If you are thinking of starting or have recently set-up an e-invoicing/EIPP business, ask yourself candidly how do you intend to innovate? I assume you know the fundamental customer pain you are trying to relieve! Just for clarity, this is to replace manual paper based processes with an electronic system that exchange structured documents seamlessly from one system to another. In the past, I spoke about having connectivity up and down the value chain before commencing any development. Part of this is having a sizeable first willing customer who has significant power over its supply chain to allow the technology/product to be tested. I do not see any innovation in this approach – this is all common sense.
So, let’s assume that you spent considerable amount of resources (money and time) developing the first cut of your product and have successfully led trials with your first willing sizeable customer. So what? Given the success, you will no doubt be able to repeat especially as e-invoicing allows your customers to become the unofficial salesforce. All of this is fine – but there is nothing new in this! Yes, you might have reduced the delivery times or supplier enrollment times by a x factor, that is just not enough to make this business take off! So what do you need to do? This is when you need to apply out of the box – or crazy thinking!
I am not going to spell this out to you! But observe what is happening in the enterprise software arena, the Software-as-a-Service revolutionised by Salesforce.com and others, the social networks wave – come up with something that no one has thought of! With this level of innovation, there is a fundamental problem. Yes, you guessed right, the people who use these technologies, i.e. billing clerks and financial directors are not ready. So with this level of innovation, you have the potential to achieve first-mover advantage with the extra trouble of educating the market! So, is this another crazy idea of mine! I do not think so!