As businesses emerge from pandemic survival mode and consider what’s next, technologically, B2B payments are increasingly ripe for an overhaul.

Businesses in all verticals and of all sizes are re-examining their expense management – ​​especially billing – looking for solutions that can make everything a little more efficient.

Manish Jaiswal, Chief Product Officer of Corcentric, told PYMNTS that with macro challenges in place and rampant inflation, “now is a great time to go in and do some automation.”

Automation, he said, is not just about eliminating manual invoice entry, but includes tracking the invoice across digital channels throughout its lifecycle.

“Coming out of COVID,” he said, “the demand for invoice automation has increased dramatically.”

This concept of invoice automation is global. This means matching the invoice to the PO and receipt, coding the invoices so they can go through to payments faster.

Related: The Data Point: 98% of Companies Say Automated Endpoints Accelerate Payments and Fuel Growth

Make correspondence transparent

Artificial intelligence (AI), he said, can make those matches seamless.

Businesses are progressing. Jaiswal said many Corcentric customers who previously relied on DIY solutions have at least partially modernized their billing workflows. Along the way, they ran into challenges with how to get all the information coming in through physical mail and email into their enterprise software.

“You need smart routing to properly define all of these processes,” he said, “as well as the ability to handle exceptions.”

He added that AI makes it easier to process these exceptions, get payments through, and keep cash flow at its most visible level. It also allows, with historical data, to predict which invoices will be paid and when.

An initial commitment

However, he said getting those same companies to fully commit to AI takes some initiative. Convincing companies to replace outdated paper and manual Accounts Payable systems with AI-powered invoice automation and even robotics is still a challenge.

Many leaders may be a little hesitant to move into unfamiliar technologies or worry about integrations – or unsure how advanced technologies can help them manage exceptions.

See also: 84% of CFOs say digitalization improves working capital

Supply chain issues mean that many companies want to keep their suppliers happy in order to keep inventory flowing. Looking ahead, he said, the supplier has taken center stage in B2B commerce.

“A strategic relationship with the supplier should be a top priority,” Jaiswal said. “To do that, you can’t take hours or days just to enter invoices into the system. There is an “imposed schedule” to ensure the Accounts Payable department is more efficient and pays vendors on time. »

This, in turn, lets shoppers know that if they approve and pay invoices within the next 24 hours, they can qualify for a 2% discount. Along the way, it is possible to improve interactions and relationships between buyers and sellers.

“Depending on the amount of the bill,” he said, “this can translate into huge savings.”

As he put it, “automation isn’t just about making mundane tasks easier, it’s about improving the real business.”

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NEW PYMNTS DATA: THE CUSTOM PURCHASING EXPERIENCE STUDY – MAY 2022

About: PYMNTS’ survey of 2,094 consumers for The Tailored Shopping Experience report, a collaboration with Elastic Path, shows where merchants are succeeding and where they need to up their game to deliver a personalized shopping experience.