Since the introduction of the World Wide Web in early the 1980s, the internet has exploded and has become an integral part of life. Today we see society becoming more dependent on technology and moving more towards an online environment. Originally used primarily to share research findings, the internet has expanded into many areas of life to create a significant impact, particularly in the realm of business. Many features have been developed over the years for businesses with the goal of helping them to become more efficient, profitable, and competitive. Due to the massive growth of the internet, it has become apparent that we are getting closer to a period in which it will be absolutely necessary for companies to have an online presence and offer online features in order to stay competitive and succeed.
Expansion of the Internet
According to InternetWorldStats.com, global internet penetration has grown over 500% between 2000 and 2011 and as of December 31, 2011 is utilized by 32.7% of the world population for a total of 2.3 billion users. North America itself has an internet penetration of over 78% and Europe over 61%. As you can see, the Internet has become a large part of life in many countries around the globe and its penetration into the world population will only continue to grow. Many businesses have realized this and have reacted by creating their own online presence. This online presence expands their global reach to find more customers and offer them additional features.
Web Contribution to Business
According to a McKinsey Global Institute report, the Internet has accounted for over 20% of global economic growth in the past 5 years and accounts for approximately 3% of global GDP. This contribution to GDP is now bigger than agriculture or energy. Recent studies have discovered that small businesses that use the internet a lot typically do much better than their competitors with a low web presence, averaging 2.1 times as much annual growth and export revenues. The internet also offers a significant amount of value to traditional companies (those that would exist without the internet) who capture approximately 75% of the total internet value for all companies, whereas pure ecommerce businesses only capture the remaining percentage. With internet statistics like these, it is pure ignorance for a company to resist incorporating the World Wide Web into their daily operations.
Businesses utilize the many innovations offered by the internet in order to create a competitive edge over their competitors and soon, if not already, it will be practically a requirement to develop an online presence and online features in order for companies to survive in a competitive business environment. With more and more people going online, businesses need to accommodate this shift and stay ahead. Small to medium sized businesses who join this trend can see around a 10% increase in productivity from their internet usage.
E-Invoicing: A Competitive Online Solution
One growing method of utilizing internet capabilities to stay competitive is the use of electronic invoicing and online payment processing. This feature has started seeing significant growth in the past few years and offers many appealing benefits to companies. According to PayStream Advisors’ e-invoicing Adoption Benchmarking Report, 29% of U.S. businesses will be using e-Invoicing by mid 2012 and just over 35% are considering the switch. We will only see this number continue to rise as more and more companies come to realize the benefits of this feature. Several countries, such as Norway, Denmark, and Austria, are forging the path and already have or are in the process of making electronic invoicing mandatory. The U.S. Department of Treasury is also making the effort by requiring that all federal benefit recipients must receive their benefit payments electronically by March 1, 2013. This switch is expected to save American taxpayers $1 billion over 10 years.
The main benefits of e-Invoicing are the significant amounts of added efficiency and cost savings. With electronic billing software, business are seeing a significant cut in the time required to create, send, and process invoices, and are receiving payment much quicker than the traditional paper-based method of billing. In addition, the cost of sending a paper-less invoice is very low when compared to the cost of paper invoices which can be as high as $11 for a single invoice.
Not only does electronic invoicing improve efficiency and cut costs, but it also allows companies to have a greater global reach and better customer satisfaction now that customers can easily receive their invoice via email and immediately input their payment information in seconds from the comfort of their home.
Environmental Impact of e-Invoicing
Perhaps the most significant benefit with the greatest global impact however, is that electronic invoicing is environmentally friendly. Billentis estimated in its 2012 e-Invoicing/e-Billing Report that the global annual bill and invoice volume for 2012 will be around 350 billion invoices and only 5% will be electronic. The remaining paper invoices could require that as many as 133 million trees be cut down.
This volume of paper invoices will also produce up to 415 billion liters of waste water, 4.3 billion KG of solid waste, and a total carbon footprint of as much as 33.25 million tons. This is a significant amount of environmental waste that can easily be avoided. By switching to electronic invoicing, we will be cutting down our need for paper and therefore cutting down less of our natural resources. We now have the technology to reduce our dependence on precious natural resources. This planet is our home; we should take care of it.