According to David Ferdinando, Regional Director – London South of United Data:
“The decision to sponsor the Accountancy Age awards was a natural choice. Over the next three to four years, the impact of ‘open networks’ will have a significant effect on the way every finance department in this country operates. United Data will be at the forefront of that change with ExDox ?, Europe’s first free to join Open Document Network, which becomes available in November to coincide with the Awards.”
Well done David with striking such an important strategic partnership – getting accountants and financial directors on your side is vital to any e-invoicing campaign. And the amount of publicity this will generate should result in a decent ROI. How come no one else has thought of this before? This potential partnership never entered my mind when ebdex was developing and seeking early users for ebdex Document Exchange. However, I had number of discussions with another body in the accountancy community on a deal which did not involve up front costs for ebdex – rather on revenue share basis – which I am a great believer in. But that particular organisation had less influence in the UK market than Accountancy Age.
Yet another launch date for United Data – so familiar story with startups. ebdex was nearly 8 months behind when I pulled the plug – cutting the losses. With edocr, it was taking too long – five months into product development. So I convinced the team to release Alpha version. Without a doubt it was the right decision. You cannot really compare edocr with ExDox – but ExDox can be compared directly with ebdex, as roots for both organisations came from Morahan International, which is no longer in existence. I am hoping that ExDox already has a decent number of trial customers. Such a business require customers before a formal launch – early user feedback is so vital to a successful launch.
United Data also claims:
“ExDox? is the UK’s first free to join, totally open document network, with a free national supplier migration program. ExDox? allows all organisations, regardless of what type of accounts package they use, to send and receive invoices electronically. There is no capital outlay and there are no complicated contracts. Members of the network pay for what they use, which is 25p to send or receive a document. ExDox ?, for the first time, allows SMEs to connect to their larger customers and to trade amongst themselves with no capital outlay or the need for expensive setup and maintenance costs. Customers who have already invested in EDI can join the ExDox ?network using a connector.”
Perhaps it’s the first – but few other companies have claimed the same in the past. It’s a great concept to not have an up front charge, as you are eliminating a significant barrier for adaption. But someone needs to absorb the operating costs as there are significant customer awareness and trading partner enablement costs need to be accounted for. As United Data comes across many different accounting packages, will they start passing development costs to customers? If not, they will continue to have to write off costs on an on-going basis. It makes commercial sense to offer Sage Line 100 connector free, but makes less commercial sense to develop and offer a free connector for a legacy or not so well known/used accountancy system.
It would be a great day when I can report the first case study here – when that happens – I will take my hat off to Mark Morahan – for being persistence with his energy to take a slice of the e-invoicing market – this time concentrating on UK rather than the world – taking one small step at a time.