Nipendo: Further Proof of the E-Invoicing Led Platform Transformation

Later this week and next, we’ll be featuring a series exploring Nipendo, the latest vendor focused on automating connectivity and transactions between companies in a platform-driven manner to begin to go public with its capabilities and customer stories (they’ve been around for some time, but only on a regional basis). While upstarts like Tradeshift – and in different areas entirely, Deem and Amazon – are better known in the emerging world of B2B platforms, Nipendo is also the real deal, albeit without any marketing push. At least not until now.

Until late this spring, Nipendo focused entirely on the local Israeli market. But it recently opened offices in the US and is building a North American team. Like Tradeshift, Nipendo is using e-invoicing as the initial “app” or Trojan Horse to introduce what really amounts to a next generation model for connectivity at all tiers of the supply chain and across functional areas and transaction types (as opposed to just facilitating e-invoicing on-boarding and connectivity for indirect spend and related transactions).

Nipendo comes off as one of the most engineering-centric organizations we’ve gotten to know in the procurement and network space. They were founded in 2007 in Israel, and the product spent 36 months in development before formally launching. Today, with its regional client base in Israel, they claim over 15,000 organizations fully on-boarded in “less than three years” with an average “290% year over year” growth in network/transaction volume.

Nipendo’s secret sauce is not in the “what” but the “how.” We’ll dig more into the “how” as we go deeper with our analysis. Nipendo essentially abstracts the data and logic from participant (e.g., buyer and supplier) documents and systems to create a consistent data standard associated with a participant in the network – and even additional logic and business processes where required. I know this can sound a bit technical, but the outcomes of what such an approach can enable are fascinating.

On the most basic level, these new, standardized, atomic elements that persist in the Nipendo platform could lead to specific routing and workflow. Or, in more advanced cases, these data sets could be leveraged by new “apps” that, with the right set of permissions, leverage the persistent form of the standardized data in the cloud. For example, this could take the form of multi-tier supply chain alerts and even predictive recommendations based on multiple elements coming together in this networked environment to trigger an event (potentially from different suppliers and systems).

Not only is this approach “many-to-many” in a true platform sense, it also fulfills the visions of first-generation supplier networks such as Commerce One’s MarketSite and the Ariba Supplier Network in truly creating a new data standard that goes far beyond defining a standard schema (e.g., cXML). Note that this is not what we’d term data mapping or translation, which is important when it comes to engineering in flexibility into the types of business issues the platform can address, including:

  • E-invoicing (with full validation, workflow and connectivity in the network/platform, rather than in the application)
  • Direct materials centric connectivity (a replacement for traditional EDI) including support for industry specific standards, requirements, alerting, system-to-system connectivity, etc.
  • Ability to define a custom set of rules and a standardized intra-company master data taxonomy that applies specific sequencing, process requirements, routing, integration, alerting/signals and other elements to any type of process on a customized basis (i.e., the platform and everything that it comprises is separate from the application or app enablement/logic; e-invoicing just happens to be one of the first “apps” on the platform).

Such capability is the secret of a true platform-centric architecture, which can essentially allow any company (including customers) to build an N-level of connections, tiers and custom applications that exist between companies. In addition, an organization could also use the Nipendo platform internally to synchronize systems, processes and connectivity between ERP and multiple sets of business applications (though we've not seen this use case yet).

As our analysis of Nipendo continues, we’ll attempt to simplify and explain the power of this approach in plain procurement and A/P language. But the power in the platform is something worth appreciating first.

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