What’s the Future of Automation in Finance & Accounting?
By Bhupender Singh, CEO of Intelenet Global Services
hupender Singh, CEO of Intelenet Global Services, says AI and automation is already redefining the role of finance executives towards more strategic roles.
Digital technology is revamping business models to help organisations respond to rapidly changing market conditions. This has also impacted the finance and accounting function, where automation and AI is being used to transform business critical functions. The evolution of technology has redefined the role of finance executives from carrying out low-level tasks towards more strategic decision making. Many CFOs and financial executives are progressively turning to next generation tools to manage their workflow efficiency and encourage better governance when it comes to managing their finances.
These tools are designed to purposefully enhance business outcomes whilst meeting all operational business requirements. Bearing this in mind, a business’s accounting system is a vital component to ensuring profits are being maximised. Working from a system which encourages a more integrated and comprehensive overview of a business’s finance can help boost operational efficiency.
Businesses partner with multiple suppliers, vendors and companies to support them deliver their services to customers. Turning away from a culture of late payments and pushing towards invoices being processed on time, will ensure service is well-maintained with supporting partners. This is why, the finance function needs a robust system which bridges the gap across information from both internal and external stakeholders.
Working from a single interface with all the financial data in one place, will extend access to key information amongst finance teams to ensure a more collaborative approach when it comes to planning and forecasting. Consequently, finance executives will be able to map out a business’s strategic financial objectives to make the planning, forecasting and budget processes smoother. This will allow businesses to have a better understanding of their cash flow across different areas. Pushing for more financial transparency allows finance executives to have a more holistic overview of their expenditure.
Automation continues to displace manual work, eliminating the headache from finance executives to undertake repetitive and mundane tasks such as – contract rate disagreement, missing payments and remittance advice to improve productivity. Data-entry and coding are time intensive, and so automation can unlock value for businesses as finance executives are able to redirect their attention towards better insight and growth strategies. Rather than trawling through spreadsheets they are playing a pivotal role in steering the direction of the company.
Accounting errors that affect the balance sheet can also result in hefty fines and retail losses, making it vital to avoid financial and reputational risk. As a business grows and expands, working with multiple partners, it depends on their processers keeping pace with the financial management of ongoing operations. Automation can reduce retail losses by 40% and have in one case recovered £1.7 million as a result of missing/ incorrect documents.
Data Analytics has always been aligned with better understanding of customer needs, shopping habits, and preferences. However, there is also a lot to be said on how this hard data can be used to help executives gain valuable insight to improve performance, identify growth trends, and manage errors. An automated, real-time supply of financial data across different processers, such as invoicing & billing administration, tax filing and payroll processing endorse better governance and compliance across these areas.
There is a lot of emphasis on innovation in the area. However, in order to optimize the full potential of these technologies, requires a high level of digital expertise and skill to process the financial data and streamline the financial management process to enhance the service delivery.