Monday, October 08, 2007

Can a statement be stronger?

Can a statement be stronger than this from DG Enterprise and Industry. ? Exactly what is needed now to drive EU-productivity by moving to dematerialized processes.

Still more will be needed - even if 243 bn€ can be gained in b2b processing costs only - it is not likely that the many players will make fast moves without some sort of clear incentives - regulation or charges or both. Denmark made it a law with the public sector and got a jump start without much of ready infrastructure in place. Other governments may be even better placed to do same.

Why think regulation?

Processing costs are only a part of the savings - more comes from faster payments, better cash flow form lower receivables,  lower credit risk, lower fraud risk, higher automation of entire value chains, lower IT cost with standardized software integration layers,integration of direct debit and consumer e-invoicing, automated and cheaper supplier finance etc.

But the most important source - not included in the 243bn -  occurs when scarce workforce is liberated from boring, lowly paid routine work and can move to creating much higher value.

Standardization only key?

Even if standardization is a must (for lower cost, for more competition etc)- and the roadmap is clear - it is not the only key. In fact it is easy to see that those wanting to serve both large and small customers need and Any-Format-In&Any-Format-Out capability. Today and tomorrow - as it will take time for larger enterprises to move to new standards. But the SME-market and the inter-bank and inter-e-invoice-operator traffic should move to the common standard as soon as possible.

No need to hold horses

The above means that there are no reasons to wait - just get the service up and running - the new ISO standard will be just one more - let-it-be fast growing one. But the templates in e-banks are not much affected in moves from today's standard to a future version and also changes in the infrastructure can be done without much disturbing customers. ERP-systems will continue to work in the AFI-AFO mode as before. Move to fewer standards may well be faster this way.

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