Global networked purchase-to-pay solutions, e-invoicing and financing services provider Basware shares its predictions for the year ahead based on emerging trends.
“Organizations must be agile to thrive in today’s fast-paced environment,” said Vesa Tykkyläinen, CEO of Basware. “This requires visibility across the entire purchase-to-pay process so they can take advantage of opportunities, address problems and make informed business decisions. At the same time, the need for companies to strengthen supplier engagement and to connect with their trading partners easily, transparently and in real time will only grow, furthering their focus on delivering a cloud-based, consumer-style buying experience over business networks.”
The push for transparency will accelerate analytics, collaboration internally and across business ecosystems
The need for transparency is pushing finance and procurement professionals to automate across the entire purchase-to-pay process, dissolve the boundaries between departments and gain access to critical information about suppliers, purchases, spend and cash flow. By leveraging analytics, dashboards and reports, key stakeholders can drill down into the data, analyze issues and uncover opportunities. In parallel to the expanded focus on internal collaboration, organizations will increasingly turn to business network ecosystems to transparently connect with trading partners across the globe, conduct invoice and purchase order transactions in real-time – even with their long-tail suppliers – and benefit from new value-added services.
The consumer experience rules
Business users have fully morphed into consumers, expecting consumer-style usability, interfaces and apps. The millennial generation has fueled this transformation in the workplace, leveraging the latest technology to get things done faster and more efficiently. Cloud-based and mobile technology, and easy-to-use dashboard analytics are enabling finance and procurement professionals to get the information they need at the tap of a finger, whenever and wherever they want it.
AI and machine learning capabilities will enhance solutions
Robotic process automation (RPA) has been incorporated in purchase-to-pay solutions for quite some time to provide efficiencies and streamlined workflow. Going forward, technology providers will take it to the next level, adding more artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning capabilities into their solutions. This will allow businesses to incorporate smart capabilities into their financial business processes to, for example, more intelligently leverage the data on buyers and suppliers from the millions of transactions conducted on business networks.
Interest in blockchain will grow in the financial supply chain
Companies will continue to explore potential opportunities that blockchain and distributed ledgers offer as a way to conduct financial transactions. Blockchain technology has the potential to disrupt the space of working capital optimization and networked purchase-to-pay. While the final use cases of blockchain technology are not yet known, its unique characteristics as a distributed shared ledger with a high level of built-in security and robustness can change both the business model as well as the service infrastructure for B2B commerce and related processes. Despite many developments in this area, before companies can fully leverage blockchain technologies, the issues related to standardization, legislation, system integration and system interoperability must be addressed.
The wisdom of the crowd will encourage smart e-procurement
In the new year, more companies will adopt a more collaborative, crowd-sourced style of purchasing that enables everyone to share information, such as supplier reviews, and work together toward company goals, such as reduced costs. By engaging employees, this user-driven process will result in smart e-procurement and significantly greater cost savings compared to traditional procurement approaches, providing the agility organizations need to fund their missions.
Corporate social responsibility will continue to be of key concern
Companies are continuing to focus on corporate social responsibility (CSR) and corporate social consciousness as they consider their impact on social and environmental concerns. Their efforts to reduce waste and create a paperless business environment will increase interest in paperless invoicing and other processes. This growing emphasis on CSR will not only impact the types of products companies sell and how they interact with the environment, but also the companies they choose to do business with, as they examine the carbon footprint and CSR initiatives of their trading partners.