At Netsend, we strive to stay one step ahead of market demand.  In order to do so, we take e-billing predictions for 2017 very seriously indeed.  Listening to our clients’ changing needs, as well as industry and broader technology developments, helps us keep our finger on the digital pulse.

So, what are our e-billing predictions for 2017?  We’ve broken these down into the following topics.  All of which we expect to see play an important role in e-billing and e-invoicing over the coming year.

Growth in e-billing

As the growth in bills is expected to exceed 37 billion per annum in Europe, a greater percentage of these will be sent electronically.  With e-billing growing at a rate of approximately 20% year-on-year globally, a number of factors are expected to drive this rate even higher in Europe in 2017.

One global driver for the growth in e-billing is the increasing evidence of cost savings and performance improvement, from businesses who have deployed e-billing solutions over the last few years.  And where businesses operate in competitive markets, the ability to integrate electronically with reseller channel partners, as well as swiftly address cashflow blockages, is creating significant competitive advantage.

The value of data; creating competitive advantage

It’s not just the greater agility and cashflow improvement that creates competitive advantage from e-billing and e-invoicing.  Many businesses are starting to make good on the promise of competitive advantage through better understanding of their data.  Whilst insight from big data analytics will continue to emerge and mature in 2017, many businesses will seek the quick-win advantages of better insight into their payment process.

Billing data can provide insight into performance in different markets, as well as enabling proactive steps to be taken to improve cashflow.  More businesses than ever before will use e-billing data to create a competitive advantage in 2017.

Software is in, hardware is out

The trend towards off-site, as-a-service and outsourced solutions is set to continue.  Gartner predicts IT spending will reach $3.5 trillion in 2017, with much of this being spent on software solutions, rather than hardware.

It’s easy to understand the reasons behind this trend.  In the uncertain economic conditions of recent years, few businesses wanted to put capital expenditure into hardware, and associated skills to administrate it, that may become obsolete within a few years.  Consequently, the lower-risk, as-a-service model has flourished – shifting CapEx to OpEx and reducing risks to boot.

e-billing and e-invoicing solutions are a good fit in the form of as-a-service, or outsourced solutions, as monthly solution costs can be offset against monthly savings in print and postage costs, printing hardware maintenance and administration (in the region of €6.60 per invoice according to the 2016 Billentis Report).

Diversity and complexity

One of the prevailing mantras of e-invoicing, and e-billing in the broader sense, is how payment information can be communicated, consumed and actioned swiftly by virtue of common document standards.  In much the same way as EDI has offered this broad machine-to-machine communication, the reality is often different.

In 2017, the diversity of e-billing and e-invoicing standards is only going to increase.  As businesses embrace particular standards, or align with one VAN or another, this creates a challenge for those outside of this network or standard.

Having helped businesses connect to a vast range of accounts payable systems over the years, at Netsend we expect this to be one of the biggest challenges facing businesses moving to e-billing for the first time.  It is for this reason that we maintain a range of connectors for popular e-invoicing and e-billing systems – removing the need for bespoke connectors to be created, or (in extreme cases) manual entry of invoicing data into customer systems.

Compliance drives e-billing and e-invoicing adoption

2017 will be the year EU Directive 2014/55/EU comes into force, meaning that businesses who sell to public sector will need to embrace electronic invoicing to remain competitive.  The knock-on effect from this will affect the payment processes for a large number of connected businesses.

One specific instance of public sector eProcurement policy change is the introduction of PEPPOL within the NHS procurement process.  This messaging standard concerns invoices, purchase orders and advice notes, and is mandated towards NHS Trusts and suppliers to the NHS.

Swiftly adjusting invoicing processes to become compliant with new standards is a challenge for any business, which is where outsourced e-billing solutions such as Netsend can provide immediate assistance and ensure timely compliance.

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