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E-INVOICING: HOW A HANDFUL OF VENDORS ARE RUINING ADOPTION

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Christian Lanng, CEO Tradeshift

Christian Lanng, CEO Tradeshift

There’s a problem with e-invoicing. It’s a positive move for every business yet despite adoption gaining momentum, only a few companies have fully embraced it. This is crazy. It’s an enabler for the many supply chain finance and dynamic discounting initiatives. It gives visibility into spend. It supports sourcing and rationalisation opportunities. It allows suppliers to negotiate for faster payments. It also reduces the vast amount of paper circulating inside and out of companies, removing it from processes, driving down operating costs and increasing control.

So, how have we found ourselves in this position? Severe limitations with some existing platforms are preventing full-scale adoption and onboarding, and it means the true value of e-invoicing remains untapped by many businesses.

These limitations are present across every level of many existing solutions, from onboarding to outdated technology to implementation. Typical onboarding models rely on call centres, designed to coerce suppliers into signing up – people don’t like this as it is brash and intrusive. But then, once reeled in and online, having paid the sign-up fees, users need to learn how to engage with the software through lengthy and complex training sessions. Once the solution is finally understood and the user has bedded in, they often want to make specific amends to suit their business. However to do this, they have to go through painfully slow innovation cycles.

Christian Lanng, CEO Tradeshift

Christian Lanng, CEO Tradeshift

Then we get onto the design. We live in a landscape where platforms easily synchronise with virtually every aspect of human life: design is championed through Pinterest; businesses can network via LinkedIn, aspiring musicians flock to SoundCloud and of course we have the all-encompassing Facebook. As a result, these intuitive, simple platforms are how businesses want their software and networks to look. Employees only engage with software unless it tallies with this expectation; this is totally at odds with the clunky approach of your average e-invoicing platform.

We also live in a world of mobile. The mass adoption of the smartphone and tablet, combined with modern, flexible working practices, means that any collaborative software absolutely must be optimised for mobile. Especially one that that deals with business critical functions such as managing contracts, managing relationships, e-invoicing and dynamic discounting.

And within this world of mobile there is a vibrant culture of apps. Android and iOS allow you to adapt your device to your tastes with apps and Windows 8 has followed suit. This concept has filtered through to many software developers in Silicon Valley who are taking a platform and app approach to business solutions. So if a company wants to tailor software to their processes, it’s possible to create an app after a very brief development cycle. Many e-invoicing platforms don’t offer this agility, don’t support third party apps and believe simply in tardy innovation cycles.

It’s therefore no surprise that suppliers are hesitant to sign up to e-invoicing. Take Ariba for example. It has worked extremely hard to get 1.4million suppliers on its books but very few are referenceable customers – no one wants to stand up and shout about a product they don’t like.

Many of the e-invoicing platforms aren’t modern business networks. They were conceived of and built in the 90s; they act, feel and look like 90s products i.e. hopelessly out of date in the mobile/cloud era.

This is a major issue for businesses who have committed to outdated platforms. But it’s important to bear in mind that there are now intuitive platforms that can augment existing subscriptions, opening up a whole raft of e-invoicing options while tallying with our modern understanding of networks, design and mobile. These platforms also host e-commerce functionality, which works more broadly to deliver funding, combat late payments and provide procurement solutions.

E-invoicing will save a business money but it’s easy to be duped by platforms that promise much but deliver little.  As a result, keep an eye out for the modern alternatives and you might find a platform that can genuinely change your organisation and create real value for your suppliers.

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Puma forecasts strong rebound from end of second quarter

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Puma forecasts strong rebound from end of second quarter 1

BERLIN (Reuters) – German sportswear company Puma said on Wednesday it expects a heavy impact on its results from lockdowns to contain the coronavirus pandemic through the end of the second quarter, but said it sees strong improvements after that.

“We do expect the negative impact to continue through the first and parts of the second quarter, but expect to see an improvement in the second half of the year,” Chief Executive Bjorn Gulden said in a statement.

For the full year, it expects at least a moderate increase in sales in constant currency, with an upside potential, and a significant improvement compared with 2020 for both its operating and net profit.

Fourth-quarter sales rose by a currency-adjusted 9.1% to 1.52 billion euros ($1.85 billion) and operating profit by 14.6% to 63 million euros, meeting average analyst forecasts for 1.52 billion and 62 million euros respectively.

Puma said growth in the fourth quarter was driven by Greater China and its Europe, Middle East and Africa region, despite lockdowns in Europe, noting that about half of the stores selling its products in Europe are still closed today.

Rival Nike in December raised its full-year sales forecast after COVID-wary shoppers demanding outdoor sportswear drove its third consecutive surge in online sales.

($1 = 0.8226 euros)

(Reporting by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Maria Sheahan)

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Vodafone’s Vantage Towers announces intention to float

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Vodafone's Vantage Towers announces intention to float 2

LONDON (Reuters) – Vantage Towers, the mobile infrastructure company spun out of Vodafone Group, on Wednesday announced its intention to float on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange by the end of March.

Vantage operates about 82,000 towers across 10 countries, where it is usually the leading or second largest supplier.

Vodafone said it would sell a “meaningful minority” to create a liquid market in Vantage Towers’ shares. No newly created shares will be on offer, meaning Vantage will not reap proceeds from the deal.

The company did not disclose how many shares will be offered, but people familiar with the matter said earlier this month, that stock worth about 3 billion euros ($3.65 billion) would be sold.

Vantage said late last year that it expects to report pro forma adjusted core earnings of up to 540 million euros in the financial year to the end of March 2021.

Rival telecom mast companies such as Cellnex, American Tower, Crown Castle and SBA Communications trade at 25 to 30 times their core earnings, which would imply a valuation of 13.5 billion to 16 billion euros for Vantage.

($1 = 0.8226 euros)

(Reporting by Paul Sandle and Arno Schuetze; editing by Sarah Young and Louise Heavens)

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Lloyds profits fall as it targets wealth push

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Lloyds profits fall as it targets wealth push 3

LONDON (Reuters) – Lloyds Banking Group reported a sharp fall in profits for 2020 but resumed paying a dividend, as outgoing CEO António Horta-Osório set out fresh targets to expand the bank’s insurance and wealth business and further cut costs.

Britain’s biggest domestic lender reported pretax profits of 1.2 billion pounds ($1.70 billion), well down on 4.4 billion pounds the previous year, after pandemic lockdowns shrank household spending and drove up provisions for bad loans.

The profit figure nonetheless beat an average of analyst forecasts of 905 million pounds.

Among the targets set out, Lloyds said it would increase funds from customers in insurance and wealth by 25 billion pounds by 2023 and cut office space by 20% within three years.

Lloyds set aside 4.2 billion pounds to cover loans expected to sour, below a 4.5 – 5.5 billion pound range previously given.

The bank said it would pay a 0.57 pence dividend per share, the maximum allowed by the Bank of England and above a forecast of 0.53 pence.

Horta-Osório is leaving Lloyds after a decade running the bank to stand for election as chairman of Credit Suisse in April, with HSBC executive Charlie Nunn set to replace him.

($1 = 0.7048 pounds)

(Reporting by Iain Withers, Editing by Lawrence White)

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