22 Aug 2011 The 21st century e-invoicing casualties
When you can see the tide coming in you do something about it. The problem for some businesses is that they don’t recognize the tide. This happened to Kodak, the photographic print manufacturer. They produced – still do produce – photographic film and paper. They thought that digital photography wouldn’t take off. How wrong can you get it? OK, they have diversified and now embrace digital but they were slow and too late and Kodak is now a shadow of its former self.
The e-invoicing casualties
In modern business terms, the Kodak tale is virtually ancient history and you would think that there was no one left with their head buried in the sand but no, despite the lessons of history, the same demise as Kodak’s is on the cards for a few in the coming years and it’s all because of e-invoicing.
Pitney Bowes and Xerox are two prime examples. Iron Mountain another. Yes they get it. Yes they’re restructuring and repositioning to move away from their traditional markets as they become less attractive and as businesses and consumers become more and more digitally savvy. But do they mean it? How much of this repositioning and strategizing is genuine? How loud is the e-invoicing voice inside these companies really? Because if it’s as quiet is it is on the outside, I can only guess it’s a whisper.
Seriously – take a listen. What can you hear?
If I asked for a show of hands – who would add Pitney Bowes, Xerox or Iron Mountain to an RFI long list for an e-invoice service provider? I’d be surprised if I saw a single hand go up. If I said who would put Tradeshift on the long list – nearly everyone would raise a hand. You might not select them ultimately but you’d want to take a look. Tradeshift, a start up from Copenhagen, is taking chunks out of some of the biggest most respected corporations in the world.
A tiny proportion of the world’s invoices are sent electronically today. It is not too late for new players to join or established old-world businesses to change direction. If the old-world businesses want to avoid becoming the casualties of e-invoicing, they need to start getting their message out, loud and clear, to the right people – and say it like they mean it.