Remember the early days of personal digital assistants and cell phones? Before they were “smart”? We were wowed by the first hand-held computers (now long forgotten) like the Palm Pilot and Blackberry, but few among us knew then that that in a few short years, we would become dependent upon them in all aspects of our personal and business lives. Technology and time march swiftly on, and business moves fast. In this first of a two-part blog series, we’ll help you understand how today’s emerging innovations are already impacting business operations, profits, and productivity, and how to adapt or consequently fall behind. Just ask the folks at Blackberry.
If you are a modern finance leader focused on strategic priorities, workflow automation will become even more critical for handling routine accounts payable (AP) tasks such as invoice processing, approval, payments and vendor audits. Embrace five emerging technologies to scale gracefully and remain competitive.
One: Data and Analytics
Finance leaders are looking at the best strategies for organizing and standardizing their data, which is a top pain point for many organizations, according to industry research . But while getting a better view of internal data is critical, advances in machine learning and unstructured data processing will assist CFOs in becoming more accurate in estimating revenue and profitability…and making smarter business decisions.
And that is only the first step. Looking ahead, prescriptive data analysis will identify new markets, customers, services, and channels—all leading to profitable growth.
Two: Risk Management
Yooz chief innovation officer and COO, Laurent Charpentier, expresses a frustration shared by many CFOs and risk managers, “Up until now, we had to have a human that could actually decipher the information from risk evaluation, which was a nearly impossible task.” Fortunately, that is changing. Now, AI and more robust data analytics will enable finance teams, including AP departments, to make more informed decisions about cash management, investments, and lending, thus reducing the risk of being caught short of capital to fund mission-critical projects.
Further, Charpentier says, “Future AI tools will have the ability to analyze a lot more data than is currently possible to detect fraud before it gets too far.” And that will allow you to sleep at night!
Three: Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
While today’s “robot” may not wander around your finance offices flailing its arms and shouting, “Danger Will Robinson” (for those of you that admit being old enough to remember the 1960s TV series, Lost in Space), it might be your new favorite co-worker. Adoption of cloud-based AP automation platforms that leverage a form of RPA powered by AI and machine learning is expected to become more widespread, streamlining and improving efficiencies across the entire financial planning and analysis process.
Cryptocurrencies continue to be a darling or a devil in the finance industry, depending on what day you’re listening to the news. But blockchain is emerging as a potential solution to supply chain payments and other financial transactions. One of the key pain points for accounting leaders is a lack of visibility into the payment process, from both the supplier and vendor side. Blockchain holds the promise of creating a payment ecosystem with valuable partners that provides a fast and secure way to process transactions. It can help finance leaders in a number of other ways as well, including:
- Saving time by streamlining everyday business transactions and eliminating inefficient processes
- Identifying and limiting risk
- Eliminating overhead and multiple intermediaries
- Creating a strong audit trail
We’re already seeing evidence of how blockchain is being used in many industries already.
Five: Cloud Applications
This day and age of being connected 24/7 and needing real-time information anywhere, any time has sparked an increase of cloud applications, otherwise known as “edge” computing. Business leaders are pushing for faster and more agile applications, and cloud applications perform data processing at the edge of the network, near the source of the data, to provide users with the fast, real-time analysis needed for smart decision-making.
The cloud will become the dominant platform for ERP and CRM applications, providing better visibility into spend. And AI, RPA, and machine learning will be the leading catalysts to drive greater cloud computing adoption in the next two years.
The Yooz cloud P2P (purchase-to-pay) automation platform is already leveraging all five of these key technologies discussed in parts one and two of this blog series. All providing accounting teams of the future the tools to escape mundane processing tasks, up-skill, prepare to scale gracefully and remain competitive, build a P2P automation ecosystem that is easy to manage, and increase collaboration between co-workers, vendors, partners, and customers.
We’ll see you in the future!