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Interviews

Pawel Szmuksta, Comarch EDI: Providers can use experience as a key to unlock barriers and make e-invoicing adoption easier

Monday 14 November 2016 | 02:14 PM CET

Government bodies, which introduce e-invoicing regulations, discover that e-invoicing providers play crucial role in successful proliferation of e-invoicing

Could you describe which are the primary business drivers affecting companies’ decision to use B2B managed services?

If I had to call one major factor it would be simply cost. Not only the one-time cost of implementation but also, or even more important, total cost of ownership. As long as the alternative for B2B managed services is your own platform, which has to be developed, then run and maintained at appropriate level of its performance and reliability, there will be a big gap between the costs of such alternatives. B2B service providers benefit from economy of scale and they share such benefits with their customers resulting in lower cost, especially if we compare transaction cost in a middle – to long-term perspective. You don’t usually buy an aircraft when you want to fly from place A to B, but you buy a ticket for a flight instead. Of course, there are some exceptions from this rule.

What are the benefits of using managed services from e-invoicing service providers?

As said before, lower transaction cost is the most obvious benefit, but not only. E-invoicing service providers offer a variety of value-added services, which would be difficult and thus expensive to replicate in customer’s own environment: for example, ensuring legal compliance, providing various types of invoice validation, legal approved archiving, partners onboarding and many other.

How mature are e-invoicing providers to offer modern managed services industry?

I’d divide them into three categories, depending on their level of maturity:

1. Those which offer just technical excellence in terms of service reliability. This is absolutely a must, but I mention this in order to make potential customers to pay attention to SLA conditions offered.

2. Those which, besides good SLA, offer a variety of value-added services, but they’re still limited to the space of business partners and e-invoice content.

3. Finally, the third category, most mature, is able to offer the same as the second one, but also support for full process either preceding e-invoice or following it, and by this I mean:

  • providing master data synchronisation services;

  • processing documents in a structured electronic form (EDI) leading to e-invoice (orders, dispatch advices, receiving advice, etc.);

  • as well as providing e-invoice reconciliation services, which can be done in conjunction with the above. The most advanced ones combine them with financial services offered by third party (banks or other financial institutions). All in one place.

How has the role of service providers evolved in helping e-invoicing adoption flourish throughout the globe?

What I see is that government bodies, which introduce e-invoicing regulations, discovered that e-invoicing providers play crucial role in successful proliferation of e-invoicing. Therefore, service providers are invited to share their experience on how to lower entry barriers and make e-invoicing adoption easier. There are even examples of countries, where low regulation didn’t leave any space for e-invoice providers at the very beginning, but it was updated after some time, because of low adoption. So either individual providers or provider’s associations like, for instance, EESPA, which are asked for their opinion by government bodies, play important role in this term. They are closer to customers, they can share their experience and best business practices.

Another aspect is continuous development of provider’s services either in terms of geographical expansion or in terms of their portfolio of services I mentioned earlier.

What could e-invoicing service providers do to prepare for future scenarios which are most likely going to disrupt the B2B space (think of PSD2 & open banking paradigm shift)?

A simple answer would be – just to become the third category out of the above-mentioned category in terms of their maturity. For advanced service providers, PSD2 is rather an opportunity than a risk. For such a provider, a road to become TPP is more obvious, easier and less challenging then the road to become fully-featured e-invoicing provider for a bank. So I’m rather optimistic, as I’m representing COMARCH which has evolved to advanced EDI and e-invoicing provider.

What are the ‘missed opportunities’ that e-invoicing service providers haven’t yet taken advantage of but definitely should?

I can see three areas, which are usually either not yet discovered or underestimated and definitely worth the attention.

First, is onboarding services – in many cases key to successful e-invoicing proliferation. Second – e-invoice reconciliation services, which are possible when service provider covers whole process leading to e-invoice. Third - analytical market reports / big data based on document content. Some of the services are already in place while some of them are being developed as part of our R&D initiatives.

About Pawel Szmuksta:

PaweĊ‚ Szmuksta is managing COMARCH EDI Business Unit in COMARCH, which runs its own EDI and E-invoicing platform. He’s been working in the field of B2B communication for 18 years.

 

 About Comarch EDI:

Comarch EDI is a B2B platform, which provides a competitive advantage by a fast and secure data exchange with business partners. The solution provides the automation of data processing throughout the supply chain: from the procurement process, through the logistics, to invoicing and payment processing.

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