By Sarosh Khan, Oracle ERP and Supply Chain Cloud Leader at IBM
In today’s digital business world, industry leaders are facing challenges from digital disruptors. According to the IBM Global C-suite Study, a major shift in the way companies conduct business has occurred practically overnight. Just a few years ago, it was easy to see new competitors coming. Now, they can come from anywhere, at any time, before you even have the opportunity to react.
To adapt to this new reality, industry leaders must add innovative technologies to enable new and better business models. This process is known as digital transformation.
In the finance realm, one of the best opportunities for digital transformation is through the adoption of intelligent process automation (IPA) technology. Oracle ERP Cloud (including Oracle EPM Cloud) provides the ideal platform on which to deploy IPA and other transformative technologies.
The capabilities offered by IPA on Oracle ERP Cloud include driving cost savings, increasing consistency, ensuring security, and maximizing business productivity. Simply put, IPA involves deploying “virtual engineers” capable of performing the repetitive, low-value financial processes that would otherwise have to be performed by humans.
For many, the word “automation” conjures up images of human workers being replaced by machines. In fact, when it comes to IPA in finance, nothing could be further from the truth. Rather than replacing humans, IPA unleashes them; it removes the need to perform repetitive, low-value tasks, which makes employees more productive, and gives them time to focus on more value-added work.
Intelligent process automation is supported by a rules-based engine that becomes smarter over time through the application of machine learning technology. Taking the human touch out of the equation helps ensure that financial processes are completed as quickly as possible, without the possibility for human error.
Removing this possibility helps keep data and systems secure, as human error is a major source of risk. In addition, applying business rules consistently across all transactions—something that no human could ever be expected to do—can help ensure compliance with all applicable financial regulations.
The built-in IPA capabilities of Oracle ERP Cloud allow you to automate digital processes, which helps drive better results across a number of finance use cases. Examples include:
Within the payables function, IPA is available to streamline the invoice-to-pay process. When a company receives an invoice from a supplier, employees perform numerous manual steps, including categorizing the invoice, checking it for accuracy, getting the necessary approvals, entering it into the accounting system, and finally, delivering payment to the supplier.
Each one of these manual steps represents friction that prevents the invoice from being processed as quickly as it could be. In addition, each step adds the potential for human error. Automated tools can perform all the tasks that humans would normally perform—from receiving invoices to sending payment—quicker and more consistently. In turn, this allows you to create an efficient, value-driven supply chain, based on satisfied suppliers who get paid on time.
Cash reconciliation is another example of something that isn’t the most value-added task. Still, it needs to be done, and it needs to be done right. Rather than requiring employees to manually check and match transactions—hoping they get everything right—IPA for accounts payable, cash reconciliation and settlement allows this to happen automatically.
While some transactions may require human validation, businesses can feel confident automating reconciliation for the vast majority of transactions. This can contribute to a smoother end-of-period closing process; as the end of a week, month or quarter approaches, automated tools can perform reconciliation for all transactions that took place during that period, and then turn out the needed reports and analysis.
When you depend on manual data loads to get your financial data into the appropriate systems, you’re creating a bottleneck that can prevent you from using that data to its fullest potential for analysis and planning purposes. In addition, you’re creating yet another opportunity for human error, preventing you from feeling completely confident in the accuracy of your data.
With IPA tools, your financial data simply gets where it needs to be without you even having to worry about it.
Another related use case would be for customers with multiple sources and third-party ERP systems that feed into the general ledger. In this case, Oracle Accounting Hub Cloud can be used to centralize accounting rules, transforming and automating the G/L feeds.
What would your employees be able to accomplish if you could automate some of their most time-intensive tasks? Now’s your chance to find out.
Check out the IBM Oracle Cloud Impact Assessment to learn more about how we’re helping businesses make their move to the cloud, paving the way for them to capitalize on groundbreaking technologies like intelligent process automation.
IBM will also be attending and presenting at COLLABORATE 18, April 22-26 in Las Vegas. We invite you to connect with us at the event and attend our speaker sessions to learn more about intelligent process automation and other transformational technologies. Learn more at ibm.com/oracle.