Business networks have long been known as a convenient mechanism for buyers and suppliers to exchange POs, invoices, shipping notices and other documents but they’re rapidly increasing their usefulness to both parties. There is a huge opportunity for network-based collaboration between buyers and suppliers, whether enabling invoice financing and dynamic discounting or resolving transportation and logistics problems.
These are some of the findings of Forrester’s recent report Vendor Landscape: B2B Business Networks, 2017 to 2018, which observes that business networks have diversified their revenue sources, moving beyond document delivery to network-based applications for buyer/supplier collaboration (master data management, master catalog management, logistics coordination, supply/demand coordination, payment/invoice matching and supplier/buyer matching), network-based analytics (analyzing supplier risk and spend or offering working capital and supply chain optimization) and multinetwork integration.
Basware has been at the vanguard of this movement, combining the power of its S2P offering and network to benefit buyers and suppliers alike. For example, a third party service examines invoices sent via the Basware Network and checks them against electronic transportation agreements, seeing if the invoice is violating the transportation agreement and costing the customer money. External, third-party data sources (e.g. Dun & Bradstreet) are utilized to create comprehensive, reliable and enriched supplier profiles. In the near future machine learning, based on previous network transaction data, will provide supplier risk profiles for accounts receivable financing. The building of an anomaly detection system in the network, with the purpose of identifying fake invoices and supplier billing fraud (e.g. overcharges), is also underway. The value of the network is not just in document routing and transport but leveraging the data to mitigate risk and identify opportunities.
Forrester notes that Basware has extended its network based offerings beyond delivery of electronic invoices and support of POs to supplier master data enrichment and management, dynamic discounting, payment/invoice matching (Basware Pay) and working capital optimization. As the network value proposition has grown, so has its geographic reach, with its scope expanding “from Finland and other Nordic countries to much of Northern Europe and the US through interoperability agreements with other public networks.”
By 2019, Forrester expects six new categories of business networks will emerge: B2B integration networks, B2B analytics platforms, supply chain coordination platforms, invoice and financing networks, PO and invoice delivery networks and B2B application platforms including Basware, “will use their network as both the hub for shared network applications and the opportunity to provide end-point applications.” Forrester notes that network-based applications and network-based analytics can provide “compelling reasons to shift from one business network to another.”
The full report is available to Forrester subscribers or for purchase.