We are in a golden age for technology. The new disruptive products and services that are emerging each day create profound changes in every corner of the business world. And technologies like cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), analytics, cognitive technologies and robotic process automation (RPA) are fast becoming part of organisations’ digital transformation plans. Such technologies help any organisation improve its efficiencies in the finance department. It is possible to move from manual paper driven processes to automated digital ones, and change processes that would often be difficult to achieve without technology.
When organizations build their finance function upon core systems such as cognitive intelligence for business insights, robotics to eliminate manual touch points and platforms and tools for automation, they will be able to better manage resources, predict business needs, and contribute to the organization’s overall goals.
Here are six ways your business benefits when you transform your finance function with technology:
- Overall process costs are reduced, thereby increasing scalability and improving efficiency.
- Leads to industry-leading practices being less complex, standardized and simplified.
- Increases effectiveness by optimizing cycle time, reducing transaction error rates, and eliminating transaction re-works.
- Enables business partnerships through attainable enterprise strategic goals, optimised working capital and positioning the finance function as a trusted strategic advisor.
- Technology automates the less skilled and repetitive tasks such as AP, credit control and accounts receivable, enabling finance teams to look to recruit members with a higher skill set level depending on their company objectives.
- Embraces standardized regulatory compliance processes to mitigate business disruption and allow the finance function to deliver compliance as a service for disruptive business processes and projects.
When automation and standardization of key processes, as well as greater agility and higher quality are top priorities, there are a few checkpoints for finance teams to keep a tab on, when it comes to digitization.
- Understanding of digital, smart technologies and analytics to deliver on critical strategic priorities.
- Risk management in reputational, regulatory and cyber risk platforms.
- Stakeholder scrutiny and regulation.
- Careful assessment of digital transformation strategy so that there is payback on investment in a sensible time period. When it comes to buying technology, one size does not fit all.
- Change management to ensure adoption by internal and external customers, suppliers and indeed the finance team themselves.
Some of the new digital tools available to finance focus specifically on updating core systems and existing capabilities. Other tools, “exponentials”, are designed to deliver new and different capabilities. Together, they form a toolset finance can use to improve its own performance and serve the business more effectively, especially when they are used together. A few of the technologies that have growing interaction and relevance for how the work of finance get done are –
Cloud computing – uses scalable, elastic technology to deliver services over the internet. Instead making large investments up front, finance can get the full stack of finance functionality “as-a-service,” delivered through public, private, or hybrid clouds.
Process robotics – automates transaction processing and communication across multiple technology systems.
Visualisation – innovative use of images and interactive technology to explore large, high-density data sets. Visualisation suites complement business intelligence and analytics platforms, offering rich graphics, interactivity, and usability on par with leading consumer experiences.
Advanced analytics – has long been part of the finance arsenal, but new techniques are helping business people tackle the crunchy questions with insightful answers.
Cognitive computing and artificial intelligence (AI) – includes machine learning, natural language processing, speech recognition, and computer vision.
Blockchain – is a digital distributed ledger, where transactions are verified and securely stored on a network of distributed and connected nodes, without a governing central authority.
What’s clear is that technology will increasingly make its way into the finance world. CFOs can transform the finance function and add more value to the business, all while balancing performance, efficiency and risk.