I thought long and hard about what to compare eInvoicing to in a way that people would understand. I thought about cars, watches (smart watches that is), doors, you know stuff that we use every day. Electronic invoices (eInvoice) should be an everyday use thing too. I finally landed on an iPad because a story that was told to Steve Jobs after its initial launch.
Jobs was thrilled when he heard that a reporter from a major magazine had taken his revolutionary tablet (iPad) into the amazon jungle where he was embedded into a group of natives. This group had never seen a TV or computer nevertheless a tablet. The reporter wanted to see what a young boy about ten years old would do with the iPad. He showed him how to swipe the screen and handed the boy the tablet and to his surprise the boy was navigating like a pro. In and out of apps, swiping the screen… everything. The reporter was impressed, but Jobs was more than pleased with the report because he had wanted to create a tool that had no learning curve and great value, which he did.
There is a lot the world of electronic invoice and accounts payable automation can learn from the iPad jungle story, but is the learning perception or reality? The perception that eInvoicing is difficult to use comes for a long-standing relationship with ERP or accounting systems. It is a common misconception that when you want to get rid of the paper that the “getting rid of” process will involve technology. To most accounting and finance people, technology hasn’t always been a friend, but more of something that needs to be tolerated. The truth is eInvoicing, if it is done correctly, can be as easy or even easier than the iPad.
The problem with technology it is developed by people who know technology. A couple of researchers (brothers) Chip and Dan Heath recently wrote about developing ideas and their developers always had the “curse of knowledge”. Technology is the same way. Technologist are cursed with knowing and loving technology (especially the technology they build) to the point where people who use the technology are forgotten.
What To Do
What makes eInvoicing easy to use is its focus on a task. Accounts payable automation simply gets rid of paper, puts the electronic invoice in an automated approval process, presents that to the people who need to approve that invoice and once fully approve the invoice is electronically entered into the ERP or accounting system. If you lose your focus on the task you will lose the ease.
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