Earlier this week, I gave a talk focused on the history and future of supplier networks and EDI, a topic that more and more companies are trying to get their arms around. I joked to someone before the start of the presentation that there were slides in there that had been aging like a fine wine. They could use some updating, yet, generally speaking, not much has changed in years in terms of the basic services that networks and EDI provide for companies, essentially serving as a messaging layer that sits between organizations (with varying degrees of value-added services).
Tomorrow, I’ll share a Friday Rant that I’ve been stewing on for some time about the need to call a network spade a spade and to rid our vocabulary of the phrases “supplier network” and “business network” for good. I’ll also explain why practitioners rarely use these phrases today, despite massive marketing pushes from vendors and the adoption of search terms by analysts, researchers and journalists. But in the meantime, here’s a list of network predictions that I shared during my talk:
- Expect interoperability and the role of supplier networks to increase in helping companies onboard suppliers and manage transactional connectivity
- It’s highly likely that SAP/Ariba will change their network fee structure within the next 36 months
- A near-term wave of vendor consolidation (2013-2014) is likely to come before the next wave of material solution enhancements and innovation from existing vendors (except for pockets of innovation from upstart providers today)
- Discounting and working capital management programs will increasingly become more dependent on e-invoicing foundations
- The US will catch up with Europe—but not just because of new regulations
- Companies will begin to think of e-invoicing as going far beyond enabling the second half of the “P2P” equation for indirect procurement alone
- Network analytics will take center stage
- Legal cases could come to light around the sharing of multi-tier supplier information and activity within a network without the full consent of all parties
- SAP and Ariba will truly get things right when the Ariba network is eventually re-architected from a solution perspective (business models are another question entirely). But in the meantime, the clock is ticking!
Check back tomorrow to read the essay: What Would Dr. Johnson Say? EDI, Supplier Networks, Business Networks, Oh My!
And for much more detail on the topic – and real research and analysis, not just pontificating – check out our Spend Matters PRO topics on the subject (subscription required):