Electronic invoicing is hot and happening. The European Commission, for
example, is taking actions towards massive EU adoption. It's high time
then to ask OB10 CEO Luke McKeever's view on the state of affairs.
Subjects we address:
* the rapid development of e-invoicing
* the liberalisation of European e-invoicing
* innovation and competition
1.E-invoicing has developed quite rapidly the last few years. Not only in growth numbers but also in diversity in solution providers. How do you reflect on these two developments?
I am surprised that the surge in the number of solution providers hasn't happened sooner. When we began nearly 12 years ago we anticipated a high level of adoption, we just didn't think it would take this long.It is important that customers - and in particular suppliers - have choices. Our strategy over the past few years has been to provide suppliers with options, whether through a choice of service provider (and interoperability) or the wide variety of ways suppliers can connect and participate in our network.
We welcome new solution providers that are helping to generate real interest, awareness and activity in the market. We spend a lot of time educating our prospects and partners; it's great to have more people banging the drum for e-invoicing and we are already reaping the benefits of this increased interest.
The diversity of solutions is a natural evolution as providers at different points in the supply chain have spotted the opportunities in electronic invoicing and have extended their services.
We can say, however, that our specialism is electronic invoicing. It isn't a by-product of another service or solution set, or added to keep up with the trend. We live it and breathe it. Indeed many people are surprised at quite how passionate we are about our market, concept and service. Most importantly, we continue to push the boundaries to make sure we're delivering what our customers need and can make e-Invoicing even easier for the suppliers on our network.
-EU e-invoicing liberalisation-
2.European e-invoicing liberalisation is on its way. What are the good and bad things from this upcoming liberalisation?
The good news is that the EU and local governments have acknowledged the savings to industry from the implementation of e-invoicing. This is raising awareness among corporates and SMEs alike. The other good news is that, theoretically, e-invoicing will get easier.The bad news is that is very likely that the requirements will vary from country to country and there may not be sufficient guidance on the rules for authenticity and integrity (at least in the early days). This may mean that single country implementations may get easier, but the complexities will remain for those larger companies that wish to trade across borders like the majority of OB10's customers today.
3.From an adoption point of view, wouldn't it just be better to mandate e-invoicing just like they did in Latin America, China, Japan, Malaysia and so on.
Of course mandating the use of e-invoicing will increase adoption, however we don't see that as being likely in the near future. Governments may take a tentative step towards mandating it for suppliers to the public sector, but a wider mandate is much less likely for the next few years at least.
4.Does liberalisation implicate that digital signatures will now become fully superfluous? Or are there other compliancy regimes that still require such measures?
We see that the only consistency across all of the markets is an acknowledgement of the use of digital signatures to guarantee the authenticity and integrity of e-invoices. The technology is known and proven and works right across the EU. As far as OB10 is concerned, we will continue to apply signatures for the foreseeable future.
5.Aren't we expecting too much from this EU liberalisation?
Yes I think the community at large is expecting too much. e-invoicing will still be driven by large companies (both buyers and suppliers) and governments. Organisations that identify and acknowledge the benefits, set objectives and plan long-term strategies for AP automation will drive adoption, not the relaxation of rules.
-Innovation and competition-
6.The competitive arena has grown significantly the last few years. How does this impact OB10?
As I stated earlier, we welcome it. The greater the awareness of e-Invoicing the better. We continue to win based on our unprecedented experience and references, our solution set, our network growth and the benefits and services that we bring to both buyers and suppliers, as well as our well publicised plans for future product innovation. We are the first of our kind and must maintain our momentum: Service development, legal compliance and trust remain the key attributes of a supplier network. It is not just about a technology offering - e-Invoicing is far more than that, particularly on a multinational or global scale.
7.What is more important for OB10 and its customers: new innovations, or a focus on quality control and customer satisfaction within the current portfolio?
Am I allowed to pick them both? Let me explain why:
Innovation is at our core. We helped to create the market that is here today and continue to explore what else is possible with e-Invoicing. Our new portal is testament to that and other developments, such as the supply chain finance solution we're about to launch, show that we continue to help take the market, our customers and prospects to the next level.That said, we know we can still improve our customer service and this is something I have put great focus on since joining OB10 a year ago. One of the most important features of the new portal is the Help & Support section with tutorial videos and detailed explanations that help our users complete their invoicing tasks without the need for assistance.
In addition, I have created a new global customer advocate role to act as the customer champion and improve the overall experience for both our supplier and buyer customers.
Finally, none of this matters if we don't maintain our quality. Chris Lowrie, our SVP of Development, took on the additional role of Chief Quality Officer last year and is taking his responsibilities very seriously. We are using the Net Promoter Score at key customer touchpoints to keep track of our progress and will continue to review this on a regular basis. It provides a great quantitative measure to make sure that we continue to be honest with ourselves and invest time and resources in the right places to make the business better and better.
8.What kinds of initiatives, that don't already exist, should be developed to support e-invoicing and the proposition of OB10?
We increasingly see that e-invoicing finds its way to much more "DMU's" than ever before. Not just the financial officer, but also procurement officers and even administrative operators experience in e-invoicing issues. So it is important to communicate on e-invoicing to a multitude of different audiences.