Remember the days when cloud was something in the sky that brought rain? When you think about real clouds, you think fluffy, airy, constantly changing. But the cloud we use to run our applications these days can sometimes be far from these characteristics. The desire to make cloud computing resilient, secure, and scalable can result in a computing platform that is too rigid to adequately serve a business process that is dynamic and fluid in nature.
As someone with a strong technical background, I understand the propensity on the part of application developers to focus on infrastructure as it relates to creating a cloud-based procure-to-pay solution. After all, the logistical framework associated with bringing different elements together under a single platform has long defined the way in which the industry has approached the procurement process and in particular supplier interaction.
However, creating or structuring a platform is very different from truly understanding the real world processes that ultimately define how stakeholders within the extended enterprise will operate.
There is a difference between transaction-oriented infrastructure and process-oriented infrastructure. When you build a platform that is process-aware, you use process steps as the building blocks and map the transactions to these process steps. That’s in contrast to creating a transaction-oriented structure and trying to impose the process on the transactions. Semantically, the difference may seem subtle. But when it comes to architecting for scale and flexibility, the difference is crucial.
This is perhaps where the great disconnect between the promise of the cloud and the ultimate realization of its tangible benefits originates.
This being said, the vision of what we call the Nipendo Supplier Cloud is based on addressing the above reservations by focusing on four critical areas:
• Building a process-aware infrastructure geared for flexibility and scale • Creating the ability to connect once and work with many within the community. • Enabling synchronized relationships that extend throughout the entire purchase-pay process.
• The introduction of value-added services including supply chain finance, sourcing, sales statistics and supplier evaluation.
In future posts I will expand on each of these areas in greater detail. For the purposes of this post, the one critical point that I would like you to take away is that when you build your platform from the outside in and you let the business process drive your solution architecture, you empower your users to achieve remarkable results.