Reflecting on the past often means thinking of positives, challenges and surprises. 2014 certainly had all three.
The most positive development is that e-invoicing is now a known technology with unrivalled benefits to boost cash flow and drive business performance. A proof is that we saw transactions – e-invoices and other electronic documents - exceeding already 80 million in our Basware Network earlier this summer, and that we currently process about over 500,000 invoices every day. It’s also clear that people are more curious and open-minded towards e-invoicing as they see the clear gains. This is reflected in international discussions where the debate is much more around the business benefits rather than the product technicalities of e-invoicing.
One of the surprises – and challenges – of 2014 is the level of manual processes that still resides within organisations. Our global Creating Payment Energy research report with MasterCard showed that only one in five businesses has highly automated processes with fully optimised systems to manage invoice payment efficiently. This creates a major stumbling block for critical issues such as cash flow and transparency.
Manual processes also lead to another worrying trend and surprise of 2014: late payments. We live in a culture with a very high number of people either admitting that they pay suppliers late or accepting that late payment today is normal practice. This impacts both individuals and economies as a whole.
In 2015, the cost of money will be a central discussion. Not just around areas such as interest rates but also on the price you pay for non-performing or manual services and the impact this has on a company’s cash flow. As a result, organisations on a global level will continue to look at innovation in finance such as the growth of business commerce networks that enable real-time e-invoicing, along with worldwide payment networks. These new payment options are exactly what many businesses are looking for already today.
Because of key technologies like analytics, finance departments will continue to be the rock stars. Having real-time access to explicit data at their fingers tips enables them to drive business decisions that will boost both their companies’ finances and ultimately power economies.
On an international level, we are seeing encouraging signs from the European Union with countries like France mandating e-invoicing from 2017. But more needs to happen. We need better collaboration between governments (which can be achieved with an interoperability system based on a single e-invoicing standard). We also need to ensure that the e-invoicing legislation leads to actual implementation – by making it as easy as possible to switch to electronic invoices.
Consolidation in the e-invoicing space towards fewer larger vendors could also be a trend. The demand for e-invoicing is increasing as people realise the importance of it as a document of trust between buyers and sellers. The security and protection of the critical data it contains is something people are willing to pay for from trusted experts.
I’m positive about 2015 as e-invoicing is inevitable. It’s ability to unlock value, opportunities and cash is a must-have for any size of organisation.
For now, I want to thank everybody in our community for a fantastic 2014 and I look forward to engaging with you next year on this blog or wherever I have the opportunity to meet you.