The Cloud and The Connected Supply Chain - e2b teknologies
- Jun 19, 2015 | Avalara
What tips do you have for other businesses in your industry?
The best advice we can provide to peers in our industry is to adapt to change. We used to sell Unix-based systems but that shifted to Windows in the 1990s and today we are doing more and more work with cloud ERP and add-on products. The shift to the cloud has been great for us, allowing our customers to take advantage of plug-and-play applications such as Avalara’s sales tax compliance solutions, which integrate seamlessly with the ERP business system.
We also suggest that companies build their own intellectual property and domain expertise. For example, years ago we recognized that companies were struggling to get paid on outstanding accounts receivable, so we developed Anytime Collect credit and collections management software which has become one of the fastest growing products in its category and a differentiator for us in the market.
What skill set will successful vendors need to keep growing in the sales tax automation and compliance business?
We’re all in the compliance business in one way or another. ERP resellers are responsible for implementing ERP software and point solutions like Avalara to keep their customers compliant in many different ways. The beautiful part of our relationship with Avalara is that it’s completely seamless. The product flat-out works and requires very little setup or assistance from our team. We believe that vendors like Avalara are successful and will continue to be successful because they listen to customer and partner feedback in order to continually improve their solutions.
What are the most common or challenging compliance issues your customers deal with?
Since we specialize in distribution and manufacturing, our customers face a wide variety of compliance mandates. These range from sales tax to quality compliance issues related to their industry, customers, and vendors, to financial reporting compliance such as Sarbanes Oxley.
In some industries, compliance is more strategic. For example, almost all of our manufacturing customers are compliant with ISO quality standards but medical device and life science customers must comply with 21 CFR Part 11 requirements. Our food and beverage customers have lot tracking, recall, and nutritional labeling requirements. Our automotive customers have EDI compliance requirements.
Many customers have very complex compliance requirements. We make their jobs easier through technology.
What new business models do you see emerging in the accounting, finance & compliance industry?
There will come a day when supply chains are truly connected from consumer to retailer to wholesaler to manufacturer. Much of that technology exists today but the standards governing each part of the supply chain vary – especially in different industries. We truly believe that the cloud will finally enable companies to have complete visibility of downstream and upstream supply chain requirements to act instead of react to demands as they change.
For example, we have one customer that manufacturers cab assemblies for a large heavy truck company. They get demand into their ERP system automatically from the heavy truck customer, which feeds into their material requirements planning (MRP) software. The MRP software tells them what they need to buy and what they need to make to supply the cab assemblies to their customer. The real game changer, though, is that the planned purchase orders for supplies are automatically sent to downstream suppliers so they know what they need to provide to the company to support their manufacturing requirements. It’s a very complete process, connecting the customer to the manufacturing and downstream supply chain. This is just one simple example of where we feel the market is heading.
Where do you see the industry in 5 years?
No one truly knows what’s ahead, but all signs point to cloud software becoming the standard in the near future. Companies like Avalara, Salesforce, and online banking have proven that there is a place for cloud in just about everything that we do in both our businesses and personal lives. We expect that most of the new and innovative business applications developed in the next 5 years will be cloud-based. We also expect cloud applications to rival on-premise applications in performance and overall total cost of ownership.
What’s one of the funniest stories you have from working with clients?
Several years ago an ERP partner in New England shared a story with us. They happened to work with the old World Wrestling Federation (WWF). They were working on upgrading the WWF’s ERP system one weekend, when phone started ringing. One of the consultants picked up the phone – it was the WWF’s bank.
The banker on the other end of the phone proceeded to ask, “Is this the World Wrestling Federation? We have a guy here in sweat pants trying to cash a very, very large check and he looks a little bit shifty. Do you know him? The check is made out to Junk Yard Dog.”
So he calmly replied, “Yes, we know the JYD – he’s a good man and a helluva wrestler.”