Last February 1, it became obligatory for Public Administrations within the Italian National Health System to issue purchase orders only in digital format. These digital invoices must pass through the “Nodo Smistamento Ordini” – Order Sorting Node (known as NSO) of the General Accounting Office. From January 1, 2021, the obligation will also extend to purchase orders for services. All information on this process, including the technical specifications, is now available on the official website.


A process that continues

We while we won’t dwell on the technical and functional aspects, we would like to point out that this event has a disruptive scope, even if it refers, at least initially, to a fairly restricted field of operators: hospitals, public health facilities, and their suppliers. Despite a limited audience, it is easy to understand the relevance of this detail: the entire national health care procurement chain passes purchasing cycle documents—orders—through a digital process. 

Let’s not forget that Italians are veterans of the first electronic invoicing obligation between private individuals, B2B/B2C, and from the first 5 years of B2G (business to government) electronic invoicing. At the end of 2019, around two billion electronic invoices were transited by the Interchange System.  Such a figure is significant compared to other countries, and it validates Italy’s increased level of digitization. 

While it’s true that this has been driven by mainly fiscal and regulatory pressures, this must not undermine the qualitative and quantitative elements of a digital and technological change. The benefits for the various stakeholders (customers, suppliers, public administrations) are enormous, and all of them have been able to raise the bar on the digital and qualitative level of their processes.


Broadening horizons

The transition to a new digital document of the “puzzle” of the system of economic transactions is important: certainly it continues in the same vein, made of regulatory and fiscal levers, which bring technological benefits in terms of efficiency and effectiveness, but with already some important numbers in hand, which shows (for now we are only estimates and projections) a greater revenue, for the coffers of the state, of 3-4 billion euros only with the electronic invoicing of 2019 and a reduction in costs, with the “disposal” of paper documents.

The transition from the typical system of financial transactions to a new digital document is important, and the regulatory and fiscal levers behind it bring technological benefits in terms of efficiency and effectiveness. But those aren’t the only benefits. Some reports show projections for €3-4 billion in revenue for electronic invoicing in 2019 alone, and reduced costs as a result of making the shift away from paper documents. 

It is precisely these numbers that allow us to reflect further and, above all, to broaden the scope of macroeconomic and macro-social visions. The processes of the digitization of tax documents allow the pursuit of two fundamental objectives for the survival of society and the social balance within it: the recovery of money from tax evasion and the reduction of paper. Here, we’re talking about fiscal sustainability and respect for the environment. 

If it is true that the evolution of a country like Italy must surely go from raising technological and digitization rates, it is also true that these policies—of fiscal efficiency and environmental sustainability—cannot be forgotten or kept at a secondary level. On the contrary, we know that it will be increasingly essential to combine technology/digital with taxes and the environment.


New Vision

That’s why, after all, the same ICT companies that, like Doxee, invest in products and solutions to promote the dematerialization and increasingly effective management of data have also effectively married a revision of their visions, aligning them with the values of respect and environmental sustainability and the improvement of fiscal sustainability, understanding in good time that thanks to the help of technology we can contribute to the fight against tax evasion and the improvement of the environment. 

It is no coincidence that, in international events where international standards, interoperability, and European electronic invoicing are discussed, Italian companies must be able to share what has been accomplished in Italy.


Step by step, without stopping

From this point of view, the hope is obviously that more companies will reorient themselves towards these values. The whole Italian system would certainly benefit from this, as well as a mature awareness, shared with all stakeholders involved: citizens, workers, companies, the public administration, and the central government. 

So what could be the next step? Simple: continue to push further for the dematerialization of documents and document processes, and of transactional and everyday communication processes. Then we could say that we have really “turned the corner” and implemented a real revolution.