By Rowan Lemley
In my experience, B2B Commerce is like a cycle – there are peaks and troughs in how well the infrastructure serves enterprises. Technology is a big part of this – how can we leverage what is available to provide a positive shift in how we work?
What we’re seeing at the moment is a new synergy in technology – specifically between mobility, social media and the cloud. It might seem like old news to some but there can be a genuine revolution in how embracing these technologies can change the way that businesses behave and process information.
If you’re reading this blog, the chances are that you’ll be connected to your company by a mobile umbilical cord – phone, email, and calendar. Yet, there’s more to come from a mobile perspective – full access to the purchase-to-pay process and real-time connections to your trading partners. I don’t mean an AP Clerk or Professional Buyer doing their jobs over the phone (it’s possible, but not feasible), but rather, tactical interaction with the B2B Cloud using smart mobile devices.
Social media hasn’t quite ‘worked’ amongst professionals as it has with consumers. LinkedIn seems to be a repository for all of your professional contacts and colleagues but you don’t necessarily use it as a place to ‘do business’ (unless you’re a marketer or headhunter). Facebook is entirely personal and we’ve all heard stories that end badly when people ‘friend’ their bosses. Where is the social platform that puts all my actual business contacts and colleagues into groups, lets me chat with them in real-time, let’s me view their catalogues, discuss options, get input and then make purchases – and if this is business that I’m conducting, shouldn’t there be an order, confirmation, ASN, invoice and a full audit trail? Very soon we will see solutions that integrate your professional network, your customers and suppliers into your enterprise solutions.
You know how LinkedIn (and Facebook) suggest you should ‘connect to this person’ or group because of who you know or what you do? This type of intelligent (and automated) networking will drive e-invoicing in the future as businesses are connected as easily as you ‘friend’ someone on Facebook. It’s not restricted to invoicing either – think about the opportunity for proactive businesses to market themselves and for buying organizations to conduct supplier discovery and sourcing exercises – how about benchmarking? The B2B Cloud is making the global village a reality with mobile and collaborative solutions ensuring that those who want to be connected are really connected.