Cutting costs and digital transformation: The challenges facing receivables managers over the next few years - EOS Group

Every second company under cost pressure – in Germany as many as three out of four firms / Companies that outsource receivables management have fewer problems / The challenge: Keeping pace with technological change

Hamburg, 04 December 2018 – For European companies, cost pressure is the dominant issue – and that goes for receivables management as well. 49 percent of experts in this area consider cost factors to be the biggest challenge up to 2020. Equally as many are concerned about the issue of digital transformation, with 45 percent stating that in the next two years they will have problems keeping up with technological change. 43 percent are very much in favor of digitizing and automating processes. These are some of the findings of the EOS Survey ‘European Payment Practices 2018’, which polled 3,400 corporate receivables managers in 17 countries.

The digital transformation has been changing Europe for quite some time now. Nevertheless, many companies seem to be still putting off related projects in the area of receivables management. Now around half of them (49 percent) are worried about not being able to keep pace with the digital transformation, even though digitalization also provides a lot of opportunities to make receivables management more efficient. Automating processes can reduce operating costs and cut collection periods.

Across Europe, about every third company (37 percent) works with an external service provider for receivables management. “Outsourcing receivables management helps to reduce costs and distribute the load over several shoulders,” says Klaus Engberding, CEO of the EOS Group. “This means that companies create the space for themselves to tackle digitalization and automation projects.”

Germany: technological change a special challenge

74 percent of German companies, compared with 49 percent of other European companies, see cost reduction as a major challenge in the next two years. The prevailing cost pressure might have contributed to cutbacks. Important digital projects like algorithmic models and big data for a better understanding of customers fell by the wayside. The result of this is that nine out of ten of the companies polled in Germany (91 percent) assume that in the next two years they will have problems keeping pace with technological change. 86 percent also consider the automation of processes to be a not inconsiderable problem.

Increasing cyber criminality makes training necessary

If a company is increasingly deploying digital tools for receivables management its staff needs to be trained in using them. For example, a greater degree of digitization
not only means more efficiency but also a greater threat of increasing cyber crime. In Western Europe in particular, receivables managers are having to deal with this issue more and more. 34 percent of all Western European companies, but just 19 percent of Eastern European firms, describe cyber crime as a challenge. Particularly affected are Germany (60 percent) and Denmark (53 percent). Russia and Greece see hardly any risk from such attacks. “Personnel need to be thoroughly informed about the tricks that cyber criminals use and systems must be protected to the greatest possible extent. Regular training is obligatory,” says Klaus Engberding from EOS. “Often, employees are wary of using digital tools and need to be encouraged. Training the workforce to use these tools is the necessary groundwork.”

47 percent of firms consider the training of their employees to be a major project in the next two years. It's an issue that is important primarily in Germany (76 percent), Russia (55 percent) and Spain (51 percent). In Denmark and Switzerland, on the other hand, this issue is only relevant for 33 and 35 percent of respondents respectively. There is probably a particular need to train staff in using new digital tools. After all, 13 percent of receivables management experts are thinking about using artificial intelligence. This is especially true of firms in Germany (25 percent) and Romania (17 percent).  

About the survey
The EOS Survey 'European Payment Practices' was conducted for the 11th time. In spring 2018, in partnership with independent market research institute Kantar TNS (formerly TNS Infratest), EOS polled 3,400 companies with at least 20 employees and an annual turnover of EUR 5 million in 17 different countries about the payment practices in their respective locations, economic developments in their countries and issues relating to risk and receivables management.

The EOS Group
The EOS Group is one of the leading international providers of customized financial services. As a specialist in the evaluation and processing of receivables EOS deploys new technologies to offer its some 20,000 customers in 26 countries financial security through smart services. The company's core business is the purchase of unsecured and secured debt portfolios. Working within an international network of partner companies, the EOS Group has a workforce of around 7,500 and more than 60 subsidiaries, so it can access resources in more than 180 countries. Its key target sectors are banking, utilities, real estate and e-commerce.
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