In December 2005, I reported the acquisition of Harbor Payments by American Express. At the time, American Express claimed that Harbor technology would become the basis of its Source-to-Settle (S2S) e-purchasing system, driving greater levels of cost savings while improving control and compliance requirements across its customer base.
Today, American Express (Amex) announced further information about its S2S proposition, S2S(SM) eInvoice&Pay. In their press release, Amex claimed that their proposition is the first fully integrated Electronic Invoice Presentment and Payment (EIPP) solution. Amex needs to explain how they arrived at such conclusion, as there are plenty of other solutions offering similar functionality, e.g. Accountis, Burns e-Commerce, etc.
- Electronic capture of 100% of invoices
- Straight-through electronic processing from purchase order to payment for users of electronic procurement and the American Express® Corporate Purchasing Card (CPC)
- A large and fast-growing e-invoice enabled supplier networks, plus a dedicated enrollment team to provide service and support
- Reduced invoice exceptions and faster pay via automated review and dispute resolution
- Multiple payment options (including the American Express Corporate Purchasing Card and ACH)
- Compatibility with all ERP systems, plus advanced SAP connectivity
How does it works?
Above sketch shows that the solution is able to accept input from paper, electronic upload and web forms. Nothing ground breaking there! Once again, this is an accounts payable solution, which clearly distinguish a company either as a supplier or a purchaser, and drag suppliers to satisfy the need of large purchasers. It is my belief that going forward, whilst recognising the differences between Accounts Payable (A/P) and Accounts Receivables (A/R) and therefore providing additional functionality demanded, the modern EIPP solutions should treat each connected organisation as both a supplier and a purchaser, especially given the "single sign-on" initiative promoted by enterprise software vendors such as Oracle. Those who recognises that all companies buys and sells and therefore cater for both A/P and A/R functions will ultimate win the battle for market share. End of the day, the game is about number of users and transaction volume. Amex has the credibility and capacity to become the overnight market leader. It is also questionable whether Harbor technology is scalable to the extend demanded by Amex’s global payment platform. Given the war chest Amex has, it makes sense for them to acquire others such as Ariba and OB10 for user base if not for functionality provided by these established players. Ariba perhaps offer the widest spend management proposition, whilst OB10 has a niche international network providing e-invoicing solutions, now operating from three time zones (did I mention, I recently met Jamie Gunn, CEO of OB10 as well as Alain Falys, founder and ex-CEO of OB10?). If this is to happen, Oracle will miss an opportunity to purchase Ariba. Looks like beginning of market consolidation is already here, finally!
Enough of speculation! A long standing customer of Harbor Payments, Dean R. Hoffman of $2.3 billion engineered component maker Kennametal Inc, was jubilant at the news.
"This acquisition is good news for us. If we can expand that program outside the U.S., we could see big savings in A/P overhead. American Express is a global organization with the resources to make Harbor Payments a global service, and that’s just what we’re looking for."
Tim Minahan who blogs at Supply Excellence was one of the individuals who was invited to the press-only event for the launch. Tim writes:
When delivering the invitation, Amex’s PR manager said that Supply Excellence has “great influence among the purchasing community and technology marketplace.” I told him that his sources must be mistaken, but he persisted. And I graciously accepted.
Above demonstrates the increasing influence bloggers have on corporates both large and small. Tim is the SVP of Marketing at Procuri.
Personally, Amex’s entrance in to EIPP market should help increase awareness of such solutions among both large and mid-size businesses across the globe. Could this be the year of EIPP? Will EIPP finally take off? Will it finally be accepted as a "must have solution"? What do you think?
- American Express buys Harbor Payments
- American Express Launches Source-to-settle Purchasing Solutions
- S2S eInvoice&Pay
- Amex Does EIPP
- American Express Gets Serious About Spend Management
- Amex To The Rescue
- EIPP Expose: Watch This Space
Tags: Procuri, Harbor Payments, Harbor technology, EIPP, e-invoicing, payments, American Express, Amex, Tim Minahan, OB10, Ariba, Oracle, Single sign-on, S2S, S2S eInvoice&Pay, Accountis, Burns e-Commerce, ACH, Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivables, A/P, A/R