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When Tradeshift launched a couple of years ago, their 'free invoicing' mantra wasn't actually a new idea. Many suppliers were already able to e-invoice for free albeit in a limited way, but Tradeshift made it a bigger deal and they have changed the e-invoicing landscape forever. We'll see more 'free' e-invoicing happen this year - and not just from the smaller players. But just as the electronic invoicing world is coming to terms with the Tradeshift model - they've done it again - this time in a highly original way. This is going to change the rules of the game big time.

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.

Today, we're delighted to welcome a guest post from Lars Rolf Jacobsen - Financial Solutions Manager at Tradeshift. Size matters. Throughout history, it has always been the case that the bigger company in a relationship has all the power. And financial transactions are no exception to this rule. But the rise of the internet has leveled the playing field in some aspects of business. Now, any small company can use Skype to communicate for free with suppliers and buyers across the world. Whole workforces can be recruited and managed through the web, meaning that talent is cheaper and easier to control. And with e-commerce, any company can market and sell a product to a global audience.

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