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Blockchain secures procurement

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As a disruptive technology platform, blockchain is impactful, with the potential to redefine the operations and economics of many industries, writes KAMENDRAN GOVENDER, Procurement & Supply Chain Transformation Lead for Accenture Consulting.

Blockchain as a technology and concept that continues to be hyped in all industries. As a disruptive technology platform, blockchain is impactful, with the potential to redefine the operations and economics of these industries.

The technology brings value to various firms with the way it offers transparency, efficiency and security for financial transactions. In our view, blockchain can also lend its security and efficiency benefits to other areas as well, including Procure-to-Pay (PTP) processes. It can allow authentication around stakeholders, budgeting, service provision, invoicing and payment settlement.

Procure-to-Pay (PTP) is the multi-step process connecting a client with one or more service/product providers. Among other activities, it allows for the identification and authentication of stakeholders, budgeting, service provision, invoicing and payment settlement.

Among the current challenges faced by PTP programmes are generating sustainable cost reductions through disintermediation, efficiency improvement, fraud control and transparency enhancement. Blockchain technology can disrupt PTP processes and more importantly provide huge operational benefits in terms of speed, greater security and decreased workload by facilitating the exchange of information. The following outlines how blockchain technology can bring value to key PTP processes.

  • Front-end system: A front-end interface is recommended to authorise vendors, define new catalogs, place purchase orders or sign contracts. This application can be an add-on to the blockchain or could be leveraged through existing procurement systems, if vendors decide to adopt this technology.
  • Strong audit trail: As all parties are registered in the ledger, transactions are stored and a tamper‑proof audit trail is maintained. This type of end-to-end visibility into procurement is a well-established practice in the tracking of physical goods.
  • Accelerated purchase order management: Purchase order and good receipt data would be exchanged on the blockchain at an accelerated pace when compared to current performance levels. As well, the blockchain could help identify the nearest and most cost-effective vendor within the network. This would help decrease lead time and workload associated with vendor searches, the processing of purchase orders and goods/services receipts.
  • Reshaped invoice processing: Invoice scanning would no longer be required – thanks to shared access to the database, with the exchange of invoices supported by the blockchain. This would also help render the reconciliation process far less cumbersome as all authorised parties could review the same transaction, eliminating the need for reconciliations. Blockchain hosted transactions would feed into the company’s general ledger for general accounting and financial reporting purposes.
  • Accelerated settlements: These would be accelerated as reconciliations and vendor/end user enquiries would not be required due to complete transparency and real-time access to a shared database. This could potentially disrupt in a positive sense business practices such as the standard D+30 days settlement deadline.
  • Streamlined enquiries management: Blockchain’s greater transparency would diminish the need for enquiries and process status follow-ups, thus streamlining current enquiry management and control processes.
  • Reduced money laundering risk: By permanently retaining historical payment information, suspicious transactions can be more easily identified.
  • Greater security of transactions: This can be attained through a cloud-based contract repository and an integrated e-sign feature that verifies signer identity and authorisation.

In conclusion, adopting blockchain can bring dramatic change and businesses considering blockchain for PTP should first build the full business case, considering the above outline. The assessment scope should include existing PTP assets, processes, and should balance cost considerations.

As blockchain solutions gain momentum, more real-world situations will emerge where information on blockchains simply needs to be modified or removed. Accenture’s redactable blockchain is an innovation for financial services companies that makes it possible to deal with situations in a predictable fashion when things go wrong. An editable form of blockchain will make the technology more practical and useful for enterprise systems as well as accelerate its adoption.

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Welcome to world of 2099

The world of 2099 will be unrecognisable from the world of today, but it can be predicted, says one visionary. ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK met him in Singapore.

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Futuristic structures tower over the landscape. Giant, alien-looking trees light up with dazzling colours amid the hundreds of plant species that grow up their trunks. Cosmetic stores sell their wares via public touch-screens, with products delivered instantly in drawers below the screens.

This is not a vision of the future. It is a sample of Singapore today. But it is also an inkling of the world we may all experience in the future.

Singapore was the venue, last week, of the World Cities Summit, where engineers, politicians, investors and visionaries rubbed shoulders as they talked about the strategies and policies that would enhance urban living in the future.

As part of the Summit, global payment technologies leader Mastercard hosted a small media briefing by one of Singapore’s leading thinkers about the future, Dr Damian Tan, managing director of Vickers Venture Partners. The company’s slogan “We invest in the extraordinary,” offers a small clue to Tan’s perspective.

“We look as far forward as 2099 because, as a venture capital firm, we invest in the long term,” he tells a group of journalists from Africa and the Middle East. “Companies explode in growth because there is value in the future. If there is no growth, they won’t explode.”

The big question that the Smart Cities Summit and Mastercard are trying to help answer is, what will cities look like in the year 2099? Tan can’t give an exact answer, but he offers a framework that helps one approach the question.

“If you want to look at 81 years into the future, and understand the change that will come, you need to double that amount and look into the past. That takes us to 1856. The difference between then and now is the difference you can expect between now and 2099.”

  •    Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee and on YouTube

Use the page links below to continue reading about Tan’s visions.

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Win a Poster Heater with Gadget and Takealot.com

This winter Gadget and Takealot.com are giving away three Poster Heaters, which look like posters but become heaters when you plug them in.

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Three Gadget readers will each win a unit, valued at R550 each. To enter, follow @GadgetZA and @Takealot on Twitter and tell us on the @GadgetZA account how many Watts the heater consumes.

What’s the big deal about these heaters? Many of us are struggling to keep the balance between soaring electricity costs and the need to keep warm this winter.

However, the recently launched Poster Heater by EasyHeat and distributed in South Africa by Takealot.com is not only one of the most cost effective electric heaters currently on the market, it is also easy to setup and use.

As the name indicates, it is a poster similar to one you would hang on a wall. But, plug it in and it turns into a 300 Watt heater. The Poster Heater isn’t designed to heat hallways or large rooms, but rather smaller ones like a bedroom or a baby’s nursery or a dressing room.

It uses radiant heating, which means that it heats up in a couple of minutes and the heat is directed at the objects or people around it, quickly taking the chill out of the air and providing a comfortable ambient temperature.

The other advantage of radiant heating is that it doesn’t dry out the air like infrared or gas heaters. Users also don’t have to worry about their children or pets getting too close to it because, even though it gets hot, it can be touched.

To enter the competition follow the steps below:

Competition entry details:

1. Follow @GadgetZA and @Takealot on Twitter. (We will ONLY be accepting entries via Twitter, so please don’t enter through the comments section of this article.)

2. Tell us on Twitter, via @GadgetZA, mentioning @Takealot in your posting, how many Watts the Poster Heater consumes.

cleardot.gif3. The competition closes on 31 July 2018.

4. Winners will be notified via Twitter on 1 August and Takealot.com will be in touch to organise delivery.

5. The competition is only open to South African residents.

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