As more and more trading partners leverage business networks to manage invoices and payments, a term has emerged to describe the phenomenon: "the networked economy." In most cases, discussions about the networked economy have involved movers and shakers in procurement and finance. In too many companies, the conversation has left out an important stakeholder: the treasurer.

Why should a corporate treasurer be interested in an e-commerce initiative? That could be a $100 million question. Treasury policies focused on static discounts and maximizing float can undermine business performance. Savvy treasurers who can translate today's collaborative procure-to-pay approaches into better cash and working capital management have the opportunity to drive new strategies that increase profitability and cash returns.

New Approach to Managing Cash

One area of low-hanging fruit for many treasury teams is early-payment discounts from suppliers. As increasing numbers of buyers and suppliers settle transactions over digital business networks instead of on paper and by mail, the pace of commerce accelerates. Invoices can be approved and scheduled for payment in days, which gives treasurers a new opportunity to manage cash better. They can capture more early-payment discounts for risk-free, double-digit cash returns.

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