I next asked Basware whether they expect the uptake for their new AP outsourcing solution to be greater in North America or other parts of the world (Spend Matters readers should be aware that from an invoice volume perspective, Basware is one of the leaders in Europe, where it continues to consolidate the market both organically and through acquisition).
Robert Cohen suggested: "Not necessarily. InvoiceOut is a package of products and services that we have already proven are valuable (in their individual components) all over the world. The package does include new innovations that ensure it is not simply a wrapper but a new option we feel will provide an easier route to realize AP Automation goals. We see InvoiceOut both as a good option for companies that already have very sophisticated invoice handling processes and those who are looking for the next opportunity for savings and process improvement as well as an option for the company just getting started down the road of AP automation."
Bob continued: "Although originally conceived as a way to continue to provide additional savings and improvements for our customers, we have come to realize that late adopters (i.e., those just now beginning to automate) are just as interested in knowing what is available to them and where their savings and ROI will come from. A year from now we will be able to answer the question but of course, as you were asking about 'expectations', we are expecting to get a stronger response in Europe initially than in the NA market. Primarily this will be because of our large European customer base and the transition between an efficient company and a highly efficient (and continuously improving) company is possibly an easier conversation than that around transitioning a paper-based company toward the same ends."
Spend Matters research suggests that Europe, owing largely to regulatory requirements around VAT and related reporting, taxes and accounting, is ahead of the US in terms of electronic invoicing adoption. So perhaps it's no surprise that Basware is expecting a stronger response from this region. However, I'd add that some people we've spoken with suggest the potential for the US to leapfrog ahead of Europe in embracing solution and outsourcing approaches to AP rather than just simply software-driven automation, owing to the general inefficiency of current setups on this side of the pond. Moreover, since the common victims of AP automation efforts are sometimes the teams who pursue them in the first place for their companies, it would make sense to "sell up" a broader approach, targeting the CPO, CFO or controller directly.
Stay tuned as our discussion with Basware continues. We'll tackle the question of who the customer is for this solution vs. software as well.