Whenever the 'fax' springs in to life (it is actually part of our large multifunction copier) - we all laugh, and say that 1984 is calling. During my working life I have seen the fax arrive (thermally), mature (laser printers) and then die. If I am honest, I think the postal service is going the same way.
My recent Aweb question about franking machines garnered a general response of 'why would you even go there' - even though we did in the end choose to keep a franking machine, together with a daily office collection.
Our local postie now collects at 3:30 rather than 4:30. I think that is down to falling volumes. He will soon (I imagine) be the person delivering the mail in mid morning and collecting mid afternoon. Not too long ago there would have been delivery and collection post (wo)men, and never the twain shall meet.
So, there is technological change all around, and older routines are fading away - yet, how much of the average finance team's life is currently spent managing debtors and creditors?
We expect our invoices to arrive via email, and we tend to send them out via email - together with remittance advices, and BACS files for payment. It really cannot be that long until we work out ways of joining the whole thing together.
Now - I am sure if you supply Tesco, Honda or the like, you already have to work this way - but I am talking about the trickle down effect so that it reaches SME world.
Of course, this could lead to a reduction in employment in our sector, which is not something I would really want - I have worked with some great people over the years. Or, we could use the other argument, and say that if you take out drudgery you free people up to do more interesting and higher value work.
In the end, though, I expect this won't really happen because of the amount of free funding that floats about managing these ledgers. My suppliers tend to get paid on average in 45 days. I struggle to bring payments in much quicker than 55 days. This probably reflects my respective market positions both as customer and supplier. I have a broad range of customers and suppliers though, so I have got some flexibility.
Still, that means I am providing a good 10 days of free credit somewhere along the line.
When you add that up all the way along the supply chain I am sure the total will dwarf the banks lending - and all for free.
So, I expect my dream of all the computers speaking to each other in some giant chain, with money passing up the line, is probably still a dream for now.
They do say you should be careful what you wish for - I do need a reason for someone to pay me to go to work after all.