But now’s a good time to poll a few of the key influencers that write about our area every day and see what they see coming up on the agenda in the next 12 months.
What follows are highlights from their posts, which will be updated with full answers across the next week. If you’d like to be included in future roundups, get in touch.
Pete Loughlin, Purchasing Insight
[Supply chain finance] is not new of course but new approaches are emerging based on new and innovative use of technology. In the past the banks were the only players and they would only play with the big boys. It was necessary.
For it to be profitable the numbers had to be big and the cost of entry was high but now, as collaborative supplier networks and the associated technology have matured more complex deals can be managed and the cost of entry has plummeted.
Technology is a crucial enabler. What used to be a good idea in theory is now a good idea in practice. Thanks to the now widely accepted technology of electronic invoicing, “Wouldn’t it be a good idea if we paid early” has become “We can now pay early. Why don’t we?”.
Ellen Leith, Accounts Payable News
The different areas of P2P need to stop operating in silos. Once they start operating in a more collaborative way, they’ll be able to make better use of the metrics which are frequently already resting within their systems and processes.
Technology is going to have a huge role in 2013 and I expect we’ll see the market broadening as it becomes possible for more organisations to take advantage of the solutions on offer. I imagine we’ll continue to see collaboration/mergers and partnerships in the space as the providers angle for a greater share – which can only be a good thing for consumers and product innovation.
This year has seen an increase in two job titles – Head of P2P and Global Process Owner. I think 2013 is going to prove to be the year when automation and the availability of “big data” is going to give us the opportunity to take a birds-eye view of the metrics within our organisations, and not just in the finance departments. The benefits and possibilities of that are both exciting and endless.
Susie West, SharedServicesLink
Just before sharedserviceslink.com’s Accounts Payable Tech and e-Invoicing Summit last December, we conducted a survey of our members to find out exactly what were their thoughts were on the latest automation technologies in the finance shared services arena. As could be expected, a majority of respondents were using e-invoicing (63%), some form of OCR technology (67%), an automated workflow (59%), and P-cards (45%).
There is an increased interest in emerging technologies such as mobile and cloud technology amongst finance shared services professionals: an increase in 26% and 15% respectively. This may seem contrary to the concern over the availability of working capital (needed for technological investments) implied by the enthusiasm for SCF initiatives. However a key attraction to both mobile and cloud technologies are their flexibility and relative low cost.
While technologies such as e-invoicing and OCR continue to have a strong influence over the market and remain key in the advancement of finance shared services, the increasing availability – and therefore decreasing cost – of alternative technologies is allowing shared services professionals to think a bit outside of the box in terms of how they use and interact with technology in every aspect of business today.