Insights for Procure-to-Pay and Finance Leaders

Announcing Tradeshift Frontiers: Using emerging technologies to accelerate Commerce for All

Today is a pivotal day at Tradeshift as we make another leap forward in our commitment to pushing the envelope of what is possible with business technology. I’m pleased to announce the official launch of  Tradeshift Frontiers.

Frontiers is a commercial incubator and innovation lab directed at exploring and transforming business networks, supply chains, and global trade through the application of technologies like artificial intelligence, enterprise distributed ledgers, and Internet of things. Our goal is simple and singular:

Significantly impact B2B commerce and global supply chains in the next 5 years.

By achieving that goal, we can, in turn, help realize our vision of Commerce for All. I strongly believe that emerging technologies will affect trade fundamentals such as access to market, access to finance and transparency. The trend is to make trade more inclusive, empowering, transparent and sustainable for every company.

Many tech companies have created R&D labs and centers with closed doors. We’ve structured ours as a hive mind that is global, distributed and open to partners across all walks of life – including customers, third-party app developers, existing players in the market, and academia. In other words, we’re open, network-based, and inclusive. If these values sound familiar, that’s because they’ve formed the foundation of Tradeshift since 2010.

Blockchain, IoT, and AI

With Frontiers, we aim to bring transformative technology into the hands of every member of the network, regardless of role, size, and location. That means unlocking greater value for buyers and sellers across the supply chain so that companies of all sizes and means can find equal footing.

One of the areas that we believe will have an industry-wide impact is Blockchain. Last October, we joined the Hyperledger project as a governing member and are looking forward to making contributions.  

As a commerce platform, we know that almost every interaction between trade parties is subject to questions about trust and transparency. We believe the key to unlocking this value is to pair the right technology with the right kind of business and governance models. Blockchain, or Distributed Ledgers, is the trending technology for this purpose. This will support the right incentive models to collaborate across the supply chain. Without incentives, there will be no adoption. And without adoption, technology matters nothing.

Another focus area is IoT. By some estimates, 75 billion devices will be connected to the internet in 2025. However, in some respects, the industry has not even tackled some of the core challenges of dealing with incoming information flows from things on the move: How to create transparency through track and trace in the supply chain. While standards and the ability to transmit and read data have existed for decades, the business models and technological approaches have not matched in order to create wide-scale adoption nor a breakthrough in transparency or accountability. We believe that some of the emerging trends we see today will enable breakthroughs in this area in the coming few years.

AI is an area where Tradeshift has invested consistently over the years and for example with CloudScan, we have set a new paradigm for data capture in the B2B space. The areas where we have seen AI consistently generate major revenue streams are in two-sided market models – making sense of data so it can be actionable, and enabling real-time matching between demand and supply.  AI will extend deeply into every single interaction that goes on between companies in the supply chain, as well as inside of the enterprise, and between employees. With Frontiers, we are looking forward to presenting new models for capturing and deriving new value from data by pairing the latest research in AI with the data volumes available in the Tradeshift network.

In the coming months, we are looking forward to sharing with the world prototypes, apps, and services that highlight the potential of bringing these technologies to life on the Tradeshift platform.

Before you head off to view our new webpage, I would like to leave you with one more call to action. We want you and other innovators to join our mission to provide value to growing segments of companies all over the world. Connect with me at frontiers@tradeshift.com if you are interested or know someone or an organization that would be.