Five Automation Technologies To Catalyze Finance Transformation

Benno Eberle

Part 3 of the Finance Transformation” series that explores how finance can take the lead in driving their companies towards an intelligent enterprise

To ensure that the business operates smoothly, finance organizations routinely execute a multitude of operational tasks. But as the world becomes globally connected, new players with new business models emerge, and regulatory complexity grows, businesses are beginning to expect even more from their finance teams. They need finance to look beyond those operational tasks and provide more sophisticated support – such as real-time analysis, business model simulation, and predictive, forward-looking insights. This enhanced support helps leaders make optimum decisions to adapt and shape business models for the future of their enterprise.

No doubt, those operational tasks still need to be done. And this increasingly heavy workload needs to be completed without any additional headcount. This is where a new generation of automation technologies comes in.

Tools that transform

Your organization has doubtless deployed automation to streamline processes, reduce mundane work, and realize cost efficiencies. And that’s been great.

But we know the business needs more insight to make the right decisions. The insights delivered by traditional systems are backward-looking, providing reporting on “actuals.” Leading finance organizations are discovering the next generation of intelligent technologies, transforming core finance processes while also delivering predictive insights that can be used to proactively steer the business.

Let’s take a look at five key opportunities.

An assisted user interface can provide context-sensitive help, including supports and alerts that are specific to each business situation. Conversational interactions and speech-controlled assistance can help automate routine finance tasks. For example, think of a finance representative who is conversing with a customer. An assisted user interface can check for open issues such as unresolved service tickets or unpaid invoices, automatically displaying data about these issues on the rep’s computer screen. Now the rep knows exactly what the customer is thinking about – why he didn’t pay an invoice, for example – and how to resolve the issue without having to dig through multiple systems or screens.

Intelligent finance applications can help simplify, accelerate, and automate processes. In traditional systems, finance processes have been hindered by technical limitations. But those barriers have been removed with blazing-fast in-memory database technology. On top of that, optimized and simplified data structures allow companies to build use cases to support employees in a way that was not possible before. Using these new technologies, some leading software companies have redesigned their applications to support embedded self-service analytics with powerful predictive functionality. The best solutions can help you make the right decisions faster than ever before.

Intelligent technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotic process automation (RPA), and predictive analytics can simplify finance operations. Rule-based automation allows firms to specify preferences for specific operations and execute them according to the rules. In contrast, machine learning technologies learn from past transactions and customer decisions, sensing decision-making patterns and using those patterns to make future choices. RPA technologies run repetitive, rule-based monotone tasks and connect disparate systems, so you can free humans from huge volumes of manual tasks across diverse systems. Predictive analytics drill down into past transactions and use the insights derived to anticipate what may happen next, enabling your team to make more accurate strategic decisions.

A universal journal can help eliminate redundancy by recording and storing every financial transaction in one table. With actual, plan, and simulation data in one place, a universal journal helps you create a single source of financial truth that is both consistent and easily reconciled. Information is also accessible for instant, precise analytical research.

An integrated data platform centrally stores both transactional and analytical data across systems and provides access to all of your information with real-time speed. It allows users to find data correlations and to drill down to find the root cause, no matter the data’s original source.

Path to intelligent finance

The benefits of enhanced automation are significant for today’s finance organizations. Intelligent finance innovation can improve operational efficiency while enhancing governance and compliance. What’s more, leading companies are reducing costs by automating end-to-end processes.

With advanced technologies, finance organizations can identify and rank information that positively correlates with fraud or noncompliance, helping them detect and prevent costly anomalies. Proactive, context-sensitive assistance boosts the productivity of financial experts, freeing them for more value-added efforts. And greater insights into the future are helping these firms make better decisions that facilitate their desired business outcomes.

Many finance leaders believe they have all of the automation they need to serve the business. But as the business increasingly asks for more from finance organizations, it’s time to consider advanced automation solutions that go beyond streamlining operational tasks. The latest generation of technologies is poised to deliver insight that can catalyze your finance transformation.

Are you ready to reconsider the role of automation in your finance organization?

 Join the second SAP Intelligent Finance virtual event on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, and explore the new reality driving finance transformation. Register now.

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Benno Eberle

About Benno Eberle

Benno Eberle is senior director of Global Solution Marketing at SAP. He is responsible for product marketing for SAP's solutions for the Finance line of business. Benno focuses on the SAP S/4HANA Finance solution portfolio, which comes with mature but easy-to-use functionality for finance professionals and is crowned with the newest innovations and technologies in the cloud. His objective is to make existing and future customers aware of the fascinating business value this portfolio brings to successful organizations across the globe, helping them to transform and shape their organizations for the future.