As businesses have to report on increasing amounts of data, more finance professionals are looking to incorporate automation and artificial intelligence into their internal processes. Automation of financial reporting has the power to eliminate costly errors that can result from manual accounting, reduce the time it takes to update financial statements, and can affect various other reporting processes—including actions surrounding financial statements, quarterly reports, multi-entity accounting, management reports, and the financial close. Speaking on the subject, Oracle CEO Mark Hurd recently stated:
|"Automation will reduce the time to do tasks that are just impossible to do by humans today. The fact is—whether you're looking at information on employees, customers, whatever it may be—the amount of information and amount of data that companies have is beyond the ability for even the most sophisticated data scientist to take advantage of."|
Yesterday’s finance professionals had to comb through mass amounts of data and provide insights across company platforms and business units. Performing these tasks solely through human efforts is no longer an option for many enterprise organizations. With the proliferation of data-collecting devices, the amount of data generated is too large for humans to gather, sort, and analyze; that’s where automation can help. Automation can eliminate some of the most time-consuming accounting processes and offer greater insight into data points that would have been buried under the sheer volume of data. Highlighting how automation can augment business operations, Steve Cox, Global Vice President, Oracle ERP/EPM Cloud Business Group, said, “The time that automation gives back is the most essential resource that any organization has.”
Automation can offer an advantage in various other processes as well, including negotiating better supplier terms to optimize cash flow, which is especially critical during high-volume data periods such as end-of-quarter reporting. At Oracle OpenWorld 2018, Hurd said:
|"Thirty percent of finance organizations' time, of our customers' [time], is spent moving around spreadsheets—Excel spreadsheets, moving spreadsheets from one department to another, trying to reconcile spreadsheets. And using AI, those reports become virtually error-free and insightful, and the work goes away. The work goes away, allowing people to focus on higher-order tasks."|
Automation tools in ERP systems allow companies to automatically generate reports, which can be used by employees to derive high-level insights. As manual-entry processes are eliminated and automation creates higher quality, error-free reporting, a company’s employees are free to work on higher-level opportunities and strategies, further growing and strengthening the company’s priority goals and systems.
Beyond improving and optimizing data insights, automation also carries with it an embedded security component. Automated, cloud-based processes can improve data security at every layer, with encryption, granular access controls, and monitoring solutions. Authorized personnel can now access this data from any device with an internet connection, which facilitates reporting workflows. In this way, data security is improved and data is protected against potential loss with clear delivery channels.
Companies have traditionally been reluctant to migrate their financial information to third-party cloud providers; however, companies are coming to recognize the reliability of the cloud. As companies realize the benefits of automation in regards to data analytics, reporting, and process workflow, more companies will move to the cloud and embrace the automation it provides.
Lynne has 25 years experience in journalism and marketing. She spent the first 10 years of her career at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, covering major news events such as the Quebec referendum, two federal elections, and the crash of Swissair flight 111 - coverage of which won a Gemini Award for “Best News Special Event Coverage.” Since then, Lynne has worked in marketing and communications for high technology companies such as Whitehill Technologies and Skywire Software. She currently works at Oracle as managing editor of The Modern Finance Leader, winner of a 2018 Killer Content Award from Demand Gen Report.