Last week I had the great honour of being part of a panel discussion at a VISA AP event in Mumbai, which was focused on the topic of Digital Transformation Driving Business Profitability for Corporates in India.
In every such discussion, there are always what I would call highlight points that capture both the theme and imagination of the subject matter.
These points, which break away from the standard thinking to blaze new trails of insight, are always powerful. The Mumbai conference was no different.
If you were to ask me to describe in one simple sentence the big take away from this panel, I would have to direct you to a famous Tweet by American entrepreneur, co-founder and CEO of the $2 billion enterprise cloud company Box, Aaron Levie.
In talking about Uber, Levie wrote that they were a “lesson in building for how the world should work, instead of optimising for how the world does work.”
Take a few moments to ponder the greater meaning behind Levie’s words. Specifically building for how the world should work.
This is a very important perspective when it comes to automating Indian business to grow domestically, and expand internationally. Especially in terms of Procure 2 Pay “P2P” adoption and utilization.
According to the research provided by VISA AP, Only 15% of leading Indian corporations use an electronic collections platform to manage their revenues and, of these, only 12% of their revenues are managed electronically.
One of the most notable questions that was asked, was why the electronification of the P2P process – including AP management, is so low despite the proliferation of ERP systems? This of course extends to include the supplier side of the transaction.
While the majority of responses were in their own way insightful, one might consider them to be within the framework of the familiar or known. This meant that the prescribed solutions were based upon optimising for how the P2P world presently works.
However, in responding to this question two key, and what I believe are unique points, caught my attention.
The first was that when dealing with Indian suppliers – many of whom are SME’s, there must be a focus on trust and not technology.
When I talk about trust, I am referring to the confidence that through automation of the P2P process, and in particular the payment of invoices, suppliers must quickly realise a compressed payment period. In other words, once they see that automation reduces the time it takes to pay their invoices to as little as 3 days, a trust relationship with the buyer is established. Adoption of technology then becomes an extension of that trust, as the benefits are clearly realised on a tangible basis.
The second point – and this will likely surprise those who have been around as long as I – many, or should I dare to say most, SME suppliers do not know how to use a PC or a notebook computer.
Conducting Business in 140 Characters or Less
It is a critical realisation that most SMEs in India utilise mobile or handheld devices like Sony Xperia, Samsung Galaxy/Note or iPhone to conduct business. What is interesting is that this propensity to use mobile devices, is reflective of a much larger societal trend in India.
Based upon one study, Indians utilize their disposable income to buy the following in order of priority: 1) mobile phones/devices, 2) televisions, and 3) personal computers. This trend is even more prevalent in India’s rural communities, where 70 percent of the population “access the Internet from their mobile devices.”
This tells me that we may very well be moving towards the mobile supply chain not only becoming the dominant, but perhaps only, supply chain.
It is a continuing indication of a devolution process that first began with large mainframe computers occupying floors within a building. The mainframes were then replaced by personal computers on individual desks, and now personal and even wearable devices providing 24/7 access on a real time basis.
This is a perfect example of how P2P solutions must be built to intersect with the way the world should work.
Over the coming weeks I will be writing a series of posts based on the VISA AP panel discussion, as well as how this changing technological landscape must be addressed to maximise economic development within both India and the global marketplace.
However, I will leave you with this one final thought . . . do you see the world in terms of how it presently works, or how it should work?