The electric scooter craze and the pain points of legacy infrastructures

November 30, 2018 Matt Vermeulen

Scooters! They’re everywhere!

Maybe you’ve seen a smug rider cruising down the street on a spiffy looking electric scooter. Or maybe you’re one of the pedestrians that has to jump out of the way of unruly sidewalk scooterers. Maybe you’re actually the one zooming by the poor masses of pedestrians and cars gridlocked downtown—glad you’re wearing a helmet!

Like many of the new “sharing economy” company models, the newest urban scooter craze relies on a host of “contractors” to scoop up the electric scooters that need a charge, plug them in at their homes, and put them back on the streets. Each contractor gains a nominal payment for each scooter charged, and the payment varies based on the amount of time. Think this might lead to scooter collecting and shady crime? Yes, it does. Does it lead to fed up locals burning abandoned scooters? Yes, it does. Does it let scooter companies expand faster than if they were doing it themselves? Yes, it does.

Not only are they cropping up in cities across the world (South Lake Tahoe? Seriously?), but media articles are following in their wake like seeds thrown from their wheels; they’re a veritable Johnny Appleseed of tech journalism.

But is city infrastructure ready?

They do hold a lot of promise for relieving urban traffic and commute times, a solution cities are thirsting for. And while it seems intuitive that this type of low-profile, electric option to commuter gridlock will improve cities, the verdict is still out. We just don’t have the types of studies available to show the impact of this new trend.

One of the main hurdles to massive success comes down to city infrastructure itself, especially in the US. Most US urban cities are built on an automotive infrastructure designed to artfully integrate car traffic through its arterials to its freeways. Pedestrian and non-automobile traffic takes second fiddle, and all designs for maximizing this alternate traffic seems ad hoc and retrofitted with ungainly and ill-serving solutions.

You may be thinking, well that’s interesting, but what does this have to do with finance and accounts payable?

Make sure your AP solutions don’t use legacy systems

Turns out most AP solutions are using legacy systems ill-equipped to address modern supply-chain complexities. It’s no secret the world is moving toward a digital future. From farming to groceries, from automobiles to aircraft, artificial intelligence, robotics, and digital processes are revolutionizing how business gets done.

And those new technologies are already ready and reliable in the finance world. Just take a look at Gartner’s hype cycle for business process services. They’re all there on the chart. There’s simply no excuse to stay behind the curve. Yet, the average enterprise still receives 65 percent of its invoices in a manual format. And that often comes down to getting suppliers happy with a digital solution. And the way to do that is use a system that incentivizes their participation in the network. Without that, you’re just adding electric scooters to an already gridlocked urban street system.

Just like cities need to radically rethink how to serve their pedestrians in urban spaces, so to do finance departments need to rethink how to best take advantage of modern systems.


About the Author

Matt Vermeulen

Matt Vermeulen writes about B2B commerce for Tradeshift. Whether he's writing about Accounts Payable best practices or debunking AI myths, Matt enjoys making complex topics easy to understand and fun to read.

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