Paperless Invoicing Reaching SMBs - InformationWeek

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Commentary
8/6/2010
07:10 PM
Lamont Wood
Lamont Wood
Commentary
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Paperless Invoicing Reaching SMBs

Enrolling SMBs into paperless invoicing networks, OB10 finds that a third already use the service.

Enrolling SMBs into paperless invoicing networks, OB10 finds that a third already use the service.Sending out paper invoices and hoping that someone will respond to them appropriately is an uncomfortable way of life for a lot of SMBs. What software-as-a-service vendor OB10 is doing may show what to expect in the future-except that a lot of SMBs are already using it.

Ernie Martin, North America marketing manager for OB10, explained that the firm sets up invoicing networks between Fortune 500 firms and their suppliers. The firm now has about 130 corporate customers, and OB10 has connected them to about 80,000 suppliers, many of whom are mom-and-pop operations, he said. OB10 either finds a way to connect their accounting software directly to the F500 client, or supplies a Web-based data entry system. About two-thirds of the suppliers are so small that they end up using the Web system, he noted.

But lately, as OB10 enrolls suppliers for customers, it finds that a third of them are already in the system, thanks to having been previously enrolled with another customer, Martin noted.

Of course there's a green angle-with e-invoicing you don't need paper, and OB10 figures it has saved the world more than 60 million sheets of paper since it started operating 10 years ago. The average invoice consumes three sheets, including the envelop, said Martin.

But the advantages cited by the SMB users emphasize increased transparency into the process, Martin said. They get confirmations of receipt, notification when payment is approved, and expected payment dates. The service also amounts to a third-party archive of what was sent to who and when, in case of disputes. (OB10 doesn't handle money, however.)

The SMB suppliers do have to pay to use the service, but the per-invoice cost is hardly more than the price of a stamp, he said.

Headquartered in London, the privately-held OB10 derives its name from its original name, Open Business Exchange. This was shortened to OBX, but 10 looked better than X, Martin noted.

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