Among the longest standing desires of the business commerce community is the ability to connect to every potential partner through a single system. This would allow greater flexibility for both suppliers and buyers. However, such a system has been difficult to attain as, to this point, buyers have largely dictated how suppliers should connect.
Organizations need access to an open network that standardizes the format, reaches a massive number of partners, and allows them to connect to these partners through a central directory.
Connect Once - Reach All
The Pan European Public Procurement Online (PEPPOL) Network allows organizations to connect to all of their partners through a single access point. In this model, each organization chooses a PEPPOL Access Point provider; these providers communicate with each other through PEPPOL, allowing for easy, standardized connectivity for their customers. Every service provider is able to connect to each other as they form a series of “gateways” into the PEPPOL network. This means that a company can use a single service provider without disruption, just as you can use your telecom operator even if you want to talk with someone using a different operator. This also means that the speed of joining the network is dramatically increased because it does not require a company to set up and maintain a multitude of integrations with their customers and suppliers.
Approaching Critical Mass
A wave of public sector mandates has pushed PEPPOL to expand across Europe, increasing its footprint rapidly. In Norway, where PEPPOL was first mandated, 80% of all invoices are now exchanged through PEPPOL. As of September 2016, the adoption of the PEPPOL standards for purchase order and invoice documents is mandatory for both National Health Service Trusts in England and their suppliers. In France, large suppliers to the public sector are required to submit invoices electronically as of January 2017. This will go through CHORUS invoice, the national portal for e-invoicing to the French public sector, which is connected to a PEPPOL Access Point. Austria has implemented a similar requirement for e-invoicing to the government, leading to over 5,000 users being able to receive electronic invoices through PEPPOL.
As a result of this expansion within the public sector and its introduction of increased efficiency and reliability, all while reducing costs for organizations involved in trading across Europe, PEPPOL will continue to attract more businesses. This increase in the number of partners will accelerate PEPPOL towards reaching the critical mass it requires to become the open world platform needed by modern businesses.
In my opinion, PEPPOL even has the potential to spread beyond Europe in the long term. After all, improving procure-to-pay capabilities is not an interest unique to European businesses. Recently, the Russian government signed up to access the network. Before too long, we could see North America join, which will truly begin making PEPPOL a global system.
The signs of PEPPOL reaching critical mass, which will allow businesses to connect to a large enough number of partners to make it the outright first choice, are numerous and difficult to ignore.
How to Prepare for a Larger PEPPOL
With PEPPOL gaining momentum so quickly, it is becoming increasingly important for businesses to find a service provider that will allow them to make optimal use of the network. This means more than a provider registered as an access point to PEPPOL – although, of course, this is essential. The ideal provider will have experience in completing transactions over the PEPPOL network and will demonstrate an active engagement in shaping the future of electronic procurement. With the correct provider giving you access to a growing network, your business can enjoy the numerous advantages achieved through PEPPOL with no disruption to current functionalities.
This is an important moment for European businesses, especially when looking towards a future in which PEPPOL could spread to North America and beyond. Choosing to become connected through the correct provider will pay off, and create long-term opportunities for the businesses that are ready.