Finance is embracing its new best friend, automation. Many organizations have heard of robotic process automation – or RPA – and every day more of them deploy software bots to boost efficiency and control costs, often in the cloud.
Many financial processes can be automated. A good example is the close, consolidation and reporting process, the bane of every finance operation, as it is very resource consuming and comprises a high level of risk. However, as Deloitte recently discovered, of the literally thousands of activities involved in book closings, there are essentially none that can’t be automated. From a CFO’s point of view, the implications and consequences of this are immense: numbers are reliable, staff can concentrate on high value activities, closer to business needs, and the data can start to be used for predictive analysis, rather than concentrating on the rearview.
Another challenge that CFOs are dealing with more and more is the exponentially increasing amount of data available to make decisions, but in the end hindering that very process, because of the “data swamp” effect. Here also Deloitte made a startling discovery: Of all the data that exists in the world, less than half of one percent is actually being used.
To harness the torrent of data, CFOs can turn once again to automation, with solutions that simplify matters : automated cloud-based platforms and tools filter out the “background noise” and expose the really valuable data hidden in the mix. Data visualization tools, for example, can provide quick-and-easy graphic interpretations of complicated data sets. An efficient vizualisation means getting to the point, bringing stakeholders on board faster and ultimately simplifying decision making.
All of this is great news for finance – and for the rest of the business too. Finance organizations can use the efficiency savings from automation and other technologies to focus on financial planning and predictive analysis as well as sponsor other projects aimed at helping the business grow and profit.