The key to transition to ‘e-everything’ and achieve financial success will be to become better connected in the business environment.
To achieve this, companies will need to increase their connectivity and collaboration through business e-commerce networks. This will enable them to connect internal employee efforts to customers, suppliers and partners and in turn gain market share, achieve higher margins and increase sales.
But there will also be other challenges to overcome, including social tools expanding their influence on the finance and payment industry, expanding finance ecosystems and digitalization entering financial departments.
Let me share four key elements that I believe will transform B2B commerce in the next twelve months:
- The global megatrends of social, mobile and cloud will continue to impact the finance industry. There will be further expansion (and understanding) of the power of the cloud, additional social business interaction and collaboration inside and outside of a company, further analysis of big data and increased mobility (including apps). That's what we are calling 'e-everything' as everything will be connected - like our Basware Network, which is already connecting millions of business users in 900,000 companies across over 100 countries.
- The finance ecosystem will expand. E-invoicing, e-ordering and e-payment will become much more integrated in the coming year. We have already forecasted this increased demand and launched our partnership with MasterCard. The integration of e-invoicing and e-payment will speed up slow invoice processing and ensure that suppliers get paid quickly, even when companies extend their payment terms. Savvy buyers and suppliers will be able to free up their cash in 2014 just by using integrated solutions.
- 2014 will also be the year that the separate finance, procurement and treasury silos will be bridged. The accounts payable team will be leading this change through clever use of technology and knowing the actual spend and cash flow. We will see the rise of an accounts payable change maker who uses this information wisely to drive change through an organisation - based on the ability to measure key metrics.
- This brings me to the final trend - business leaders and their access to real-time data. In the era of cloud computing and almost endless memory, this has become an opportunity as well as a challenge. In 2014, successful companies will rely much more on financial analytics - not just across their purchase-to-pay process but across their buyer and supplier network too.
The debates about virtual currencies, businesses turning to alternative forms of financing to ease cash flow concerns, and governments mandating e-invoicing will continue into the next year. Yet it is the organisations that embrace digitalisation now and realise the value it can bring that will succeed in the long-term.
2014 looks set to be a very exciting year for the industry. Of course, the pace of progress depends on whether governments, companies and financial departments decide to act and adopt innovative payment strategies. We will see.
For now, let me wish you season's greetings and happy holidays.
Together with my fellow Baswareans I'm getting ready for the year ahead.
'See' you in 2014.