2013 is the year of… a universal business platform

This is one of a series of three articles written by our founders hinting at what’s to come in 2013, find the full set here

Companies going out of business due to cashflow. Enterprises shipping crates of paper invoices around the world for scanning. 30 day payment terms. Unscalable and unprofitable supply chain finance. 60 day payment terms. Supplier fees. 90 day payment terms.

The way companies work together today just isn’t working. But 2013 will be the year we look back on and remember how everything changed.

And the word we remember will not be network but platform.

A platform for all your business interactions

Your business network has always existed. Your connections to other companies are an abstract reality, an inalienable truth of interaction. But what matters today is that they aren’t captured in any tool that’s designed to really make the use of those connections and that data.

Your network floats adrift throughout your business interactions, a disjointed digital/ analogue entity of emails, phone calls and meetings. What it lacks is the platform to support it. A platform for all your business interactions.

Rooting those relationships into this platform lets you unlock new value from old processes by using the power of that ever-important network. This is the disconnect that has, for too long, created a rift that delays, degrades and sometimes destroys your most important relationships.

A platform with interoperability

The platforms that work and become ubiquitous offer a proposition that feels like a no-brainer. Why would you not use email? Or the internet?

Key to this is interoperability. Without that, you simply create islands that build barriers between the way businesses can work together. And everything takes one huge leap backwards.

In 2013, we’ll see a drive forward in the number of companies able to work together using a platform to reach their network. And this will be what drives the size of every business’s network. There will be new ways to represent yourself online. And new opportunities for your actions to speak louder than the words of your competitors.

A platform for the future

But it’s the scale on which these changes will take place in 2013 that makes it truly exciting.

Hundreds of thousands will embrace electronic platforms for doing business. They’ll discover new ways to work together, build new apps that spread through those connections like wildfire and, ultimately, do business better.

And we’ll be right there along with them making sure it happens. Join the revolution and this time next year you can be the one saying “I told you so.”

Because what comes next in 2014 will change everything again.

About the Author

Christian Lanng

Co-founder and CEO of Tradeshift. He was instrumental in the creation of PEPPOL, the standardized framework for e-business used by 14 European governments. Christian is a member of the Global Agenda Council on the Future of IT Software & Services, World Economic Forum. He also serves as a young advisor to European Union VP Neelie Kroes.