Playing nice in the sandbox

Do you remember your childhood days playing in a sandbox with the children from your neighborhood? Dump trucks, pails, shovels, and even the odd ball or two littered the sandbox. As kids we used to squabble amongst ourselves in an effort to get the best toys. This bickering often led to a more literal kind of friction in the sandbox as we would push, pull, and scrape in an effort to play with the “best” toys. However, fast forward a generation and suddenly playground friction is no longer about the simple toys, it is about wandering around from one piece of playground equipment to the next in search of the hidden Pokemon characters or digital interactive toys.

I recently watched my niece and nephew run to the neighborhood playground. I sat on the park bench and drank my latte, trying to not become an over protective aunt as they bounded back and forth with their iPads tightly gripped in-hand. After a few minutes, I asked them why they didn’t just give me the iPads. It was then that my seven year old nephew showed me a game he was playing with his schoolmates. Simply by signing into a LeapFrog program he had connected with friends from across the city and was currently competing for prizes by completing various physical tasks. It seemed like FitBit for kids and my nephew was determined to get in his 10,000 steps before anyone else. While I didn’t understand how he couldn’t find joy in making a sand castle or leaping off the swings, without his beloved iPad in hand, I did begin to realize just how much digital transformations have impacted his daily life.

Just as playgrounds have evolved from physical parks to virtual spaces, so too have work environments changed over the years. Today, instead of relying on outmoded paper processes, Buyers and Suppliers work together on digital online networks that help them to bridge borders, time zones, and other barriers to cooperation. In the same way that the kids have learned to combine physical activities with digital play, so too have supply chains integrated new streamlined technology in an effort to accommodate global needs.

Even with technological advancements, there are still challenges to overcome. For example, virtual digital games have guidelines and rules built in to them, whereas playground play is often unstructured, which can lead to misunderstandings and conflict when kids understand the rules differently. In the same way that a Pokemon game demands to be played according to its logic (you can’t make up your own rules), a true e-invoicing system like Tungsten Network’s ensures that both parties comply with the rules of the system. For example, Suppliers who submit improperly formatted invoices will have those invoices rejected by the system, so that they don’t lead to problems further down the line.

Tungsten is now rolling out a new feature, the Purchase Order Acknowledgement, that further exemplifies the benefits that e-invoicing can provide. By enabling Buyers to request and receive Supplier confirmation data, this feature removes the friction around placing an order. Suppliers have the option to accept the details and terms of the PO specified by the Buyer, to request a change, or to reject the PO as specified if they are unable to fulfill its terms.

To overcome friction within the supply chain, Buyers and Suppliers must utilize the right technologies to enjoy a future where straight-through processing is increased, late payments are eliminated, and collaboration is maximized. Thanks to technological advancements like this, Buyers and Suppliers can enjoy a supply chain where friction is increasingly a thing of the past, and where everyone always plays nice.

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