September 06, 2016

Billentis Market Report: From e-Invoicing Toward Broader Digitization

by e-invoicing Trends, Digitalization, E-invoicing

Billentis Market Report: From e-invoicing towards broader digitizationIn 2016, the total volume of e-invoices will achieve 30 billion worldwide, estimates the global market research report on e-invoicing published by Billentis and sponsored by OpusCapita. The annual growth rate for e-invoicing is expected to be 10–20%.

According to the report, a new era of digitization and automation lies ahead, and the environment might change dramatically in the coming years. Large buyer corporations aim to achieve zero-touch, fully automated invoice processes and optimization of entire purchase-to-pay (P2P) and order-to-cash (O2C) processes, which is one of the major trends driving the progress in the market beyond mere e-invoicing.

“This trend has been strengthening year by year: electronic invoicing is considered as an enabler that allows improving the end-to-end chains, and cost-efficiency is no longer the number one goal for corporations, albeit still important,” comments Ahti Allikas, Solution Owner, OpusCapita.

Tailwind for e-procurement

The Billentis report also highlights the role of public administration as a promoter of the next phase. For instance in Europe, new EU directives obligate over 100 000 public agencies to support certain e-invoicing standard, to develop automated processing of electronic invoices and to migrate certain procurement processes towards electronic procedures by the end of 2018. The activities in the public sector might cause a strong tailwind for e-procurement activities in the private sector as well.

“Public sector has undeniably a role to play here, and every year a few countries make e-invoicing mandatory in their business-to-government invoicing. A concern is that the national governments are now requiring varied reports on the invoices for auditing and other purposes, which creates new country-specific demands for organizations.”

“This development is a clear risk to the cross-European interoperability, and we are currently participating in finding ways to resolve it,” says Allikas, who is an active member of the executive board of EESPA, the European E-invoicing Service Providers Association. The association promotes interoperability of e-invoicing ecosystems, policies and standards.

Rising demand for B2B networks

Currently, as the Billentis report states, the majority of electronic invoices in the market are just digital images of paper, PDFs. For instance, surveys have indicated that in countries like Austria, Germany, Spain and the US the proportion of PDF invoices was around 75% of all electronic invoices in 2015.

The development is putting emphasis on the data quality in the invoices, a pre-requisite for automated processing. The report underlines the importance of accurate invoice data also from the increasingly pivotal perspective of tax and legal compliance. The situation advances the use of structured invoice data, such as the XML format.

In addition, the international corporations’ demand to exchange other electronic business documents efficiently with both large counterparts and with a number of mid-sized and smaller trading partners is increasing substantially. In order to achieve that, large organizations are looking to electronic B2B networks and SaaS platforms.

“Whether we are talking about formats, invoicing addresses or service providers’ access points to exchange data, common interoperability is the key to the widespread adoption of electronic invoices. These issues should be invisible especially to the suppliers – e-invoicing should be made as easy as it would be to mail a letter or an email,” Allikas states.

The annual research report gives an insight into the current state and the future trends of electronic invoicing around the world. The report representing the views of over 15 000 enterprises and 10 000 consumers was published in May.

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