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Process-driven value networks change electronic business

In 2009 I published my vision on the future of electronic commerce with the title "A glimp into the future of e-invoicing". We are now 6 years later, not much has changed.

Or do they? There is a new reality on the way?

But first go back. In my view there would be a business information highway where every company would be able to let "its truck with information" drive around, loading and unloading. Intelligent links would make it possible to get on the highway and to exchange information.

In my future the electronic business information highway would arise according to the scenario of Middle Kingdoms. Governments, market sectors and industry groups would make an important mark on the realization and the maintenance of this super highway.

The electronic business information highway is not coming!

There is not (as I'd hoped) "something or someone who takes the role of super administrator". The reality is that, despite the existence of interoperability agreements, the attention of providers of solutions and services still goes to growth and increase of participants on their networks. Realizing a normalized middle layer that makes the message of "connect-once" and "access-all" via "drag and drop" and "click-and-go" possible for businesses is not an issue for them. We still notice that unlocking – connecting companies and enabling access to partners – demands and cost a lot of time and money.

Even the PEPPOL project (Pan-European Public Procurement Online), in which I strongly believe, is not bringing what I had hoped. My vision is not about unlocking the information with the Government but about the exchange of information and cooperation between all partners in a value chain.

The cause is no longer (!?) with the business information systems. These have become much more accessible in recent years with the introduction of service-orientation. However, the requirements for exchanging information are little or not changed. It is still document (message) oriented and about more than the minimum necessary data elements to understand what is meant and asked or to meet obligations of any kind.

The near future: Middle Kingdom and Youniverse migrate!

Value chains are less organized around big strong intermediaries. Companies take the helm in determining the rules of participation and cooperation in the chain. An innovative, entrepreneurial and dynamic world arises where changes have to be addressed quickly. This world is essentially based on universal standards and open systems. All mature and emerging technologies of the past twenty years come together here.

The rise of process-driven and service-oriented models do blur the boundaries between users and providers. When we apply them on value chains, hybrid innovative value networks arise – open innovative ecosystems where everything and everyone is connected.

In this approach, the middle layer is no longer in control. The layer facilitates only by providing standardized services. These services are incorporated in the service layer of our process driven business information systems.

Since services determine the input needed and the expected output we can sustain with passing just data instead of complete documents. The services are leading and pick up or present information when needed.

The most interesting for a lot of companies would be if the personalized layout of documents can be passed in the same way. Recipients can then visually reproduce the actual document with this layout.

If, in the long run, the middle layer becomes aware of the different concepts and meanings that are used in standards, connecting processes and unlocking information will become a lot easier.

What we eventually reach is an open and vendor-independent process driven value network within which all companies without high cost and effort can participate.

Tags: Process Modeling, BPMN, e-Business, e-Invoicing, e-Procurement

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