Spain is the world’s fourteenth largest economy, but comes in at number 35 in terms of digitization. Although in recent years increasing numbers of paperless initiatives are emerging, there is still a long way to go. In fact, according to a study by AMETIC, digitization in Europe has only reached 12% of its potential. If this figure reached 100%, the growth forecasts for 2025 would be 10% higher than at present, Public Administration costs would be cut by 20% and industrial productivity would see 20% growth.
With these figures in the table, the AMETIC sector association’s latest report states that progress towards full digitization must be made as soon as possible. In this sense, remember that the countries most committed to the new technologies, such as Singapore, Finland, Norway and the United States, are also those whose economies have improved the most.
What has been achieved?
One of the great breakthroughs for the public sector in recent years was the rollout of e-invoicing. In Spain, the so-called Facturae is mandatory for the administration and its suppliers as of 2015. However, it is not the only European country that has set up this system. Portugal, Italy and France have adopted the same measure to simplify tax compliance and boost economic savings in public bodies and companies.
The e-Procurement initiative launched by the UK Department of Health is another notable development. It is the most ambitious e-Procurement project in Europe to date, as it means total digital transformation of all National Health Service (NHS) trusts and bodies, with hundreds of suppliers following in its wake. Soon, all processes linked with public procurement will be carried out electronically and through the PEPPOL platform.
In Italy, the region of Emilia-Romagna has taken similar steps. In mid-2016 a dematerialization flow was introduced, requiring health centres and their suppliers to exchange orders and delivery notes in electronic format and the PEPPOL standard.
Initiatives like this and the Public Administration’s link with healthcare has made the sector one of the most digitized. In fact, in Spain, where projects of this type are not yet implemented, 70% of pharmacies were already using Business@Mail Pharma in 2015. This solution developed by EDICOM is used for the electronic exchange of information between pharmacies and their suppliers.
Where are we heading?
As AMETIC highlights in its digital transformation report, there is still a lot to be done. Full digitization remains a challenge and is moving slowly, but some initiatives are planned for the near future that will improve on the current 12%. In Spain, the nearest will be rollout of the new Immediate Information Sharing system, better known as SII. As of July 1, more than 60,000 Spanish companies will be required submit their VAT returns to the tax authorities (AEAT) by electronic means.
In the European scope, the most notable is Directive 2014/55/EU, which calls for adaptation to e-invoicing in all Member State Public Administrations by November 2018. Moreover, it will also foster electronic public procurement, which in addition to e-invoices will include other e-documents such as orders or despatch advices.
What does AMETIC propose?
In the final section of the digital transformation report, AMETIC puts forward a series of proposals to improve the positioning of Spain and the European Union in the digitization rankings. One of the most outstanding among them consists of encouraging B2B e-invoicing, as widespread generalized use of this technology in the private sector would maximize its advantages. In fact, Italy is already promoting this action, offering tax incentives to companies taking up the system. Other proposals include the use of cloud-based solutions or the adoption of ICT business management solutions.