In a post from earlier in the month, we commented on some of the ideas shared by IBM consultant, Sohaib Masood, in an EBN article: Transferring Sourcing & Payment to the Cloud. In this piece, Sohaib suggests that cloud-based applications and networks are “transforming the nature of sourcing itself,” but have left us wanting on the payment side of the equation. He’s right in this regard.
And he’s right when he notes that there is significant “potential [for] cloud-based payment solutions.” However, he oversteps, at least in my view, when he suggests that “Ariba, Concur, Coupa, and Rearden Commerce all provide solutions to cater to the problems pertaining to sourcing and payments. Each solution provider specializes in specific areas like spend management, providing a platform for buyers and suppliers to interact and exchange information, as well as payments.”
Concur and Rearden are certainly touching on some aspects of payments. But both are either doing so as an extension of T&E, or, because in Rearden’s case specifically, they’ve linked their future in large part to relationships with big banks, who make oodles of money off of cards. In other words, they’re touching one small component of the broader payment equation.
Ariba and Coupa, in comparison, are touching even less (yes, both have T&E solutions, or have had them in the past, in the case of Ariba). But Ariba and Coupa have largely ignored payment as an area of priority – almost entirely. This is changing (we hope). We were very excited to hear about Ariba’s (and SAP’s) new relationship with Discovery. Yet as a general rule, most eProcurement and e-invoicing specialists – as well as consultants and observers like us – know as much about payment as procurement knows about HR. We’ve almost senselessly detached the mechanisms of payment – including such specialty areas as cross-border transactions and the linkage of discounting programs to specific payment mechanisms that are integral to the process – as much as possible from the P2P equation.
No doubt Oxygen Finance and others hope to change this (as does Ariba/SAP and Discovery). But it’s a topic we should all pay much closer attention to!