In the early 90’s, the only street map available to consumers was a massive, unwieldy multi-fold paper generated by old-school cartographers and geomatics engineers. It certainly wasn’t an interactive experience, unless you count scribbling notations on it or asking a passerby to also view the paper. 1993 brought the debut of services like the Xerox PARC Map Viewer, which began the transition to a digital age. But even those services were limited, and often static.
Fast forward to present day, where Google Maps presents a mind-boggling amount of interactive features. Not only can you look up simple street mapping, but you can perform every imaginable tangent task. You can perform calculations of area, distance, currency, transportation fares. You can drill down on every conceivable data point imaginable, act on those data points, perform e-Commerce activities, and share your findings with others. For consumers, Google Maps is pretty much one step away from magic.
Electronic Bill Presentment and Payment (EBPP) systems were attempted in the late 1990s as a way to transition to the digital age, but these fell woefully short for enterprise needs. There simply wasn’t any interactivity, unless – similar to map interactivity – you counted scribbling on it or asking a co-worker to also view the paper. You definitely couldn’t perform any calculations digitally. it was impossible to drill down on any data points at all. There were no transactions you could perform, and sharing with others literally meant providing a printing or emailing a copy.
Fast forward to present day, B2B invoicing has improved exponentially with a pragmatic mélange of digital invoicing tools and features that shed the document paradigm. What used to be static image or PDF has now blossomed into interactive functions that allow a variety of accounts payable or line of business managers to more easily perform their duties. The invoice, now serves as a singular, centralized action point between suppliers and customers. The invoice allows customers to search and drill-down for analysis. It allows customers to abandon manual phone inquiries to initiate an inquiry within the invoice regarding explanations or disputes. Inquiry resolutions and adjustments then happen right from the familiar confines of the invoice. For large enterprise customers who represent a deep amount of departments and sub-groups, there is now the ability to split the invoice into appropriate sections and designate financial responsibility accordingly. All of these actions can also be shared and reported to connected groups and organizations as needed for normal business processes and accounting.
As APIs become more pervasive, the invoice will be able to tap into more services such as order management where customers can modify their plans and discontinue services right from the invoice. Invoices will become more like spreadsheets allowing customers to create their own formulas and pivot tables. The functionality of invoices will continue to grow in both number and quality, allowing the modern day invoice to be the critical last mile of the customer experience.
Companies like Globys have made massive advancements in invoicing solutions, and will continue to add features and functionality year over year to allow for any possible needed action, insight, and control to be enabled for every generated invoice. The experience will be more and more like Google Maps, with intuitive interfaces, and a variety of consolidated consumer actions that improve the process for ever possible user – all with extensibility, customization, and personalization throughout. For consumers, invoicing will also be pretty much one step away from magic. And that’s a good thing for everyone.
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