[BNPL for Business] Hare or tortoise? The Italian B2B paradox (report Osservatiorio Digital B2B – POLIMI)

The Paradox of Italian B2B: Hare or Tortoise?

Introduction

The landscape of Italian B2B (Business-to-Business) presents a paradox, oscillating between leadership and lagging behind in the adoption of digital solutions. While Italy ranks among the European leaders in implementing electronic invoicing due to regulatory mandates, the spontaneous spread of other digital technologies struggles to take off. This scenario was the focus of the 2023-2024 Research by the Digital B2B Observatory, which analyzed the impact of digital innovation in the Italian B2B sector.

The Paradox of Italian B2B

Digital B2B represents a fundamental overhaul of business operations and relationships. However, the digitalization of the Italian industrial sector proceeds at two speeds. On one hand, Italy is at the forefront with electronic invoicing and digital preservation. On the other hand, sectors like the digitalization of Transport Documents (DdT) and B2B eCommerce are still far from optimized. This duality inspired the theme of the conference: “Hare or Tortoise: the Paradox of Italian B2B.”

Challenges and Opportunities in the European Context

At the European level, the European Commission is promoting projects and regulations to standardize digitalization services for internal processes and B2B relationships. The new eIDAS 2.0 regulation, for example, introduces eArchiving as a trusted service, promoting digital preservation with mutual recognition among Member States. This creates significant opportunities for Italian providers, known for their advanced solutions. However, there are risks related to the definition of standards and requirements, such as the minimum social capital for Qualified Trust Service Providers, which could exclude many current Italian players.

The Impact of Digitalizing Transport Documents

The eFTI (Electronic Freight Transport Information) regulation and the eCMR (additional protocol to the CMR Convention) represent crucial steps towards the digitalization of logistics documentation. In Italy, only 35% of companies issue digital DdTs and 22% receive them, indicating significant cultural resistance. Mandatory adoption of electronic DdTs could generate substantial savings and position Italy as a leader in document digitalization.

The Evolution of B2B eCommerce

In 2023, the value of B2B product eCommerce transactions in Italy reached 265 billion euros, with a 10% increase compared to 2022. Web-based technologies, such as B2B portals and proprietary websites, are the most adopted, but only 42% of companies report using at least one eCommerce tool. The B2B eCommerce value chain includes eight main players, each with a specific role in the process.

Conclusions

Italian B2B is at a crossroads. On one hand, it must defend the progress made in areas like electronic invoicing; on the other, it must accelerate the adoption of digital technologies in areas still lagging. The strategy to be adopted must be dual: promote the excellence already achieved and push to close existing gaps. The complete digitalization of Italian B2B could not only improve operational efficiency but also lead to significant economic and environmental benefits for the country

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